When you have the good fortune to possess a space dedicated to meditation, use feng shui principles of placement and design to help maximize the flow of positive chi or energy in the room. Feng shui is an ancient Asian art of geomancy that defines the most auspicious locations for buildings, rooms and objects in a room. Colors, materials, gemstones -- even open doorways -- can affect energy flow, and careful attention to feng shui makes your meditation space both enlivened and serene.
Mapping for Meditation
The bagua map is a grid with nine squares, used to determine the most intense and helpful energies in each area of a home, a room, even a meditation altar. Place the bagua map over a diagram of your house or apartment to find the best location for your contemplative space. The lower left corner of the bagua, when the map is aligned with the front entrance of the house, is the Knowledge area. This is an auspicious location for a meditation room. Another strong area is the middle right square, the area for Creativity. But if your room is in another part of the house, you can enhance its energy by the arrangement of the altar and accessories in the space.
Clear everything out of the room; clean it until it sparkles -- and then clean the space spiritually with a sage smudge, flowers and holy water, or a sacred bell or clapping ritual. You may want to engage a professional space clearer to help release old energies from the room. Paint the walls a soft shade of lilac, white or off-white, or another pastel, to invite gentle energy into the cleaned and cleared space. Pale purple is the color associated with the higher chakra centers for intuition and enlightenment. Use the bagua to find the best location for the altar, which will be the focal point of your space. If the Knowledge or Creativity areas are not practical or possible, note the qualities associated with the altar location and reinforce them with your decor. You might add a deep red cloth, to increase abundance, to an altar in the Wealth corner.
As you place the bagua map over the blueprint of the empty room, the sections of strong energy are obvious. But don't forget the other feng shui principles that determine the optimum energy movement in the space. It's better if the room is not directly above or below a kitchen, bathroom or massive piece of furniture, such as a grand piano or a heavy antique sideboard. A door to a bathroom should always be kept closed, whether in the meditation room or adjacent to it. Overhead beams can block or cut the energy in the room, and you should avoid placing your meditation seat under one. Mitigate the sharp energy of a beam by painting it to match the ceiling and hanging a hollow bamboo flute on or from the beam. Arrange the meditation cushions or chairs to face the altar, without turning their backs to the door. Place a screen or bookshelf between the doorway and the seats to promote a sense of safety and tranquility.
A Seat at the Buddha's Feet
The meditation altar and statue should be a comfortable viewing height -- not too far above your head when you are seated, but not below your feet, because this is a mark of disrespect. You may consult a bagua map for placement of altar items. Any murti, statue or large crystal should be centered in the middle of the altar, the section for well-being. A few simple items surround the statue or spirit object, such as a geode; a vase of flowers or a small green plant; a candle or tea light; an incense holder; and a beautiful object from nature -- a bird's nest, smooth river stone, feather or pine cone. Sit on a chair made from wood or grasses, or a cushion covered in yellow, maroon or earth-colored natural fabric so you feel grounded. Always use the same cushion for meditation -- the energy collects in it and makes your meditation more powerful.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .