Awake in the World

The sacred space at Assisi, Italy played a key role in the inspiration for the polio vaccine. Jonas Salk was at St. Francis’ birthplace when he conceived of the vaccine that has saved millions of lives. He attributed his inspiration in large part to the power of Assisi and its architecture. Salk felt so certain of the power of place to inspire intuition and uplift the mind that he eventually commissioned world-renowned architect, Louis I. Kahn to create a sort of sacred space for research scientists. The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California is the result.

The Academy of Neuroscience of Architecture encourages studies of the ways that places and building influence our state of being. The link between psyche and space is undeniable particularly when we look at great cathedrals, temples and ancient sites of worship. Places like Notre Dame Cathedral uplift and transmit a sense of awe-inspiring power. The gilded Buddhist temples in Thailand inspire with their gold-leaf décor and brilliantly colored statues and paintings.

What makes a space sacred is more than just the building and the material. It is also the way it’s used. More and more people today are creating sacred spaces at home and even in the office. They represent places where the mind can focus on something that is elevating. These spaces may include images of saints and gods, icons, shells and feathers, candles and pictures of family. A Buddhist teacher kept an elaborate altar with photos of all of his teachers and his family on prominent display.

Noted mythologist, Joseph Campbell said that your sacred space is where you will find yourself again and again. It’s a space to come home to the spirit and rest. We can also transform any space where we remember the Divine into a sacred space. Will you choose to transform you place into a sacred space today?

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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