Meditation can ultimately be done anytime, anywhere. Whether indoors, outdoors, in a tranquil forest or amid the chaos of the city, we can bring our awareness within, connecting with our breath, our physical body, a sacred mantra, the sensation in our pinky toes, a relaxing visualization — any of the myriad meditation techniques available today.
However, creating a serene space for formal meditation practice in your home is a wonderful way to begin and support the continuation of your daily discipline. Especially for beginning and intermediate practitioners, mindfully making a special altar area assists greatly with establishing the devoted habit of meditation in the morning and/or later in the day.
With the on-the-go, busy lifestyle most of us lead these days, it may seem challenging to find the time to sit. Until you experience firsthand the benefits of sustained meditation practice, which are profound and extensive, you may not feel inspired to sit and do nothing when it feels like there are a million things that need to get done.
Trust us, making the time for meditation in your day will drastically and positively affect how you move through your life and relate to yourself and others. This is not to imply that with a little meditation, you will suddenly become purely blissful and stress free.
On the contrary, meditation can bring up a great deal of intense memories, feelings and challenges, as it is the practice of increasing expanding our consciousness to become more aware of the many thoughts and mental habits and patterns that were previously in the background, unexamined.
Each day and each moment is different, and there is no “right” or “wrong” or “good” or “bad” meditation.
It is ideal to practice first thing in the morning, before beginning any other activities of the day. Even if it just for five minutes, this moment of focused stillness and quiet will help add a calm, centered flavor to the rest of your day.
If possible, return to your altar for another sitting session in the afternoon or evening, as well. At this time, the mind tends to be more active or frazzled, depending on the day, so it’s another good opportunity to settle down to sit – or stand – before your altar and contemplate the experience of the present moment and the simple miracle of our breath, or to practice whatever meditation technique you are currently working with.
Once you develop a sustained discipline of meditation and become a more advanced practitioner, your altar will hold the positive vibrations and healing energy of the many hours of meditation practice done there.
Follow these 5 simple steps to create an inspiring altar space in your house:
1. Choose the Room
Choose a quiet room or a small section of a room where your altar and sitting area, i.e. meditation cushion, will be located. It should be a place that can serve exclusively for meditation – as opposed to multitasking, working or sleeping! Though you probably will have your eyes shut during the meditation, we recommend that you décor the walls with soft and calm colours for the overall atmosphere.
2. Clean, Declutter and Enhance
Clear the area of unnecessary furniture and stuff and sweep and mop the floor. Also clean the energetic space, if you’re into that. Burn sage, palo santo, rosemary – whichever clearing herbs you prefer, and smudge the space, spreading the smoke into the four corners of the room and around any doors and windows. When “enhancing” the room through these ritualistic techniques, make extra sure that you do it from a serene, humble and positive state of being.
3. Decorate Appropriately
Feature meditative objects close to the altar. Place a low table or shelf close to or against the wall, whichever you prefer. Feel free to have a look at our handy guide to meditation tables/altars, in case you are looking to purchase one.
On top of this flat area, place a scarf, shawl or other cloth, as well as any items that are special to you and significant to your spiritual practice, such as:
- a candle or incense;
- a small statue of Buddha, Ganesh, Jesus Christ or any ascended spiritual master
- a framed photo of a beloved teacher, mentor or a symbol like OM;
- a few items from nature that are meaningful to you, such as crystals and other stones, feathers, seashells, flowers and the like.
Some other things you may want to place on or near your meditation altar are:
- a wireless speaker (that is if you’re not extra sensitive to electromagnetic waves) and music-playing device to add the gentle sounds of soft music or a guided meditation recording to your practice;
- a few inspiring spiritual books to read from at the beginning and/or ending of your sitting session;
- mala beads for chanting or reciting mantras, which are great for tactile people who will benefit from holding something in their hand during meditation as a grounding anchor.
Arrange all of these items in whatever clever manner appeals to your unique sense of style.
4. Anchor Yourself
Sit, breathe, meditate, repeat! Alternatively, stand up. If sitting is uncomfortable, or you just happen to feel like being on your feet, standing meditation is a viable option. Simply move the bolster or pillow aside and stand up straight, hands by your side, facing the altar.
Feel the soles of your feet pressing into the ground, connecting you to the ground, and ultimately to Mother Earth.
Stand up tall and yet relax your shoulders, facial muscles and neck. Breathe deeply and utilize any meditation technique that resonates with you. You could alternate sitting with standing sessions or focus on developing your sitting and standing skills for weeks at a time.
5. Use Meditation Tools
Meditation tools are the icing on the cake for your meditation altar. Whether its sound-based tools like a singing bowl, cymbal, bell, gongs, or something like mala beads, essential oil diffuser doesn’t really matter. Whatever you fancy, and whatever supports you in reaching the meditative state, make use of that.