The Meditation Alter

For most people, their meditation practice involves a meditation pillow, a candle, and a quiet place in which to practice inward reflection. The collective space is intended to create an atmosphere of mindfulness. Although anywhere someone chooses to practice meditation can be considered sacred, many incorporate an alter or shrine to help them focus on the contemplative task at hand.

Bob Smietana takes a look at home alters and shrines in this latest Tennessean post. According to Smietana, the use of a shrine can help people to remember that meditation is a vital part of their lives. The article focuses on an interview with a retired ear, nose and throat doctor, C.K. Hiranya Gowda.

Gowda credits his daily rituals and prayers for helping him keep an even keel during his career as a doctor. He specialized in treating cancer patients, which often involved long surgeries, requiring him to keep his focus for hours at a time.

Sometimes he’d include his patients in his daily prayers.

He also said the altar reminds him that spiritual peace matters more than material rewards. As a doctor, he said, he was often tempted to buy a bigger house or fancier cars as signs of his success. None of that matters when we die, he said.

“At the end, nobody can take anything with them,” he said. “God said, come along. If you bring anything with you, you are too heavy for me.”

Read more from Smietana on the importance of a meditation alter or shrine here.

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