Image by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Whatever is sacred to you can move you toward your truest self. It can open you to discover your truest purpose. Entering into a sacred space allows you to stop distracting yourself with the stuff of life, and center on what is important, and what is healing.
I’ve found this to also be true of psychotherapy. A course of therapy with a gifted clinician is an absolutely sacred act. It is intimate. It is soul-baring. It is getting to the raw marrow of your life and learning how it made you, and also what you may become. A good therapist helps you activate your own capacity to heal.
Before I go further into this, please know if you have suffered any abuse while in therapy or with a counselor of any kind, this article will obviously not speak to you. I wish you deep healing from any situation of that sort. I am honoring good therapy and therapists, and hoping that those thinking about going to therapy will be encouraged.
Entering into a sacred state is, to me, what we do when we start a journey into psychotherapy. We come into presence with another entity whose sole purpose is to receive us unconditionally, look at our wounds with compassion, offer tools and comfort for healing, and encourage us to see ourselves as worthy and capable. In many ways, therapy is teaching us to see ourselves as God sees us, and use that vision to effect change.
Therapy, to me, can be likened to a sacred act in these ways: it requires a safe space, trust, ritual, and surrender.
“The soul is the sacred space where my head and heart meet, where God lives.” ~ Brene Brown
A good therapist creates a safe and sacred space where the client feels able to be open and honest. Your stories are safe with your therapist. (They are only required to share information if they determine you are a danger to yourself of someone else.) Stepping into your therapist’s office should feel like stepping into a sanctuary, where you are accepted exactly as you are. This feeling takes time to build between client and healer, but once established, it becomes a space with its own energy and dynamic that exists only between the two of you. Perhaps like your own private relationship with God, this safe space is where you find relief and release.
This safe space is not established without trust. Trust, of course, takes time, and is built by your therapist truly listening, remembering from session to session what you’re working on, and also being clear with boundaries for both of you. There must be a solid foundation of trust for real therapeutic work to take place. One of the ways therapists build trust is with almost a sacred contract, that during your time together they will be reverently dedicated to you and your healing. Like a prayer, you can lay your burdens down and trust you will be supported in your struggle.
“Ritual cuts through and operates on everything besides the ‘head’ level.” ~ Aiden Kelly
Therapy also has a ritual aspect to it that rings of something sacred. The same time, each week, is set apart for the specific activity of healing the self. New things are brought and discussed and discovered, but the time, the space, the people are the same and that sameness also builds the trust and feelings of safety so crucial to the ability to be open and honest with your therapist. Keeping the routine, trying to keep the appointment at the same time and day each week is an important ritual. Ritual helps us relax into the unknown by providing solid ground to rely on.
“There is no greater agony that bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou
Finally, surrender is crucial, both in therapy and in the realm of the sacred. We know when life brings us to our knees in total surrender, that is where we often find God. We surrender to the process life has in store for us and give our troubles over to be healed, our weary souls to be soothed. So it is in therapy. We surrender the hidden, the unspeakable, the ugliest memories, the darkness. We speak it out loud so it may be heard and healed. By giving it over, and giving it a voice, it becomes manageable. But not until we surrender it into capable hands. Surrender brings relief.
If you’ve worked with a good therapist, I’m sure this resonates with you. If you’ve been thinking about entering therapy, that’s a good sign that you should explore it. And if it helps you to think of it as a sacred act you can do for yourself, to bring yourself closer to a healed vision you’re holding onto, then enter that sanctuary and exhale. Breathe out what you’ve been holding and find healing.