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How to create a sacred space for meditation

sacred space website (593x600)How to create a sacred space for meditation

In the midst of the busyness of life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by an excessive amount of information and too much stuff.

Even though we are spending more time supposedly ‘connecting’, in fact, many of us feel more disconnected from our authentic, true and spiritual selves than ever before.

For some of us, there is an inability to be with ourselves without something or someone to constantly distract or entertain us. For others, the life energy increasingly becomes immobilized by concerns such as codependency and relationship issues, weight and eating problems, addictions, anxiety, fatigue, depression and major health crises.

The Self calls us to wake up to its presence in mysterious ways. It may call us to awaken to our true nature through the aforementioned life crises. Alternatively, we may have a peak experience which calls us to awaken to a new way of living and being. Both ends of the spectrum can shine the light on our growing sense of disconnection and unease.

One way that we can heal our suffering is by reconnecting and becoming present to what is. It is tempting to get busy booking expensive holidays or spiritual retreats in the hope that we can slow down and be. How often though do we return home with the post holiday blues and feel as though we need another holiday?

By creating a sacred space, we can retreat close by on a daily basis, even ground our retreat and spiritual experiences from far away places. Ultimately we are able to create a space whereby we can connect with our own sacredness and the Divine within.

What is a sacred space?

A sacred space is a place to:

  • Get grounded
  • Set our intentions
  • Relieve stress
  • Recharge our batteries
  • Practise self-care
  • Affirm our worth
  • Claim our space
  • Be present to ourselves
  • Dedicate to our purpose
  • Find ourselves again and again
  • Bring new energy into our lives
  • Connect with our deeper essence
  • Meditate and practise mindfulness
  • Practise yoga
  • Honour and uplift our spirit
  • Dialogue with our higher, deeper, Spiritual Self
  • Worship God or Spirit

Preparing for the creation of a sacred space

Spend time journaling, in prayer, meditation or reflection before and during the creation of the sacred space. Here are some possible reflections:

  • Would I like my space to be inside or outside?
  • What colours and textures call me?
  • Is my sacred space private or are others allowed in my space?
  • What boundaries do I need to negotiate with others regarding my time and space?
  • Do I need to schedule some ‘me time’?
  • What other needs do I have?
  • What are my intentions for this space?
  • What is the purpose of my space?
  • What makes my heart and soul sing?
  • What does sacred mean to me?

Where to create a sacred space

A sacred space might be a quiet spot in the garden or a homemade area with or without an altar. For example:

  • A quiet and peaceful corner
  • A spot in the garden
  • A room in the house
  • A quiet nook
  • A window seat
  • A kitchen table
  • A special chair
  • A giant floor cushion
  • A bathtub/bathroom
  • A place on the land
  • A church, temple or other place of worship

Some elements and ideas for bringing a sacred space into being

There is no need to rush out and buy expensive mats, buddhas or other artifacts. Many of the elements in my sacred space I have collected over time at women’s retreats and workshops. Creating a sacred space is about listening to that quiet voice inside. The following elements are often found in a sacred space:

  • Alter
  • Plants and flowers
  • Rocks and crystals
  • Windchimes
  • Candles and incense
  • Goddess and daily meditation cards
  • Books that awaken and nourish the soul
  • Beautiful bath and skin products
  • Water
  • White sage
  • Delicious fruits
  • Statues and figurines
  • Art and craft supplies
  • Journal
  • Rugs, cushions and throws
  • Photos and images of sacred places
  • Sand tray
  • Music
  • Singing bowl
  • Worry dolls
  • Guided meditations and visualizations
  • Evokative word cards for reflective meditation
  • A small suitcase for a portable sacred space

Quiet time nook (448x600)Sacred space for children

For those who have children, consider creating a space where they can play quietly, read or listen to audio books/music. Creating a quiet time or reading nook is a great idea for little ones. Keep loud toys in a designated play area and soft toys, books, puzzles, dolls’ house, audio books, guided meditations and visualizations near the quiet time nook. Children who learn mindfulness and meditation skills at an early age have higher self-esteem, a better attention span and live healthier and happier lives.

Benefits of a sacred space

We don’t need to spend hours in our sacred space to experience the benefits. Even a few minutes of quiet time can help us to build a more balanced relationship with our body, feelings, mind, sexuality and spirituality. Practising mindfulness and meditation in a sacred space can have the following benefits:

  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance emotional intelligence
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Develop compassion and kindness towards self and others
  • Manage painful thoughts and feelings
  • Live a balanced and conscious life
  • Experience more peacefulness and calm
  • Reconnect with our true selves, others and our environment
  • Gain a greater sense of clarity, focus and concentration

Check out my Pinterest page for more inspiration and beautiful images of other sacred spaces.

