Bringing Sound into Your Sanctuary

Once you’ve captured the colors of the location you’d like to recreate, it’s time to revisit the sounds you’ve recorded. Recall the obvious sounds as well as those that blend together to form the “white noise” of your location. On Assateague Island, I was surrounded by a chorus of gulls, ocean waves and wind gusts–a relatively simple audio to recreate.

There is a wealth of sound recordings online and many are free.  For my Assateague Island location, I searched on YouTube for “ocean waves” and found this blissful track of eleven hours of wave sounds and sea gulls….ahhhhhh!

If you prefer to leave your computer or mobile devices outside of your sanctuary, another great way to bring sound into your home spa sanctuary is with a white noise machine or a simple fan gently blowing–anything that fades out background noises that may otherwise distract you from your relaxation.  I also find the tone of chimes, bells or tingsha to be extremely relaxing and centering. My absolute favorite chime is a windless rain chime box, whose beads fall in such a way that resembles rain drops–so relaxing!

The important thing is simply to choose the sounds that help you recall the feelings of  peace and centered awareness you experienced while in your location. So in my case, waves and surf do the trick.  You will have your own symphony of sounds that bring you back to bliss!


Collecting Colors

This is one of my favorite parts of recreating spa locations–collecting colors!

Pull out your journal and photos of your spa location and take a drive to your favorite paint store–I went to Hallman Lindsay, Sherwin Williams and Home Depot for my color samples.  Grab multiple color swatches that match those standout elements in the photos you’ve taken.  Also grab samples of colors that reflect the background colors of your location. When collecting paint samples, think wall colors and beyond–some of the colors will become flooring, rugs, towels, candles, accents, art, pillows–just grab enough samples to completely cover the color palette for your space. You will slim down your selections later.  Here’s the palette I collected and the pictures that inspired it:

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Sea and Sky


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It felt really important to recreate the beautiful warm gray tones that surrounded me on Assateague via the morning sky, gray-green surf and worn wooden piers; so these colors are what became my walls and flooring.  I added an accent wall in a color that to me mirrored the deep sea green of the ocean in the distance.  This is how I set the stage of my home spa sanctuary:

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My accents will be warm pops of color that remind me of the sea plants that were sprinkled everywhere when the tides went out and that pillow is my crab shell:

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Bring home the love…

Now that you’ve collected spa-essence details from your favorite location, it’s time to spa-up your home!

To create your home spa sanctuary, you can choose to transform a niche, a single room or your entire house to reflect your favorite location. Most likely there are some spaces in your home you already love, and some others you may be less drawn to. To help  determine which spaces to transform, I suggest conducting a “guided tour” of your home with a journal and camera. Here’s how:

Take a moment to calm and center yourself.  Prepare yourself to receive information from all of your senses. Invite yourself into your home as you would a guest of honor. Since our everyday routines tend to desensitize us to detail, try to imagine yourself experiencing your home for the first time. Be with presence in each room of your house.  View it from different corners or different perspectives.  Take photos of areas you love and those you’d like to change.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I use this space?  Is it for activities? Rest? Reading? Etc.

2. How does this space make me feel? Welcomed? Creative? Energized? Calm? Nervous? Etc.

3. Does the way the space makes me feel match the purpose of the room? If yes, the energy and function of the space are in harmony, if no, this space may need some fine-tuning.

4. Then rate each space with one of the following:

  • I love this space already–no urge to make a change. (NOPE)
  • I love this space and want to make it even more spa like! (YES!)
  • This space needs some TLC and I just don’t find myself really loving it yet, but I’m not ready to make changes.(NOPE)
  • This space needs some TLC and I just don’t find myself really loving it yet– Let’s get to work! (YES!)

Now choose a space with a “yes” rating.  If you have multiple “yes” rooms, take on only as many as you can handle without becoming overwhelmed or fragmented.  The process of creating your spa sanctuary should evoke the feelings you want to bring into your space and sometimes living in a space in transition can be unsettling or inconvenient.

