A meditation altar is usually a small table or shelf within your meditation room where you can keep your meditation tools, such as mala beads, singing bowls, candles, incense, music, and essential oils.
Place a few special sacred items on top your altar to personalize the space, such as positive affirmations, photos, and other decorations that set your mind at ease and help you to be more in tune with your meditation practice.
A meditative altar is one of the most important elements in establishing a complete experience for those in search of daily Zen. Mindfulness cleanses your soul, rejuvenates your energy and enlightens your heart, but the fixtures in your direct environment must work with your goals. Here is how to build the ideal altar for your meditation practice.
The Importance of a Meditation Altar
Meditation holds many benefits, from easing stress to helping you decide what to do in life, and the area in which you meditate should be as conducive to the act as possible, including an altar. Your altar is the focal point of the room or area and should include traditional as well as personal attributes to complete the meditative experience.
The altar aids you in building a rapport with yourself and the life-energy surrounding you in the meditative process, as well as serving as a functional port for the elementary necessities of your journeys, such as symbolic statues, gemstones or crystals, candles and incense.
Creating Your Personal Meditation Altar
This sacred altar may be the point of focus during your meditation sessions, but it's also a personal place where you can find shelter from the outside world, nurturing yourself as needed. It's a way to connect yourself to higher places and states of mind, bridging the gap between them.
By creating and designating your area of meditation and building an altar to it, you give it more purpose and greater priority. Essentially, giving your own well-being the attention and intense focus it deserves.
Clear An Area In Your Home
Clearing a space specifically for your meditation altar is very important because you are opening the place for it to be, with purpose and intent. When you do this, you pose questions about what your altar is to become, such as what it will be comprised of, where it is and how you will view it.
Choose your meditation space carefully and remove everything in it, leaving open the beginnings of your altar. Clean the area with some kind of organic cleanser, then ignite your favorite incense or a stick of sage to invite the positivity and purity the altar will exude. You are essentially making space and allocating it to the spirit of your meditation.
Add a Simple, Yet Important Piece of Furniture
Select a simple table or bookshelf to serve as your altar. It should be strong, stable and preferably made of a natural material, such as oak or bamboo. While this pillar will be the focal point of your meditation, it should not speak too loudly, but rather serve as a quiet space on which to hold things.
You could choose your favorite table in the house or go out and buy something new, searching at yard sales or antique shops for the perfect piece.
Choose a Theme for Your Altar
An altar serves many purposes with your meditation, meaning you can select a theme which is practical and plain or something more ornate and specific to that which you hold dear in your heart. There could also be specific meaning to your altar, like healing, love or enlightenment.
Your altar might embody the strength of the animal kingdom or the wisdom of the ancient worlds; it could be dedicated to the current season and embody elements of nature.
You can bring to life all that is important to you in your mindful journeys, being guided by the practical or the aloof - whatever strikes your spirit.
Selecting Items for Your Meditation Altar
Be very selective and intentional with the items you place on your altar. They may carry some spiritual significance, and be something you personally consider sacred. Some examples of items to place on your altar:
Images of healers or religious guides.
Books of special significance.
Positive affirmations or quotes.
Subtle light, such as candles, lights on strings, or a salt lamp.
Objects you've collected from distant travels or from right in your own backyard: Flowers, crystals, feathers, leaves, sand or Earth.
Sage for smudging and cleansing.
While what you choose should have symbolism and be sacred, these objects are of your own choosing and not bound by specific rules or strict traditions in most cases. You can decorate your area with what is most meaningful to you and what helps you more easily focus on the meditative journey.
Set Up Your Altar Space
You can choose to arrange your altar in any number of ways, so long as it follows some pattern and purpose. Use the four directions or Feng Shui for their symbolic references of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water or create a circular pattern, based on the various Chakras. Place your favorite object in the center of the altar and create a circle around it with your other chosen elements and items.
Leave sufficient space between everything, so that each piece is given importance and can be seen without obstruction. You might also arrange your sacred items in chronological order, based on either their ages or the order in which you discovered them.
Keep placement intentional and purposeful, and you really can't go wrong. This space is made by you and made for you; therefore, it should be appealing and meaningful, to you.
Tips to Maintain Your Altar
Because this is a place you will constantly be referring to for meditation and self-care, it should be kept orderly. Even if you continuously discover new and meaningful items to add to your altar, the overall intent should be kept the same. It should not be a shelf designed to simply collect things, but rather it needs to maintain its function and formality to truly serve the purpose of a meditative altar.
Use bundles of sage to energize and cleanse or your favorite candles or incense, but don't allow any other odors to predominate the space. The area was created for a specific purpose and should remain dedicated to that purpose in order to serve you best.
If ever you notice the altar has fallen into some kind of disarray or neglect, you should stop and question if the same is being done to your spiritual self. Maintain the altar as a pillar of your strength and an embodiment of your dedication to meditation, inner peace, and well-being.
The altar you build establishes your personal presence in the meditation area, both empowering you and facilitating your journey on a daily basis. Recognize the importance of crafting this space as your own and you unleash more of your abilities in meditation and the life-energy you possess and embody.
About The Author
Heather is an Artisan Jeweler and Certified Meditation Teacher. In 2011 she established Golden Lotus Mala to create jewelry with a purpose for meditation and spiritual growth. Within this blog she shares her experiences about meditation with mala beads, natural gemstones, crystals, and more.