About Jodie

Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a therapeutic counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.

Top 10 Self-Help Books for Women

top 10 books for women (600x600)Top 10 Self-Help Books for Women

As a therapeutic counsellor, soul-centred life-coach and psychotherapist specialising in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being – there are many books that I recommend over and over again. Many are listed in my bookstore and on my Pinterest page but here are my top 10 recommendations to help women find change as well as adding depth and meaning to their lives.

The Gifts of Imperfection

by Brené Brown

Having taken part in The Gifts of Imperfection Art Journaling Course with Brené Brown – this is my new favourite go-to book for women. Her research focuses on shame, vulnerability, authenticity and belonging. If you have a relentless inner perfectionist and never quite feel enough – this book is for you! You will come away chanting, ‘I’m imperfect and I’m enough. Brené is a wonderful storyteller and that makes this an easy read.

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing

by Dr Christinane Northrup

“By the wisdom of the body I mean that we must learn to trust that the symptoms in the body are often the only way that the soul can get our attention.”

This is the ultimate bible for women’s health. It covers topics such as the body, menstruation, infertility, motherhood, menopause, sexuality, intuition, wisdom and self-nourishment. Dr Northrup takes a holistic approach towards healing physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns.

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés

This deep, soulful and inner life enhancing book has been described as ‘vitamins for the soul’, ‘a gift of profound insight’, ‘fertile and life-giving’, ‘a bible for women interested in doing deep work’.

Jungian analyst, Dr Estés uses intercultural myths, dream symbols, fairy tales and stories, to help women reconnect with the fierce, wild woman and instinctual self within.

Women Who Love Too much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change

by Robin Norwood

Along with ‘Codependent No More’ by Melody Beattie, this is one of my most recommended books to women who suffer with a fear of abandonment, controlling behaviours, co-dependency, love addiction and relationship problems such as choosing unavailable or abusive men.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

by Geneen Roth

Geneen Roth suggests that food, diet and weight related issues are an attempt to fix something that has never been broken. We are already good and whole; our journey is to awaken to our goodness and wholeness.   She writes,

“It’s never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels…We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves.”

Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

by Sarah Napthali

Along with ‘Attachment Focused Parenting’ by Daniel Hughes – this book is my bible for parenting in a calm and peaceful way. Napthali applies Buddhist teachings such as mindfulness, presence, acceptance and compassion to the everyday challenges and stresses of raising children. Rather than focusing on the child’s behaviour, this book focuses on the inner self of the mother.

Breaking the Spell: The Key to Recovering Self-Esteem

by Rachel Clyne

‘What matters is that we stop hating ourselves; when we do so what has to replace it is Love!’

At the heart of addiction, food related issues, depression and other modern day concerns – working to increase self-esteem and self-worth is always at the core of the healing process.  Psychosynthesis psychotherapist Rachel Clyne gives very practical suggestions in each chapter for developing a healthier and more loving sense of self.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions

by Dr Christopher K. Germer

This is one of the best books out there for healing a toxic, harsh, punitive and critical inner voice. With practical mindfulness techniques for living in the present moment, this book teaches us how to nourish the spirit, reconnect and show kindness, compassion and empathy towards ourselves. Germer shows us that through self-compassion, we can heal pain and suffering.

Depression as a Spiritual Journey

by Stephanie Sorrell

This book is rigorously researched and takes a well-balanced view. Psychosynthesis practitioner Stephanie Sorrell explores indepth – the medical, psychological and spiritual aspects of depression. She writes poetically about suffering and depression as a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. Sorrell shows us that it is possible to find value, meaning and purpose out of our suffering.

Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

by Thomas Moore

This life affirming and soothing read illustrates how to add spirituality, depth, and meaning to modern-day life by nurturing the soul. Moore uses myths, stories and dreams to help us understand everyday concerns such as depression, anxiety, death, low self-worth, envy and narcissistic wounding.

Man’s search for meaning

by Dr Viktor E. Frankl

‘If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”

This moving book was named one of the 10 most influential books in America. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl spent time in four Nazi death camps. He survived his pregnant wife, parents and brother. Man’s search for meaning is based on Frankl’s own life experience as well as those he worked with in private practice. His ultimate message is that we cannot avoid all suffering in life but we can choose how we respond to it and ultimately, we can find meaning and purpose in it.

About Jodie

Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a therapeutic counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.

 

Body Image & Eating Disorders: Stop the Fat Talk

Body Image & Eating Disorders: Stop the Fat Talk

 Tri Delta Fat Stats

54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.

