Whether you are just learning about meditation or you have been practicing for years, you need a place to do it. This cannot be just any place around the house. Kids, pets, phone calls, TV, and other distractions tend to spoil the mood. You need a space large enough for you to sit and quiet enough for you to free your mind.
If you do yoga, or combine other form of exercise or movement with your meditative sessions, you will probably need an entire room. But a dedicated area in your garage, basement, or even attic will suffice, as long as it is designed to create an atmosphere which helps you achieve whatever goal it is you strive for when meditating – peace of mind, relaxation, clarity of thought, creative inspiration, or something more specific.
Your doctor may have suggested meditation as a form of therapy. Believe it or not, clinical research has actually proven that meditation provides a long list of benefits to both your mental and physical well-being. These benefits increase the more often you meditate, too.
In this article, we will look briefly at the history and practice of meditation, some of the health benefits meditation provides, then delve into design ideas for your meditation room. With each section, we have included links to more detailed information, and we have also included a number of links to inspiring meditation room designs at the end.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a tricky process to pin down, according to researchers, as there are so many different ways of practicing it. However, a general definition is the practice of training one’s attention to focus on a subject, thought, or activity to the exclusion of all distractions. To carry this further (and put it more literally), this article is a meditation on what you should consider when designing a room for the purpose of having a place to meditate.
No one is certain when it began, but most agree that the practice of meditation started at least 5000 years ago in the East. It spread quickly in conjunction with the rise of Buddhism, although it remained confined to Eastern continents until the late 20th-Century. It started gaining popularity in the U.S. In the late 1960s and 1970s, and has now made its way into Western medical literature thanks to numerous studies by researchers working mostly in the field of Psychology.
The word, “Om” – delivered in a sing-songy chant – became popularly connected with the practice in the West, though it is only one method of meditating. Om, or Aum, is a mantra, and its purpose is to clear one’s mind by focusing on the mantra and its sound. By doing so, you free your thought process from its usual routine of worry, pressure, planning, work, and social anxieties.
Some say meditation leads to a higher level of consciousness. Many researchers seem to agree. In fact, “Aum” is a sacred word in Hindu.
Another example is breath meditation. Breathing is an involuntary reflex, like blinking or the way your heart beats, that few of us think about. However, shallow breathing sends signals to your brain that you are in a panic, tricking your body into a “Fight or Flight Mode.”
Deep breathing exercises associated with this form of meditation re-train our bodies to perform the way they were meant to: By forcing us to focus on these innate processes and shut out interrupting thoughts, we can shed bad habits we didn’t even know we had picked up!
Clearly, when our breathing is corrected, our bodies no longer send the “Fight or Flight” signals to our brains, which reduces anxiety and relieves the associated stress. Even better, once we are made aware of the issue and know how to correct it, we can better control our anxiety levels even in stressful situations.
While Yoga and meditation are two entirely different things, they share a lot of commonalities. This article explores those similarities by placing them into cultural and historical context.
Meditation Oasis offers a number of courses and aids for meditating. This link leads to a simple, and free, instruction manual which teaches two breathing meditation techniques.
Benefits of Meditation
Due to its origins and the manner in which it was first introduced to Western societies, meditation is often associated with certain types of lifestyles. To some, it may even sound like a bogus “alternative” to traditional, scientific healthcare.
But meditation has clinically proven results; it provides medical benefits to those who use it regularly that researchers have repeatedly observed through a number of scientific studies — even though researchers remain unclear as to exactly how meditation does these things.
Some of the health benefits of meditation include:
- Eases Anxiety and Reduces Stress – This includes health problems related to stress and anxiety, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), high blood pressure, and even fibromyalgia. Meditation is clinically proven to lower blood pressure without medication.
- Improves Concentration – It is remarkable how much clearer and focused our minds become once our stress and anxiety levels are lessened.
- Boosts Immune System – If your immune system is weakened or compromised, you are more likely to fall prey to disease, infection, and illness.
- Improved Memory – The Technological Revolution brings new challenges for human memory, as so much information is now available at the press of a button. Information Overload is just one pitfall that can lead to absent-mindedness and chaotic thought patterns.
- Improves Sleep and Sleep Patterns – Sleep Deprivation may be the primary cause of many health issues afflicting people today, both mentally and physically. One good night’s rest is not enough, and catnaps and siestas may not help; meditation promotes healthy sleep on a regular basis.
