In most Japanese homes, you will find some sort of special space, usually a shrine or altar. They tend to be either Buddhist or Shinto-themed. Or they can be as simple as a tokonoma – an outlet with a hanging scroll and flower arrangement. These spaces in the home serve as places of worship and meditation and are where people pray to their ancestors.
Drawing on this Eastern wisdom, we can create a sacred space in our homes that serves as a place to reconnect with ourselves, take a pause, and refocus our intentions. You can put anything on your alter – what’s important is the objects’ meaning to you.
Today I wanted to share my home altar with you. It’s nothing fancy and, in fact, is on a bookshelf. That said, it is an integral part of my daily meditation practice. Prior to meditating, I take a deep breath and look at each object from left to right. Each object calls to mind something very important. I also stop and sit in front of it when I feel out of sorts and need to realign myself.
From left to right.
Driftwood: When I was 17, I lived in a tent on a remote beach in California. The beach is now a state park, and when I visited it a few years ago, I took this piece of wood. It reminds me of the things that have always been important to me and that at one point in my life, I was totally happy living under the sun and stars without electricity, plumbing, furniture, etc.
Daruma Doll: Know as goal dolls or wishing dolls in Japan, the left eye is colored in at the beginning of a journey, and the right eye is colored in when the goal is accomplished. When I started Amayori, I colored in the left eye with the goal of opening a small store in San Francisco. Seeing this every day is a reminder to keep working until I reach my goal.
Crystal Pendant: This was given to me by my niece, who is truly the most kind-hearted person I have ever known. I believe this has something to do with how my sister raised her and how my parents raised us. My family are all kind-hearted people, and I am thankful for my parents instilling that trait in me.
Ring: My mother gave me this ring, which had been her mother’s, when I left home to travel the country at 17 years old. This ring has been all over the country multiple times, and I’ve never lost it. My grandmother passed away when I was a baby, but I know that I embody her dreams. We all embody the dreams of our ancestors, and we should create a life that will help our future relatives. This is my connection to that aspect of family.
Bowl of Shizumi Luxury Bath Salts: I consider these salts to be my life’s work. When I look at them, I am thankful for the path I am on, for the beauty of Japan’s ingredients, and for the beauty of my life. I am also thankful for all of you who have joined me on this journey.
Tea Fan: I have taken tea ceremony classes on and off for a few years now. It is one of the most beautiful, mindful things one can do. This tea ceremony fan is a reminder to show my gratitude for chado, or “the way of tea.”
I have a crystal and bracelet that my Reiki teacher gave me. The Japanese art of Reiki is my main spiritual practice, and these trinkets are reminders to always practice gratitude for the changes Reiki has brought into my life.
I have in a frame the calligraphy characters for “beginner’s mind.” This is a Zen term that reminds us to be open and non-judgmental and to approach life as if we were just beginning – wide-eyed and explorative.
On the right and left of the sacred space are two charms that I picked up at Kurama-dera, a temple in the mountains of Kyoto. Mt. Kurama is a place of intense energy and spiritual enlightenment. These items remind me of the sense of awe and oneness I experienced there.
Since this is the spot where I meditate, there is always a bottle or two of the Home Essence and a diffuser nearby.
These are just my examples. I hope this inspires you to create your own sacred space at home.