One of the best ways to support the goal of practicing on a daily basis is to set aside a place as the “Chapel in your home.”
The general idea is to create a place in your home however modest your home and however modest this small chapel may be.
It might be as simple as a place in your bedroom where you place the cushion you sit on or the chair your sit in. If you are a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist ,or New Age devotee, you can add a painting or statue that you find evokes a sense of profound meaning or beauty. If you are a Jew or a Muslim, you might wish to choose to place a quote from the Torah or Quran on the wall that you feel sums up your faith and hope. If you are an atheist, perhaps there is painting or photograph that captures the beauty of nature or the mystery of the cosmos. Having a book nearby or playing music that inspires is another feature to weave into this sacred place of yours.
Some may wish to also have a bell they ring at the start and end of practice.
Or a candle or incense holder.
If you have a larger home and can set aside a room or have a small building on your property that you can convert to a chapel, then that is fortunate. You can create a sacred space where you and your friends, family members, and neighbors can gather for practice. Or you can use it as a hermitage on your property, a place where you go for solitude and silence.
The idea is to have the intention to set aside a place where you can sit for however much time you have that morning or evening. A place that is your place where you go for only one purpose. A place you can go to declare your intention, however weary you may be that day, to open your heart and mind to deeper compassion, insight, and wisdom in the context of the faith or secular tradition you have chosen.
Having this place, making it beautiful, however modest or grand this place may be, will allow you to practice more consistently. Hopefully, over time you will sit for at least a few minutes, maybe longer, every day or at least the vast majority of days. Maybe you will be able to sit for 2-3 sessions per day as you really gain a sense of the value of meditation and progress deeper into practice and the opening of the heart and mind.
The painting or statue, the artwork and accoutrements, the quote from scripture, whatever of these things you choose, will become more and more meaningful to you as you immerse yourself into the routine and revered images of faith, ethics, and practice.
In our very hectic and fast paced lives, with multiple electronic devices and streams of media it is important to step back from all of this for times of silence and solitude and the search for deeper peace and meaning.
Having a place in your home that is your place will make it all the more likely you will find, borrow, or steal some time from other priorities as you seek to establish a daily practice.
For some meditation is punctuated by high and profound experiences. For most of us, certainly for me, the awakening is a far more gradual process and requires a great deal of patience as we seek to learn whatever lesson is the next lesson to learn.
Small steps work well. A few small steady steps every day, work very, very well.
However tedious and unproductive some sessions, or years, may be; there will be times when you realize how far you have come. It is not that you must resign yourself to only ordinary signs and experiences of life and try to pretend that these are somehow more important than you first thought.
It is that you will begin to see deeper and more profound levels of meaning in what previously seemed to be very simple and ordinary signs and experiences.
You will see the image of the chapel as a metaphor for the infinite house of existence.
The person sitting in the chapel will see a doorway that leads to the chapel within the person.
Person, chapel, universal life and universe…different, but not so different.
If you have a moment send in a photo of the chapel in your home.
All the best.
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” and host of meditation practice.com