Jenna Dewan's new book, Gracefully You, finds the 38-year-old mom, dancer, and actress opening up her home to share the daily mantras and self-care rituals that bring her a little more joy. She also addresses "the separation storm" she experienced following her split from Channing Tatum, who she shares a daughter with—Everly, 6. Here, Dewan explains the importance of creating your own soul-nourishing "sacred space," and how doing so can benefit your physical and mental well-being.
I feel it is important for every person, whether you live alone, with roommates, or a partner, have kids or not, to have their own sacred space that is meant only for them. When you have kids, nothing seems to be your own anymore. There is one spot in my house that is off-limits to everyone but me. Evie respects this space because she sees that I respect the space. Some people have a whole room, others a corner or even just a special chair. I have a small area in my bedroom by the window where I keep a small, low table—some might call it an altar—and a fold-up meditation chair I got on Amazon for under fifty dollars. I use this space daily as a place to set my intentions, meditate, say a mantra, or pull an angel card. I also create this space and time for myself to manifest New Year’s wishes (I prefer the word wishes to resolutions). I go here to make vision boards, daydream and imagine.
Others might use this area to pray, reflect, or take ten minutes to listen to their breath. I do these things, too. Whatever your purpose or need, sacred space is not only a great reminder to keep up these rituals but also a special place to practice them. Having a designated spot is much more significant than saying, Oh, I’ll have this moment to myself in bed or at my desk, because there’s something intentional about going to a space purposed to accommodate these breaks. For me, seeing my meditation chair is also a great reminder to fit it in if I haven’t yet that day.
I try to create as many moments of sacred space as possible. In fact, I’m writing this from my hotel room right now, where next to the bed on a table I have my crystals, palo santo (smudge sticks), and oracle cards. I make it a point to bring these things along to provide me with a sense of home wherever I go, whether it’s an on-set trailer in Hollywood or a hotel suite halfway across the world.
When I was pregnant with Evie, Channing and I were living in London, where he was filming the movie Jupiter Ascending. From five months into my pregnancy we lived here, away from our friends and family. Since Chan was working every day, I was for the most part on my own. I happened to be very okay with this, because as an only child who moved around every few years, I am used to acclimating to new places and making myself comfortable.
Still, I was craving a ritual in London, something to make me feel grounded and connected to something. I began the routine of getting up for a hike every day through Hampstead Heath park. If you’re not familiar with it, this area is very enchanting. It has these massive fairy-tale trees with outstretched, beautiful roots. One day I was hiking through the wooded park when I made my way off the beaten path only to discover this magical-looking tree. This tree became the sacred space I would visit every day. It made me feel at peace and at home. I’d sit against its trunk to feel the heaviness of the roots and the weight of the tree. Connecting to something so solid and stable made me feel strong when I needed it most. When I returned years later, it felt as if I was coming home. This tree feels so deeply personal to me because I made it part of my ritual and it became my sacred place. Spending time there in the past offered a special moment when I would connect to Evie in my belly, to nature, and to myself.
Having this cherished spot in London inspired me to have an outdoor one at home. We have an oak tree in my backyard, which has really become both Evie’s and my special place. She has decorated it with things that are meaningful to her—for example, a small door she believes fairies come in and out of. For this reason, we call it the Fairy Tree. Sometimes I encourage the sense of magic by leaving little gifts or notes from the fairies by the tree for her to find. The you-picked-up-your-room fairy and the good-day-at-school fairy have made quite a few appearances!
I also keep a few gifts by the Fairy Tree from one of my best friends who passed away. At the time she gave them to me she was facing a terminal diagnosis. I learned so much from her. She was not only one of my best friends, but also a life coach and healer. One of the gifts she gave me is a very personal crystal and the other, a statue of Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion, love, and openheartedness.
When I sit beside this statue I am reminded to connect with my friend and all of life. I think of all the blessings of life my friend brought to me, and it brings me a real sense of peace. I find when you have something tangible to look at, something to touch, it’s far more significant than a memory living in your mind. Every time I walk by the Fairy Tree I think of her, and whenever I take a moment to connect at the Fairy Tree, I feel our bond.
Creating Your Sacred Space
Dewan's table or altar must-haves
- Candles: Candles are very important to me. I always have a white candle, because to me it represents purity and cleansing. You can set any intention before a white candle. If a different color speaks to you, go with that. Different scents and colors speak to us in various ways. I set my intention as I light the candle. I believe the flame activates that intention, setting it off into the world.
- Journal and pen: This is the perfect time to reflect and record it all.
- Visual manifestation: A photo or written quote to support and inspire you.
- Object: Something tangible to hold and connect to. It can be a crystal or a sentimental token.
- Inspirational being: Some people might have a statue or image of a god or goddess. I have a little Buddha.
- Angel or oracle cards: These bring me a sense of connection and peace.
Someone very special to me once gave me a single die he found on the street. It lives on my altar, in my sacred space. The die became important to us both, reminding us to “roll the dice” and take chances.
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