Part of the reason we set aside time and a physical area for practice is that we, as human beings, have always used ritual to support our intentional connection with spirit, earth, and community. Setting up a sacred space in time and place to meditate in is tapping into that love of ritual. We’re tapping into that affinity for formalizing our practice; having loving, purposeful motions to go through that mark activities that we’re doing to connect to spirit, to ourselves, to compassion, to mindfulness. So setting up your space is a way to tap into a human being’s love of ritual. The beauty is you can create whatever ritual you like.
Just as it would be difficult to hold a wedding on the beach at the same time as the surf carnival, we need to plan our meditation at a time when we won’t be distracted and members of our household can be given the best opportunity to respect this time of ours.
In an earlier blog I’ve written about scheduling meditation time as a way to help us to actually do it, but it’s also important to communicate to the people we live with that we are holding a meditation time for ourselves. Why? Because you are protecting that contemplative space in time for yourself. Meditation time, like any important ritual, needs to be prioritized and planned for. Just as it would be difficult to hold a wedding on the beach at the same time as the surf carnival, we need to plan our meditation at a time when we won’t be distracted and members of our household can be given the best opportunity to respect this time of ours. We can work with those we co-habit with, even explain to them what we are doing if they are curious – maybe it will lead to their own movement toward developing a personal practice of their own.
Now that you’ve made emotional space in your home to meditate let’s talk about setting up a meditation space. To begin, setting up a physical space is a wonderful way to support your practice. To set your space up, find somewhere in your home that you can set aside that is just for practice. If you’re fortunate enough, you may have a whole room that you can use as your practice space, or it might simply be a corner of one of the rooms in your home. You’ll need to have something to sit on. This is the main focus of your meditation space and is either a cushion or a chair. If you’ve decided to use a cushion on the floor (maybe one that you purchase that looks visually appealing, inviting you to sit down on it) make sure that you are well supported, your cushion is at the right height, and you have carpet or a blanket under your knees that’s soft and supportive. If you’re sitting in a chair, once again, you might like to find a chair that is visually appealing, comfortable, and supportive of your back, buttocks, thighs, and is at the right height so that you can rest your feet on the ground (otherwise you can have a cushion or a stool under your feet so that your feet are well-supported).
The other components of your meditation space are as individual as you are. Perhaps you choose to set up an altar with a vase of flowers, a photograph of a deity or a favorite teacher, incense, stones, feathers, found objects from the forest or the beach, or Post-It notes with little messages of love to yourself. If the word “altar” doesn’t really resonate for you, that’s okay. We don’t need to call it anything. It can be your little meditation table if that’s what you like it to be. The point is that you are consciously setting aside this time to meditate in this personal space that feels inviting. Make it as unique as you are and enjoy setting up your space!