A Guide to Building Your Own Meditation Altar

In this article you’ll learn about what a meditation altar is.

Often referred to as a spiritual altar, a meditation altar is a powerful tool in helping deepen your meditation practice. The altar and objects on your altar help to inspire and prepare you for meditation. In turn, this inspiration will push you toward deeper meditative states, such peace, calm, love, joy, etc.

By the end of this article, you’ll have learned the following:

  • How to setup a dedicated meditation altar​
  • What to put on the altar
  • What to put on the altar
  • How to create a DIY altar
  • What is a Meditation Altar​

    A meditation altar is a surface on which you can place objects that aid in your meditation practice.

    Examples of altar objects can range from religious statues to crystals to personal photos. Objects on your altar should ideally be spiritual or personal in nature. When selecting altar objects, always make sure they align to the goals of your meditation practice itself.  While the objects should prepare you to get into a focused meditative state, they should also evoke the expansive feelings you desire – this can include feelings of peace, calm and joy.

    The altar surface itself is generally a dedicated table. That said, altars can be any DIY flat surface. These surface can include floors, desks or even stools.  Ideally, the altar should be in a room you’ve designated toward your daily meditation practice. Though if you are traveling or don’t have a dedicated mediation room, then you can always create makeshift DIY altar (add link).

    Why do I need a Meditation Altar​

    The key purpose and benefit of a meditation altar is it help get you inspired to enter a focused meditative state. The altar should ultimately align to your goals within the meditation practice itself. Therefore if you are seeking peace or love, then create an altar with objects that inspire and evoke those feelings.​

    By surrounding yourself with objects that inspire peace, calm, joy and love, you will be able to better attune to these inner states in your meditation. 

    In essence, these inner states are what all meditators are seeking. Therefore surrounding yourself with these objects is a perfect way to inspire and help shift your mind toward the feelings you desire.

    While this can seem abstract, an analogy may be better suited to explain this. For example, an artist may draw inspiration by surrounding themselves with great works of art and fellow artists. This in turn helps get them into an “artistic mindset”, which motivates them to create their own works of art.  

    In the case of meditation, having a dedicated meditation space and altar, or even going to a meditation groups helps to get you into a “meditation mindset”. This meditation mindset will then inspire and push you to sit and meditate.

    How to Setup a Meditation Altar​

    Setting up a meditation altar can be a very simple process. You really need two things:

    A flat surface to place altar objects
    Altar objects

    Once those have these two things procured, there are a few other ideal scenarios you should consider: 

    First, your meditation altar should be located in a dedicated meditation space (link needed). Since all rooms have some dedicated function, it’s important you have a space that’s dedicated to your meditation practice. 

    While it may not be practical to dedicate a room to just meditate, at minimum you should carve out an area within your house to meditate. Having this dedicated meditation space will have a profound effect on your meditation. For like the altar, it helps inspire and shift you into a meditation mindset.

    Secondly, where possible, have your altar facing east or north. It is believed by many meditators and spiritual teachers that these directions have energetic currents that are more conducive to meditating. (link needed) This is the equivalent to having the “wind at your back” when meditating. Therefore, try to observe these directions where possible.

    Meditation Altar Table Ideas

    The foundation of a meditation altar is the flat surface on which you place your altar objects. There are many artisans who make dedicated meditation altars. You can purchase these altars on sites like Etsy, Dharma Crafts and even Amazon. These custom tables are made out of various woods, some of which is reclaimed.

    While it’s nice to have a dedicated meditation altar, there are other flat surfaces you can use. Some ideas around makeshift altars include:

    Tables​
    Desks
    Counters
    Stools or Benches​
    Floors

    If you are handy, you can even create your own simple altar table by buying some wood and varnish.

    At the end of the day, the altar table just needs to be a resting place to hold your altar objects. Therefore, don’t overthink this element of your altar. The more important piece is the objects you have on your altar.

    Meditation Altar Object Ideas

    There are no rules around what you can place on your meditation altar.

    Always keep in mind the purpose of your meditation altar is to inspire you to meditate and evoke meditative qualities such as peace, calm and joy.

    That said, below is a list of common objects people put on their meditation altar:

    Spiritual Statues (of saints, the Buddha, Jesus, etc.) ​​
    Flowers
    Incense or sage​
    Crystal or stones​
    Rosary or mala beads​
    Photos of spiritual figures or loved ones​
    Art

    Please note, this list is not prescriptive or exhaustive in any way. Therefore when building your altar,  select objects that help you get inspired to meditate and get toward those inner states. These objects can be personal or impersonal in nature. They can also be spiritual or non-spiritual in nature. Remember, the altar objects should always align to you goals in meditation.

    Please don’t overthink what is on your altar. Having just a few meaningful objects is enough. Over time you can grow and evolve what you have on your altar. But at the beginning, aim to place a few objects that inspire and create an expansive and meditative mindset on your altar.

    DIY Meditation Altar

    As we mentioned, your meditation altar does not need to be turned into a big production. The most important aspect of your meditation altar is that it helps creates the environment to inspire you to meditate. Therefore, below are a DIY budget ideas around how to create your altar.

    Brian

    Brian

    Looking to help educate meditators at all levels, Brian is an avid meditator who likes demystifying the art of meditation. He helps provide simple techniques to help office workers, parents, students and those from all walks of life find methods to bring more peace, calm and joy into their life.