I recently moved across the country from Chicago to Seattle. My husband and I sold our three bedroom house and downsized to a one bedroom apartment. In our previous house we had an office and half of it was dedicated to my meditation space, now I have carved out a tiny corner in our bedroom. What's important isn't that you have a lot of space, what's important is that you have a dedicated space, whether it's an entire room or a small blanket and tray you bring out of the closet. Having a personal meditation space will help motivate you to practice on a regular basis.
How to Design Your Own Meditation Space:
1. Find a space in your home that makes you feel peaceful
Maybe you like the light that comes in through your bedroom window or maybe there is a back closet away from everyone else in the house. Either way, select a place in your home that makes you feel calm and peaceful. It's probably a bad idea to set up your space in the middle of the kitchen, but only you will know the right place in your house or apartment.
2. Determine what you need to help you meditate
Not everyone needs props in their meditation space, but there may be a few calming objects that help signal to you it is time to meditate. Some people use crystals, a salt lamp, plants, or a Tibetan singing bowl.
For me, I have a small table with a candle, lucky bamboo, and a few decorative objects on it. I'm still looking for the perfect statue of the Buddha.
3. Use candles, incense, or an essential oil diffuser
Every day before I meditate I light a candle. As I light the candle my meditation session begins, and when I blow it out my session is complete. It helps me stay centered.
Lighting incense or starting an essential oil diffuser would have the same effect.
There are certain calming scents like lavender and sandalwood that are ideal for meditation.
4. Find a cushion or something to sit on
One of the goals of meditation is to clear your mind. You won't be able to get clear while you are uncomfortable, because the entire time you will be thinking about how your back hurts and your feet are asleep (I may or may not have experienced this in the past).
You can use a pillow, yoga blanket, or a meditation cushion. I use a round pillow, but I have my eyes on this buckwheat medication cushion by Hugger Mugger:
5. Use music or a meditation app
Once you've chosen a space and found the items and scents that prepare you for meditation, it's time to practice. I use a free app called Insight Timer. It has thousands of meditations to choose from and you can bookmark your favorites. I bookmarked about 50 meditations and I am working through them from shortest to longest. It's helping me learn to sit for longer periods of time. The app has both spoken meditations and music, so you can use whichever you prefer or simply set a timer.
If you don't want to use an app, try putting on some soft music or white noise.
It's easy to set up a meditation space and once you do you will find you are more compelled to meditate on a regular basis. Personally, I meditate first thing in the morning for 5-20 minutes. I find that if I wait until later in the day I am more likely to come up with excuses or feel less "in the zone."
After I meditate I do cat-cow pose and three half sun salutations and then I feel ready to start my day.
Find what works for you and then make it a daily routine.
Here is a picture of my simple meditation space. The table is an original mosaic created by my grandmother:
Overtime meditation has helped me cope with heightened emotions and chronic pain. Meditating in the morning ensures that I start my day in the right head space.
Do you meditate on a regular basis? Do you have a meditation space set up in your home?
"Meditation means the recognition or discovery of one’s own true self." - Sri Chinmoy
On March 9th, 2017 the Global Lyme Alliance hosted an Evening of Art and Education in Chicago. It was the the first GLA event held outside of New England. The Event took place at the Matthew Rachman Gallery and featured two Lyme doctors, Dr. Casey Kelley from Whole Health Chicago and Dr. Christopher Janson.
The evening began with a social hour with drinks and gluten-free appetizers. I brought my husband, so he could meet people in the Lyme community and learn some new information.
During the social hour we met Kasey, a Chicago area Lyme fighter, who reached out the GLA to bring the event to Chicago, and did much of the planning. We also talked to a newly diagnosed patient, just starting out on the long road to healing. There was an electric energy in the room of camaraderie and understanding.
I was delighted to meet the CEO of the GLA, Scott Santarella, and introduce myself as a contributor to the GLA blog.
After the social hour Scott and Kasey talked about the GLA mission and the importance of bringing events to the midwest. I was touched when Scott said, "There is no other disease in the world where the patients are treated so unjustly."
Then, they introduced the doctors: Dr. Christopher Jason is a neurologist, who works does research and works out of the University of Illinois at Chicago. His current research on the blood brain barrier is funded by the GLA. Dr. Casey Kelley is a functional medicine doctor at Whole Health Chicago.
The doctors gave brief explanations of their areas of expertise and then answered questions from the attendees. People in the group had excellent questions about testing, symptoms, depression and Lyme, and many other important topics.
Dr. Kelley talked about how in Lyme treatment there are, "Different paths up the mountain," and that everyone responds differently. She also commented that a major part of Lyme treatment is "cleaning up the mess, so the body can rebuild on its own," and said, "remission is possible."
It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I came away hopeful, but as with anything related to Lyme, also frustrated and confused about why recognition and funding continues to be an uphill battle.
Here's a picture from the end of the evening with fellow Lyme fighter and friend, Jenny:
I want to thank the GLA for bringing the event to Chicago and I look forward to future events.
"Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own." - Harmon Killebrew
One reason people get tattoos is to commemorate an important experience. When I was struggling to get a diagnosis and at rock bottom, I promised myself I would get a tattoo when I finally found the answer. I wanted the tattoo to represent the fact that I never, ever gave up, even when it seemed like I might not get better.
As it turned out the diagnosis was only the beginning. Through the process I learned a lot about myself and felt my purpose shifting. A health professional I follow on Facebook posted this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:
The phrase, "no mud, no lotus" rang true true for me. There are so many beautiful things that have grown out of this illness: I have found medical professionals that I trust, I have met tons of amazing people, both in person and online, I started my writing career, I started eating nutritious foods, I made meditation and yoga a priority, and I completely, re-framed my outlook on life. The biggest thing was it gave me the bravery to leave my job.
Oprah says when the universe wants to tell you something it starts with a whisper. My whisper started 10 years ago and kept getting louder and louder. Getting sick was the universe screaming at me, "You're going the wrong way." Without this illness I never would've found my way back to my true path.
So, one day I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, and I came upon a tweet about the Lyme Warrior campaign Ink to End Lyme. (You can read my interview with Lyme Warrior President and Founder Lauren Lovejoy here)
It was the excuse I was waiting for to get my next tattoo. On the Ink to End Lyme campaign page I found out there is a tattoo artist in Chicago who also has Lyme and was participating in the event.
I contacted Kyle Adani at Revolution Tattoo and asked if he would do my tattoo. He graciously accepted and designed a beautiful lotus flower tattoo.
Here he is at work. Doesn't hurt a bit:
And here is the finished product:
It was such a special experience to get a tattoo about my Lyme journey done by another Lyme warrior. We talked about our shared experience, as all Lyme patients tend to do when we meet, and it resulted in a very meaningful piece of art.
Tattoos aren't for everyone, but many Lyme patients feel compelled to document their experience. It's not my first and it won't be my last; it marks another chapter in this long and beautiful journey.
"The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud." - Buddhist Proverb
I'm Kerry and I am a licensed therapist, writer & speaker. This is a positive space focused on how to thrive in any situation and the transformative power of suffering.