If you’ve attended one of Pilgrimage Yoga’s free meditation classes, then you may be inspired to begin a meditation practice at home. If so, you will want to create a space at home that is sacred and inspirational. The atmosphere you create in your meditation space will help your practice considerably. In this post, we’ll offer a few suggestions to help you set up your home meditation area. Hopefully, these will inspire you to create a truly sacred space that expresses your heart’s inmost aspirations.
A Private Space
The most important element in creating a meditation space is privacy. If you know that someone can suddenly walk in on you, it will be difficult for you to meditate. Privacy can be difficult to achieve in a shared living space, so you may have to discuss your plans with roommates or family members. You will want an area with little or no through traffic. This may eliminate porches, living rooms and dens, etc. unless you live alone. In San Diego, outdoor locations such as a garden or under a backyard tree are feasible, but an indoor location will be more useful in unfavorable weather. Where a dedicated room is not available, bedrooms are often the best location for a meditation space because of the privacy they afford. In a pinch, a large closet can be converted into a meditation space with a little creativity.
Intimate and Sacred
A meditation space should be your space, intimate and private. My teacher suggested that no one else should meditate in your personal space. The exception, of course, would be spaces used by couples or families who sit together. This isn’t being selfish. It is an understanding of how the external environment interacts with our internal psychology. An esthetically beautiful space is nice but not necessary. It is more important for your space to be comfortable resonate with your personal energy. As for décor, simplicity is often the best approach but be sure to let your heart fully express itself. Your space should be as isolated from noise and visual distractions as possible. Computers, televisions and radios should not be located in your meditation area. Even a clock can be distracting. Think organic and low tech. A space becomes sacred because of the activities that take place in it and because of the activities that do not take place in it. Use your meditation space only for what truly inspires you. Avoid taking phone calls or engaging in superficial conversations while seated in your meditation space.
If possible, your mediation area should be away from kitchen odors and should have good air circulation, especially if you use incense. A small quiet fan may be useful in rooms with poor ventilation. Your meditation area should be kept clean. I am no poster boy for spotless living, but I make sure my meditation area is clean and my altar frequently dusted. A clean area will inspire you and in subtle ways help you meditate better.
If you meditate sitting on the floor, you will need a firm meditation cushion such as those sold in the Pilgrimage Store. The quality of your cushion is important because it must be firm enough to support you with stability and durable enough to hold up under daily use. A useful cushion will be filled with kapok, buckwheat hulls, or a very firm foam. Sofa cushions and inflatable devices are to be avoided, as they provide little meaningful support. If your floor is not carpeted, you may need a wide mat like a zabuton under your sitting cushion to provide padding for your ankles.
If you meditate in a chair, a simple straight-backed design will probably be best, as it will allow you to sit with better posture than most plush chairs. Avoid recliners unless you have a medical need. The chair height fit your leg length. When sitting upright, with feet flat on the floor, your knees should be approximately even with your hips. If the chair is too tall for you, place a block or folded blanket beneath your feet to relieve pressure on your legs. Your seat is too low if your knees to rise above your hips when your feet are flat on the floor. In that case, add a firm cushion to the seat to lift you up.
Other Design Elements
If you are a Zen monk, you probably sit facing a bare wall. This is the ultimate method for blocking out visual distractions; however, it is not necessarily the most inspirational arrangement for a home meditation area. Most meditation spaces have an altar as their center piece. An altar can help you stay focused in your meditation and it allows you to express yourself spiritually. An article on altar design can be found here. [link here]
You may wish to consider other factors when planning your meditation space. If you practice within a particular religion, you will want to include elements of your faith in your meditation area. You may also wish to consider the principles of feng shui in your design. Colors are always significant. Pastels are soothing and light-colored walls are usually preferred over darker or more vibrant tones; but the only real rule is – please yourself! A window offering indirect natural light is ideal.
You can google ‘altar or home meditation ideas’ and see lots of pictures, most by companies that want to sell you furnishings. New stuff can inspire but it may be better just to use what you have on hand and allow your space to develop slowly as your meditation deepens. Ideas will arise in from your meditation and feel more authentic to you. Remember – the real place of meditation is deep within your own heart. Allow your meditation area to express your inner heart more than your sense of style or fashion.