YOUR SACRED PLACE
Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is John Doe and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is YOUR SACRED PLACE. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:
O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of the world so that we may receive the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. Amen.
The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.
The Sacred Place is a sanctum, an altar, a sanctuary, a shrine, a place of reverence or a place of spiritual significance. It is usually a place set aside for prayer, thanksgiving, chanting or meditation. It is also a place for study and reflection.
Have you ever got up in the morning and started using your cell phone or some gadget? Have you ever got out from bed and not knowing what to do with your life? If you answered yes to both questions you are not alone, but you can change both. The sacred Place will help you to organize your life and later help you to create the circumstances of your life. The Sacred Place is also a place of refuge where you can feel safe, rejuvenated, and reassured after a day of problems and challenges. Further the Sacred Place is a place you can associate with miracles, love, joy, motivation, success, peace, happiness, achievement, health and wellness!
There is also a Sacred Place within all of us but most people do not use it or they do not know that they have a Sacred Place within them. The Outer Sacred Place is the physical Sacred Place. It can be in a corner of your bedroom, a child’s room, the corner of a basement, corner of an attic or in a whole room. You can also have your Sacred Place outside your home in a secluded place by a river, a mountain, or in the woods. Wherever it is, let your Sacred Place be the most beautiful space that you have and let it be the best place you can ever be!.
In the presentation on the Power of Myth on PBS, Bill Moyers asked “What does it mean to have a sacred place?” Here is what Joseph Campbell said:
A sacred place is a necessity for everybody. You must have a room or a certain hour a day or so where you do not know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe to anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you; but a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are—what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing is happening there, but if you have a sacred place and use it and take advantage of it something will happen.
I was first introduced to the Sacred Place by the Alpha Mystery School in the seventies. Most, if not all Mystery Schools introduce their members to the Sacred Place. The Sacred Place makes it easy for anyone to sit, close the eyes and just be there. You can be there for as long as you want. Sitting still and doing nothing could be uncomfortable at the beginning but if you consistently use your Sacred Place you would ask why no one told you about the sacred place when you were born. It is that important in your life!
I want you to note what Joseph Campbell said about the sacred place: This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing is happening there, but if you have a sacred place and use it and take advantage of it something will happen.
Yes, something will happen! The Sacred Place will help you to reconnect with YOURSELF. But you must use it regularly and be committed to your practice. I cannot over emphasize the importance of the Sacred Place in your life. Thus if your life means anything to you I encourage you to setup, dedicate and use your Sacred Place? You could change your life forever!
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.
- Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission. Arnold Bennett
- And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. Black Elk
- Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. Joseph Campbell
- When you know in your bones that your body is a sacred gift, you move in the world with an effortless grace. Gratitude and humility rise up spontaneously. Debbie Ford
- The whole inhabited earth is sacred space in which God lives, breathes, and acts. Carter Heyward
- At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred space and use it, eventually something will happen. Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again. Joseph Campbell
- No matter how public your work is, it’s just a relationship with yourself. And you have to create a little sacred space inside yourself to treasure that… because when you die, that’s still what you have. It’s what you’re born with and what you leave with. It’s kind of a story of the way you accompanied yourself through your life.— Antony Hegarty
- By lighting a candle, you affirm that you are opening a sacred space. — Robert Moss
- It was about finding the sacred within myself, my center, my peaceful core. We each have a sacred space within us, a part of us. This sacred space is a temple, a temple to our inner power, our intuition, and our connection with the divine. Discovery of psychic powers, spells, and meditation are all things that lead us to the temple. They help us find the road within and walk our path to the inner temple. Christopher Penczak
- Breathing is meditation; life is a meditation. You have to breathe in order to live, so breathing is how you get in touch with the sacred space of your heart. Willow Smith
Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found.