81% of 10 year old girls fear being fat.

10 million women in the US are suffering with anorexia and bulimia. This is more than with breast cancer.

1 in 3 Australian females cite body image as their major concern (Mission Australia Youth Survey, 2010).

My Fat Talk Journey

I remember the first time I fat talked – I was 5. For the school photo, I stood next to the ‘fat’ boy so that no-one would notice how fat I was. The next fat talk etched in my memory was at 8 when I put a t-shirt on to go swimming in our backyard pool – I didn’t want anyone to see my fat body. I wasn’t even fat. On both occasions, I was a normal weighted young girl. 20 years of food issues, yo-yo dieting and body/self-hatred followed.

I was fortunate enough at 27 to find a psychotherapist who specialised in disordered eating and body image issues. Over time, I worked through my chronic low self-worth and self-loathing. It was a long journey back to health and well-being. It was also the start of my journey to become a psychotherapist and what Jung called, a ‘wounded healer’. Through my own experience, I now help women transform the way they feel and think about body and self.

Nowadays, I practise being compassionate and kind to myself. I no longer excessively exercise to burn calories as I did for most of my 20s and 30s. Rather, I swim regularly because I enjoy being held by the water. I have redirected my focus from a torturous longing to be skinny to being healthy and accepting of every size.

Internalized Images and the Inner Critic

Recently I went Christmas shopping online for a doll for my 3 year old daughter.  I felt overwhelmed with fear as I searched for one that did not have insect sized legs and a size 0 waist.   Although I don’t subscribe to measuring BMIs, from a medical perspective – if Barbie were a human being, her BMI would be 16.24 and would therefore fit the weight criteria for medically diagnosed anorexia.

Internalized images from children’s dolls and the media are in no way solely responsible for society’s eating and body image issues. But…they do make up part of our critical inner voice. What hope do women and girls have when the majority of dolls on the market and the images we are bombarded with, mirror such distorted and unhealthy body sizes. Fat talk reinforces these unrealistic beauty ideals.

Fat talking to ourselves and with friends and family doesn’t just affect women and girls suffering with eating disorders. Unfortunately, fat talk has become a part of our everyday lives. Due to the widespread use of technology, even third world countries are no longer immune.

If we are stuck in fat talk, it frequently starts on waking as we look in the mirror and get ready for the day. The mirror and/or the scales become a harsh critic that determines what kind of day we will have. A single pound can start a tirade of punitive, self-abuse that can torment us until the next weigh in when hopefully we have lost it again.

The crazy thing is, ‘I am fat’ cannot even be; Roberto Assagioli suggests that this is psychologically, grammatically incorrect. ‘I’ (self) cannot be fat! The ‘I’ is the essence of who we are. At the core – we are whole, unbroken, beauty, love and ultimately, a spark of the Divine (or nature, goodness, oneness if that fits better for you!).   Our work is to realise this.

Fat Talk Visualisation – Would you fat talk to a child the way you fat talk to yourself?

If you are willing, close your eyes and imagine yourself standing with a young child, perhaps 7 or 8 years old. Now say to her in your best fat talk tone,

‘You are fat’

‘You are disgusting’

‘You can’t wear that’

‘No you can’t go to the party because you look too fat’

How do you feel when you talk to the child in this way? You wouldn’t dare say this to a child. Yet…every time you fat talk to yourself, you are being self-critical and hard on yourself. Often what follows is a binge, a starvation diet or excessive exercise to soothe or punish yourself even further.

Now try this version in a loving and compassionate tone,

‘I love and accept you just as you are’

‘You have so many wonderful qualities’

‘Your body is sacred and you keep it in balance’

‘What does your body need right now – sleep, food, to dance, a swim?’

Now how do you feel? Can you feel the difference? If not, keep practising, it takes some time to shift a strong inner critical voice.

About Fat Talk Free Week

Fat talk free week was conceived by Tri Delta. Check out their 2012 youtube clip about Fat Talk Free Week.

What Can We Do To Eradicate Fat Talk?

