One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is to sit in the park and watch the birds. I love to see the little finches and robins gather bits of string and straw to build their nests with. Somehow they know just what to pick up that will fit perfectly into their treetop homes. Watching a bird build its nest is fascinating. Even when it looks nearly complete, the bird will fiddle with this and tweak that until everything is just right before it settles in to lay its eggs.
Maybe the reason I love watching these feathered construction workers so much is that I’m prone to a bit of nesting instinct myself. When I had an office job, I was one of those people who personalized their cubicle. I had bamboo plants, small photos of my pets, a mini Zen garden, and colorful printed fabrics decorating my small corner of the office. There were Tibetan prayer flags strung across the back wall and scented candles tucked in the corner.
I’m sure some of my coworkers thought I was a bit eccentric. But, because I felt more comfortable in my space, I was more productive and didn’t focus so much on the clock. Coming to work in the morning wasn’t as daunting because I had my own personalized area to greet me when I got there. Having living plants at my desk brought life to an otherwise sterile atmosphere. All of the bright colors around brightened my mood and made my little nest a cheerful place to work.
After I left the office life, I was spending more time at home and I started to notice something. I had a designated place to eat my meals, a dedicated corner for my yoga mat, and a cozy spot to sleep at night. But, even though I had created a special area for all of these daily activities, I was missing another essential - a unique place for meditation. So, I set about creating a nest for my meditation practice. Although I didn’t have enough square footage to give myself a whole room to meditate in, I was able to shift some things around and carve out a four foot by four foot “Zen place.”
Thinking about creating something similar in your home? I’ve put together some suggestions that will make your meditation area feel more balanced and more “you.” Whether you have plenty of free area to work with, or just a four foot by four foot clearing, you can transform it into a welcoming spot to practice your daily meditation.
Step 1: Declutter. Looking around your home, it may be difficult to identify a spot that immediately jumps out to you as a good place for meditation. Experts say that a cluttered room leads to a cluttered mind. So, organizing and getting rid of excess junk can be a great form of meditation in and of itself. Even if you only have time for twenty minutes a day, spending it organizing your spot will make a big difference in your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Step 2: Sensation. Just as our five sense help us navigate our everyday world, they are important considerations for our meditation practice. When you’re creating your comfortable space, don’t neglect your sense of smell, touch, and sound.
Smell: It’s important that your meditation space be free of any unpleasant odors. Don’t attempt to sit near the recycling bin or the litter box, for example. You may want to add an essential oil diffuser or some scented candles nearby. Lavender, chamomile, and vanilla are all soothing choices.
Touch: Temperature can have a big effect on our mood. If you’re someone who needs cool air to keep yourself alert and focused, maybe a small fan is in order. If being too chilly takes away from your focus, perhaps choosing a spot near the heater is a good idea.
Many forms of meditation incorporate beads or other tactile objects as a center of focus. If you use these tools in your regular practice, giving them a home in your new area will help you avoid having to search for them when you’re ready to sit.
Sound: Part of nearly any meditation practice involves tuning out distracting sounds. But, you can make this a little easier on yourself by choosing an area where you aren’t bombarded by construction noise or screaming children. This might mean avoiding a window that looks out on the street. Don’t rule out your closet as an option either. It might seem like an odd choice, but clothing and soft surfaces are great for absorbing sound.
If you use singing bowls or ambient music as part of your practice, make sure to choose an area close to your speakers or move your phone charger closer. You can also make a home for other healing sound tools on a small pedestal in your meditation space.
Sight: Some people meditate with their eyes closed and others practice forms of meditation that focus the eye on specific objects. This could be a mandala, a candle flame, or an icon. Your meditation space is the ideal home for these items as well. Think of them as part of your “meditation kit.” You’ll want to have all of your regular tools in the same space, easy to access when it’s time to take a moment.
Step 3: Tryouts. Now it’s time to see how your new space feels in meditation. Keeping with your regular schedule, try out the new area you’ve set up and notice what resonates with you and what doesn’t fit well. Then, make adjustments for the next time you practice. The space shouldn’t be static either. What works for you today may not give you those same good vibes tomorrow. So don’t be afraid to keep making small changes as you and your new nest evolve.