Create Sacred Space for Relaxation

Many studies have revealed the positive effects of healing mind-body practices such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation. These centering practices have been shown to change more than just physical aspects of the body. They can change brain chemistry, creating more gray matter in the brain. They can also bring balance, flexibility and alleviate anxiety.

Evidence that mind body practices can positively enhance one’s life is becoming more apparent in research studies. According to a recent study performed by Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University’s Center for Computation Neuroscience and Neural Technology, mindfulness meditation and meditation interventions have been shown to combat negative feelings, even after the meditation sessions are completed. A recent article regarding the quality of early childhood education states, “In a number of randomized controlled trials, training teachers in mindfulness techniques or yoga dramatically lowered their stress levels. The decrease in stress was accompanied by an increased ability to detect cues, greater cognitive flexibility, and more-positive interactions with students”. Also, findings from researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center revealed that teaching doctors mindfulness meditation aided them in listening better and not being as judgmental both at home and at work.

Mind-body wellness and self-care have become so mainstream that you can find a studio or gym with mind-body enhancing disciplines, in almost every neighborhood in major cities. But, you don't have to be a Swami deep in the Himalayas or a Zen Buddhist Master to benefit from these ancient techniques. You can stress less and commit to relaxation from the comfort of your own home. Although, there’s been a recent trend in “celebrity at home meditation rooms”. Stars such as Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Alanis Morissette are just a few who’ve shared their fabulous meditation spaces with the media. Still you need not be a celebrity or a millionaire to create sacred space in your home where you can relax and rejuvenate. Here are a few tips to guide you in creating sacred space for that daily moment of Zen.

Find a space that is free from clutter. An entire room would be ideal. However, if you cannot designate a whole room, consider converting a walk-in closet or the quiet corner of a room into your personal mind body wellness space. Make sure you have enough space to move comfortably for your chosen routine. i.e. meditation requires little space where as tai chi and yoga would need more room for movement.

Consider the sound quality. Try to use a location that is quiet and peaceful, without a lot of excess noise. If you will be using music during your practice, try to use a space that is free from echoes. Make sure the space will be quiet enough for you to be free from any sounds that might distract you from the rejuvenation of your mind and body. Consider using chimes, a Tibetan singing bowl, or a sound machine to create soothing ambient sound.

Find your groove. Music has long been revered as one of the most powerful tools for meditation, prayer, and healing. When practicing your mind body routines, find soothing music that makes you feel relaxed. Yoga practitioners often meditate to bija mantras, derived from “seed sounds” found in spoken language and nature. For your personal practice, try playing soothing mantras, relaxing classical, rhythmic reggae, or any kind of music that makes you feel relaxed.

Soothe all of your senses. Consider enhancing your practice with aromatherapy. Use oil diffusers, candles, and incense to create a fragrant and soothing atmosphere for the mind and body. Citrus and vanilla are great scents for energizing the space. Sandalwood and Frankincense can help evoke a meditative quality to the air. Jasmine and lavender can add luxuriously fragrant relaxation to your practice.

Find your good light. Before honing in on your inner light, make sure the outer light is agreeable. Try to find a source of light that is soft and not too harsh. Candlelight is often preferable for yoga and meditation. For Tai Chi and Qigong, an attractively patterned lantern or low watt bulb could provide lovely ambiance for your practice. Natural light is also a beautiful way to bring more nature into the room.

Use relaxing décor. Find colors and patterns that relax you and put you in a calmer mood. Consider creating focal points throughout the space that evoke relaxation. Candles, beautiful paintings, and sculptures are all beautiful focal points that add a relaxed atmosphere to add to your sacred space. Bamboo, stone, fountains and fresh plants are a great way to incorporate natural elements into your practice.

Often in our busy day to day lives, it becomes very difficult to make time for self-care. Even though, practicing a self-care regimen increases, mental clarity and decreases burnout, we often struggle with taking the time to fit it onto our lives. The more convenient and accessible you make your self care routines, the easier it will be to take time to enjoy mind-body practice each day. As you move into 2017, make a personal resolution to gift yourself the gift of relaxation, a calmer mind and a healthier body.

Eric Mullis. “The Martial Arts, Culture, and the Body.” The Journal of Aesthetic Education, vol. 50, no. 4, 2016, pp. 114–124. www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jaesteduc.50.4.0114. Pianta, Robert et al. “Quality in Early Education Classrooms: Definitions, Gaps, and Systems.” The Future of Children, vol. 26, no. 2, 2016, pp. 119–137. www.jstor.org/stable/43940584. Dr. Denise Nagel, “Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong” The Huffington Post, June 23, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/denise-nagel-md/health-benefits-of-tai-ch_b_7641712.html Howard Beckman, M.D., Christopher Mooney, M.A., Anthony Suchman, M.D., Ronald Epstein, M.D., “Physician’s Mindfulness Skills Can Improve Care for Patient and Provider”, University of Rochester Medical Center, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3481/physicians-mindfulness-skills-can-improve-care-for-patient-and-provider.aspx