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How to Create a Simple and Supportive Meditation Space

How to create a simple and supportive meditation space

Recently, I ran across a Pinterest pin with a a checklist for creating your meditation space.  The pin listed items divided up by the senses plus some extras, like these:

  • Calming pictures
  • Ornaments
  • Meditation Mp3
  • Relaxing playlist
  • Oil diffuser
  • Oil burner
  • Incense
  • Blanket
  • Rug
  • Cushions
  • Herbal tea
  • Bells
  • Fresh flowers
  • Plants
  • Meditation cushion

Those items might be nice if you want to create a cozy space for self-discovery, personal reflection, or listening to the whispers of your heart.  But, believe me, not a single one of these items is necessary for mindfulness meditation.  You don’t even need a room.

To be clear, I’m speaking about the practice of mindfulness meditation, not meditations or guided visualizations meant to help you relax, increase your self esteem, or improve your body image.  Those can be helpful, but they’re completely different from mindfulness meditation.

The only thing you truly need to meditate is your mind.  Meditation is about working with your mind, whatever the environment.  However, in the beginning it’s helpful to have a relatively quiet and supportive ambiance in order to establish and stabilize your practice.

11 Tips for a Simple Meditation space

So what do you really need to meditate?

Here are my suggestions, as a long-time meditator and mindfulness teacher, for a simple and supportive meditation space.

11 keys to help you create a simple + supportive meditation space. Meditation | Mindfulness | Meditation Space #meditation #mindfulness #meditationroom #meditationspace

1.  A regular place

If you have an entire room for meditation, you’re so fortunate.  If you don’t have a separate room, then find a corner in your bedroom or living room, or any room in the house. Alternatively, you could sit outside on a deck, on the grass, or in a nearby park.

Sit in the same space each day, if you can. The familiarity will help you build and stabilize your practice.  After a while, many people find their mind begins to relax as soon as they enter their meditation space.

But this isn’t an absolute requirement if you happen to travel often or live with many other people.  Just do your best to establish a regular place.  If you need to switch around from time to time, don’t fret about it.

2. Relative quiet

As a beginner, it helps to have a relatively quiet space for meditation.

Unless you have beginner’s luck, it takes time for your mind to begin to quiet down.

At first, your mind might seem noisier than ever because you’re paying attention for the first time.  Don’t let that deter you.  It’s a phase you’ll move through with practice.

Although your aim in meditation isn’t to silence your mind completely, the practice of mindfulness will help you to achieve more calm, spaciousness, and a sense of distance between you and your thoughts.

Later on, once you’ve gained some stability in meditation, you can learn to use sound (whatever sounds arise in the environment rather produced sounds like singing bowls or music) as a support for mindfulness. But in the beginning sounds may distract you, so opt for a relatively quiet place.

But again, don’t go into a state of angst about it either.  Just find the most workable space you can.  If you find yourself distracted because the refrigerator hums, the heater pings, or the roof creaks, just bring your mind back to the breath or whatever object you’re using for your mindfulness practice.  You’ll have to do this again and again.  We all become distracted like this when we’re learning to meditate.  There’s no need to feel bad about it.

3. Well ventilated / well heated

The two main obstacles in mindfulness meditation are restlessness (also called agitation) and dullness (includes sleepiness).

If your meditation space is too warm, you’re more likely to feel sleepy and lose your mindfulness.  Open a window and let in some fresh air or rinse your face with cool water.

While I’ve never heard it said that cold will produce more restlessness, the antidote to agitation is to practice in a room that is warm and dark and to wear heavier clothing.  So avoid an overly cold room too.

Adjust the temperature in your meditation space according to the weather and your particular body thermostat.  This will help you stay clear, fresh, and awake during meditation.

Of course, sometimes the temperature will be beyond your control.  Then we do the best we can, bringing the attention back to the breath if it’s distracted by cold or heat.

I spent three winters meditating in a small “chalet” with a tiny wall heater that warmed just the few feet directly in front of it.  It took me awhile to let go of the constant complaints in my mind about the cold, but eventually I did, for the most part.  So I know it’s not easy, but we work with the situation at hand.

4. Relatively uncluttered and clean

Clutter can be highly distracting.  Some studies show that clutter can effect your physical health and attention span.  For example, research indicates:

  • Women with cluttered homes have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone
  • Clutter can make it more difficult to focus on the task at hand
  • Women who live in cluttered spaces are more likely to feel depressed or fatigued

The opposite of mindfulness is distraction.  Clutter provides many opportunities for the mind to become distracted, either with the things themselves or the inner messages you tell yourself about needing to clean up.   Any object can invoke memories from the past or thoughts about the future.

So keep your meditation space as free from clutter as possible.  Consciously select any object you wish to add to your space, asking yourself whether it will enhance or detract from a supportive ambiance for meditation.

The same applies to cleanliness.  For most of us, a clean environment raises our energy while a dirty one brings us down.

5.  Accessible

Your space needs to be easily accessible so you don’t miss sessions because it’s a hassle to get there.  If your space is in a barn across a snowy field or in your yoga studio around the block, you may rarely get there.

6. A comfortable seat

Unless you engage in walking meditation, you’ll spend most of your time on your bum.  Be sure you have a comfortable place to sit.  You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, on a sofa, or on your bed.  Or you can buy a mediation cushion and sit on the floor.

But it’s not necessary to have an expensive cushion or to sit on the floor.

The mind and body are intimately interconnected.  A feeling of relaxation in your body usually enhances relaxation in your mind. So a comfortable seat can support the quality of your overall meditation experience.

“Relaxation,” however, doesn’t mean to slump or half-recline.  In sitting meditation, your back should be straight, but not tense, allowing for the natural curve of your spine.  This allows the energy to flow more freely through you subtle energy challenges, and helps to reduce mind chatter.

7. Clear boundaries

Your space may have built in boundaries, like a door, that protect you from interruption.  If your space doesn’t have physical boundaries, you’ll need to create verbal boundaries.

Tell your partner, housemates, or children when you’ll meditate and how long you’ll be in session.  Ask them not to interrupt you and to maintain relative quiet during your meditation time.

I know this can be difficult with children, so you may need to make arrangements with your partner or a friend to watch over your kids while you meditate.

8.  A timer

You can use your watch or smart phone to time your session.

This works much better than staring at a clock you’ve place in your line of sight or cranking your head around every few moments to look at one that you’ve removed from your field of vision.  Be sure the timer has a gentle ring so it doesn’t startle you.

9.  Optional:   Inspirational teachings

Some people inspire their practice by reading a passage from a book, listening to an audio teaching, or watching a video at the start of a session.  If this is you, have what you need easily available in your space so you don’t have to rummage around for it every time.

And, be sure not to spend so much time on your method of inspiration that there’s none left for your actual practice of mindfulness meditation.

10. Optional:  A Journal

If you’d like to make a few notes about your practice or record insights that arose during your meditation keep a journal nearby.

Always makes notes at the end of a session, not during your practice.  Bear in mind that note taking or journaling can quickly bring you back into your thinking mind, so use these practices judiciously and maybe not at all.

11. Optional:  A simple altar

If you’d like to practice a secular form of mindfulness without any religious or ritualistic trappings, that’s fine. You can skip this section.

Some people, however, find that ritual brings them into the space of meditation and sacred objects inspire them.  If you’d like, you can create a simple altar with:

  • Inspiring or sacred objects or images of respected figures that remind you of the purpose of meditation.  Cover a small table with a nice cloth and place the objects on top.
  • You can add fresh flowers, incense, and/or a candle if you wish.  In the traditional teachings, these are  thought of as offerings, which can help you increase good qualities like generosity.

A regular ritual like lighting a candle and/or a stick on intense may help you connect with the deeper meaning behind meditation or it may assist you in entering more readily into the practice.

But an altar is not necessary for the practice of mindfulness meditation.  Decide for yourself whether these types of objects would inspire or distract you and set up your space accordingly.

Things to Avoid in Your Meditation Space

I don’t recommend listening to music or using bells or singing bowls during meditation practice.  It’s difficult to listen to music without moving into “like”or “dislike” and getting entangled with the experience of the music.  That can bring you back into the conceptual mind, which is what you want to leave behind in mindfulness practice.

When you move on to using sound as an object of your mindfulness practice, it’s much better to use sounds that naturally arise in your environment rather than created ones.  That way you’re not creating attachment by only selecting pleasant sounds and furthering aversion by avoiding unpleasant ones.  So you won’t need a “playlist” or an Mp3 player unless you listen to audio teachings to inspire your practice.

You also don’t need an oil diffuser as your goal in mindfulness meditation is to work with your mind as it is and many essential oils have an effect on the brain.  However, you know yourself best.  If you have a high level of anxiety and feel you need a support like this, then follow your own inner wisdom.

I’m not saying you should never listen to music or use essential oils to relax.  I just don’t recommend them during the practice of mindfulness meditation.

Of course, it’s your meditation space, you can add whatever else you’d like to create a warm and cozy atmosphere like calming pictures on the wall or a shawl or blanket to keep your warm.  In the end you have to decide for yourself.  Just remember to be selective and to choose items that will not become a distraction.

A Meditation Space That Supports Your Practice

The purpose of mindfulness practice is to be present in the moment.  You don’t need excess paraphernalia to do that, and in fact, having too many objects around or things to do may just distract.

And if you have an emotional pattern that urges you to get everything “right,” you might create a lot of distress for yourself trying to make the perfect space according to someone else’s checklist.

In short, relax and keep it simple.

If you’d like to know about getting started with mindfulness meditation or dealing with restlessness in meditation, read these:

The Danger of a Peaceful Meditation Space

In the beginning, you need a quiet and comfortable atmosphere to calm your mind.  The activity of your mind will be challenge enough.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of mindfulness meditation, you can slowly expose yourself to more distractions and learn how to use them as objects of your mindfulness practice.

There’s a wonderful story of a dedicated yogi who had practiced for years in a cozy retreat environment with a beautiful vista and animals all around.  His mind became very peaceful.

But then it occurred to him that he may have just turned into a serene vegetable.  He thought it might help his meditation to be in a scarier and less pleasant place.  So his teacher advised him to go to another place, a cave devoid of sun with water dripping down the walls.  To make matters worse, a flock of pigeons flew around  the inside of the cave, night and day. Their excrement landed on him from time to time and their flapping wings kept him awake at night.

As you can image, all the feelings of peacefulness he had carefully cultivated in his beautiful and tranquil environment momentarily disappeared. It was very hard for him at first, but still he vowed not to be distracted and continued his meditation training in these difficult circumstances.  As a result, he came to the point that nothing bothers him at all.  That is true freedom, isn’t it!

You can read the full story here:  Story of Togden Amtin

Don’t worry!  No one is expecting you to go to extremes like that.  But this story underscores that mindfulness means being present to your experience, all of your experience — pleasant and unpleasant, on the cushion and off.

There are methods to help you integrate mindfulness in your daily life, which I’ll write about at another point.  But in the beginning, you need a quiet environment without distraction in order to learn the basics of mindfulness and begin to stabilize your mind.

How does your environment effect your ability to meditate?  I would love to hear in the comments below.

A Few Special Things…

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Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra



























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  1. Jean sampson

    Oh Sandra, if only I had a little more space in this tiny house (I know I am talking to a small house person, too).! We don’t even have a kitchen table to eat on ! I do not mind most of the time, but when I see beautiful spaces like the one in the photo, I really do wish I had a little more space! Once-upon-a time, we wanted to do something like this with the attic —-but ran out of remodeling money so it did not happen. So right now, my meditation space is my nest on the little sofa where the cat and I sit and veg and watch TV. It is hard to sit there because sleep happens 🙂 I have some ideas of how to make that a little less relaxing 🙂 so wish me luck! 🙂 Meditation and tapping are definitely on my list of things to incorporate into my life !

    • I completely understand, Jean. I would like to have an extra room in my house too. Right now my office and personal space is in the bedroom and we don’t have a living room or dining room aside from the lanai (deck), which isn’t ideal in the winter when it’s chilly. But I love our little place with nature all around it.

      When it comes to meditation though, I just sit up in my bed after waking up in the morning and sit on my bed to meditate in the evenings too. I even did that when I had a separate office in our first home in Hawaii. It works well for me.

      If you are falling asleep when you try to meditation, have you considered that you might be tired and actually need to sleep? 🙂 I do wish you luck finding ways to stay awake, and with getting your meditation and tapping practices going. Hugs!

  2. For a long time, I only meditated in silence.

    Then, I began to find out that it can be helpful using an oil diffuser or music whenever I have a hard time trying to settle down.

    In fact, these days, I suggest these to others too especially when they are new to meditation. I tell them to use some tools rather than give up or conclude that they can’t still the mind or relax.

    While I think it will be great to train ourselves to do without them eventually, I got to admit that there are days when I find them helpful and great for relaxing the mind prior to a deep session.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Evelyn. I know you’re a big proponent of essential oils. And in this crazy, stressful modern life, I can understand why. I personally feel people are better off not using these types of items as a regular habit during mindfulness meditation. I’ve added a bit to the article to explain the reasoning behind this. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on this point!

  3. I love all these suggestions. Although I do like to have music – sometimes bowls, chants, classical, ambient – music playing. I find it soothing. I also would highly recommend having a cat in your lap! I like to feel the vibration of their purr. I know it’s not true Buddhist meditation, but I consider meditation mental health work. And, it works for me! 🙂

    • Hi Debbie,

      I think both types of practices have a place in our lives. Listening to music can be soothing and I love the purr of a cat too, we have two. I see these as self-care practices and mental health practices, like you, and feel we need them in this busy, crazy world. Yes, I’m present traditional mindfulness practice here, which is rooted in the Buddhist tradition. Although I know that even secular mindfulness programs like MBSR don’t include listening to music as a way of training, although of course we can be mindful when we listen to music too. I’m glad you found practices that add to your mental health and your mindfulness!

  4. Wow that is a list, I have incence, candles, crystals, a buddha, himalayan salt lamp, oracle cards, music of so many genres, on my wish list is a tibetan singing bowl

    Sometimes i use these, sometimes i just drop into silence, on the bed, at the beach .

    meditation is where you feel you can be at peace and go within was what just came to me xxx

    • Hi Suzie,

      Sounds cozy! The word “meditation” is used to describe so many different practices these days. In this article, I am speaking strictly about mindfulness meditation. We see meditation a bit differently. I don’t see meditation as a way to feel at peace and go within. I see mindfulness meditation as being aware in the present moment, whether you feel peaceful or not. Yes, peace can come about through the practice of meditation but if we become attached to feeling peaceful it can become an obstacle to our practice.

      Again, I’m only speaking about mindfulness meditation. I’m sure your meditations practices bring you much peace and joy.

  5. Sitting outside, surrounded by nature is my most favorite place Sandra. I find the quiet sounds of nature soothe my soul and make it easier to quiet my mind.

    I think it’s fascinating how for some we need a ritual to meditate for others it’s simply about sitting in the silence wherever they are.

    I love the story of the Yogi. 🙂

    • Elle,

      I also enjoy listening to the sounds of nature during meditation. Of course, in my neighborhood that sometimes means listening to tractors and earth-movers at the same time!

      I love this story of the yogi too. It reveals quite a lot about the potential pitfalls of meditation.

  6. These are all wonderful suggestions. Having small kids, I’ve had to adapt my practice over the years. When the kids were toddlers, they liked to curl up in my lap when I was meditating. I used their presence as the focus of my meditations. Today, they’re a little older and can understand when I tell them that I’ll be meditating and need some “alone time.”

    Last Christmas I invested in a meditation cushion and mat and, boy, did it make a difference! My left foot used to fall asleep right at the 15 minute mark, making longer meditations almost impossible. On my mat, I’m so much more comfortable.

    A few months ago I discovered the app Insight Timer which has lovely bells/gongs to mark the beginning and end of my practice and nature sounds while I’m practicing. The sounds of a babbling brook are so soothing and help to bring me back to the present when my mind wanders.

    Like so many others, I don’t have a dedicated meditation space. It’s in the middle of the room that serves as my office, an art space and play space for the kids. I think the space and environment have more to do with our intentions while we’re there than the physical setup.

    Love this article Sandra!

    • Thank you, Paige. It’s good to hear from a Mom on how she’s made meditation work with kids. I’m sure your experience will help others!

      I’m glad you found a cushion and mat that supports you so you foots doesn’t fall asleep. I agree, it can be helpful to have selected items like this that support our meditation. It’s so useful to have a timer like this, it can be so pleasant to begin and end with lovely bells. I use the timer on my I-phone and have it set to gentle chimes, otherwise I jump out of my seat if the timer is too loud. 🙂 The sounds of nature can serve well as an object of attention in meditation, although in my training I learned that it’s best to use whatever sounds arise in our environment. That way we don’t get overly attached to pleasant sounds or stuck in aversion for unpleasant ones. It can bring so much freedom when we learn to allow unpleasant sounds to be an object in our meditation, like the weed whacker I hear in the background now and the whirring of the laundry machine.

  7. I don’t have my own space but I do have a room where I meditate and have purchased a meditation cushion which is more comfortable. I’ve tried guided meditation and some of the new apps that are now available, but I keep coming back to meditating in silence which seems to work better for me. Although I just read Paige’s comment so may give Insight Timer a try. Thank you, Sandra. I love these ideas.

  8. “Believe me, not a single one of these items is necessary for mindfulness meditation. You don’t even need a room.” That made me laugh!

    Several months ago, I looked at my meditation area (a cushion on top of a folded blanket in a corner of my bedroom) and realized how cluttered it was. I had some inspiration books, some prayer beads, a finger labyrinth, a journal, let’s see, what else? I can’t remember, but it was cluttered. I spent so much time getting ready to meditate that I never got around to it!

    I put everything away except the cushion on the blanket. Much better!!

    My favorite place to meditate is sitting by the creek at my cabin, or if too cold or wet, in front of the fireplace there.

    • You made me smile, Galen, with this: “I spent so much time getting ready to meditate that I never got around to it!” Yes, that can be danger. 🙂 You have solved the problem beautifully. Thanks for sharing this story.

      I like to sit in nature too!

  9. Such a perfect post for anyone contemplating, or even already practising meditation regularly. I particularly like your things to avoid, Sandra. It is true we can just feel peace within ourselves when we practice nothingness. My mind wanders when I meditate but I manage to allow it and then corral it back in to the present and sometimes even end up feeling sleepy. But blame that on my not-so-great sleeping routine. Nevertheless, I feel great after that “nothingness”.

    You write beautifully, you know. Each time I read your posts, I just want to go and do whatever you suggest! Hugs!

  10. These are such wonderful suggestions Sandra! I dont neccessarily have a space to meditate, cause I’m a hippie at heart and confinement to one place just isn’t my thing. So for me anywhere I feel I can meditate I do. In the garden, in the room, on the bed, on the floor….lying down, walking, running, doing yoga…all includes meditation for me. Stillness is needed…and I don’t like external stimuli like music or essential oils either. Simple feels best for me personally.
    But I do love the idea of a room all to myself…thinking!
    xoxo, Z~

  11. hi Sandra, I’m with Zeenat, I can meditate everywhere. Because I find meditation so hard (to find time and the place for it), I give myself permission to meditate in any location around my apartment. The good news is that I’m surrounded by many spiritual pictures, photos, objects so it feels like any place is good as another. Keep my space clutter-free motivates meditation.

    So, interestingly, I’ve started using apps to meditate…Headspace specficially with Andy Puddicombe, a former monk and now founder of Headspace. I now need his voice lol to start my practice. Thoughts?

    • Hi Vishnu,

      It’s so nice to see you! It’s been awhile since we connected. So good that you have the flexibility to meditate anywhere!

      I’ve never used any app to meditate so I can’t comment from personal experience. 🙂 As I said in this article, the word has meditations has many meanings. Some people apply it to methods that help us calm down and relaxed. I’m not against that at all. I only think we need to be clear that this is not mindfulness meditation and while the benefits from a worldly perspective might be fantastic, the benefits from a spiritual perspective may be limited.

      I suspect that Headspace is a bit different than that, although I wouldn’t automatically trust the guidance of any monk, current or former, without examining his background, experience, and his content. I think guided mindfulness meditation can help us get a good start. But, to be honest, I think it’s problematic if we become dependent upon it. Because the purpose of mindfulness meditation is to help us become more aware in daily life. And apps aren’t necessarily available when we’re in the thick of things in daily life. My thoughts would be to use guided mindfulness meditations occasionally and the rest of the time, practice without them. But of course, it might take time to make a transition like that. So I would do it gradually if that’s what’s needed.

      I hope you find this helpful, Vishnu. I will have to listen to headspace one day and make my own assessment.

  12. Thanks for the tips. Feeling and emotions are so important in mediation and a good space definitely help move things along smoothly

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