How To Create The Best Meditation Altar Table & Shrine

meditation altars & shrines

One of the best places to sit and focus your mind is at a meditation altar table.

Meditation, of course, is all about focusing the mind. However, having a special place to sit can help you to focus so you get more into your practice instead of being distracted. Indeed, this is why altars have existed for thousands of years, and why even the most primitive religions had altars, which were usually just a pile of stones.

Today, meditation altars are beautiful. And they give you the perfect place to set up your meditation shrine. You can decorate it as you please and incorporate it into the design of your zen room. 

When you have a dedicated altar, you will get oh so much more out of your practice.  

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What Is A Meditation Altar Table / Shrine?

A meditation altar is a furniture item (usually a table) used for sacred rituals. Interestingly, the actual word “altar” itself is derived from Latin and means “High place.”

We humans have used altars for thousands of years. You can find them in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions.

The reason they are so popular is that they provide a dedicated space devoted to God(s). Many people fill their meditation altar tables with items like murtis (statues) of gods like Shiva and Ganesh.

Some religions use them differently.

For instance, Roman Catholic altars are at the front of the church and bread and wine are placed on them. Christians altars are used to celebrate the eucharist.

Buddhist tables usually include statues of Buddha, other Buddhist figures like Quan Yin (Buddhist Goddess of compassion) and lotus flowers.

Meanwhile, Hindu altars usually offer prasad in the form of sweets or fruit to the Divine, yantras (visual representation of deities), and a space to sit for Sadhana (spiritual practice).

Finally, there are modern altars such as at yoga studios.

Of course, most altars also have spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras, Pali Canon, and the Bible. 

Ultimately the purpose of an altar is to use for prayer, meditation, japa, sadhana, and other spiritual practices.  

Benefits & Purpose

By creating or buying a meditation altar table you give yourself a dedicated space at home where you can meditate.  That’s why they are arguably the best meditation furniture items.

Over time, your table will be filled with positive energy because of the amount of time you meditate there. It will become a haven where you can sit and heal. 

Plus, the actual act of creating a meditation altar is special in itself. You get to design a sacred space and fill it with your sacred items. Just like creating a garden area, this is a wonderfully enjoyable task. 

Best Meditation Altar Tables To Buy Online

 

DharmaObjects Solid Mango Wood 

sharmaobjects ying yang meditation altar

Get it on Amazon

This mango wood altar meditation table has the design of a Yin Yang carved into the top with a floral pattern. I love rhe design and I find that it adds a jice decoriative piece for my studio. Plus, it’s solid enough to hold the items you need, such as a Buddha statue.

Note that it is only one foot tall, so it is designed for kneeling meditation. Tbis makes it less than jdeal for me because I have bad knees and kneeling is sometimes painful. So if you struggle to kneel, this is perhaps not the altar for you. Otherwise, you can check it out on Walmart.

 Butsudan

buddhist altar butsudan

Get it on Amazon

This one is a Butsudan, a traditional Buddhist family altar. It is beautifully crafted and features a lovely, deep, and wide drawer for spiritual objects.

The butsudan is solidly built and well worth the slightly high price because it will last. The draws click shut so they won’t swing open. And there is even a beam that you can put a light on. I personally use the light so that I can read. 

Additional items:

Cloth: You might like to protect your meditation table with a nice tablecloth, hopefully one with a beautiful pattern, artwork, or perhaps a mantra. 

Buddha statue: If you are Buddhist, or you simply like Buddha statues, you might like to get a small Buddha figurine.

Desktop Zen garden: Desktop zen gardens are small versions of Japanese rock gardens. Creating and maintaining these gardens is a wonderfully relaxing task, the sort of task that’s perfect to do at your meditation table.

Statues of Hindu gods: Depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, you might like to get a small statue of your deity for your shrine.

Cushion to sit on to meditate

Essential oils: For health and wellbeing.

Candles: For meditating on if you do Trataka (Candle Gazing).

Singing bowls: Not only do they look beautiful, but they are wonderful for sound healing.

Incense: For freshness and health. 

Creating Your Meditation Altar 

Now that you have bought an altar table and gathered various items for it, it’s time to put it all together.

However, this isn’t your typical Ikea job. When you create your meditation altar, do so lovingly and mindfully. Creating a meditation table should be a sacred process. 

Here are five tips to make the most of the experience:


1: Set your intent first

To get the most out of creating your meditation altar, set your intention first. What is it going to be used for, spiritually speaking? Is it just a place to meditate? Will you use it to connect to the divine? Which deity or god is it dedicated to? How will you reflect that in the design?  


2: What type of energy do you want to create?

Meditation tables should be filled with positive energy. But what type of energy? Is it the energy of love? Perhaps it is the energy of hope and faith. Whatever it is, find ways to pour that energy into it. And at the same time, protect your meditation shrine from negative energy. You want to preserve the special energy of this space.


3: Be mindful

Have you ever created a Zen garden? When you create a Zen garden the actual purpose is in the making. The act of making a zen garden is a spiritual practice. And making an altar is the same. Be mindful and conscious throughout the process.

How to meditate at an altar table

Now you have created a meditation altar it is time to meditate in it. 

Here’s how to do your first session. 

  1. Sit for a few moments and just breathe. Relax.
  2. Set your intention in your mind. Tell yourself that this is a sacred space where you will achieve X. For instance, this is the space where you will reconnect with your inner peace any time you need to.
  3. Mindfully explore the space: Do a five-senses mindfulness exercise about your altar (observe the visuals, the scents, the texture…)
  4. Consciously create the type of energy you want to feel in this space (for instance, if you want to feel love do Loving Kindness meditation)
  5. Tell yourself you will love and cherish this space. 

Hopefully, you now have a beautiful meditation altar to meditate at. 

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. "My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation" - Paul Harrison

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