By Kristen Manieri

Creating Sanctuary

 Lately I’ve been interested in the concept of sacred spaces: places we can retreat to that allow us to come home to ourselves, to feel centered and find a sense of calm in this dizzying world. 

This interest led me to today’s guest, Jessi Bloom, who I found when I read her wonderful book, Creating Sanctuary: Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine, and Daily Practices to Achieve Happiness and Well-Being.  

Jessi is a best-selling author, award-winning ecological landscape designer, and speaker. Based near Seattle, Washington, she lives with her two sons in a permaculture homestead surrounded by functional gardens and rescue animals. She has become an innovator and leader in the field of permaculture, sustainable landscape design, construction and land management.

We each need a place of our own. We all need a personal spot, even if it’s in the tiniest corner of our home, to create a sacred space. 

We weren’t meant to be so disconnected with ourselves and so distracted. We all need and deserve sanctuary.

But how do we create it and why is it so important? This week’s guest weighs in on these questions and many more. 


1. If you’re inspired to go start creating a little corner of bliss, inside or outside, resist the urge toward consumerism. Jessi suggests we slow down, think about our intention and consider the ecology of the space. In other words, don’t just go buy a bunch of stuff and slap the label “sanctuary” on it. Sacred spaces have an energy to them that’s cultivated and unearthed. It’s an evolution. Slowly create something that honors your needs but also the needs of the planet. 

2. As humans, we are burning out. Unfortunately, we don’t always step away from the rat race to rejuvenate, restore ourselves and reset our bodies. Not many spaces are created with this goal in mind. It takes some effort to create a space that brings us back to our center. 

3. If you’re creating an outdoor space, Jessi suggests adding plants or trees that have some special meaning for you and developing a relationship with the things in your sanctuary environment. As she points out, these aren’t inanimate objects. They are living, breathing things. In fact, studies have shown that plants are very aware, living organisms. 

4. Sanctuary can be created anywhere. It doesn’t have to be inside. It doesn’t have to be behind a locked door. Start by creating your definition of sanctuary. Ask yourself: what does my soul and body need? 

5. If it calls to you, start investigating plants as healers. See if there are workshops in herbalism in your area. If you’re in the Orlando area, we have the Florida School of Holistic Living, which offers tons of classes and resources. Plus, they offer distance learning. If you’re kids are into it, we’ve had a cooperative board game for a few years now called Wild Craft that teaches players about healing herbs and plants. I highly recommend it. 

6. I love Jessi’s concept of “rewilding” ourselves. We are have become highly domesticated, which is nothing like how we behaved centuries ago. We live inside most of the time, we sit all day and we eat foods that our body frankly doesn’t know what to do with. We’re not designed for this way of life. Living plant-based—eating plants, using plants as medicine and surrounding ourselves with plants— returns us to our wild selves.   

7. The body is a sanctuary. It’s your basic ecosystem. Ask yourself: what are my ideal growing conditions? What daily rituals would help me to flourish? 


A big thanks to Jessi Bloom for being my guest this week. You can find her at www.jessibloom.com.

If you enjoyed this conversation, I’d love for you to share it so more people can start thinking about creating sanctuary. And if you feel inspired, leave a five-star review on iTunes. It helps more listeners find this podcast. 

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