By Adrienne Suhm
As we move into springtime and the earth is in many ways reborn, you may be looking to develop a deeper relationship with your spirituality and the world around you. Building a meditation space is one such way to elevate your spiritual practice and promote daily reflection.
Select a space in your home, either indoor or outdoor, that will be solely dedicated to meditation and spirituality. It can be as small as a corner of one room, but should be located far from any external stressors such as work, technology, or exercise equipment. Place a table or shelf, preferably made of a natural, grounding material such as wood or stone, in your selected space. Then, mix and match a few of these common elements depending on what feels most powerful for you:
You may be inclined to include something representing each element – earth, water, air, and fire – on your altar for balance and connection to the natural world. Fresh flowers or plants contribute an earthen aspect to the altar and symbolize wisdom. Water, especially flowing water coming from a fountain, represents both health and purification. Healing crystals like amethyst, diamond, and opal are conduits of the air element, which in itself is emblematic of intellect and awareness. Alternatively, you can place other healing crystals on the altar for various characteristics that you personally want to attract into your life. Finally, candles and incense sticks embody enlightenment and can bring a fiery, sensual aura to the space while stimulating your sense of smell. Similarly, a sage smudging kit can be used to evoke fire’s properties and eliminate stagnant air from the room.
Other accents could include a strand of mala beads or prayer flags. Malas are comprised of 108 beads, a spiritually significant number within Buddhism. It is common to hold a mala strand and touch each bead while repeating a mantra or prayer. Prayer flags are multicolored strands of cloth that are hung to release goodwill and compassion as they blow in the wind.
A Buddha statue is another powerful conduit for the aspects of your life that need attention and nurturing. The seated Buddha usually represents protection, wisdom, serenity, and enlightenment, while the reclining Buddha represents the attainment of Nirvana, or inner peace, and the standing Buddha signifies grace and contemplation.
Coins or money can be placed on the alter to attract prosperity and success into your life. Oil-paper umbrellas, commonly seen in temples across southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos, are symbolic of peace and success.
Bells and Tibetan singing bowls bring sound into your space. Ringing a bell three times is thought to give good luck to others and extend blessings into the world, while singing bowls produce a peaceful, ethereal sound to start or end your meditation practice.
Make the space cozy and inviting with a few cushions or blankets and any items that hold particular significance in your life, especially those that feel spiritually significant or represent important moments throughout your life.
Through these various objects, all of the senses are evoked except taste. As a daily ritual, we recommend meditating for a few minutes every morning with a pot of tea or coffee at the altar. Ultimately, remember that meditation should feel like an everyday luxury rather than a chore, and each aspect of the alter has the ability to enhance your spiritual experience. Do what feels intuitively correct as you add to your alter over time, and simultaneously, deepen your spiritual practice.