Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

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Make your meditation space peaceful

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Need a breather? “Us too,” says everyone. Managing stress isn’t just good for your peace of mind—in fact, January 2022 biomedical research at England’s University of Nottingham suggests stress might actually increase your risk of catching Covid-19.

Fortunately, science shows meditation is one of the most effective ways to deal. A meditation practice requires little more than breathing… but the potential health benefits of meditation are impressive. Research shows meditating regularly can help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, and even manage chronic pain. Another huge plus is that you can access your meditation practice just about anytime you need it, anywhere it’s safe to close your eyes for a few.

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The key to experience the maximum benefits of meditation is to make it a habit. Designating a meditation room, or a small space within a room, can help instill that sense of regular ritual, as Neda Gould, PhD, director of the mindfulness program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, tells The Healthy: “Having a dedicated [meditation] space can make it easier to create a habit,” Gould says, “as we associate this space with a task, like other tasks . . . to complete.”

So, investing a little energy, and perhaps a minimal budget, toward this space could prove to be one of the most worthwhile wellness commitments you make this year. To help you out, meditation and mindfulness experts offer a few simple steps to create a calm, inspiring, therapeutic meditation space. (Ohm…)

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If you appreciate these ideas, you might also enjoy our 10 Easy Self-Care Swaps to Make in 2022.

(Sign up for The Healthy newsletter for wellness wisdom delivered daily.)

Scout out your location

Space can be tight, and not all of us have a dedicated room to spare for a meditation studio. That’s totally OK. “It could be an area, or corner of a room,” says Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) in Los Angeles and the author of The Little Book of Being.

Gould adds: “You can clear out other items or even use a partition to create this space.” (This wood and rattan room divider has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and comes in multiple sizes and finishes, depending on your unique space and decor.)

Alternatively, if your geographical climate makes it comfortable to step outside, a review of 25 studies found that nature-based mindfulness produces positive psychological and physical changes that were even slightly better than what was seen with mindfulness practiced in non-natural settings. If you want to amplify the spirit of nature around you, try these fountains and bird baths to attract more birds. Or, to bring a sense of the outdoors wherever you are, this indoor/outdoor water fountain could provide a constant trickle of tranquility anywhere you relax. As one Amazon reviewer said: “Nice. No sound of pump. Easy set up.”

(Related, check out why forest bathing has become such a popular way to meditate.)

Look for items that inspire connection

Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas
© Tempura/Getty Images

After you’ve decided where you’d like your Zen zone to be, make the area as inviting and meaningful to you as possible. “Some ways people typically decorate their room or meditation space include flowers, [or] something from nature like a beautiful stone, branch, or leaf,” Winston says. She also suggests displaying a photo of someone or something that’s significant to you, or a plaque with inspirational quotes.

Plants, jars that are filled with sand or shells, or a small water fountain can also help you feel surrounded in beauty to sink into focus. Incense or a scented candle can be lovely—just keep it away from drapery, wood, or anything that could catch a flame, and be sure to blow it out when you exit your space. (An essential oil aromatherapy diffuser or these Cocodor room fragrances reed sticks both come very highly reviewed. “This scent brings so much peace and tranquility to my messy and chaotic room,” one reviewer said of the Cocodor black cherry scent. These can also be safer alternatives to anything that requires flame.)

Whatever you select, keep it minimal and clutter-free. “Think of this space as an area that you look forward to being in, then incorporate items that create a peaceful or positive mood for you,” says Gould.

(Shopping for a pal who’s also into meditation? Check out these meditation-related gifts.)

Find the best meditation seat for you

There are lots of comfy meditation positions, and a yoga mat or a shag rug are all that some meditation practitioners need, says Murray Hidary, founder of MindTravel, which uses music to promote mindfulness and meditation.

Gould suggests that having a soft, beautiful seat of some kind may just further call you over to take a few minutes and sit down for your practice. When you’re shopping for the best meditation seat, she says, “The most important thing is to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep.” Sound advice. She adds that using a straight-back chair or a pillow can be great, adding, “You can also invest in a meditation cushion or bench.”

More than 1,500 Amazon shoppers recommend this curved bench with light cushioning (one senior Amazon reviewer said, “Just the right height, comfy and light enough to carry around but sturdy too! If you’re looking for a meditation bench . . . This is it!!!”). For meditation pillows, Amazon top-sellers include this velvet cushion, which one reviewer said is “as luxe and lovely, yet practical, as it looks!” (Another reviewer noted that this meditation pillow actually smells good.)

Should your meditation room be a device-free zone?

Experts say what you keep out of your meditation room or space can be as important as what you bring in. “We are trying to create a serene space,” advises Gould, “so I would suggest keeping electronics such as computers and phones out of this space, as well as anything that you associate with stress.”

That means smart phones can be distracting—but, they can also be a tool for meditation. Many people use guided meditation apps or the timer on their phone to meditate. Just be sure to put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. “The last thing you want is the sound of a text coming through as you are in the moment,” Hidary says. Blue lights from devices should be out of sight. “Those are not the of type of lights that are conducive to relaxation.” You might also consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones if kiddos, neighbors, or traffic outside threaten to be a nuisance. (These Bose noise-reducing headphones with bluetooth have more than 950 five-star reviews, and work with “a noise-rejecting algorithm [that] filters out environmental sounds,” the brand says.

One more note, says Hidary: If you have a furry friend who follows you around, it’s OK to let them into your sanctuary—as long as they don’t require constant cuddles or see your position on the floor as an invitation to play. (On the other hand, here’s why it feels so good to look in your dog’s eyes.)

A mobile meditation approach

Especially if you have roommates or live in a studio apartment or other smaller space, Hidary says it can be helpful to remember that you don’t need to keep your meditation space set up all the time. You might consider placing any props or equipment in a corner or closet when they’re not in use. The most important thing to remember? “Keep it handy,” he suggests, “as the more you have to prepare before you meditate, the less likely you are to do it.”

Besides that, shop, explore, and experiment to decide what’s just right for you—after all, Winston reminds us, meditation is a deeply personal practice. “Guidelines are what makes you feel happy, joyful, connected, and at ease,” she says. “Choose what inspires you and invites in the spirit of contemplation, calm, and well-being.”

For more tips on being good to yourself, keep reading:

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Bathroom Organization Hacks

    Closets, drawers, kitchen cabinets: your home organization project might focus on these big basics—but, especially considering the times we’re in, your medicine cabinet is a smaller nook-and-cranny that deserves to be meticulously on-point these days.

    With advice from an infectious disease doctor and a professional organizer, we’ve got your step-by-step medicine cabinet makeover. This organization process will empower you with streamlined mornings, immune support, and Covid-preventive essentials—and for those unpleasant occasions that creep up, like the common sniffles or sleepless nights.

    All this is why your medicine cabinet calls for a refresh just as much as any other section of the house. Reset your bathroom game by following this plan that’s loaded with pro tips. (And, if your home organization spree inspires you to upgrade more of your self-care standards, don’t miss 10 Easy Self-Care Swaps to Make in 2022.)

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Clean & Sanitize

    A good wipedown with warm water and a rag will get off visible goo…but it’s important to follow it up by sanitizing every surface, inside and out, advises Margaret Khoury, MD, an infectious disease specialist for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. Keep in mind that the warm, moist environment of the bathroom is germ heaven, and pathogens can even grow on soap and other hygiene products. Yeah, ew.

    Pick a product that kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and follow the directions on the label. Antibacterial products don’t work against viruses, and even cleaners that claim to kill most germs can miss COVID-19, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caution. So when choosing cleaning products, like wipes or sprays, go with an EPA-registered disinfectant.

    Be sure to take out everything (yes, every single thing—bottles, makeup containers, and the shelves they sat on) and wipe all of it down. Don’t forget to clean the knob or handle! Think of every surface fingers touch, and go there with that cleaner. (If you’re looking for the most effective cleaning solutions on the market, check out our list of the 14 Best-Reviewed Cleaning Products on Amazon.)

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Toss like a boss

    An easy next step is to throw away any expired over-the-counter meds and dried-out makeup. (That beloved eye shadow compact you’ve used since college? Zero judgment—but may we suggest 6 Facts That Will Convince You to Throw Out Your Old Makeup—Stat!)

    Toss used-up, broken, or non-functional items. It’s OK to purge ruthlessly—you have limited space there, so only necessary items can stay. “If you don’t love it or use it, lose it,” Rachel Rosenthal, a professional organizer who’s partnered with brands like West Elm and the Container Store, tells TheHealthy.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Supplies to fight Covid-19

    Got a supply of at-home rapid Covid test kits? Bonus points for being proactive! Don’t store them in your medicine cabinet, nor in your bathroom at all. The CDC recommends storing self-administered Covid tests in their unopened box in a cool, dry place. Improper storage or exposure to heat or moisture can make the tes malfunction.

    Help prevent Covid-19 by stocking up on alcohol prep pads or a fresh bottle of rubbing alcohol and cotton pads. Then, keep the whole house healthier by using these regularly to clean high-touch surfaces like kitchen cabinet knobs, your microwave’s buttons, door knobs around the house, your phone and keyboard, keys, and more. In fact, here’s our complete guide for Covid-19 cleaning.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Prioritize your shelves

    Ready to sort out what goes where? Rosenthal says you should start by assigning each category its own shelf and try to keep all the items in that group together within that designated space. You may want to label each shelf with a piece of tape or a sticky note to help you and your family put things away properly going forward.

    Keep the items you use every day in easy reach on one of the lowermost shelves. If you’re not using an item at least once a week, move it to a longer-term storage space.

    Have kiddos? Rosenthal suggests: “If you have little ones, dedicate the bottom shelf to keep their items where they can easily reach them and grab what they need.”

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Safety first

    The medicine cabinet is a common place to put medications, sharp objects like razors and needles, and toxic cleaners so safety should be a top consideration in your organization, says Dr. Khoury. If you have children that use the medicine cabinet, this is the perfect time to take inventory and remove all unsafe items and put them well out of their reach. (Don’t forget: Kids will climb onto countertops!)

    Put sharp objects in closed containers so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself. Toxic cleaners should be stored in tightly sealed unbreakable containers, so even if they fall, they won’t break open and spill.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Move your meds to a smarter spot

    Oh, the irony: Turns out, the medicine cabinet is actually one of the worst places to store prescription and over-the-counter drugs, says Gina Harper, PharmD, BCPS, a UCHealth Pharmacist and Clinical Coordinator at Poudre Valley Hospital in Northern Colorado. “Moisture, temperature, oxygen, and light—all things found in bathrooms—can degrade medications faster than normal,” this pharmacist explains.

    Unless the packaging indicates otherwise, most medicine should be stored at cool room temperature, in a dry, dark place, and in the original package… so, not in your bathroom. This is true for many skin care products, vitamins, and supplements as well.

    Note: If you really want to keep your meds in your bathroom, consider buying a small medicine fridge for your counter. This allows you to control the temperature, humidity, and exposure to light and air.

    (As for what definitely belongs in the bathroom, here are 10 items nurses always keep in their medicine cabinets.)

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    An official warning: Do not toss expired prescription drugs

    Throwing prescribed medications in the garbage can help someone searching for narcotics get their hands on them. Flushing them down the toilet? Also not a wise option—this can pollute the water supply. Your best bet is to take them to your pharmacy (many pharmacies periodically promote drug take-back days) or to a local police department.

    If for any reason you have to throw medicine away, the National Library of Medicine suggests you should “ruin” the drugs by mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed plastic bag.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Store big items first

    Ideally, your cabinet has adjustable shelves to allow your tallest or bulkiest essentials to fit within easy reach, like toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, or large ointment bottles. Then you can see just how much space you have to work with for the rest of your stuff.

    If something takes up too much room and it’s not an item you access daily, it might be better stored in a closet elsewhere.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Next, insert your lesser-used items

    Prioritize by setting the things you use the most toward the front of your medicine cabinet, on the shelves that are the easiest to see and access, says Rosenthal.

    Place lesser-used items in the back or corners. If you’re not using an item at least once a week, move it to a longer-term storage space, like a closet or a box under your sink.

    Employ this system for the remainder of your items, discerning how prominently and accessibly each one should be placed based on how often you use it. Rosenthal says just remember: Your goal is to keep it safe, clean, and functional.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Don’t lose loose items

    Stray Q-tips or lip balm tubes adding to the clutter? Put them in a clear glass container. They’ll fit the vertical space better, and you’ll be able to see exactly what’s inside.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Try magnetic strips for metal trinkets

    What do nail clippers, tweezers, and hair clips have in common? They all stick to magnets! Put a magnetic strip on the back of the cabinet door or behind the shelves, and never think twice about where those small tools might be hiding.

    What’s equally genius? These 13 stylists’ tricks for getting the shiniest hair ever.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Don’t ignore the door

    Your cabinet door is prime storage real estate that often goes untouched, but there are a number of ways you can customize it for your storage needs. Stick on hooks to hold small scissors or plastic pockets to hold makeup supplies, for example. There also are a number of DIY storage solutions that help you use hidden nooks around your shower, sink, and cabinets too.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Watch what rolls

    Nothing sticks a landing squarely on the foot like a runaway rolling object the second the cabinet door opens. Invest in some mini shelves (also called vertical risers) to keep objects in place and maximize your storage space.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Label, label, label

    Small bins are perfect for makeup and toiletries, but not all of them are see-through. Create your own colorful labels to stay organized in style. These easy tricks will also instantly organize other small areas of your home.

    One tip? Forget Instagram—make a real-life plan. “Getting organized does not mean that you have to invent a complex color-coded system or invest in a million matching bins,” Rosenthal says. “The goal is to create a place for everything in a way that complements how your life operates.”

    For instance, if you normally toss your toothbrush in the bottom of the medicine cabinet, add a small open box there to keep it contained with the toothpaste and floss. You’re not going to magically transform your movements throughout the day—so plan for what you actually do, not what you wish you’d do (or what someone on social media claims to do), she says.

    Gotta love real talk.

  • Create the Ultimate Meditation Space: Mindfulness Experts Share 4 Easy Ideas

    Take a picture—it’ll last longer

    Especially if you’re not the organized-by-nature type, consider capturing an image of your work after you’ve found a home for all your goods. When things start to look disheveled again, you can take a quick peek and get everything back in place instead of starting back at square one.

    Doing this in your bathroom, and even for your pantry, cleaning products, or medication storage might also alert you to those missing items you don’t use every single day. This way, you can replace them when you’re out of stock.

    All year long, live healthy with TheHealthy. Read 25 Weight Loss Myths You Need to Stop Believing STAT and Can You Drink Lemon Water While Fasting?

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