You don’t have to practice formal sitting meditation to cultivate wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in the ordinary, but giving yourself a quiet space for retreat and reflection does help nurture quiet, calm and peace. I ran into some pretty incredible meditation spaces while I was editing Natural Home, and I saw how greatly the homeowners who gave themselves this luxury benefit. Here are five of my favorites.
Sarah Susanka’s Sacred Space
Photo by Elisabeth Groh
Architect Sarah Susanka, whose Not So Big House books launched a movement in quality-over-quantity homebuilding, designed her house in St. Paul, Minnesota, according to her own rule that every room should serve several different needs to keep space requirements down. She agonized, at first, over whether to include a single-use meditation space in her attic, but her longing for a place where she could escape and perform her daily meditation rituals won out. Here, surrounded by her favorite books, candles and incense, Sarah found strength to write and rewrite her first book, The Not So Big House, when the publisher kept sending it back and asking for changes. In that room she found the voice to write a book that has inspired people across the world to see that smaller is better in housing. “If you make a place like this, with the intention to make time to use it,” Sarah says, “wonderful things can happen.”
Bringing Spirit to a Sleeping Space
Photo by Laurie Dickson
Tom and Flame Lutes’s off-the-grid home in Colorado didn’t have space for a designated shrine or meditation room, so they placed their altar in the corner of the bedroom, creating a sot that reminds them of their dedication to spiritual wakefulness first thing in the morning. The shrine holds a collection of sacred items that embody reminders of Flame’s and Tom’s spiritual paths.
Simple and Serene
Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison
Peter Lamoureux’s home in Fairfield, Iowa, a hub for Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners, includes a sweet, simple meditation space, strategically placed in the home’s northwest corner following the tenets of Sthapatya Ved, ancient Indian rules for orienting and placing buildings to promote health, good fortune, and higher consciousness. The serene mood that permeates Peter’s home is intensified in the meditation room.
Photo by Daniel Nadelbach
“There is a peace that permeates these natural surroundings, and it carries through into my home in a seamless transition,” says Bonnie McGowan, who built her straw-clay home in Pecos, New Mexico, according to ancient Indian Sthapatya Vedic principles. That peace is particularly palpable in her meditation room in the northwest corner.
Where a Master Meditates
Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison
It was my honor to meet yoga and meditation master Richard Freeman, one of my personal heroes, when we photographed his treehouse-like meditation room in his Boulder, Colorado, home. Richard melds decades of yoga study and practice with Zen and Vipassana Buddhism, Sufism, and Western philosophy, and his videos and tapes on ashtanga yoga and yoga breathing are bestsellers. “A meditation room can be sanctified through prayer or chant to mark it as a sacred space,” he says. “In the same way that you create a sacred space, you can create a sacred time for meditation by beginning and ending with a chant or bow. This ritual, done as you enter and leave your space, encourages a fresh look at the thoughts and feelings that arise within it.”
For more advice on setting up your meditation space, check out Om at Home: Expert Meditation Advice at www.naturalhomeandgarden.com.