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Creating a Sacred Space to Heal

December 2023 Vol 9 No 6
Lindsay McDonell

As most of you know, on this cancer journey, very often we feel like we are just being thrown around by the waves in a very choppy ocean—a new diagnosis, a recurrence, a bad reaction to the medicine, and some good as well, such as numbers going down, feeling like you’re starting to come back to yourself. What I’ve learned is that the best place for me to heal is what I call my sacred space. It’s not religious or spiritual, but for some of you, it may be. It is just a space where I feel that I am being nourished, a space that serves as an anchor during life’s storms.

Finding Your Sanctuary

A sacred space is not necessarily a grand temple; it can be as simple as a corner of your home, a favorite park bench, or even a quiet room. It’s a place where you can be absolutely you, with no distractions. It’s a place to rest, not forget, but a place to recharge. In this sanctuary, you can release control, as authentic comfort and peace will take you much further in your journey than fear or panic. In your sacred space, you will be able to come back to yourself.

The Power Of Letting Go

We hold a lot more power than we allow ourselves to think. The whole point of a sacred space is to be able to come back to yourself, to shed the layers of stress, fear, and uncertainty that surround you. It’s a place where you can let your guard down, a space where you can express your true emotions without judgment and regain your power. For me, my sacred space is my bedroom, a haven of serenity I’ve meticulously curated. Everything in my bedroom, from the soft comforter to the warm lighting, serves as a balm to my soul. When I step into this space, the tight grip of stressors releases, and I feel an immediate shift in my emotional and physical well-being.

The Transformative Power Of Your Sanctuary

From my bedroom, I can do anything. I’m at my strongest when I’m in that space. When my tumor markers spiked a couple of weeks ago, I went to my room and stayed for a little bit. During that time, I let the fear, panic, and distress that I was feeling release. It was quiet. It was private. And I could be as scared as I wanted without anybody imposing what they thought was the right thing for me to do. I needed to figure it out for myself. In my sacred space, the only person I’m accountable to is myself. For me, the secret was just a little bit of time to be out of the clutter. To think. To get back to me and to accept that I needed to stop being in fear and live in the moment, not the future. The future could be anything, and I could not possibly know what it holds. When I remember to just be, my mind settles, and I can breathe.

It was quiet. It was private. And I could be as scared as I wanted without anybody imposing what they thought was the right thing for me to do.

Your Unique Sanctuary

Your sacred space might be something completely different. Perhaps it’s a walk in the woods, playing the piano, or a heartfelt conversation with a close friend. Some people find their sacred space in their craft—dancers, singers, and athletes often find solace and strength in their art. It’s anywhere or any activity where you know you can go, and it’s guaranteed to bring you joy. In that space, for that time, you feel like your true self. It’s an extra support system you can tap into whenever you need it. It’s a place where you say, “Ah, yes,” and the world feels right again. It’s also tapping into micro joys. A great cup of coffee. A beautiful day. Even if it’s just for a minute.

The Power Of Healing From Center

So, I encourage you to find something or somewhere—be it a walk, a quiet room, a favorite activity, or a piece of music—that brings you right back to your center. From your center, there’s power to heal. The sacred space you create is a testament to your resilience, a refuge in the midst of life’s challenges. It is a reminder that even in the darkest times, there is light, and that light can be found within the sanctuaries we create for ourselves.

The ESSAY column in Conquer is devoted to lifting the voices of people touched by cancer.
Read more essays or submit yours.

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