- This earth is a garden, the Lord its gardener, cherishing all, none neglected. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Mahj Ashtpadi 1, M.3, p. 118
- All you under the heaven! Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as your brothers and sisters. Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Atsuta
- The mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or [in case of actual necessity] upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality. Hinduism. Mahabharata, Shantiparva 262.5-6
- One should not injure, subjugate, enslave, torture, or kill any animal, living being, organism, or sentient being. This doctrine of nonviolence is immaculate, immutable, and eternal. Just as suffering is painful to you, in the same way it is painful, disquieting, and terrifying to all animals, living beings, organisms, and sentient beings. Jainism. Acarangasutra 4.25-26
- Without doing injury to living beings, meat cannot be had anywhere; and the killing of living beings is not conducive to heaven; hence eating of meat should be avoided. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 5.48
- Buy captive animals and give them freedom. How commendable is abstinence that dispenses with the butcher! While walking be mindful of worms and ants. Be cautious with fire and do not set mountain woods or forests ablaze. Do not go into the mountain to catch birds in nets, nor to the water to poison fishes and minnows. Do not butcher the ox that plows your field. Taoism: Track of the Quiet Way
- The destruction of vegetable growth is an offense requiring expiation. Buddhism. Pacittiya 11
- One who knows the inner self knows the external world as well. One who knows the external world knows the inner self as well. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.147
- Every action, every activity, is surrounded by defects as a fire is surrounded by smoke. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 18.44-48
- Nanak, for man it is idle to ask for pleasure when suffering comes; Pleasure and suffering are like robes which man must wear as they come. Where arguing is of no avail, it is best to be contented. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Var Majh, M.1, p. 149
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?
Our teaching story is Why you are Here
In the beginning our ancestors groped in darkness searching for why they were here in the first place, what it meant to be alive and their ultimate destiny in the midst of endless challenges and disappointments. The people who asked these and similar questions felt the LOVE of the Universe and the possibilities in life. Those who resigned themselves to the circumstances of their environment on the other hand saw nothing exciting about life and blamed everyone including themselves for the same challenges and disappointments. There was no organized religion then but our ancestors who lived with a purpose realized that they were not alone and that they could rely on the Universal Essence that manifests within and among them. This did not just happen to one group of people or a few selected individuals; it happened to people all over the world irrespective of their deeds, position in life, birth circumstances or beliefs. The same is true for you and I who are on the same journey and we can still connect with the ESSENCE that pervades the whole universe and benefit from the same guidance and love our ancestors enjoyed. The journey starts by first knowing what you want and setting up your sacred place.
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study. The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.
If you are new to spiritual practice take a deep breath and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone! You are connected to billions if not trillions of creatures; so I encourage you to open up to the possibilities in life!
Your body is perfect and it heals itself so the first step in any spiritual practice is to learn to maintain the natural state of your body by taking good care of your body. You can take good care of your body by eating mostly fresh seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables; drinking enough water, exercising regularly, and having enough rest. I cannot overemphasize the importance of eating fresh foods, regular exercise, drinking enough water and having enough rest.
I recall a medical situation in which I had a lot of phlegm in my throat and I found it difficult to swallow anything. I contacted my doctor and she diagnosed it as Heartburn. But she also said that if I have heartburn daily I might be developing a condition called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and recommended treatment. I told her that I do not want any pills if I could avoid them and she recommended some preventive measures including taking non-prescription antacids, avoiding vigorous exercises, losing weight and avoiding spicy foods. I tried some of her recommendations including taking antacids but on further research on the Internet I discovered that my situation could only get better through a lifestyle change and not through any form of medication.
So I studied the food I ate and eliminated all the ones that caused phlegm. I discovered that the ones that caused phlegm were mostly ready-made and preserved foods. So I decided to cook my food and avoid eating out to a greater extent. I mostly ate nuts, fruits, seeds and vegetables and drank Green Tea daily. Within a short time my situation improved and I have felt better up to this day. No doubt this approach has helped me but know that I am not a medical doctor. Consult your physician before you try my recommendations. However, I shared this experience for you to consider a life-style change if you are sickly!
In addition to watching what you eat I recommend regular exercise. There was a time I found it very difficult to bend, and it was so difficult that I needed to kneel in order to pick up anything from the floor. I weighed about 180 pounds and I was about 50 years old and felt very old. Things changed after I started working out in the gym in my sixties. I can now pick up things from the floor without kneeling and I feel good!
Further, do not underestimate the importance of water. When I was growing up in Nigeria I always had problems with bowel movement. The only relief at the time was taking a laxative. Later my spiritual practice came to my rescue. One of the lessons talked about the importance of water and recommended about 8 glasses of water a day. My life changed as soon as I followed the prescription. I became regular with the help of drinking enough water so I encourage you to drink enough water. Remember that drinking tea or soft drink is not drinking water. You need real clean water in order to feel good. In fact I recommend replacing your carbonated drinks and coffee with water!
