Advanced yogis may be able to meditate in the midst of chaos and turmoil but we beginners need an environment that is peaceful and conducive to meditation. In this post I want to show you some cheap and easy ways to make your place a perfect venue for introspection, calmness and quiet practice.
9 Cheap ways to make your place peaceful and conducive to meditation
1. Use candle light
Candles are a traditional offering that originated in India. Candles were the main representation of light which is an offering that is made to your teacher or the Buddha as a symbol of the light of the teachings. When you offer a candle on your altar you make the aspiration that the light of peace and happiness spreads throughout the universe and that the light of compassion vanquishes the darkness of anger and hatred. They are a very nice way to calm your senses and the room.
2. Create more space
The great masters of the past recommended that beginners meditate in a place with lots of space. This could mean a hill, mountain or a valley where you can look out over a big view. In occurred to me recently that many people live in apartments with a view of the city or neighborhood. Sitting by your window would be an ideal place to meditate. Failing that, at least create some space in your room by removing clutter and mess.
3. Clean up
An old Buddhist teacher once told me that it was important to clean your room before every session of meditation. As I grow older I see the importance of this – the mind settles a lot easier in a neat and tidy room. Your eyes have less material to wander on to and you feel less anxious because you know you have done a small part of the house chores.
4. Get natural light
I really don’t like meditating in a room with fluorescent lights flickering away. It is much better to have some sun or the natural light of a candle. Again, I think this type of light is “warmer” and much more natural. A strong fluoro light will be distracting and harsh on the old eyes.
5. Open a window
Fresh air is marvelous for meditation. It allows you to breath in deeply and feel like you are not trapped in a little cell like a monk on a three year retreat. I love opening my window when I meditate. This also has the bonus advantage of keeping you a bit cooler which is good for concentration. If you are too warm you are likely to drift off to sleep.
6. Get a Buddha statue
The Buddha was a truly inspirational figure. He wasn’t a god or a superhuman being. He was an ordinary guy like you and me. I find the statues of the Buddha extremely inspiring because they symbolize the work and hardship that he went through. Most importantly, however, they communicate the very true fact that you can do it to. Sitting down in front of a statue of someone who has completed the path is very, very inspiring. You can get some nice Buddha statues here.
7. Buy some flowers
Many ancient Tibetan and Indian texts speak of the value of having flowers in a room where you meditate. It is thought that flowers have a very good effect on the mind because they are always associated with happiness, good harvest and other positive things. The texts say that any place that has fresh flowers will be very peaceful. I tend to agree. My mother always had several bunches of flowers around our house and it always made it feel lighter and more homely. Try it in your meditation place.
8. Play some chanting music during the day
The monks from the monastery of Sherab Ling in the Indian Himalayas won a Grammy Award a few years ago for their traditional chants. I have visited this monastery many times on my trips to India and always found it a very peaceful and special place. You can purchase their CD and play the chants in your home before your meditation session. I find this really gets the ambiance right and makes your mind ready to go.
9. Burn some incense
If you find the right stuff incense can be really useful to your health and your meditation. In Tibet there was a great medical tantra that was passed down from a great master to his students. In that tantra it explained how to make incense that would heal serious illnesses and clear away blockages of the internal energy. It explained that many diseases can be caused by such blockages and burning incense is a good way to remove them. But of course you have to get the right stuff. Some seriously good incense can be bought here.
It doesn’t take much
It really doesn’t take much to make a room a little bit more peaceful. If anyone has any other tips they would like to share that would be great!
Originally posted on October 1, 2008 @ 5:23 am
Take a vow of silence, smile and close your eyes.
The Daily Minder
I like it!
In the Buddhist tradition we are taught to keep our eyes open staring straight at your mind or at the object of your meditation. Is closing your eyes a Hindu tradition? I am interested to know.
Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of having a candle burning, putting on some soothing music and having flowers. These ideas put me in a relaxed mood every time.
Only advanced yogis, eh? All I can say is, “hmmm…”
This reminds me of a story of a king during the T’ang Dynasty who held an art contest. Perhaps, you’ve heard this one. He wanted the best portrait of “Peace.”
There were many applicants. Many drawings, many concepts of peace. The contest lasted for several weeks because there were so many versions of peace.
The king carefully choose finalists among all the entries until he finally boiled them down to two that were very similar: They were both of waterfalls.
The first waterfall was of bright, beautiful scenary. The landscape was green and lush. The sky was bright blue with a few clouds and birds flying about. There were a couple of monkeys bowing over the bank drinking from the clear, cool waters as a few other various creatures were playing in the woods.
The second waterfall was a torrential, weather beaten scenary against a dark and stormy sky. The winds violently blew against the trees with erupting leaves and brush. Great mists of water were blowing from the falls, yet behind the falls there was a calm: A mother bird and her babies slept peacefully in a nest amidst all of the turmoil.
“I have decided the winner,” proclaimed the king. “The dark and stormy falls.”
Do you know why? Real peace is not simply finding a place that is peaceful. Real peace is finding the peace within you amidst the turmoil.
I wish for you Real Peace.
The Daily Minder
Healing Mind – Nice story. I agree with what you are saying about difficult circumstances being a great meditative teacher and the fact that peace is an internal discovery and not an external phenomena.
However, the great masters of the past including the Buddha himself have clearly stated that beginners need a comfortable and relaxing place to practice meditation before they are able to “really” meditate in their day-to-day life. It is excellent if we beginners can try to meditate during difficult circumstances because they creates good habits. Sure. But don’t expect it to work right away.
The advanced yogis are those who truly understand the nature of reality. Once you understand this it doesn’t matter if the waterfall is peaceful or stormy. It is all the same to you!
Thanks heaps for your great comment. I really enjoyed it.
The Daily Minder
Evelyn – Thanks for the comment! Glad you stopped by.
i think i have to agree with daily minder on this one. as a beginner i know that there is no way i can find peace in the “storm” situation. i need a quiet place where i can look inside and find the peace there. but hopefully one day that inner peace will manifest itself on the outside.
great posts this past week daily minder. thank you.
I found this blog on Digg and I really am enjoying it.
I loved the story about the Emperor in the comments. What a guy! LOL 🙂 However, I think I am too young to be able to meditate in a storm!!!
I have added you to my google reader.
The Daily Minder
Wellen – thanks for leaving a comment. I think you are right – eventually the inner potential manifests as a happy external reality in that you perceive things in a better way. Good luck on your journey.
Singapore Fatso – We have a great little community here. People leave really good comments. Hope you stop by again.
Buddhist meditation (Vipassana) is about closing your eyes and focusing on breath (in the beginning).
In a lot of other forms of meditation like when you listen to music or are visualizing, closing eyes is recommended.
Even if we don’t meditate and simply close eyes, it provides a lot of peace. Perhaps because we are resting or because a lot of external stimuli stops when we stop looking.
The Daily Minder
Focussing on the breath would normally be considered Shamatha not Vipassana in Buddhism. Vipassana is more about insight meditation – the object being the mind itself. When doing Vipassana I have been taught to keep the eyes open and stare straight at the mind. Perhaps there are different traditions of this?
Thanks for your comments about closing the eyes – I will give it a try.
I must admit I’m not that educated about Buddhism, yet I see references to this and Buddha. I’m curious, which Buddha? As I understand, there are a number of them. Are we talking about Buddhism before or after Bodhidarma taught chi kung to the monks of Shaolin?
Let’s not forget Guatama: When he was 29 years old, he became dissatisfied with his comfortable and sheltered life and left his country. He went out into the world among the common people to experience the pain and suffering in their lives.
In that sense, the creator of Buddhism was far more in touch with reality back then than the people who practice “Buddhism” today – wasn’t he?
The Daily Minder
Hi Healing MindN –
What a great comment! I’ll answer it as best as I can.
Yes, there are a number of buddhas. There are, in fact, an infinite number of them. The Buddha we refer to here is the historical Buddha Shakyamuni who lived in India 2500 years ago. Shakyamuni is considered special because he was the first Buddha to teach the Dharma in this eon. Prior to Shakyamuni there were infinite buddhas and since Shakyamuni many people have attained buddhahood – especially in India and Tibet.
Yes, this was before Bodhidharma taught the Shaolin monks. Bodhidharma was an Indian who traveled to China long after Buddhism was established in India.
Guatama (who you mentioned) was the Buddha Shakyamuni. He was a price and lived a life of luxury but upon seeing the sufferings of old age, sickness and death he left his palace to meditate alone. However, Guatama tried living a life of hardships and found it did not work. He later discovered that meditation required a balance of hardship and comfort until one reaches a high degree of meditative stabilization. We can see this in his life stories. For example he had no progress while he was fasting and made excellent progress once he made a comfortable seat of kushu grass.
These days we are in what Buddhism calls “the degenerate age”. Buddha Shakyamuni said that it would be difficult for people to meditate because their emotions are so strong. This is why we need to start at the beginning and make a nice space for meditation. Then, once we have calmed the mind and gained some insight we can go off in to the world and meditate on whatever happens.
I hope this has helped a little bit and not confused you! Great comment I really enjoyed it!
First and foremost I would like to thank you for this wonderful read! I recently got into Nawang Khechong’s albums for relaxation while I meditate. I really enjoy the mixture of the Tibetan monk vocals, it’s very soothing. If you haven’t heard of him, do check it out!
The Daily Minder
Thanks Anrea I will check it out.
Stumble.. always brings peace
As for the eyes – its a mix of half shut / half open for me.
I tend to use my eyelids as a set of tools. When I start my session my eyes are half closed / open (half mast)and my head just slighty bowed downwards, but with a good straight neck and back just stacked up rightly on its vertebrae and supporting itself (my old teacher always said you can always tell a good monk by his head and shoulders 🙂 –
Now….if I get an attack of the drowsies and start feeling sleepy I open the eyelids slightly more and let in a little more light which in turn helps me wake up and contrasts the pull to sleep.
I so agree and about natural light and quiet! Music flowers and incense are balms for the sole, but I would not use this is in the way I have learnt as I don’t focus on anything externally..but for those that do I would like to learn more.
The Daily Minder
Great tips there. I really like that idea of using the eyes for drowsiness. Normally I just sleep if I am drowsy!
Thanks for leaving a comment.
“Normally I just sleep if I am drowsy!” Sure, and why not as well! Some of my favorite Buddha images are the reclining buddhas.
Another interesting factor is walking meditation. I was contemplating that walking meditation should be practised with eyes open! Unless perhaps you have a big empty field 🙂
The Buddha Garden
Hi there, Daily Minder;
Firstly, I wanted to say what a great blog, and some fantastic comments (I know I am late to the party here). I particularly liked your response to HealingMindN about the historical Buddha and Bodhidharma – that is one of the better “elevator speeches” on Buddhism and the history of the Buddha I have seen.
Just as a side note, in case anyone thinking it might be difficult enough to keep track of the infinite buddhas out there, don’t forget that there is also the Jataka tales, which go into previous incarnations of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni – so that should keep your plate full for a while.
Thanks again for the great blog 🙂