Our favorite meditation experts and yogis offer advice on creating sacred space, a place to practice stillness.
From maharishis to Madonna, meditation’s popularity has spanned the ages. While there’s plenty of information on why and how you should meditate, there’s less guidance on exactly where you should commune with your inner self. Can you carve out a meditation space in a corner of your bedroom, or do you need an entirely separate room? If your meditation area faces north, will a cold wind blow through your soul? Are white walls and bare floors truly Zen? Will you ever achieve nirvana without the right wall hangings?
We asked meditation and yoga experts for tips on how they created meditation areas in their homes. Here’s what they had to say.
Freeman melds his decades of study of various yoga practices—Zen and Vipassana Buddhism, Sufism, and Western philosophy—into a unique teaching style. His videos and tapes on ashtanga yoga and yoga breathing are bestsellers. He’s director of the Yoga Workshop in Boulder, Colorado.
“A meditation room can be sanctified through prayer or chant to mark it as a sacred space,” Freeman says. “In the same way that you create a sacred space, you can create a sacred time for meditation by beginning and ending with a chant or bow. This ritual, done as you enter and leave your space, encourages a fresh look at the thoughts and feelings that arise within it.”
With more than twenty yoga videos to his credit, Yee has helped bring yoga out of the studio and into the living room. A former professional ballet dancer and philosophy student, he’s codirector of Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, California.
“Everyone has something that’s special— a picture of a child, an old teddy bear, an old shirt, even a picture of Elvis,” Yee says. “Put whatever’s extremely individual in your meditation place—whatever draws you into a place of healing. I know one woman who collected dirt from every place she traveled and put it in a bowl in her meditation room. Center yourself in a place you’ve made your own.”
Chopra, an endocrinologist and former chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, founded the Chopra Center for Well Being in 1995 in Carlsbad, California, to integrate Western medicine with the natural, traditional healing methods of the East. He’s one of the world’s best known advocates of the theory that mind, body, and spirit must all be involved in any healing process. Chopra has written more than 35 books and recorded more than 100 audiotapes, videos, and CDs on mind-body medicine.
“Meditation is a way of getting in touch with your soul where you find creativity within, creating a purpose and the spontaneous fulfillment of desire,” Chopra explains. “When I created that environment in my home I wanted it to be stark, spacious, simple, elegant, and beautiful.”
Cofounder of YogaSource in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Little teaches yoga workshops around the world. His classes combine vinyasa yoga with meditation.
“My meditation room is of straw/clay construction, which allows the walls to breathe and support the prana that we build during meditation” Little says.“The mud plaster in the room is a soft tan color. Natural earth tones promote introspection and give the room warmth and a glow, whereas white isn’t as conducive to contemplative practice.”
Mars is a yoga guru to Hollywood stars, including actors David Duchovny and Owen Wilson. She’s known for her Zen Mama video for pregnant women as well as her Sacred Yoga series, “Pure Yoga for Beginners,” “Pure Power,” and “Pure Tranquility.”
“When I make a meditation space, the very first thing I have to do is clean up. Our homes are a reflection of our bodies—in the yogic sense, our intention is to clear the channels and purify,” Mars says. “We can do this in our homes by burning sage, cleaning the space with essential oils, opening windows, and clearing out the dead, old stuff. Then make your place sacred and alive by adding fresh flowers, a piece of fruit—something that symbolizes life, abundance, and fertility.”
Judith Hanson Lasater
Lasater studied yoga with B.K.S. Iyengar in India, has a Ph.D. in East-West philosophy, is a physical therapist, and has taught yoga and meditation since 1971. Thousands of people around the world attend her workshops and retreats each year.
“Our lives are very rich visually, with movies, the Internet, art, culture, magazines, and TV, so it can be really soothing to have a lot, lot less in your meditation space,” Lasater says. “Keep a comfortable chair or cushion to sit on, but I wouldn’t furnish the space. Leave it empty. A really spacious room is soothing.”
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