Why This Isn't Titled 'How To Make Your At Home Altar'
I have an altar in my house and it's a little spot that makes me smile each time I pass by. When I see it, I'm drawn to sit in front of it because I like being around it so much.
An altar is a place to pray, meditate, practice yoga and sometimes to sit quietly to 'escape' life, only to sit with life's questions on a deeper level. The things I've placed on my altar inspire me, remind me, challenge me, make me thankful, and guide me.
No one can tell you how to create your altar because the most important thing is that it should feel good for you. The only rules around making your altar depend, quite personally, on you.
However, here are some questions to help you along in the process.
1) Why do you want to create an altar?
Is it to meditate? To pray? To escape to a quiet room/place? All these things can help you base your decision on where your altar should be. What feels right for you in terms of placement? Having it slightly removed from the main area of your house will keep it quiet and help you avoid extra distractions. I have my altar smack dab in the middle of my living room because I like to pass by it often.
2) Who do you respect and love deeply?
This could be a deity, a teacher, a family member - anything in your life that reminds you of the best person you can be. If it feels right, allow yourself to be reminded of more than one person/deity at once. If it doesn't feel right, focus on one at a time. I have Ganesh, Shiva and Hanuman at my altar. Ganesh reminds me to enjoy life's pleasures because of his enjoyment for sweets (I'm prone to working too hard). He's also the remover of obstacles and well, I could use a few of those out of my way.
Hanuman was originally placed at my altar because, quite frankly, I wanted to be able to do the splits (Hanumanasana is the Sanskrit name for the splits). He's there now to remind me of my personal power, dedication and faith in myself.
Shiva was a gift to me from my brother and interestingly enough, right after I received Shiva I was drawn to a style of yoga that had Shiva on the altar often. I started to connect that this was indeed the same deity that I had at home and I just knew I was on the right path. For that reason, Shiva reminds me both of family connections but also, he's connected to creation and destruction. He reminds me of the pulse of life and that everything living is thriving partly because of everything that has passed. He reminds me there is beauty in death.
3) What makes you happy over and over again?
The Dalai Lama has a great interpretation of True Happiness, and it has nothing to do with the latest trends - i.e.: don't place the new pair of shoes you bought at your altar. What makes your spirit soar? What feeds your soul? Place some of that around your altar. For me, it's reminders of nature such as rocks, shells, crystals and feathers. Sometimes in autumn, I scatter fallen leaves around, and in the summer, there's flowers.
4) What inspires you and what are you grateful for?
Is there a quote, an item, or a living thing that inspires you in anyway? What makes you grateful? Place reminders of these things around your altar.
I have quotes and sometimes pictures. Right now, it's this quote: "I am galaxy with skin."
You can always change the objects on your altar - whenever you feel the need. They are simply a physical reflection of what's in your heart.
And that is why this isn't titled 'How to Make Your At Home Altar" - let your heart tell you how.
Check out video tutorials with Donna over at The Seduction of Yoga!!