For my spa sanctuary, I have chosen the master bedroom.  It’s a room that has been neglected in my home for quite some time and it needs a serious facelift!  When I took my guided tour and observed our bedroom with fresh senses, the outdated carpet, mismatched paint and general clutter of the space left me feeling anything but restful.  In fact, it made me feel rather irritated, scattered and a bit frustrated that I had let this space go for so long without giving it the beauty and peace that a restorative sleeping area deserves. What a perfect example for this blog!

While I couldn’t quite bring myself to post the before pic in all it’s blue-shag-carpet-glory,  Here are some pics of the room emptied of our stuff and with the carpet pulled:

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Enjoy finding your perfect spa sanctuary space! Next week, we’ll start collecting some colors!

Capturing the Ritual

The final bit of information we’ll be gathering from our spa location is capturing what I see as its spa “ritual.” In other words, what do we do here?

A spa ritual is a series of activities that helps you relax, let go of stress and receive the energy of your location.  On Assateague Island, my ritual began early.  I made sure that each morning I was on the beach before the sun rose over the waves.  I started each ritual with a journey. I would walk to water’s edge, deeply inhale the fresh ocean air for several minutes, then walk along the surf paying careful attention to the sensations of the wind, sea spray and waves.  I appreciated the colors of daybreak and the way the water reflected the sky.  I walked until my mind calmed and was no longer full of random thoughts, then found a place to sit where the sand was dry. daybreak blog The next part of my ritual was creating a sanctuary space–an altar of sorts. I would spread out my beach towel, then lay out my journal, camera and some quartz crystals that I use during meditation. I would collect shells, plants and driftwood and place them around me. I would ground myself by burying my feet into the cool sand.  Next was a centering exercise of closing my eyes and listening to the wind, waves and the calls of sea gulls.  I would imagine white light running from the core of the Earth, through my own core and up into the heavens and back down again.   Then–SUNRISE!sunrise blog

With each new day, I would make an offering.  I offered a prayer of gratitude for this life and a blessing to everyone I know and then one for everyone I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting. I offered an apology for any hurt I have caused–known or unknown. And when the sun’s light was bright enough to see clearly, I would take out my journal and record any thoughts that came to mind during my ritual and any intentions I wanted to set for the day. A common intention for me was “I fully appreciate this day.” When I felt ready, I would carefully pack up my belongings and head back to the inn, refreshed, centered and ready to start my day.

Now it’s your turn–In your spa location, create your own ritual that includes a journey, altar, centering, offering and intention. Write down your spa ritual in your journal.  You will use this ceremony to reconnect from your home spa sanctuary!

Opening Channels: Touch and Feel

Exploring your location with the sense of touch is one of the surest ways of truly embodying its essence. The skin is our largest organ and with its millions of receptors, has the amazing ability to capture the elements of our favorite location, sealing them into our memory.  When those “feel” elements are recreated in your home spa sanctuary, you will be whisked away to your favorite space again and again.

Capturing the touch and feel of your location involves employing what we massage therapists refer to as “listening touch.”

From your centered and aware state, close your eyes and focus all your attention into your hands. Touch the landscape around you.  Hold loose items in your hands.  Feel for specific aspects like temperature, texture, form, density, weight. Then write any descriptors that come to mind in your journal.

Things I touched while on Assateague Island:

Sand. Rough, abrasive, cooling when damp, warming when dry.
Grass. Ropey, bristly, pliable.
Shells. Smooth, cool, ridged and dimpled. Sea plants: Cool, damp, bristly

When you feel that you’ve captured all the items you’ve touched in your journal it’s time to broaden your awareness to how your location feels to your whole body.  Close your eyes and draw your attention to your skin.  Feel for details like temperature, wind, pressure, movement, etc. Journal any details that come to your awareness.

Things I felt:

Sea breeze: While difficult to capture with my camera, this element was first and foremost in my awareness.  It ranged from cooling to warming, depending on the time of day.  It blew bits of sand and surf so that I was usually feeling a “sprinkling” sensation.  It ranged from light breeze to steady force and rustled my clothing and hair.

Sun. Superficial as well as penetrating warmth.
Surf. Refreshing coolness. Rocking waves. Buoyancy. Ranging from gentle to forceful pressure.