At first, starting a meditation practice is uncomfortable. Like starting anything new, a lot of questions come up. You need to figure out a lot of things in the beginning. You’ll need to learn how to meditate. You’re going to have to find out when you can meditate and for how long. You’ll also probably need to decide where you are going to meditate. Depending on your situation, this process of finding a good meditation room can be tricky.
As with any of the above questions, what works is what is best. While you don’t want to be thoughtless about it, being too selective can also be a barrier. Remember this is a space for you to meditate, go with what feels comfortable to you.
That said, what helps to make for a good space to meditate? There are a few things to keep in mind:
- Is the space quiet?
- How is the lighting in the room?
- Is the space clean?
- How do you feel when you are in the room?
- Does the room have any visual distractions?
Over the course of the following paragraphs, we’ll look at each of these questions and discuss what makes each one important, and some ways to address the barriers you might encounter. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll feel ready to set up a meditation room of your own.
An example meditation room
It is all well and good to talk about what makes for a good meditation room, but in the end you need a real room not just a list of qualities. With that in mind, I want to provide an example: my own room. I meditate in a corner of my bedroom. My place can’t really accommodate a room specific to meditation, which means a multi-purpose room is a must for me.
With that said, there are some qualities about my bedroom that make it a good choice. My bedroom is one of the quietest options given the layout of my place. Also, the lighting in the room is good for meditation. If I need brighter light, I can turn on the overhead light, or simply use one of the lamps already in the room. Since it is a personal space, I can keep it clean without too much trouble. The bedroom is also a calm, relaxing space for me, so the mood is right. Finally, the decor of the room is pretty neutral. The walls are an earthy tone, and the corner of the room I use for meditating does not have any intricate or colorful decor.
The not so good
I am happy with my meditation room in the bedroom. But there are a couple of ways it could be better. While the room is generally quiet, if there is anything else going on nearby, like someone watching television in another room, there will still be some ambient noise. Other than sometimes craving a little more quiet, the only other improvement has to do with how I feel in the room. Since I meditate in my bedroom, if I am sleepy, it is a little harder to keep awake and alert, since I also sleep there. Thankfully, this isn’t usually an issue for me, as I don’t usually feel drowsy while meditating. But if you find yourself in your own bedroom, trying to meditate and barely able to keep your eyes open, a different room might be a better choice.
A quiet meditation room
No doubt you know why it is important to have a quiet room for meditation. If there is a lot of noise around you, it will be much more difficult to stick with your meditation. With that in mind, as in my example, finding the perfectly quiet room to do your meditation isn’t going to be possible. The occasional sound, or even repetitive noise, while you are meditating is unavoidable. Initially, this can feel obtrusive and distracting. Over time, noticing these noises and folding them into your meditation will be easier. While they are potentially disruptive, noises are just part of what is going on. Eventually, they will bother you less. Still, it is best to have a quiet room.
Lighting in your meditation room will depend a little bit on how you meditate. Specifically, it will depend on whether you prefer to meditate with your eyes open or closed.
If you prefer having your eyes closed while you meditate, lighting may not seem too important. There are two reasons you may not want the light to be bright, though. For one, a bright light in your meditation room while you are meditating could be distracting if the light is bright enough to be noticeable while your eyes are closed. Mostly, though, it can be uncomfortable to open your eyes to a bright light when they have been closed for a long time.
For those of us who like to keep our eyes open during meditation, lighting plays a bigger role. Depending on the overall decor of the room, like what color the walls are, overhead lights might seem a bit too bright. I generally prefer lower light, so I use a lamp with a soft white bulb. The lamp strikes a balance between creating too much light (that gets to be a strain on the eyes) and too little light (which encourages drowsiness).
A clean meditation room
There are a couple of aspects of cleanliness that deserve a little bit of attention. Think of cleanliness as it relates to the hygiene of the room (if a room can be said to have hygiene). Also, keep the decor in the room in mind. Either of these factors can play a role in your attention and awareness.
As far as the hygiene of the room, it can be hard to meditate in a messy room. For one thing, it will be one more passing thought to get caught by. If you sit down to meditate and find that you are thinking about all the things you need to do around the house, it will be hard to watch what is happening in the here and now. That is only going to be amplified if your meditation room isn’t neat and tidy.
The decor of the room is a component of its cleanliness, though we don’t tend to think of it this way. Do the walls have distracting pictures or images on them? Are the walls brightly colored? Is there a lot of ornate or colorfully upholstered furniture? If so, it could be a distraction. It sounds a little bit much, I know. Keep in mind, though, you may be sitting in meditation for 30 to 60 minutes (if you are up to that kind of commitment). Even the smallest things can be food for a mind starving for distraction.