Lastly, having enough rest is not negotiable because your body needs rest. When we talk about rest we are mostly referring to having enough sleep. I remember changing my sleep pattern when I took a job with a Convenience Store over 20 years ago. I was employed to work during the night when I was supposed to be sleeping. Somehow over time my body got used to it but frankly I never felt good. However, whatever you do try to have enough rest because it restores your energy level after a day’s work, it could also enhance your creativity, and it could make you feel better.
The first question you need to ask yourself about food is “Do I live to eat or do I eat to live?” If you “live to eat” you’ll seek joy and happiness in food! For instance you’ll mostly eat in buffets where you are more likely to stuff yourself; your refrigerator will be full of food (most of which are expired or rotten), you will organize many food parties and in most cases you’ll eat anything that is offered as food.
The problem with this approach is that you’ll be overweight, sickly and you might not be motivated to do anything so you seek caffeine in coffee or some other beverage to get you going. Now you cannot really wake up in the morning unless you have a cup of coffee. You are really hooked and dependent!
The good news in this type of life scenario is that there is hope; you can still change your life around and that is where you need the help of the sacred place where you can spend time with yourself and find out what you want and how to go about it. Truly you can change your life and live from the wisdom within you!
If you “eat to live’ on the other hand, food plays a nourishing role in your life, you choose your foods wisely, you mostly eat fresh foods, you avoid buffets, you eat small portions and you plan your food needs on a daily basis.
One of the reasons many people eat junk food is that they do not plan their food requirements. If you go to work without food it is obvious that you’ll end up in some restaurant unless you are fasting. One of the requirements for your spiritual life is to plan your food supply. Generally I eat breakfast before I go to work and during that period I cook the food I need to eat for lunch and take it with me to the office. I leave my food in the office refrigerator till lunch time.
This takes us to the type of food that is good for the body. Generally simple foods are good for your body mostly because they are easily digested. Nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are good for the body. If you need to eat meat let it be white meat like chicken or fish. This does not mean that you cannot eat beef or pork if you want to. The choice is always yours but choose with the health of your body in mind.
What to Eat
If you are sick or sickly chances are that the food you eat is the cause. But sometimes we become so used to our food that we do not even consider that what we eat could be the source of our ill health. I was once addicted to banana nut muffins. I could not eat my oatmeal without them. One day it occurred to me that it might be causing my weight gain so I dropped it just like that. I have lived without it for over five years and I feel good. In his book, Natural Health, Natural Diet Dr Weil offered nine basic suggestions on how to design a healthy diet:
1 Eat with your senses, Not with your intellect: Use your senses of taste and smell to determine your food.
2 Avoid eating what you think is good for you but do not like.
3 Eat with full attention and with gusto. Gusto-Eat with Enthusiasm, joy, happiness. Do you eat while you listen to the news? Do you eat and watch TV at the same time? Eat with full attention to promote digestion.
4 Eat a widely varied diet: Gives you all the nutrients. Lets you avoid eating too much of something that might not be good for you.
5 Eat fresh foods: Fresh foods are good for you
6 Eat less rather than more: Less is better but you can go as often as you like within limits, say not eating after 8PM.
7 Learn to appreciate simple foods: Ear of sweet corn, Homemade bread, tomatoes, etc. Simple in the sense that they are mostly plain.
8 Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet provides the right proportion of carbohydrate, protein and fat.
9 Eat your vegetables: Excellent source of minerals, vitamins and fiber. Do you like vegetables? Why and why not?
10 Experiment with your diet. Why experiment with your diet? Create variety. So find out more out there that are good for you.
It is said that about 60% of the human adult body is made up of water, so water is very important to our well being. It is important in the sense that our cells, tissues and organs cannot function without water. Have you ever had a dry mouth or felt thirsty? It is your body’s reaction when it needs water, so drink enough water. Your body needs water to prevent constipation, produce saliva, aid digestion, make you regular (my favorite), fight diseases, regulate your body temperature, and much more.
How many people think that by drinking fruit juice, tea, soda, coffee and beer they are drinking water?