In addition to these clinically proven benefits, many people say it also provides others, such as that easing chronic pain, improving creativity, enhancing compassion, and more. In all of these instances, the benefits may be subtle, but they are present, so repeated use of meditative practices results in a cumulative effect. Some studies even suggest that meditation can be used to combat addiction.
But this article does not have room to detail the act of meditation, nor all of its uses and benefits. For more about all of that, visit the links below instead:
Psychology Today is a print periodical covering all aspects of popular Psychology, including new studies and results, breakthroughs in the field, and emerging theories and practices. This article details 20 scientific reasons you should start meditating.
Coursera offers collegiate-level instruction in a number of subjects through thousands of courses, many of which are free to audit! This course, offered by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), is a Beginner Level class in Meditation and its practical applications.
Your Meditation Room
If you are going to practice meditation regularly, you will need a space in which to do it. Meditation can be practiced anywhere – in traffic, at your desk at work, or wherever else you happen to be – but to reap the full range of health benefits it offers, you need a small area or room in which you can meditate.
This can be a pantry, or even a corner in a pantry; a closet; an unused bedroom; your garage or basement; or anywhere else your body can fit and you feel safe to focus your mind and shut out everything else around you.
It should also be a place everyone in your home respects as your meditation space, and knows to avoid when you are there. While those who have practiced meditation for years may be able to reach a higher consciousness in a crowd, many of us need a bit more silence and solitude than that.
Everyone’s meditation room should be unique to their personality, needs, and purpose or reason for meditating (see below). So, everyone’s room is going to be different. However, there are some basic commonalities in almost all meditation spaces.
One is lighting. Whether you meditate to candle light or decide on soft lighting, such as a lamp with a heavy shade using a frosted bulb, soft lighting is always recommended for meditating. Harsh, bright light can be distracting, and even energizing to the body.
Another is low traffic – which includes both indoor foot traffic, as well as the sounds and smells of any automobile traffic outside. Depending on your situation and responsibilities, you might not be able to sneak off to a meditation room undisturbed several times a week – and that’s okay! As long as the area you choose is far enough away from the noise, activity, and nagging feeling that you need to be doing something that being surrounded by the trappings of everyday life can induce (anxiety), then it serves its purpose.
As for that nagging pull to be constantly productive, your space also needs to be clear of anything that distracts you. This includes laundry, phones, unread books, bills, TV, computers, anything related to work or business, kids’ toys – literally anything and everything that demands your attention. You are absolutely not shirking responsibility, or being selfish, by taking the time your mind and body deserve to heal, rest, and recharge.
These are the kinds of negative thoughts and emotions you have to put out of your mind when meditating. Meditation is real work, too. You are actually working to ensure that you will be there, and be present, to handle all of those distractions and responsibilities more efficiently, and for much longer.
Anything that makes it harder for you to accomplish this task should be somehow diminished if it cannot be completely excised.
Some items that are present in most meditation rooms include an altar, a meditation mat (placed on the floor), a timer, and a device for playing soothing music or instructions. Your phone or laptop can work as both a timer and a media device, just be sure to logout of any social sites and turn off all notifications so you are not interrupted.
An altar is used for burning incense or candles, as well as a surface for whatever you are using to play music and your timer. You can also use it as a storage chest for your accoutrement when you are not using the room, or using it for some other purpose.
Arguably, you do not need any of these things and you can replace them with items that better meet your needs, but they are very common to meditation areas.
Not everyone has an entire room, pantry, or even closet they can spare. The Organized Home offers helpful and creative tips for better organizing your house to help you make room for a dedicated meditation space.
Here are five more ways to declutter your home and reclaim some space for your meditation area. Of course, you do not have to use the space you reclaim for that purpose. You might want to move some things around to clear out an entire room that you can use just for meditating.
Why Are You Meditating?
Before you begin brainstorming design ideas for your room, there are a few questions you should ask yourself because you answers will help determine your design. One of the biggest is:
What are you hoping to change through meditation?
If you are trying to de-stress, that is different than trying to control pain, and requires a different approach. Likewise, the whole point of a dedicated meditation room or area is to create, or at least promote, an atmosphere conducive to meditating. So, the design of your space needs to be specific to those ends, in addition to being tailored to your specific needs.