How does the room feel?
The factors of a good meditation room have been concrete so far. This one is a little harder to pin down. There are a lot of reasons you may feel more or less comfortable in a room.
What do you usually do in your potential meditation room?
One thing to think through is how you usually spend your time in this room. Does it double as your office? Depending on when in your day you meditate, it might be hard to keep from thinking of your work. Likewise, if you work full time from that office, it may be second nature to think of work. If this room is also a space for entertainment, you may have to compete with more fun distractions.
What has happened there?
Another consideration is what has happened in the potential meditation room. Any big life moments take place there? These moments could be recent or long ago. Depending on how much they have shaped your life, and how recent they are. They could affect your mental activity. For example, imagine you have just had an argument with someone important to you. Meditating in the same room where the argument happened might be difficult that day. Three weeks later, the same room might not be difficult to meditate in at all.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the space feeling calming. The less the room excites your mind, the better it will be for meditation.
This is similar to the “decor cleanliness” from the section on choosing a clean room. Some of the same considerations apply. Think about the brightness of the colors of walls. Think about the furniture in the room. There is one other thing to keep in mind. Is there anything in the room that moves? Do any of the decorations have moving parts? Even a pendulum on a clock could be something to keep in mind. Is there an uncovered window in the room? You may be surprised how quickly that can steal your awareness.
Before I was meditating in my bedroom, I was in a more common area of the house where I live. There were large windows on other side of where I sat to meditate. Over and over, I would find myself thinking about those windows. My mind would wander off thinking about a movement I caught from the corner of my eye. Or, I would wonder if there was anyone walking by or glancing in the window that saw me just sitting quietly doing nothing. Those were paths to long distractions (especially the second one). This was a big reason I eventually switched to my bedroom.
No perfect room
Speaking of me meditating in my bedroom, I don’t think this is the perfect setup. The best thing I can say for it is that it works for me. That may not sound like high praise. In fact though, it is about the best you can expect from a meditation room. If you have a space that you like to meditate in and keeps you coming back (or at least not avoiding it), you have a good place to meditate.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you are able to keep meditating in your room of choice, that is a good metric for the quality of your meditation room.
Your meditation seat
Finally, once you have your meditation room selected, you will need a place to sit. Depending on how you like to meditate, and how you are comfortable, there are a few options. If you prefer to sit on the floor, you will want a mat and a cushion. I use a mat and cushion set similar to this. If you are more comfortable seated on a chair, look for a chair that keeps your upper legs parallel to the floor, and allows to you sit upright with your feet planted on the floor. It doesn’t have to be a dedicated chair, but I find it helps to have a seat that you devote to meditation.
Thanks for reading and happy meditating!
Is meditation in the bible?
If you are a Christian starting a meditation practice, you might ask yourself this question about meditation in the bible. And there are a number of reasons you might ask. Finding meditation in the bible can be really helpful. As a christian, you probably take the bible to be normative for your faith and life in one way or another. So, you may even feel like you need to find meditation in the biblical text before you can really get into a meditation practice. Even if you don't feel the need to find meditation in scripture to be invested in a meditation practice, the way the bible portrays meditation is helpful.
How to meditate
Learning how to meditate has its barriers. Meditation probably sounds deep and mysterious if you are just starting out. Pop culture is no help. Meditation tends to look otherworldly, and so do the people who practice it. It would be better if that reputation would go away, but it is hard to fight such a prevalent picture. Despite the image of a robed man with a long beard sitting on top of a mountain, meditation isn't that far from daily life. Meditation is really quite simple. That doesn't mean it is easy, but learning how to meditate can be.
How long should I meditate?
This is a popular question. Maybe more popular even than whether a person should meditate at all. However, I am not going to go into that here. That is covered elsewhere. Instead, talking about how long to meditate, I want to encourage you to meditate in a way that works for you. Meditation is surprisingly difficult to begin with, so being too strict about how long you spend meditating in any given period could be overwhelming. Better to err on the side ease and sustainability.
Is meditation a sin?
A lot of speculation exists about the sinfulness of meditation. Some say it is an invitation to evil spirits. Some say it is idolatry. So, is meditation a sin? This might be a question that someone asks only when they feel they already know the answer. If some of the most popular responses I’ve found to the question are any indication, most people ask if meditation is a sin so that they can at least imply that it is. I won’t hide my opinion. I don’t think meditation is a sin, nor do I think it is dangerous.