The human mind is a fascinating computer. Many of us have the sense that there is more to life than meets the eye, and yet “I think, therefore I am”. There seems to be a balance for some people between what we see as being ‘real’ and what we have experienced as reality on another level. This balance forms the basis for the human need for creating space, for personal use, as a sacred respite, or for rituals to connect with energy or ‘divinity’.
Put simply, if we ‘pray with the hands, we will soon begin to pray with the heart’. People attach energy to items, places, ideas and activities in many different ways – from simple mementos like souvenirs and photographs, to the use of totems, talismans and ‘lucky charms’, right up to the formation of churches and religious traditions – even our ‘special’ clothing for ‘special’ occasions, we love to put a face on to that which we cannot see with our eyes. Why?
It is difficult for this brain-computer of ours, however sophisticated it might be, to process the idea of the infinite. Without a mask to put on to the face of spirituality, we seem to be unable to dedicate ourselves to any thought that goes beyond our basic operating frequency. Thus the thinking brain self and the experiential consciousness (‘higher self’?) remain separate from each other.
On the other hand, we have examples of such deep attachment to sacred symbols and traditions that becomes so distorted by our desire to manifest, that the representation becomes more important than the experience, and we find an imbalance on the other side of the spectrum. Religious hatred, spiritual cliche and elitism are examples of this – the symbol becomes more important than the message. We can fall into the trap of creating noise and concept instead of clarifying reality. Instead of raising our frequency, we diminish it by allowing the illusion (maya) to distort what we are trying to see more clearly.
This does not mean that creating physical representations of that infinite idea is an entirely negative thing. In fact it is necessary to engage the usually noisy busy brain in the experience, otherwise we find a disconnection between ‘us’ and ‘that’. For example, in a religious church or temple, offerings of incense, candles, food, flowers and money are made to an intangible deity who has no physical needs. Those offerings are not really for ‘God’, they are for us, so that we might fully engage in the experience. What is essential, however, is not to become so attached to the symbol that we lose sight of it’s true purpose, which is to cause us to look within.
The mind, the tool of maya, can become an obstacle to suspending our disbelief and fully engaging in experiences on all levels. Instead of killing or cutting off the mind to remove that obstacle, we must change the mind’s perception – a bit like bringing instruments into harmony to create music. This is how we end up with physical representations of what is normally only felt on an intuitive or spiritual level – we need to bring the physical body in to the same vibrational frequency as the spiritual body, so we create physical representations of our spiritual experience. We engage in creating space. This unity between the physical and the meta-physical is easily found in altars and ‘holy places’, retreat settings, labyrinths, and even gardens. They seem to bridge a gap between ‘us’ and ‘that’, and yet, once we learn to tune in to these spaces, we find there was no gap between ‘us’ and ‘that’ to begin with. We begin to see the duality (and irony) of sacred spaces and rituals, and therefore the duality of life itself. We go about creating space for our own sacred self, a special nook in our physical world to helps us connect to the infinite beyond.
To begin creating space for your own sadhana, choose a place in your home that will remain fully dedicated to it’s purpose. In a small space you could use a shelf, window sill, or table. If you have an extra room in your home or a place in your garden outside, you have even more freedom for creating space that represents your idea of the sacred. Try to integrate living plants and lots of natural light, and any items or representations of your inner self that you feel connected to, as this will allow the frequency of your space to remain high and it will become a source of inspiration and prana. Use this space if you have room – perhaps for your asana practice, meditation, mantra, music, creating art, or just simply ‘tuning in’.
Try not to attach yourself so much to your symbols and rituals that you cannot let them go. Spend time in a sacred space to learn to see the sacred everywhere else. Soon the world will become the space, and your space will simply become a beautiful, vibrational place to do yoga
Using your creativity to make your own space infuses it with your own energy, and creates a link in the thinking brain between ‘you’ and ‘that’, balancing polarities. Thus we find Yoga in simple places and actions. Once we are able to see infinity represented in front of our eyes, we start to see infinity everywhere. The world becomes a sacred space. Breath becomes a ritual. Life becomes a spiritual experience.