A meditation altar is simply an altar upon which rests all of the items you use while meditating.
A meditation altar should be placed in an area that is usually quiet and peaceful, even when you are not meditating, such as a bedroom for instance. Typically, one sits on a pillow or cushion on the floor, with the altar set up on a small, low-sitting table or stand that is at a comfortable height.
What you decide to put on your altar is up to you. It is recommended that the altar be simple and uncluttered, with only a few basic items on it. Here are a few examples of items that are commonly placed on a meditation altar:
Many meditation altars have an altar cloth covering the table's surface. This cloth can be anything made from natural fibers, such as silk or cotton. Many people use a cloth that they have designed and made themselves especially for their altar, but a scarf or even a piece of scrap material is perfectly fine to use.
Anything that you use to help get into a meditative state can be placed on your altar.
Since meditation is usually done in dim lighting, you may wish to have a candle and matches on your altar, as well as incense, a smudge stick, or scented oils or dried herbs with a calming scent, such as lavender. Any crystals or stones that you use during meditation can also be kept on your altar. You might also wish to keep a meditation CD on it. Any item that helps you to relax and clear your mind can be placed on your altar.
Usually there is an item on the altar that is used as a focal point upon which to rest your eyes when entering a meditative state. For example, a stone or crystal, a stone totem, a crystal ball, a flower or plant, a seashell, a feather, a pinecone, etc. You could also use items that are already on the altar, such as candle flame or incense smoke, for a focal point.
You may wish to place something that is special or meaningful to you upon your altar. This is perfectly fine; however, it is recommended that it not be an item carrying a lot of emotional significance. Emotions, even good ones, which come with such items, would likely hinder you in achieving a meditative state.
Prayer Beads are an effective tool to use for focus, counting, following the breath in meditation. These can be placed on your altar, in a silk or velvet bag to keep them protected. Read How to Use Prayer Beads for more information.
You may use a pre-existing altar as a meditation altar, in which case you would add items needed for meditation, and/or remove items that are not needed.
When not in use, a meditation altar is not typically left out in the open (unless you have a room that is used only for meditating). So for storage, you can:
- Keep the altar set up where it is and cover it with a cloth (of natural fibers, of course).
- Keep the altar set up and covered but stored in a different place, such as a closet.
- Dismantle the altar and store all of the items together in a safe place.
Setting up a meditation altar is very easy. Just remember to keep it simple.
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