Why Having an Altar Supports Your Emotional Well-Being
By Aarona Lea Pichinson | May 21, 2018
Having an altar adds beauty to your home and can bring immense benefit to your emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. Your altar is an expression of your spirit, a place to go when you need healing or inspiration, and a sacred space to help you cultivate deep presence and daily ritual. There are no set rules for how your altar should look or feel. It can be very simple or more elaborate, as long as it feels beautiful and aligned for you personally.
Although how you build your altar is personal, there are some key things that can uplift and beautify the vibe as you set forth on a regular practice of soul-care for emotional well-being. Consider your altar as a symbol; how you show up and take care of it can become a compass for how you are showing up and caring for yourself. The more you tend to your altar, the more its healing and clarifying energy swells.
Covered in sweet smells, candle flames, and sacred enchantments, my altar feels like a little campfire. It’s a warm familiar space that lights up my spirit and allows me to settle into my body as I restore my mind.
It’s where I meditate, journal, and contemplate.
It’s where I go when I feel overwhelmed or emotional.
It’s my landing pad when I need guidance or want to gather my inner resources.
The more I connect to my altar space the more comforting and magnetic it becomes. I’ve had some of my heaviest cries and deepest prayers at my altar, I’ve been met by some of my greatest ideas or moments of clarity here, and I’ve experienced incredible stillness where my nervous system was finally able to soften.
When I regularly infuse my altar with meditations, prayers, and ritual, it swells into a deeply calming yet energized space which helps me feel more emotionally fit. But when I ignore my altar and let it collect dust for too long, this ‘charge’ dissipates.
Do you sense the metaphor here? For me, neglecting my altar is a pretty good sign that I’ve also been neglecting my self-care needs whether it be meditating, journaling, or working with my oracle cards.This neglect eventually finds its way into the many layers of my emotional health, both how I feel on the inside and how it is expressed on the outside.
Why Have an Altar?
There is a ceaseless rise and fall to life that can be both beautiful and overwhelming depending on the day. With this pulsing fluctuation, it’s important to have something that consistently grounds us.
Our environment impacts our energy and perspective, which in turn drives our emotions. An altar can lift the vibration of our home, bringing an element of beauty, protection, and inspiration into our space. Having a well-loved sacred nook where we can recharge our spirit and dissipate mental static is key to centering our selves. Especially amongst the many evolutions, losses, triumphs, growing pains, and teachings that we are all bound to walk through during our lifetime.
Whatever your practice may look like, having a daily moment with your altar allows you to land back home in your body where you can feel more emotional ease rather than mentally stuck.
Create Your Own Altar for Emotional Well-Being
Your altar is your special place to set intentions, reconnect, meditate, manifest, grieve, journal, forgive, dream, and pray. Whichever enchantments you choose to dress your altar with, it’s important to periodically freshen up the design to match your current intention, which can change monthly or seasonally. Creating, recreating, cleaning, and clearing are all a part of respecting your altar while keeping the good vibes alive.
There are many ways to approach building your own altar. Be intuitive with it while using whatever inspirations align with your intention. With simple touches that are thoughtful and intentional, you can make any space feel sacred no matter how big or small your altar is. Here are some tips to get you started or to give your current altar a boost.
- Use your intuition to decide which location in your home feels like the best spot for your altar. Choose an area that feels comfortable and inviting for you to sit quietly. If you have a hard time narrowing it down and want to take it a step further, use a compass to discover which direction your altar will be facing and decide which one best represents your intention. This added touch will boost its magic.
- Once you select your spot, gather all of your altar pieces and place it nearby. Then, move the air by opening your windows and burning your favorite smudge to help purify the space as you welcome in love and protection. The sacred smoke of white sage, sweet grass, copal, or any favorite incense works wonders.
- Clean and clear any dust from your soon-to-be altar spot so that it’s ready to be decorated.
- Add your special pieces in any order that feels most natural to you. Sense how your altar wants to look and follow your intuition. I love having my candle in the center as a focal point, with crystals, flowers, and sacred objects I’ve found along the way neatly placed in a symmetrical order. Plus I keep my journal and favorite oracle and tarot decks next to my altar. Feel free to also add a small cloth as a placemat, photos, hand-written letters, and anything else that amplifies your intention and soothes your emotional body.
- If you already have an altar, remove everything, clean the surface and surrounding areas, and reorganize it so that it feels fresh based on your current intentions.
- Once you’re done creating your altar, step back and take it in. If anything wants to shift, go for it. When everything feels just right, sit down, light a candle, be still with your breath for a moment, and then write freely in your journal for a few minutes.
Bring this Practice into Your Life
If you begin to feel disconnected or like your relationship with yourself is waning, it’s a good sign your altar needs a visit. Your special touch, unique spirit, and the warmth you carry inside can all be felt at the site of an altar. The act of creating it, and then consistently sitting with your altar will remind you of this each time. It’s also a reminder to drop in, pause, and return to trust.
The morning is an excellent time to focus on your personal rituals, with a daily sit at your altar being one of them. However, be sure to choose a time of day that you know you can commit to.
The cumulative impact of showing up daily, even if only for a few minutes, is key to feeling more emotionally balanced. With consistency, the deeper breaths, and little reminders that you receive at your altar will begin to pepper themselves throughout your day, giving you an access point from which you know you can return any time you choose.
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