We have a kitchen where we eat and a bedroom where we sleep. If we want to cultivate calm and strengthen our meditation practice, it’s logical to create a dedicated space for it.
"There are so many obstacles involved with meditation, a dedicated space moves some of them out of the way,” says Ralph De La Rosa, author of the forthcoming book The Monkey Is the Messenger: Meditation and What Your Busy Mind Is Trying to Tell You. “We know when we engage with a habit with consistency, the brain gets the message and sinks into it more easily. If you sit down in the same place at or around the same time, your body and neural network will learn this is when we do that thing where we calm down for a while and go within."
Your space doesn’t need to be a separate meditation room. A corner, alcove or even a closet can work. You could even create one in your backyard or garden.
“It’s ideal to have a space, but at the end of the day, what really matters is the metaphoric space — our attitude, our awareness, our sense of motivation,” De La Rosa says.
While there are no specific rules for creating a meditation space, these eight ideas offer inspiration.
1. Choose a space that feels good
You want the space to be serene and calm, rather than in the middle of a heavily trafficked area. “A meditation practice is very personal,” says Sharon Salzburg, author of Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. “You can do it anywhere — even the subway. But the meditation space you create at home is the most delightful of places.”
2. Keep the room clean and uncluttered
“Clutter around us will have us feeling more cluttered in our minds,” Salzburg says. Try to minimize distractions. Make sure your eyes can fall on a clean surface, not the newspaper, your phone or your computer.
3. Make it comfortable
“You don’t need to get into a pretzel-like pose,” Salzburg says. “Have some place you can sit comfortably. It can be a cushion, a chair or a couch. You can sit on a bed.”
If you’re sitting on the floor, use a cushion or blankets to prop your hips up higher than your knees. This will help take the pressure off the knees and open the hips. If you use a chair, make sure you have a proper backrest or cushion. Meditation should be comfortable.
4. Consider the lighting
Natural light is ideal. Then consider when you’ll meditate and your personal preferences. Will sheer curtains help soften and filter the light? If the space is dark or you meditate at night, will a dimmer switch or candles help create the right environment?
5. Bring nature into your space
Studies show nature is soothing and healing, so bring some element of nature into your space. “I like to have something that embodies each of the four elements — earth, air, fire and water,” says Lena Franklin, a mindfulness-based psychotherapist and content creator for the Welzen app. “From an intentional perspective, it creates universal balance in the space. But including nature in your meditation space can be as simple as a plant or vase of cut flowers.”
6. Personalize your space
A shrine or altar isn’t necessary, but set up a small table or landing place for items that are meaningful. “It can be a picture of your dog,” Franklin says. “You want the items you see to help you transition to a quiet, present mind-set, to ignite and touch the heart and to inspire you.”
7. Add a beautiful aroma
Whether it’s aromatic candles, incense sticks or essential oils, using a fragrance can help. “The sense of smell is powerful,” De La Rosa says. “It’s not just attracting us to the place and practice, but embedding the experience even more. The more it’s a multisensory experience, the more it sticks to us.”
8. Take it with you
There will be some aspect of your space that makes it feel special and inviting. If you know you’ll be away from home, consider taking some small piece of it with you. It could be a photograph, essential oil or sacred book. By having something familiar in your temporary space, your mind and body will more easily settle into the experience, even when you’re away from home.