A few weeks ago, I thought I would benefit from setting up an altar. While I don't have all the things I thought I would have liked to have on it, the few things I do have are meaningful and help me to focus inwardly.
So there's a candle which represents my inner light/represents me as a light being and serves as a point of focus when I'm chanting or breathing. There's feathers which represent air, the air I'm breathing, the breath of life that cleanses and rejuvenates/energizes. There's a bamboo plant which represents life but also sustainability and renew-ability. The plant sits in water which also represents life. I have an incense holder that holds the incense I burn that helps me engage my sense of smell and the rock (from Ghana) represents the Earth and reminds me to be grounded.
I call myself "original wombman" not because I'm obsessed with my womb but because the womb is representative of creativity, love, and renewal, acceptance and embracing my femininity--embracing me. On the bottom shelf, I have a mat that I unroll and sit on cross legged. Somehow this position makes me very conscious of my womb. On the shelf above, I have my books on meditation and the chakras as well as my journal and pens.
The cloth on top I bought ages ago and never had a good use for it. I love it for this purpose--woven material is especially nice to touch and feel and the color (orange-red) is bold and engages my eyes. The table itself is an old end table that we brought up from the basement, wiped down and polished (re-using what you have already). Conveniently, it's got doors on either side and I keep my lighter in one side (away from the view of children).
The altar itself is in the living room and I had kind of wished it were somewhere more private but we just don't really have any space any where else. I was concerned about weirding my parents or other family out when they come by but whatever. I didn't realize how much I needed this altar. Chanting in front of the computer posed too much of a distraction. After 2 minutes, I'd get antsy. In front of the altar, I can easily chant for 10-15 minutes or more. I really enjoy sitting there just breathing or writing or reading. I've noticed so many changes in myself most notably that my patience has tripled and the days go by more smoothly and peacefully.
I won't recommend setting up an altar to anyone though. It's got to be a desire born inside you to be effective and not some forced spiritual exercise. For me, spending a few minutes there every morning has proven to be the most powerful and effective way to start my day.
And I'm so fascinated by the fact that the boys don't bother it at all . . . it'a almost like it's not there to them.
Sacred Space Changes Things!