How to Create a Serene Meditation Space in a Small, Cramped Apartment
It feels like the cure for every problem these days is mediation. Feeling anxious? Meditate for 20 minutes a day. Need help falling asleep? Again, meditate. Feeling lost and disconnected? You get the point. But whether you're new to meditation or just looking to feel more peaceful in your everyday life, a cramped and chaotic apartment can seem like an enormous roadblock. Sure, it's ideal to retreat to an empty, sun-drenched room to do your morning meditation or a lush backyard where you can surround yourself in nature every day. But we're happy to report that you can still curate a mindful meditation space even in the most cramped, eclectic, and chaotic of dwellings. Here are some hacks to create a conscious corner for you and your practice.
Embrace the Power of Plants
Plants really are the hero products of any home. Photo by Ornella Binni on Unsplash
Plants really are the hero products of any home.
Photo by Ornella Binni on Unsplash
Plants are a potent life source, acting as an air purifier and oxygen generator, while subconsciously instilling a Zen headspace amidst consistent chaos—especially if you live in a small space or a dense urban city. For a small space, try succulents, focusing on round leaves rather than pointed—pointy leaves are thought to be uninviting to energy. If you don’t know where to start, check out Bloomscape, a greenhouse-to-door plant delivery service. Bloomscape’s Joyce Mast recommends spider plants, sansevieria, and parlor palms for a meditation space. “A spider plant is the most adaptable of houseplants and nearly impossible to kill," says Joyce. "A sansevieria is great for removing toxins, and the parlor palm is compact for small spaces.”
Amp Up Your Aromatherapy
No matter what small, chaotic space you’re in, essential oils are an easy and effective way to tap into mindfulness. Optimize your olfactory senses using specific oils that correlate to the mood you want to manifest during meditation. For example, if you are looking to get creative during the day, try citrus oils. Want to relax? Rub some lavender on your wrists. Always stressed at work? Keep grounding frankincense or cedarwood on your desk. “I love adding a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus to the back of my neck or rolling on Vitruvi's After Oil blend. It creates a warming and cooling experience to loosen my shoulders and relax my muscles,” says Sara Panton of Vitruvi.
Open the Windows
Keep your windows open to allow stuck energy to flow through and out of the space. This is also key while burning sage—a lovely ritual to do before meditating. “Just like stagnant smells can get trapped in small spaces, so can energy,” says author and conscious retreat curator Emily Pereira. “Over many moves, I noticed that despite size, location, or level of chaos, spaces that were most inviting and easiest to meditate in all offered a nice cross-draft,” says Emily.
Set the Stage With Sound
Everything above, below, and surrounding your home is charged with an energetic frequency. Thus, “cleansing” that energy is vital. “Sound frequencies can elevate home cleansing rituals because you can play them all day to pass through stubborn energy blocks before meditation,” says Madi Murphy of Sacred Space Revolution. But not every person is alike, and different people resonate with different sounds. “Try mantras, Tibetan or crystal singing bowls, shamanic drumming, or Kundalini or Gregorian chants,” recommends Madi. When the sound is released, the space’s energy syncs with the sound's projected biofrequency. Cue Spotify’s Tibetan Bowls playlist and let the sound do its clearing thing.
Just Add Crystals
Crystals hold some serious power! Photo by Dani Costelo on Unsplash
Despite common woo knowledge, crystals hold some serious power and have been used to charge modern technology for centuries. There is a clear quartz crystal that powers the computer or phone that you're reading this on, so just think about what it can do for your space and meditation practice! “Selenite, clear quartz, and amethyst are my favorite crystals to use during meditation,” says Energy Muse cofounder and author of the upcoming book CRYSTAL365, Heather Askionosie. “Selenite is an energy cleanser, clear quartz enhances clarity, and amethyst allows you to find peace of mind." You can either hold these crystals in your hand or arrange them around you in a gridlike pattern to create a powerful and safe environment. “Selenite in the four corners of a room helps to manifest positive energy, and black tourmaline is a protective seal, absorbing negative energy,” affirms Heather.
Ditch Your Tech
Just as blue light can affect your sleep, it can also affect your meditation practice. Other than typical tech triggers, like a ding from an email or text, there is also undetectable EMF energy that can affect your subconscious, causing headaches, an impaired immune system, fatigue, and more issues. It’s best to be mindful of tech usage both before and after your meditation practice to stay grounded in the present moment. On the other hand, there are amazing training-wheel apps like Calm, Headspace, and InsightTimer that can help you curate a conscious meditation practice. I recommend starting with one of these apps and then graduating to a healthy balance of meditation with and without technology.
Perfect Your Posture
Opt for a cushion that blends in with your decor so you can leave it out as a reminder to practice! SHOP NOW: Sedona large floor pillow by goop x CB2, $270, cb2.com Photo courtesy of CB2
Using a meditation cushion helps raise your hips and roll them forward, allowing you to focus more on the practice at hand rather than the uncomfortable stress on your knees or lower back while sitting on the floor. A cushion also aids to create a ritualistic environment, subconsciously programming your brain to associate mindfulness with seeing and sitting down on the cushion. Take your practice to the next level with this intelligent cushion from Aduri that provides gentle vibrations that guide your breath—talk about a high vibe!
Opt for a cushion that blends in with your decor so you can leave it out as a reminder to practice! SHOP NOW: Sedona large floor pillow by goop x CB2, $270, cb2.com
Keep It Consistent
Consider meditation like going to the gym: You have to go and practice consistently in order to achieve your goals. Meditating regularly and in the same place will improve your practice. Similar to the cushion, the more often you sit in the same spot while you meditate, the more you will associate that space with your peaceful practice and infuse your positive energy into that spot. As a spiritual teacher and author Biet Simkin says, “Don’t Just Sit There!” You truly can meditate anywhere and everywhere these days.
Tidy Up (Or Face the Chaos!)
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and spruce up your space so you don’t have to deal with distractions while meditating. On the flip side, “it actually acts as a great challenge for you during meditation,” says feng shui consultant Anjie Cho. “Having the obstacle of a chaotic apartment will improve your practice. You’ll start to see your chaos more clearly,” says Anjie. Don’t take this as a total pass to live in the mess, though; I still recommend creating a clean slate at first to subdue any stress, especially for beginners.
Place a three-inch mirror on the ceiling directly above your meditation cushion—i.e., above your crown chakra for all of you spiritual enthusiasts. “The mirror focuses and expands your meditation,” says Anjie. Plus, placing the mirror above your meditation space supports consistency. To promote the expansive representation of the mirror, you can set an aligned intention when you hang it. “It’s always wise to decorate with ceremony and intention,” notes Anjie. And voila! It’s like a window to your meditative state.