DAY 28: CREATING A SANCTUARY FOR YOUR MEDITATION
Supporting your meditation habit, no matter how busy life gets.
Wow! It’s the final day of the 28 Day Meditation Challenge – can you believe it’s day 28?
It’s absolutely wonderful that you’ve made it through the 28 days. I’m hoping that you have enjoyed the journey and that you would maybe like to keep meditating in the future…?
It is my deepest wish that these 28 days have awakened an excitement within you, to be able to connect with that sense of peace and calm; that still point; that point of being; that point of truth; that point of clarity deep within yourself. And I also hope that you’ve been enjoying the space you’ve created for the ‘you’ time.
If you want to stop after today, that’s completely ok. Remember, there’s no judgement here. And each meditation counts.
If you want to keep going, tomorrow there will be a final message that explains different ways you can keep your meditation journey running. Yes, I know it’ll be day 29, but I didn’t want “What’s next?” to get in the way of “What’s now?” It will cover ideas ranging from finding local classes (and 10 questions you should ask the teacher, before joining!), through to online courses and even how you can create your own meditations.
But, for today, I would like to talk to you about creating a sanctuary for your meditation space.
Before we dive into the details, I’ve got a few questions for you, about how you have been meditating over the past 28 days.
Where are you meditating?
Have you been meditating in the same place each day?
Or have you tried different places?
How did they compare?
Are there some places where it’s easier?
Did you notice anything, if you returned to the same place, each day?
When we meditate in the same place every day, that place builds up a really special energy; you can feel it, as soon as you sit down. And it makes it much easier to meditate. Our mind enjoys consistency and familiarity and soon gets anchored into habits and routines. Having a single place to meditate is a very quick way of getting back into the physical, psychological and emotional ‘meditation space’.
If at some point during the day we’re feeling stressed, tense, worried or upset, if we just go and sit for a few moments in that space, it can bring us back to that inner still point. It can help us to let go of the emotions that we don’t really want to be holding on to, even when we’re not meditating.
The dictionary describes a ‘sanctuary’ as being:
‘a room or other place where one can seek refuge from his everyday concerns; a haven.’
Sounds like a great place to meditate?
How to create your sanctuary.
There is no right or wrong way to create that sanctuary – and there’s no one saying you have to! But millennia of meditators have found that setting up a special place to meditate makes it easier and more enjoyable. Your own belief systems, your upbringing, your values, your religion, your spirituality will dictate the kind of things that you might like to place in your sanctuary area. It can be amazingly powerful to create even just a tiny corner of your home that is your meditation space.
Always keep it clean; always keep it clear of clutter; don’t use it for anything else.
It might be the top of a book case, a shelf or even a box in a corner with your seat in front of it (the seat can move, if you need it to, during the day). Perhaps you might like to put things on it that have a special significance for you, which reminds you of that inner calm or perhaps of the beauty of nature. You could choose something that inspires you. It might be a beautiful photo. It might be a flower. It might be a crystal. It might be a leaf. It might be a book. It could be a collection of things.
It is not about worshipping those objects in any way. This is about creating a space that is just for your meditation, which you don’t use for anything else, because it builds up a special energy. By returning to your special meditation space with the intention of reaching your still point, day after day:
You’ll find your still point is there waiting for you before you have even sat down.
As soon as you decide to walk towards it, your brain will automatically trigger the neurological pathways that help you to remember what it feels like, setting off the chemical reactions for relaxation in your body.
It gives you a ‘zero effort’ head start to your meditation.
If you’ve been putting off your meditation that day, it will call to you, each time you walk past it or catch sight of it, out of the corner of your eye. So it becomes a gentle reminder to give yourself that ten minutes!
If you can’t create a space – if you’re living or working somewhere that you don’t have that option or are travelling a lot – then maybe you would like to get yourself a special shawl or a blanket or a cushion – something that you associate with your meditation? Choose something that is special, which doesn’t get used for anything else. Then it will remind you that you’re heading to your meditation sanctuary, each time you pick it up.
Use your nose!
If space is at a premium, then your meditation sanctuary could be a smell, instead of a place. It’s no coincidence that so many traditions use incense and other fragrances, as part of their spiritual ceremonies.
Our memories are stored using our senses, so seeing an image, hearing a voice, tasting a flavour, feeling a texture or smelling a scent can instantly – and automatically – transport you back to a previous memory, complete with that memory’s emotional, mental and physical state.
The sense of smell is the most primal way of doing this, due to its link to the most ancient part of our brain – the hypothalamus. Smells bypass the ‘thinking mind’ and trigger memories fast. So using a particular incense or aromatherapy blend each time you meditate will help you fast-track your way towards feeling more calm, relaxed and alert – ready for your meditation practice.
This is known as ‘anchoring’.
For a reminder on how anchoring works, remember the bonus article:
“How To Use Anchoring To Help With Your Meditation”
As soon as you decide to walk towards your meditation space – or light your incense or smell your chosen aromatherapy blend your brain will automatically trigger off the neurological pathways that help you remember what it feels like, setting off the chemical reactions for alert relaxation in your body. It gives you a ‘zero effort’ head start to your meditation.
Creating a sanctuary for your meditation, creating a special space or having a special shawl or cushion, really helps you to honour that part of you deep down inside that wants you to ‘come home’.
I’m curious: how have you been creating a special space for your meditation? What might you do in the coming weeks, to create a sanctuary that supports your ongoing meditation habit?
Discussion Topic: Creating A Sanctuary For Your Meditation Space
Creating your sanctuary – your special meditation space – is such an important part of cultivating a long-term, sustainable meditation practice that the Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has recently written a whole book on the topic. It’s quick to read, beautifully illustrated and, of course, inspiring.
You can find links to it here in the bonus section on the 28 Day Meditation Challenge home page.
I really hope you enjoy Day 28 today.
It has been an honour to share this journey with you.
As I said, I’ll be back with a message tomorrow, with suggestions for how you could keep your journey going.
Day 28 Affirmation
I choose to create a special place for my meditation.
P. S. Remember – there’s a final message tomorrow, on Day 29, to help you figure out what you want to do next. See you there!
P.P.S. The key links you need for week four are:
Week 4 Meditation: