Once a niche pursuit, meditation has gone mainstream, with everyone from celebrities to CEOs espousing its myriad health benefits.
Practicing for 20 minutes twice a day is proven to refresh and refuel you to meet the demands of our crazily busy schedules. Allocating an area of your home for quiet reflection will serve as a personal reminder to sit down, close your eyes and focus on the here and now.
They say much of research is 'me-search', and at the moment it seems no one needs to know how to create a sanctuary at home more than me. It's school holidays and while I sit at my desk writing about how to create a healing, tranquil environment, a roomful of rowdy kids are testing out every musical toy from the toy box in the living room, and my husband is a few metres away in the front garden wielding an electric hedge trimmer.
I decided to quiz a few meditation masterminds about how to create calm at home.
"To set up a meditation place of your own, find a quiet place indoors where you can retreat without interruption and place some soft, flat cushions on a yoga mat or similar on the floor," advises Sydney meditation guru Yogi Brahmasamhara, who has been practicing the art for nearly 40 years. "If possible, choose somewhere they can be left in place so that the area becomes a little haven for quiet time each day."
Photo: Cushions from Urban Outfitters
"If it makes you feel more at home, adorn your meditation sanctuary with treasured pieces, such as flowers or polished river stones. Sweet aromas are therapeutically calming. You may choose to light a stick of incense or try a little bowl of scented oil… You might also like to add some meditation music to create a gentle mood. Very soon your special place will feel welcoming as you associate it with increasingly pleasant experiences."
Sydney meditation teacher Tim Brown, who has taught over 3,000 people to meditate in 15 years, including author Sarah Wilson, recommends the following.
1. "A novice meditator should always sit up to meditate with the back supported and head and neck free. Lying down will invoke sleep and when meditating we are looking primarily to invoke the meditative state, which is a state of rest scientifically and medically proven to be five times deeper than can be achieved in the sleep state."
2. "Always have a watch or clock in your hand or nearby. If you go deep and lose track of time, you don't want to have to leap out of the chair to check the time or be concerned that you have missed your bus! You can open your eyes slightly to check the watch or clock whenever you like during meditation. Very soon you will naturally come out of meditation at your designated time, 10, 15, 20 mins. It's uncanny!"
3. "Don't set an alarm for meditation - it will shock you on the way out and negate the effect of meditation. If you are using your phone as your timing device, make sure you put it on aeroplane mode so it doesn't buzz or vibrate."
I also consulted my eternally-zen acupuncturist, Ngaio Richards of House of Fertility & Healing, for her tips on meditating at home. "I usually meditate on the bed," she says. "I know a lot of people say you shouldn't meditate where you sleep but it works for me. We do have a little altar near the bed, upon which are arranged photos, images, symbols and statues that are meaningful for us. I usually light a candle which burns on the altar before I meditate."
Here's a shopping list to create your very own meditation station.
Bring in handmade textiles: Kilim cushion, $268, Etsy
Add artwork to stay mindful: 'Inhale Exhale' digital download, $8, Etsy
Wake up the senses with yummy tea: Peace, Love & Peppermint tea, $25, T2
Enlist in a hanging chair: Hanging basket chair, $399, Naturally Cane
Right, now that my meditation station essentials are on their way in the post, bring on the end of the school holidays!