We all sense the “feeling” of a space when we enter it. We might feel comforted, or irritated, sedated or energized. Whether it’s a friends living room, a doctor’s office, or a mountain landscape, every space generates a different reaction.
Solidity and emptiness: a paradox
Although the world appears to be solid, modern physics has revealed that it is essentially, and mostly, in fact, empty space. At the subatomic level, the atoms that comprise matter, are both particle and wave, solid as well as vibrational.
As human beings, moving through space and time, we are also both material and energetic. We perceive the material world with our senses: touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Our perception of the energetic realm is more subtle and mysterious, often unconscious, but just as real as the material realm.
It is at this energetic level that we “feel” a space; just as when we have an inner feeling about a person we have met for the first time. When we encounter a person, place, or object that is vibrating at a frequency similar to, or higher than, ours, our waves will combine–raising our vibration to a higher level. This is called resonance.
And when we encounter a person, place, or object vibrating at a lower energetic level, our wave lengths will drop down toward that lower level. This is called dissonance.
Though all of this might seem like a New Age cliché, it’s really just physics—and biology. These vibrations stimulate our neuro-endocrine and endocannabinoid systems, releasing bio-chemicals that make us feel calm or irritated, happy or sad.
A good example of this is how we experience music. You might find yourself feeling relaxed when listening to classical, light folk, or some mellow soul music, yet uneasy and irritated when listening to heavy metal. Other people, because of how they are “wired,” may experience the exact opposite—they may be calmed by Metallica, and irritated by the gentle recorded sounds of waves crashing upon the shore.
On creating resonance
When we enter a contemplative space—like the Church of Notre Dame, the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, or a Native American sweat lodge–we sense that we have entered a different energetic realm. We merge with and are lifted by the vibrational field generated by the physical layout of these spaces: by the architectural grandeur, the statuary, the paintings on the walls. We are attuned to the stained glass windows, glazed tiles, calligraphy, the candles, even the fragrance of the incense.
The purpose of these designs is to create not only a sense of calm and ease, but one of awe; a sense of one-ness with all that surrounds and is within us. Such spaces can inspire a realization that we are more than our physical bodies, bounded by our skins and separated from the world around us. We feel connected to and part of a vast energetic field. We become aware of our vibrational natures, parts of the great cosmic sea.
In spiritual cosmology, this is often referred to as lifting, or piercing, the “veil.” When the veil is lifted, we enter sacred space. And while in the presence of the sacred, our lives are more energetic, focused and joyful.
Elements of a sacred space
Every object has its own energy “stamp.” And how we relate to these objects is highly personal. As a musician, I like to be surrounded by instruments that I can pick up and play. My guitars and hand drums–even the amplifiers I plug into—are, to me, functional works of art. I find them beautiful to look at, to hold and feel in my hands. I even have a set of Chinese crystal “singing bowls” that, when I need a break from strenuous mental work, I can sit down to play–allowing their pure, sweet sounds to wash over and through me, cleansing my body, mind and soul.
And books. From an early age, I have been an avid reader; to be surrounded by books has always created a sense of calm within me. Their physical beauty, varied colors and shapes–as well as the knowledge, beauty and truth contained between their covers–are constant reminders of the potential we each have as human beings.
Art can fulfill this function as well. I have been fortunate to have travelled quite a bit. On these journeys, I have always enjoyed buying local hand-made art: paintings, ceramics, and local weavings. Displaying them in my home evokes the memory of that journey, and brings the energy of those places home with me. One of the privileges of my work has also been to be able to treat local artists in exchange for their work. (I often describe myself as a “poor man’s art collector.”)
There are many things that have meaning for each of us: a beautiful feather or stone found while hiking in the mountains; a shell from beach; a photograph of a beloved friend. It is good to surround ourselves with them.
Making a sacred space
We can create these powerful spaces for ourselves and access the ineffable–the sacred–in our daily lives, in our homes and in our workplaces.
To start, find or assign a focal point in the room you want to design. It may help to sit quietly and comfortably, on a chair or cushion on the floor. Light a candle. Take a few deep breaths. Soften your gaze. The focal point will reveal itself. (This is a creative process. Trust it!) This will be the energetic anchor around which you will build your sanctuary.
Next, sanctify that place with an altar. I like the altar to be raised off the floor, as a reminder and representation of the higher energy we are seeking. You might use a small table, or just a corner of your desk. Demarcate the space by putting down a piece of fabric, something soft and smooth, plain or elaborate, a surface worthy of receiving the objects you will place there.
This will be a spot that you can always return to; a place to breathe, to reflect, to take a break from life’s busyness.
From there, the arrangement of the rest of the room will unfold. The specific place to hang a certain painting, for example, will call out to you. It will “feel” right; as will the rug you choose to put on the floor, and the placement of your book shelves. You might realize that a Himalayan salt lamp, or a small trickling water fountain, a quartz or amethyst crystal, would add energetic vibrancy. You will begin to notice the connection between all of the parts that make up the whole of your new space. When things are in their right places, you will feel the energy flow through them…and through you.
As your space comes into focus, it may inspire you to do the same in other rooms you occupy—just because it feels so good!
When we create these sacred spaces, we invite ourselves to remember who we are: human beings, resonant with the things around us, free to connect with our true natures.
Dr. Ricky Fishman has been a San Francisco based chiropractor since 1986. In addition to the treatment of back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries, he works as a consultant in the field of health and wellness with companies dedicated to re-visioning health care for the 21st century. He is the founder of the health news and information website, Condition: Health News That Matters.