3 Ways to Create a Sacred Space While Traveling
Travel can be overwhelming. You’re out of your normal routine, jet lag wears you down and the airlines don’t make it easy on us. It can be very hard to maintain balance and a sense of peace.
Our last blog post was about Taming the Ugly Ego and the fact that it rears it’s ugly head into our lives and makes us unhappy and downright miserable. I learned that keeping the ego in check is paramount to keeping our lives balanced and joyful.
One of the best ways to help keep the ego in check is by creating a space that you can call your own and then using that space to find stillness. Since I’ve been on the road for over six months now, I have learned that you can make a sacred space wherever you go. Whether you’re religious or not having this kind of space is important for relaxation, self care, and self reflexion.
Here are three ways to create a sacred space while traveling:
#1 Set an Intention
If you’re traveling full time or you have a busy house full of family, it can be challenging to find a space to call your own. Before I started traveling, I had an entire room devoted to my spiritual practices. Prior to leaving on this trip I was nervous about keeping a consistent practice. Now, I know that the intention behind the space is more important than the actual space itself and it can be done ANYWHERE.
First, ask yourself, what exactly do you want to accomplish in your new space? Is it stillness, quieting the mind with meditation or finding a quiet peaceful place to pray? Or is it connecting the body, mind and spirit with yoga, or simply to have some “me” time away from other responsibilities?
Since I’m on the road, I have come to understand that a space is what you make of it. I believe you can create a sacred space anywhere you go. Setting an intention for your space is an important first step; reflecting on what it is you want to accomplish in your sacred space and being clear as to how this space will be used is the second.
Reflect on what makes your new space important to you and know that any space can be a meaningful place if you want it to be. If you would like you can also say a little prayer or mantra in the space and recite your intention.
Intentions are very helpful and filling your new space with meaningful and relevant items can also make your space feel sacred and special. This leads me to the second way you can create a sacred space while traveling: How to fill your space.
#2 Fill Your Space With Meaningful Items
Prior to leaving on long trips, it can be difficult to know what to pack. I should know, it took me three months to pack for this trip.
At first, I only packed clothes that I thought I would need. Then, I realized it’s important to bring some spiritual items as well. Adding some items that will allow your space to have some meaning. I don’t mean you should carry your five foot tall Shiva statue, but be creative. Bring some small, easy and meaningful items.
Here’s a list of items that are easy to pack and might bring significance to your space:
I love prayer beads. In the US, prayer beads have become a fashion trend and people are wearing them around their necks as jewelry. The best thing about this new trend is that it allows you to find beautiful prayer beads just about anywhere. And it allows an assortment of colors and styles. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people don’t realize that they are a spiritual item used for mantra or prayer. The 108 beads are meant to be placed in the right hand and used to count as you say a word or phrase over and over (mantra).
Prayer beads very are easy to pack and now they make prayer bracelets, 27 beads, which are even smaller. You can use the bracelet just like the necklace rotating it four times to total the count of 108.
Pocket Size Statues of Your Deity
Walking through the markets and streets of India, I saw tons of pocket sized deities. Literally, they were small enough to fit into my pocket. They come in all shapes and sizes. Finding a small version of your Buddha or Ganesha would be a great way to add some spiritual love to your space.
If deities aren’t really your thing, maybe you have a similar sized item from a previous trip that is special to you or even a gift you have received in the past. No matter what the item is, as long as it means something to you and it’s small, pack it.
Like I said above, I can make a sacred space anywhere and for me that space is wherever my yoga mat is rolled out. My yoga mat has been invaluable and I’ve brought it everywhere we’ve been. Currently I’m carrying a 48L Osprey Exos backpack. It is not a big bag by any means. In fact my backpack fits easily in most overhead bins with the yoga mat stored in the external pocket.
To me, the yoga mat itself represents a sacred space and it can be rolled out anywhere and at anytime. Even if I don’t have time to do yoga, I will often pull it out for a quick meditation or use it as a sleeping pad if we go camping. It’s incredible the tiny spaces the mat can fit into.
You don’t need a fancy mediation room or even a yoga studio to get your spirituality on. There are lots of travel mats on the market. Pick one that works for you or just travel with the mat you already own.
Meditation Cushion or Travel Pillow
If you happen to have space for a normal sized mediation cushion, go for it (I don’t). If you don’t try an inflatable meditation cushions. The best about this one is that it can be used as a mediation cushion and as a airplane pillow.
Sometimes I don’t have either so I use a hotel pillow or my blow-up camping pillow. To me, a meditation cushion can be just like my yoga mat; using it allows my space to become more sacred.
Incense or Sage
Before we left for this trip, a friend of mine gave me a small incense holder and some small, travel size incense. Incense have been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies for centuries. This is another easy way to make your space sacred.
If you don’t like the smell of incense, smudging, a Native American ritual of burning sage is another option. Sage is used to clear a space of it’s energy. It can be a great way to prepare the space for you own ritual.
Picture of a Loved One
We take pictures to remember people and places we love. Bring a picture of a child, a partner, or someone special who has passed away. Place the picture in your new sacred space and notice the space fill with their presence.
If you’re like me, I never travel without at least one book, if not more. Bring one of your favorite inspirational books and let it be part of your space. You never know you may get extra inspiration from it while doing your spiritual ‘thang’ in your space.
Postcard From a Special Place
Postcards are very tiny and packable. If you’ve been somewhere inspiring, grab a postcard for your portable sacred place. They’re accessible almost everywhere you go. I bet you have a few lying around the house as a little memento from the last big trip.
When you begin packing for your next big trip, take a look around the house. Chances are you’ll have plenty of items that provide significance that you can use for your space. The important thing is that the item needs to be small and easy to pack. Have fun packing and always try to be creative.
#3 Be Creative
When traveling, unless you’re traveling for business, you don’t have the luxury of being in one place for too long. Most of us bounce around from one city to another. It’s important that you be creative when putting together your space because all spaces and environments will be different. Go with the flow and enjoy the creativity and thrill of finding a new sacred space wherever you are in the world.
I’ve done yoga and meditated in the hallways of hostels in Scotland, between two beds in a small hotel room in India, on the balcony of an Airbnb in Switzerland, on a grassy area on the beach in New Zealand, and my favorite, under a weeping willow tree in a public park in Madrid.
The important thing is not to limit yourself; not having a space is not an excuse to stop your yoga practice, meditation or self reflection practice. Find the corner of the room or the closet floor. Use your items in ways that make any space sacred. You can use the top of a dresser next to your bed to place a few of your items and use the bed as a refuge.
The point is that you enjoy the process. Enjoy being creative. Having the opportunity to find sacredness around the world, whether your traveling for business or not, is not something everyone can do. Enjoy the process.
Traveling can be so much fun and rewarding, but it can turn bad if your life gets too out of balance. Creating a sacred space while traveling is just one of the many things that you can do to keep things in check. Always remember when you’re creating the space, set the intention first, pack some meaningful items and then try to be creative. Slow down, chill out and enjoy. Hopefully you can use some of my tricks and happy travels!!