In Your Body’s Many Cries for Water Dr Batmanghelidj wrote about his consultation with a woman who said she drank an ample amount of water. On further questioning it came to light that she was drinking many glasses of orange juice. She erroneously thought that the water in the orange juice could substitute for the body’s need for pure water like many of us. The truth is that the water in fruit drinks, coffee, tea, soda and beer cannot substitute for the body’s need for pure water.
Some might think that they have been drinking water substitutes all their life without any apparent problems and want a reason to change. I would advise you to consider the long term effects and Dr. Weil thinks that “many of the beverages people drink most often do more harm than good”. These are his reasons:
⦁ Alcohol is a diuretic and a urinary irritant; it promotes fluid loss by inhibiting a pituitary hormone that helps us retain water.
⦁ Caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, cola) are also diuretics and urinary irritants.
⦁ Fruit juice is a concentrated sugar source, which you should not consume in quantity or frequently.
⦁ Milk is a protein food that may stress the kidneys more than it helps them, especially if the diet is already heavy in protein. (Natural Health, Natural Medicine p.77)
A diuretic is any substance that promotes the production of urine
Invitation to Holistic Health by Charlotte Eliopoulos
High levels of alcohol intake increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure, birth defects, and accidents.p6
Natural Health, Natural Medicine by Andrew Weil, M.D.
⦁ If plain water is unappealing to you, try hot or iced caffeine-free teas or mineral water, either unflavored or flavored (but not sugared), or sparkling water with a little fruit juice in it.
⦁ If a whole glass of liquid seems like too much or makes you feel bloated, drink smaller amounts more frequently.
⦁ Think about keeping a container of drink with you as you go about your daily routine, so that you have ready access to liquid in your car and at your office. (Natural Health, Natural Medicine P. 6)
Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.
⦁ The best times to drink water—–are: one glass half an hour before taking food-breakfast, lunch, and dinner-and a similar amount two-and-a-half hours after each meal. This is the minimum amount of water your body needs. For the sake of not shortchanging your body, two more glasses of water should be taken around the heaviest meal or before going to bed. (Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, P.135)
My recommendation is to set a goal to drink 6 to 8 glasses of pure water daily. In other words gradually drop your Soda, coffee, beer and fruit drink intake to a minimum. However you may include caffeine free teas as recommended by Dr. Weil. But as I said at the beginning consult with your physician before trying my recommendations because coffee for instance has withdrawal symptoms. In which case it is better to discontinue it during weekends or when you are off from work.
Some authorities seem to recommend just having a walk regularly as a form of exercise. I used to have a walk with my family regularly but it did not help me with my inability to bend and pick up stuff from the floor. What did it for me was lifting weights and subjecting my body to a mild stress in the gym. I never felt so good and young before! I am not a medical doctor but if you are in your fifties, sixties and seventies consult with your doctor and begin to work out in the gym or in your exercise room regularly. It could make you feel good and feel young again!
Please note that my recovery was not immediate. It took me about 6 months of working out for at least an hour each day, 3 days a week before I saw notable changes in my body. When it happened it felt like all the empty spaces in my body have been filled and as I said earlier I could easily pick up stuff from the floor without kneeling down.
Another way I benefited from regular exercise was when I had a sciatic nerve pain. It was so painful that I could not walk and I preferred to die than to endure the pain. Later a friend advised me to see a chiropractor while another friend advised me to see a physician. I first saw the chiropractor and he brought me some relief from the pain each time I visited him. Then my second friend took me to the hospital on a wheel chair to see a physician. The physician recommended surgery and advised me never to see the chiropractor again. (This was in the 1990s. Currently there seems to be a working agreement between the Doctors and Chiropractors). I chose to stay with the chiropractor. Through my regular visits and regular exercises my pain reduced. As it was painful I was always careful when getting up from bed in the morning and stepping on the floor. But one morning as I did so I discovered that the pain was gone. It was unbelievable! It has been over twenty years since I recovered from the sciatic pain and it has stayed that way.
I may have recommended joining a gym for your exercise needs because of my experiences but the gym is not the only place to exercise. You can exercise in your home by doing Jumping Jacks, Push Ups, Sit Ups, etc. You can also have a walk in your neighborhood or in any place that is reserved for walking or jogging in your city. In Portland, Oregon many people walk at the Glendoveer Golf Course. You may also go to a park and have a walk. I like walking in parks and in flower gardens. You know your particular situation, so make the choices that would enhance your health. Consulting your physician could be helpful in this regard.