For example, studies have shown that spending time in nature is good for anxiety. So, if you are meditating to manage your stress levels, it helps if your meditation room has a window with a nice view. If your house does not have a room or space like this, you will have to work around it – maybe shop for a nice painting or large photograph featuring some picturesque landscape.
The Theme of Your Meditation Room
Once you have decided on a theme, carry it throughout your room’s design. In the example above, consider painting the walls a sky blue or deep green. Carpet resembling grass, or maybe a rug with a soft, floral pattern continues your chosen theme. Don’t forget the textures involved and try to include those, as well – you could include plush carpeting, a straw mat, or bamboo window shades to reinforce the feel of being outside in nature.
As mentioned, you might not have a window in your meditation room. Many general stores sell commercial paintings of all sizes for as little as $15 US. Or, you might head to a printing shop to get a picture you took enlarged for framing – you can even get them enlarged to poster size. The same general stores sell very affordable picture frames of all sizes for as little as $1 US!
Meditating to control pain is usually associated with focusing on cool, soothing colors. If this is your reason for practicing meditation, you should decorate accordingly. Cool colors like blues and greens, coupled with neutral colors, is one idea. Avoid warm colors like red and orange, loud colors like yellow, and bright hues.
In fact, experts suggest sticking soft pastels and clean designs for wallpaper and carpeting, regardless of why you are meditating or what kind of meditation you will be doing. Bright colors are actually high vibrations and busy designs can cause you to lose focus.
A completely neutral approach is one many take. With this design aesthetic, almost everything is white, off-white, or some light shade of gray. The idea is to remove yourself entirely from the room – to make total immersive meditation possible – by eliminating literally all distractions, including colors that might strike an emotional tone, and to achieve this by using only neutral, minimalist design and design elements.
If sitting on a bare floor is not your idea of relaxation, or you suffer from a disability which prevents you from doing so, you can still employ minimalist techniques to a lesser degree. After all, it is difficult to focus if you are uncomfortable. More important is that the space you choose is one in which you feel safe, secure, and relaxed. If your design accomplishes that without paint, pictures, or remodeling, then it is successful.
To those ends, you can always find a quiet, out of the way place and just sit facing the wall! This eliminates the distractions a room’s design, furniture, or other elements might present, and is the perfect solution for those who do not have an entire room to dedicate to meditation.
Whatever you include, exclude, or change, be sure it reinforces the atmosphere you are trying to create. Nothing should distract you or call attention to itself without purpose. This is why your meditation space should be away from traffic and noise, and why friends and family should know not to disturb you when you are there.
Chromotherapy is a pseudoscience in which practitioners claim they can heal a person’s chakra through sounds related to colors… or something like that. It’s all a bit mystical and, unlike meditation, has very little hard science backing its claims. But color and sound are both vibrations along a wavelength, and high vibrations and frequencies disrupt our concentration, so it may well be possible that our well-being benefits from the presence of certain colors and color combinations. This color chart may help you in your design but it is only offered for those purposes.
Fengshui, or Geomancy, is considered a pseudoscience in the West but in China, it is the guiding set of principles upon which good interior design is based. If your home has good flow, it is said to bring you luck, health, and happiness. Try applying some feng shui techniques to your meditation room to bring you inner calm.
Additional Meditation Resources
If this article has piqued your curiosity, or you are already a practitioner who has decided to dedicate a room or space in your home to meditating, the links below provide even more information.
A mindfulness app dedicated to Meditation, Headspace is also designed to help you get better sleep. Founded in 2010, it has now teamed with the NBA and WNBA to bring mindfulness into your life.
Pinterest is one of the premier photo-sharing social sites. This link leads you to hundreds of meditation room design ideas — maybe more! Best of all, many of the pictures you find on Pinterest lead to sites with even more information on the subject you are researching.
Morning Chores is dedicated to homesteading, a lifestyle centered on mindfulness, conservation, and self-sufficiency. Here, they present 30 meditation room designs from which you can draw inspiration.
Freshome lists 10 things to keep in mind when designing your meditation room, along with photos of successful rooms you can use as inspiration.
All meditation spaces are unique to their users. Even if you use only a corner of a kitchen pantry or a bedroom closet, your meditation space should serve its purpose. If it helps you drown out the chaos around you, and allows you to achieve the peace of mind which promotes better mental health, then it has done just that.
Everything here, including the supporting links, are only suggestions and inspirational ideas; your personal meditation space is yours to design.