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 meditation discipline. Especially for beginners and intermediate practitioners, mindfully making a special or even sacred altar can assist greatly with establishing the habit of meditation in the mornings 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 down and meditate. 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.
Making the time for meditation in your day can drastically and positively affect how you move through your life and relate to yourself and others.
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 can 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 exploring.
What is an meditation altar?
Altars are considered to be sacred spaces or places that are primarily used for rituals and sacrificies. Historically altars have been used to worship and honor different gods and goddesses for thousands of years in many different religions. Although altars have been used to worship specific gods, a meditation altar is a bit different. A meditation altar can include a deity of some kind or a spiritual master but its not necessary. What meditation altars are primarily focused on is enhancing your meditative practice.
A meditation altar can also be seen as an external reminder of the internal journey towards more spiritual integration. Your altar can easily become a daily source of calm and joy.
Having said all that, lets get started with setting up your own altar. Here below are 5 simple steps to create an inspiring altar and meditative space in your house:
How to make your home more meditative
- Décor with calm and soft colors
- Have serene candles around
- Feature meditative objects
- Have a comfortable cushion(s)
- Make room for a table or altar
1. Choose the room
First things first, choose a quiet room or a small section of a room where your altar and sitting area, i.e. a meditation cushion or bench, 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
Next, clear the area of unnecessary furniture and stuff and sweep and mop the floor. Cleanliness is good. 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 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.
- a singing bowl, gong or cymbal is a great way to start a meditation session as well as decoration for the altar.
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.
In case you feel your mind is to distracted and that you need guidance, meditation apps can also prove to be useful tools.
Daniel Seeker is a lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realization. Daniel has meditated & done yogic exercises daily for more than 10 years and is studying history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet. He is currently finishing writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.