Thursday, November 15, 2012

Step 2 Activity: Create an Altar in your Home

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

This is an activity that is usually somewhat on-going.  I have multiple altars in my home and the items on them tend to rotate. I add new items as I feel different needs arise and move items away as other issues fade into the background.

A personal altar can serve multiple purposes. Mine serves as a reminder to stay connected with my Higher Power.  The actions of moving objects on and off of the altar helps to provide a physical action that represents my intentions in my life.  For instance, if I am noticing I'm taking life too seriously and feel the need to add more play into my life, I will move a small toy or stuffed animal onto my altar.  When I am going through a large change or life transition, I add a butterfly to my altar to symbolize metamorphosis.  An altar can simultaneously be a spiritual experience and a creative outlet.

Steps for creating your altar:

  1. First, ask yourself a few questions - what does Higher Power mean to me?  When I think of Higher Power, what symbols or colors come to mind?  What feelings and attributes do I associate with my Higher Power - love, devotion, protection, partnership?
  2. Collect or create meaningful items for your altar. Select things that are personally meaningful to you.  Some items that are commonly included on altars are candles, incense or essential oil burners, crystals, scarves or sage.  But choose what items are meaningful to you personally.  You may not use any of these items on your own altar.
  3. Next, ask yourself where you want to set up your altar.  I have an altar in my bedroom where I see it as the last thing before I fall asleep and the first thing as I wake up.  If you will be meditating by your altar, you may want to choose a place where you can set up a meditation cushion.
  4. Choose which of your objects will be the focal point of your altar.  If you follow a religious practice, this item might be religious symbols such as a cross or Buddha statue or statue of the goddess Lakshmi.  You may have photos of important religious figures such as the Dalai Lama or Mother Theresa.  You may have religious books such as the Koran, Bible or Torah.  Alternatively, if you affiliate Higher Power strongly with nature, you may choose to use a natural element such as a rock, flowers or water as your focal point.  (See the list below for other ideas, any of which may be the focal point for you - again, choose something that is meaningful to you personally).
  5. You may want to meditate, at least briefly, before setting up your altar.  Then simply trust your intuition as to where you want your items to be placed on your altar.

Ideas for objects that may honor your connection with nature:

  • flowers as a symbol of what can grow up and blossom out of mud and dirt, 
  • leaves 
  • a live plant
  • dried rose petals (Collect your own from an old bouquet or available on Amazon)
  • gem stones
  • shells (Collect your own or available on Amazon)
  • If you want to have an altar focused on the elements, you can read information on which stones represent which elements and choose stones from each element (earth, wind, fire and water).

To symbolize your commitment to your recovery:
  • Recovery literature as a reminder to stay in the solution, 
  • written notes, affirmations or slogans
  • your recovery chips
  • your God Box

A nod to Step 11:  Prayer & Meditation - Prayer beads
Prayer beads are used in many different religions.  Regardless of what religion you affiliate with or if you consider yourself non-denominational, prayer beads can be a nice addition to an altar.  Here is a list of the types of beads used in some religious practices:

  • Catholics - rosaries
  • Eastern Orthodox Christian - prayer ropes
  • Greek worry beads called komboloi
  • Hinduism & Buddhism - Japa Mala (also 108 beads)
  • Islam - beads representing 99 Names of Allah referred to as Misbaha or Tasbih or Sibha
  • Lutheran Church - Pearls of Life
  • Sikhism - mala of 108 beads
  • Tibetan Buddhism - prayer beads

Please share with us - what objects have you placed on your recovery altar?

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