Oh, the many benefits of meditation: Decreased blood pressure, better sleep, less anxiety, improved immune function and sharper focus. Not to mention a sense of feeling inexplicably grounded and connected to an undeniable sense of purpose. With so many selling points, you’d think we’d all be dive bombing our meditation cushions. Yet we harbor deep biases toward the notion of sitting still and doing nothing. It seems weirdly anathema, the opposite of our productivity driven, multitasking, go-get-um society.
But why not give peace a chance? Meditation is one of the few activities that build gray matter in our brains. More gray matter translates into better self-control and decision making.
So if you want to get your zen on, but don’t know where to begin, a designated meditation zone in your home can get you rolling. All you really need is a cushion (a chair or a folded blanket works just as well) and a quiet place—but a few extra flourishes can make inquiring within extra compelling.
1. Make a safe haven
The adage “build it and they will come” is as true for meditation as it is for baseball. Designating a space for meditation—and if you can, a regular time—creates the foundation for a strong habit. Creating a sacred space inside your home means you commit to integrating your practice into your everyday life. Your meditation nook doesn’t need to be fancy or a room onto itself, but it should feel contained and private. Screens can help, or small, tucked away spaces such as an attic or even a walk-in closet.
2. Keep it clean
Clutter is a visual distraction that makes it harder for the mind to focus. Ensure that the sight lines you see from where you sit are cleared of odds and ends. Clean, clutter-free spaces are inherently grounding and invite one into presence more easily than places that seem chaotic.
3. Create beauty
Meditation can amplify your perception–it’s powerful to create a multisensory atmosphere that appeals to all your senses. A small altar imbues the space with a visual, personal focus. Feel free to keep it simple. Items you may want to include are mementos or talismans, photographs of loved ones, teachers, or sacred places, statues or symbols that represent your version of the divine, rocks or crystals that hold memories or protective energy. Candles, incense or aromatherapy can make for a pleasing and calming scent. For the auditory-inclined, wind chimes, ambient music or sacred chants can make it easier for some to dive within.
At the office:
Many of the same rules apply: make it private, keep it clean and create beauty. Store a cushion to sit on or sit without slouching in your chair, back erect. Turn off your phone and your monitor. Create a portable altar you can easily set up and dismantle. Turn on a mini essential oil diffuser and circulate calming scents to set the mood.
In your car:
Keep it streamlined. A few props can set the stage for free-wheeling contemplation: a little talisman that sits on your dashboard, an inspiring affirmation or intention written on a piece of paper, a few drops of essential oil to freshen the air. There are many meditation apps you can listen to while driving, but of course you don’t want to get too relaxed on the road. Try getting in the habit of using red lights or traffic as times to deep breathe and take a mindful pause. Or before you get into your house after a day at the office, sit for five minutes in your car to center and ground.
Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances you can integrate mindfulness. There is always a part of you witnessing your experience. Tune into your inner witness at home, the office or while commuting. If you let it, it will connect you to something bigger and vaster than you can even imagine.