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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

True serenity is sometimes defined as the ability to remain calm in the midst of a storm. For most of us, that type of calm does not come naturally. It requires a peace of mind that is developed over time. How do we do that? Well, some people go on spiritual retreats; others meditate or take yoga classes.

Another approach to developing a calm mind is to create a space in our own homes where we regularly can be alone in order to meditate or pray. To do that, we need a place without noise or chaos that allows us to settle our minds, so that when those inevitable storms do come, we have the reserves of strength to stay calm.

Of course, not all spaces are conducive to peaceful thinking. Recently I was traveling overseas, and in the course of sightseeing, I visited a number of historic churches. They were all gothic structures with high, vaulted ceilings and ornate stained glass windows. Unfortunately, in order to subsidize renovations, some churches had busy gift shops in their sanctuaries, and placards explaining the church’s history throughout their buildings. The result was an experience that was chaotic. Other churches, by contrast, offered nothing more than a short pamphlet at the door. Their buildings were silent. The moment you walked in, you felt compelled to lower your voice and walk quietly. They were peaceful places in which you truly felt the presence of God. The experience taught me that it isn’t the nature of the space that matters, but rather what we do with it.

Below are some ideas of how you can create a space of serenity anywhere in your home. Having a place that allows you to mentally regroup and calm your mind can make all the difference in how you handle life’s bumps in the road.

  1. Size doesn’t matter: If you live by yourself, you have the luxury to turn your whole house or apartment into a place of perfect serenity. However, most of us have to live with other people. That means we have a much smaller space at our disposal. The size of the space doesn’t matter as much as having a place in your home where you can find quiet and solitude. And that space doesn’t have to be exclusively yours. As long as for some part of each day, you can close the door and shut out the world, you have all you need.
  2. Sound does matter: We are bombarded all day long by noise, whether it is people demanding our time and attention, or simply the noise of the radio or television. Our minds need a break from that racket in order to regroup. Having a place where you can have either silence or listen to peaceful music is critical to creating your personal serenity space.
  3. Lighting: I recently had an office which had no windows. It made me realize how much we need natural light. We don’t just need it for vitamin D. For our psychological well-being, we need to see the sun, sky, trees and flowers. There is something mentally soothing about looking out a window and seeing nature, even if we aren’t actually in it. So if at all possible, make sure that your special place has a window which provides natural light and perhaps even starlight in the evening.
  4. Items with Special Meaning: We all have items that are important to us. Perhaps a photo or an object has meaning for you. When you create a place for prayer or meditation, be sure to include items that are special to you. My favorite image is that of a butterfly. I find the metamorphosis process from caterpillar to larvae to cocoon to butterfly to be incredibly inspirational. As a result, I collect items with butterfly motifs on them. I also like to use the letters “SDG.” I once read that when Bach was satisfied with a piece of music that he had written, he would write the letters SDG at the bottom of the page. The letters stood for “Soli Deo Gloria” – For the glory of God alone. By putting those same letters in special places, it reminds me that serving God needs to be my motivating force.

Creating a space in which you can pray or meditate and take a break from the world is an important way to keep your mind strong and calm. And the key word is “create.” So put thought into how you design a space of serenity in your own home. Make it a place that helps you to feel inspired and at peace.

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