The idea of a meditation practice sounds great. After all, science has shown that meditation offers tons of benefits for your brain and your body, from lower blood pressure to a better mood. But committing to it on a regular basis is harder than it sounds.One thing that always trips us up? It can be tricky to find just the right (distraction-free) meditation cushion or place to meditate. While it’s true you can do it anywhere and anytime, having a consistent, dedicated place to meditate in your home can help you get in the right headspace, says Khajak Keledjian, founder of Inscape meditation studio in New York City. “The more you meditate within the same, familiar space, the fewer distractions you will have, which makes it easier to stay focused and present.”
Short on space? No problem—it could just be a small corner or section of a room, says Donald Altman, psychotherapist, former Buddhist monk, and author of The Mindfulness Toolbox and One-Minute Mindfulness. “Don’t feel limited by space—it’s how you make the space sacred that matters.” Got your spot? Keep reading for more advice on how to make it peaceful and inviting as possible.
Clear Out Commotion
The two most important items: a comfortable cushion to sit on and a timer so you don’t have to look at a clock, Cruikshank says. You can meditate without a cushion, but having one will make the experience much more comfortable. Try this cushion, which comes in three colors ($44.99, amazon.com).(Turn bath time into a meditation with color therapy bath botanicals from the Women’s Health Boutique.)
Seek out a spot with serene colors like green, blue, and purple, Altman suggests. Include textures that are soft and inviting—think cozy blankets, a soft rug, and a plush cushion. Finding a spot that has a view of greenery or plants is also a perk, as nature can help enhance quiet reflection, he says.
Try an App
Smartphones may seem like the antithesis of mindfulness, but you can use technology to your advantage. “There is a misconception that people need to detach from technology to find balance and create mindful environments,” Keledjian says. “At our studio and within our app, we’re merging tradition, modern thinking, and of-the-moment technology.” In the Inscape app, for example, you can start with breath work that’s less than five minutes that’ll help you get used to centering yourself and focusing inward. Cruikshank also recommends the Enso app: “It’s a simple meditation timer that allows me to program the intervals I like, with a gong or bell as a more soothing sound to come back to.”
Personalize Your Space
Consider adding items like a statue, candle, or peaceful pictures to your space. Make sure it’s something that works for you, Altman says. For example, if you’re very visual you might want to hang a photo or picture of a spiritual icon or image on the wall in front of you. If you are very kinesthetic, maybe get a rosary to hold or a special scarf or shawl to place over your shoulders while meditating. The right kind of crystals can also enhance meditation, Altman says. This candleby NEST Fragrances provides a bamboo scent that can help set the space’s tone ($40, amazon.com).
Silence is Golden
Whether or not to use music or silence during meditation is a matter of choice, Altman says. “Music can certainly be meditative, but it can also be distracting and take focus away from the meditation.” If possible, try for silence. “That way, the nervous system has just one thing to pay attention to,” Cruikshank says. If silence isn’t possible (or if there’s noise in your home), you can play some calming music to help block out background noise.
Bring in Scents
Certain smells can help enhance the sensory experience of meditation. Look for a lavender-scented candle or essential oils, Altman suggests, for a calming effect: “Lavender has been shown to quiet down the heart rate and lower blood pressure,” he says. Keledjian uses a custom blend of vetiver, frankincense, and cardoon to create a grounding, expansive, and warming environment at his studio.
Find the Space Inside Yourself