Following are some suggestions to help you on your journey. Start with small steps…

Fat-Talk

  • Change the conversation we have with ourselves and others. Friends don’t let their friends fat talk – be a friend (Tri Delta)
  • If you are a mother (or a father), you are the biggest influence in your little girl’s life – lose the fat talk – she will learn it and internalize it from you

 Stop Dieting & Weighing

  • If you are dieting or excluding whole food groups such as carbohydrates – bring balance back into your life by eating all food groups in moderation
  • NEVER put a child on a diet. Instead, eat wholesome meals together and become active as a family
  • Ditch the household scales. If you must own some, buy the pink fluffy ones that tell you how wonderful you are
  • Stop watching TV shows that you use to torture yourself e.g. Weight loss shows where overweight people are tyrannized for being fat, encouraged to binge eat for temptation and excessively exercise

Mindfulness

  • Learn how to eat mindfully
  • Learn mindfulness meditation to help you to accept ‘what is’
  • Practise Roberto Assagioli’s ‘Body Feelings Mind’ Meditation (see my upcoming post)

Finding Balance

  • Become curious about and promote health at every size
  • Focus on uniqueness rather than comparison
  • Remember – you have a body but you are not your body, you are more than your body
  • Listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs
  • Be accepting, kind and compassionate to yourself
  • Focus on all of who you are – body, feelings, mind, sexuality and spirituality. If you are over identified with your body – get to know your neglected parts. Take some time to reflect on, ‘who am I?’
  • LOVE YOURSELF TO BITS

Resources

Psychotherapy

  • Do you want to learn more about the real you? Psychotherapy is a great way to support you on your journey of self-realisation
  • If you are suffering with an eating disorder, addicted to excessive exercising, or you have food and/or body image issues, contact a highly qualified PACFA registered psychotherapist who works holistically and at depth with eating disorders, food and body image issues. Changing your thoughts and mindfulness are useful techniques but not enough on their own for most people. There are usually deeply ingrained, underlying issues to do with low self-worth that need working through.

In the News

Since writing this article yesterday, I have just seen this article via the Butterfly Foundation’s FB page about realistic dolls for children

‘MOVE over Barbie, a new range of fashion dolls has been launched in Australia  to address growing concerns about the impact on young girls of negative body  image issues associated with dolls such as Barbie, Bratz and Monster High.

Unlike her now 53-year-old counterpart Barbie, the new Lottie doll has a  childlike form, modelled on the average nine-year-old girl’s body shape and has  practical clothes, realistic hair and healthy outdoor hobbies.’

Read more: http://bit.ly/Vff4UM

About Jodie

Jodie is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing. She has a wealth of personal and professional experience and knowledge in the field of addiction and eating disorders. Her experience includes a Master’s thesis on eating disorders titled ‘Call off the Search: Eating Disorders a Symptom of Psychospiritual Crisis’, post graduate training in addiction and ‘women’s business’, work experience in the ‘Eating Disorder Unit’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, the Eating Disorders Foundation (now part of The Butterfly Foundation) and Women’s Health NSW. She is an ‘approved service provider’ for South Pacific Private Addiction, Eating and Mood Disorder Treatment Centre and works in private practice on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Live Your Life with Purpose! * Sydney Life Coaching Christmas Special *

Live your life with purpose! *Sydney Life Coaching Christmas Special*

Are you feeling lost or disconnected?

Does something keep getting in the way of where you want to go with your life?

Would you like to know yourself at a deeper level?

Are you looking for value, meaning and purpose in life?

Would you like change in 2013?

 

It is only 5 weeks until the new year! Now is the perfect time to have some life coaching sessions to set you up for your new year’s goals.

Using guided visualisation – you will connect in a symbolic way with your deeper source of understanding and inner wisdom.

Some of the themes we will explore together are:

  • managing change
  • how your history might be impacting on your present life situations and relationships
  • life direction
  • what gets in the way of living the life you dream of?
  • self-nourishment
  • moving towards a life filled with value, meaning and purpose

Life coaching sessions can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Explore how your past is impacting on you in the here and now
  • Connect with a sense of value, meaning and purpose in life
  • Find and build upon your existing strengths
  • Build a tool-box of coping and life skills
  • Experience meditation and visualisation
  • Learn mindfulness techniques
  • Make healthy long-lasting changes
  • Change unhealthy thought patterns
  • Discover Journaling
  • Enjoy symbolic artwork
  • Explore your dreams
  • Unleash your creativity
  • Learn through psycho-education

‘Live Your Life on Purpose’ bookings with therapeutic counsellor, life coach & psychotherapist – Jodie Gale

You can experience ‘Live Your Life with Purpose’ as a 3-hour one off experience ($275pp) or for a deeper exploration, over 6-12 weekly sessions ($90 pp per session). This offer is available to purchase until 25th December, 2012.

Life-coaching makes a wonderful gift to yourself or for friends and family.   It is perfect for individuals or for a small group of family members and/or friends. Gift certificates are available.

The following session times are available before Christmas:

Saturday 1, 8, 15 December at 11.45am

Saturday 1, 8, 15 December at 1pm

Sunday 16 December at 9-12pm

Business as usual in the new year if you would prefer to start then.

Let your light shine and live the life you have always dreamed of! Contact me now to book your first appointment.