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  • Writer's pictureNuno Salema

Authentic Leadership and the Sacred Space

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

The Sacred Space is the first Principle of six that constitute the Authentic Leadership Model presented by me and my colleague and partner, Sophie de Lacaze (

Rituals are as old as our species. Since the dawn of time, human beings have created rituals to connect with nature, to access the spirit world, relate with the unknown and to celebrate life and its renewal.

Over the millennia, these rituals evolved into culture, religion and art but their purpose remained the same, to enable men and women to transcend themselves and connect with higher realms.

With the progress of the western culture, our civilization lost the connection with the roots of these rituals. Boys and girls no longer experience initiation ceremonies into adulthood, religious rituals are often disconnected from their original meaning and some (if not most) of artistic expressions became conceptual and mind-centered thus losing its transformative power and magical essence that was experienced in the so called primitive cultures.

In our Authentic Leadership Model, we consider to be of the most importance to relinquish the essence of the ritual as one of the Principles that shapes an authentic relationship with ourselves and with others.

Talking specifically about the therapeutic relationship, the importance of the ritual has two complementary intentions.

First, it creates safety.

With every client, we sign a therapeutic contract that sets specific times and dates of our sessions. We make clear what are the rights and the obligations of both the therapist and the client. The location, duration and purpose of the sessions is determined and the objectives of the therapy are agreed upon.

All this procedure gives a work frame, it promotes clarity and reinforces predictability which are essencial for the client to feel safe to embark in a challenging journey which a therapeutic process always is.

Secondly, after this work frame is established, comes the deeper connection with the symbolic importance of the ritual.

In our sessions, we invite people to take off their shoes and leave them outside our working room. Jackets, bags, phones and so on also stay outside. In an unconscious way, we are inviting our clients to step into a different space that is symbolically separate from our daily busy and hyperactive lives. By leaving these objects outside the room the person is stripped from this superficial layer of self-identification.

In our case, at the beginning of each session we light a candle, say a little prayer asking for guidance and then attune with our clients by breathing together, holding their hands and sharing our intention for the session. This is our ritual and by doing so we wish to, together with our client, go from the ordinary world to an extraordinary space. Mircea Eliade speaks of it as leaving the profane space and reaching the sacred. It is in this sacred space that a deeper connection and relationship can develop.

The therapeutic setting is a very specific one but this quality of connection in an extraordinary space can be created and nourished in basically any form of relationship, starting obviously with yourself. We can promote this quality when interacting with our partners, as parents when relating to our children, as well as in our professional environment. It is certainly not achievable all the time and every time but in some moments it is crucial that we strive for this quality in relating.

We invite you to be aware of what rituals you created to connect with yourself and others and to value their importance and meaning.

In case you think you have no rituals, look closer. We all develop ways to connect deeper even when we are not fully aware of it and, in any case, you can always be creative and find (new) ways of nourishing this innate qualities in us.

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