Part of the practice of meditation involves cultivating an environment where the mind can enjoy a sense of tranquility. For instance, I don’t often engage in meditation while riding in a subway or visiting the local gym. There is obviously something about these places that doesn’t inspire me to sit down and close my eyes and transcend the worldly plane. It is partly the physical noise there, but also the fabric of the subtle field in these places has a harsh and unsettled quality.
In my living room where I practice meditation, I have cultivated a certain energy that I would describe as “blown”. People feel it as soon as they walk in. In fact, they usually don’t wish to leave, and end-up reclining on some pillows with dreamy looks on their faces. What is it about this atmosphere that attracts them so much? It is certainly a sense of bliss. This bliss is woven into the fabric of the subtle field there.
I have lived in meditation communities, where the energy is intensely spiritual. People who meditate regularly build a certain atmosphere that is unlike almost any other on earth. The space around them seems to sparkle or shimmer. One simply has to close their eyes in such a place and the consciousness will be transported to states beyond the mind field. The fact is that you don’t have to go to a temple or church, or live in a spiritual commune, to experience a meditative atmosphere. By taking certain steps, you can nurture such a quality in your own home. Every time you walk into such a place, you will notice a stillness, and the more meditation that is practiced there, the more a calmness will pervade the air.
This article is about how to create a blown space for regularly settling down the mind. Even basic physical characteristics can influence the spiritual energy of a room. It is all a question of refining and raising the vibrations. By making the atmosphere more subdued, the senses have an opportunity to withdraw, and one’s attention is not pulled or distracted in any way.
To begin with, the physical environment should always be clean and full of prana or vital energy for meditation. It should be aired-out frequently, and dusted and vacuumed regularly so that the atmosphere remains light and refined. It is more difficult to meditate in a messy or cluttered room. Meditations are suited to an emptier room where the energy circulates better.
Meditating in a small area allows one to build a more powerful and concentrated energy. In a large room, the energy is more inclined to dissipate. If there is a group of people meditating, the size of the room is less of a factor. The group energy will fill the space and raise the vibrations there. A meditation room that is very crowded with people will generate much heat, and it may be desirable to have some type of cooling system available.
Other physical factors can make a difference. Low level lighting is desirable when it comes to cultivating a meditative space. It is difficult to meditate in an environment where intense fluorescent lighting is present. The harsh vibrations arouse the mind and senses. Even with the eyes closed, the atmosphere feels charged and unsettled. The meditations will likely be restless and not very deep.
The best lighting for meditation is candlelight. It is soft, rather than harsh and disturbing. It is relaxing for the mind. The space becomes diffuse, indistinct, and ideal for the withdrawal of the senses from the world. Some people prefer to keep their eyes open and meditate on the form of the candle itself. I like to shut my eyes, recite mantra and concentrate on the dark and formless space before me.
Close the light in a room, and burn a candle there, and you will notice the atmosphere changes immediately. Candlelight has a purifying quality. The smoke clears away heavy or toxic elements, making the space lighter, more rarefied. Not just for meditation, but any time you want to purify an atmosphere (after arguments, sickness, when first moving in) candles are amazingly effective.
Lighting incense is another way to make the atmosphere more meditative. Like candlelight, incense refines the space, giving it an uplifting and intoxicating quality. It cleans the air of heavy or negative energies, not only in the room, but in one’s own energy field as well. Good incense will give the atmosphere a charged quality that is unmistakable.
Not everyone enjoys the smell of incense when they first encounter it. It may take a while to get used to. Ironically, some people have little difficulty with the odor of barbequed chicken, yet find incense to be offensive. Burnt meat is a much grosser level of smell vibration than incense. It is all a question of refining the senses.
Different types of incenses are available. There are musty, sharp and more subtle fragrances. One must experiment to find which are appropriate for meditation. The incense that I light in my car is different from that which I use in my meditation room. Certain smells arouse the senses and are best used as perfumes or air-fresheners. Those that have a more refined fragrance have the effect of taking one out of their body.
Lack of noise is another important factor for promoting a meditative space. If a television is blaring next door it will be difficult to settle the mind. With the attention constantly pulled toward the sounds, the experience can be frustrating. It can be downright painful if one is jarred from a particularly deep state of transcendence by a sudden or loud noise.
It is not that occasional sounds, such as passing traffic, should have a devastating effect on one’s meditation. A meditator wi l l eventually reach a stage where such distractions will not reach them. The point is rather that the environment should remain subtle whenever possible. Subtle means little or no waves in the mind field.
There is also such a thing as being too sensitive to external stimuli. Someone I know gets very disturbed by even the slightest sounds during his meditation. The world, however, will continue to be full of activity. Meditation is about finding the center within ourselves, rather than being thrown off by every little thing that happens around us.
Yet more subtle forces influence the spiritual energy of a place. I remarked about physical noise, but there is also such a thing as mental noise. Books, newspapers, a computer, television, and so on, stimulate the mind, but not necessarily in a meditative way. The mental activity they create lingers in the atmosphere long after you put them down or stop using them.
It is not a question of having a few books or newspapers lying around. Rather, I am trying to convey that a certain atmosphere is more conducive to settle the vibrations in a room. A place where you watch television regularly, for instance, will have a mental field that is busy. A room where a lot of mental work is done will be “stimulating”, rather than mentally calming.
It is also not recommended to meditate on the spot where you sleep, such as atop your bed. The vibrations are more inclined to be heavy there, pulling the consciousness to a slower speed. It is also preferable not to meditate in a place where you eat, or where you engage in many different activities. Reserve a spot specifically for meditation so the energies won’t get mixed there.
When one meditates the mind quiets, and so does the mental atmosphere around them. The mind-field becomes stiller. If one meditates regularly and often in a room, the atmosphere there will certainly reflect this fact. It will eventually become sufficient for you to simply sit there, close your eyes, and quickly be transported by the loftiness of the space.
Author Bio – Charles Shahar is a clinical psychologist by training and a social researcher by profession. He has lived and studied Vedanta philosophy in India, and has taught meditation and yoga for 17 years to diverse populations.