Molly Anderson has seen how important it is to address mental health issues before they take control. She truly believes it’s lifesaving to nurture our innermost selves before mental health conditions become debilitating, whether it’s something as common as stress and anger or something as complex as depression or suicidal thoughts.
As part of her work with Recovery Hope, she sent this article in order to offer insight and support for those who may be struggling.
There are all kinds of benefits to meditation, both physical and psychological. From reduced chronic pain to better cognitive function, meditating every day or even a few times a week is a wonderful way to boost your overall well-being and happiness. Creating the ideal space for your quiet reflection isn’t difficult, but there are specific elements you’ll want to include and others you’ll want to avoid. Let this be your guide to designing the perfect meditation room in your own home, and reap the most benefits from your meditation time.
Pick the right location
Naturally the first step is to choose a room. Make sure it’s a space where you feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment you walk in. Avoid using a home office or workspace so that no worries of unpaid bills, lingering deadlines, or upcoming projects can invade your peaceful state. If possible, you should also avoid rooms that are sleep-focused, like your bedroom or even in the living room near your favorite napping couch.
Your meditation room should be somewhere away from the house’s general traffic flow so that no matter when you’re meditating, you won’t be disturbed by passersby. Make it somewhere as isolated as possible, and be sure your family or roommates know it will be a special, quiet place where you shouldn’t be disturbed. If you live in an urban setting and just about every room carries noise from the outside world, pick the one that’s most quiet — ways to drown out external distractions will be discussed later on.
If possible, choose a room that offers a view of nature, whether it’s your backyard, the lake just beyond your neighborhood, or mountains in the distance. If you find water particularly soothing, you could pick a place that has an unobscured view of your pool. It could even be a small window that overlooks the giant oak tree in your neighbor’s yard. Just be sure that your perspective won’t be invaded by traffic — be it automobiles or people — that could be distracting and prevent you from finding the focus and tranquility you’ll need to meditate.
Lighting is another important consideration, but it ultimately depends on what works best for you personally. Some people prefer to let in as much natural light as possible, while others may prefer a dimmer space. There are even those who prefer mostly-to-total darkness. Choose whichever lighting method you’ve had the most success with, and if you’re a newbie (or if you think you’re ready for a change), consider a room with easily-adjustable light: perhaps a room with blackout curtains or a dimmer switch.
There are also some choices to be made about the size of your meditation space, and often it ties in with the lighting you’ll choose. There are some who find that a wide, open room with plenty of natural light allows the most mental harmony. Others find comfort and solace in a more confined, “womb-like” atmosphere where they are enveloped by the dark. Again, it’s important to consider what works best for your own needs and practices.
If you do prefer natural light and a scenic view, you can even consider converting your porch or patio space. This is best suited for those who live in rural areas where outside traffic and noise is little to none, and even better in spaces that allow a breeze. If, however, you live in a city or even just a busy residential area, it’s better to stick with an indoor room.
If space is limited in your house, don’t worry. Many people opt for only a small corner of a room, and some even choose to adapt a closet or unused pantry for their meditation needs (those areas are especially ideal for those who prefer a smaller, darker meditation space). The key is simplicity, so don’t feel like you have to go overboard. What’s most important is that it is a specific, dedicated area for that purpose only — and that everyone in the home, regardless of whether or not they meditate themselves, sees it as so.
The most important part of your meditation room’s organization is to keep it completely clutter-free. Do what you can to relocate anything that isn’t vital, especially if you’re able to devote an entire room. There shouldn’t be any laundry baskets with clothes, piles of mail, children’s toys, or other items on the floor, and surfaces like tables and dressers should be cleared off, as well. The only items you truly need to have are those required to meditate — your mat, rug, or pillow where you sit, and an altar if you prefer — while all the rest should be taken to another room or tucked completely out of sight.
If you do choose to have an altar, it doesn’t have to be anything overly-elaborate or formal. Most people choose to use a small table or window sill, or perhaps even a small chest of drawers. It should be eye-level while sitting. On it, you should place items that are meaningful to you: photos of loved ones, special mementos, or anything else of important significance that brings you comfort. You can also keep religious items like rosaries and statues of saints or other spiritual figures on your altar.
If part of your meditation routine involves yoga and you plan to use your space for both activities, be sure to keep your supplies tucked away. If your altar is a chest or there is a closet nearby, store your yoga mat, blocks, straps, and any other tools inside so that they are completely out of sight until you’re ready to use them — but still in their rightful home room.
If someone else in your home will be using the same space for their own meditation needs, make sure you each have your own designated areas. Your altar and general reflection space should be completely personal to you in order to receive the most benefits, so make sure there is a distinct separation between yours and anyone else’s. You may even want to have your areas in two diagonal corners — that way, there’s less chance one of you will disturb the other mid-meditation, nor will their altar be distracting to you.
Remember, the key to a perfect meditation room is simplicity, so keep this in mind when it comes to personalizing. If you plan to paint, stick with earth tones and pastels. If you’re devoting a corner in an existing, decorated room, don’t choose one with busy wallpaper or ornate designs. It may not seem distracting, but your unconscious mind has a much better time focusing on introspection with as little environmental stimulation as possible.
If your meditation room is simply too drab and depressing without some accents, find ways to incorporate elements of nature. It could be a painting of a peaceful river, that beautiful piece of driftwood you brought home from the beach, or even some fresh-cut flowers. If you don’t have any nature-related décor, choose simple objects in natural hues like green, yellow, blue, and gray.
Unless you prefer darkness meditation, you’ll need to take some additional considerations for lighting your room. Even if your space allows quite a bit of natural light, you’ll want brighten the room enough for any evening or pre-sunrise meditation. If there’s primarily overhead lighting, consider adding some lamps or wall sconces — the combination of the two creates a better balance of illumination and warmth needed for meditation. Sheer curtains are another simple touch that can help regulate light while still allowing brightness into the room.
An important part of meditation is discipline, so a timer is a must. Don’t depend on your phone or use an app — in fact, your phone should be switched off or in airplane mode while you meditate, and ideally out of your reflection space completely. Instead, a kitchen timer or a testing timer commonly used by educators is ideal. Make sure it has a non-jarring alarm sound, perhaps even muffling the sound with a pillow, blanket, or t-shirt if it’s too loud.
Some people like to burn incense or candles while they meditate, and these items can make a pleasant addition to your altar. If there isn’t space on that surface, or if you don’t have an altar, place your aromatherapy tools somewhere they won’t be easily knocked over or otherwise disturbed. If smoke or too much aroma bothers you, you can still keep these items in your meditation room and instead burn them ahead of time. Just make sure you don’t leave them unattended and risk a fire hazard.
If you’re in a busy metropolitan area, or even if you live near a school or children’s playground and tend to hear quite a bit of commotion in your meditation room, you’ll want a calm, soothing way to drown out the noise without creating a new distraction. In this instance, you might want to include an outlet for music in your meditation room. Again, avoid depending solely on your phone as it can be a distraction in itself. Instead, opt for a small stereo if you have one. If not, an easy alternative is switching your phone to airplane mode, connecting it to a Bluetooth speaker, and placing the phone in the phone in the other room once your music is playing. If the speaker’s range is limited, place your phone in a nearby drawer or chest — just make sure it’s out of sight and out of mind while you’re meditating.
In the end, focus on achieving two main goals with your meditation room: keep it simple and make it personalized to you. It’s important that you create a space you look forward to spending time in, and that from the moment you enter you feel more calm and relaxed. Don’t get overwhelmed by feeling that you “have” to include anything; you just might discover that the simpler you make your space, the easier it is to find inner harmony.