Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No space is too small for a meditation room

Create calm, inner sanctum for reflection and inspiration

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CALGARY -- As Renata Duma closes her eyes to meditate cross-legged on a low-rise Chinese chair, she is surrounded by the presence of the Buddha, the flickering glow of candles and the calming sound of New Age music.

This sacred space is Duma's newly created meditation room, a place where she retreats every morning to clear her mind before starting her day.

Situated in the upstairs landing of the Garrison Woods home Duma shares with her fiancé, Morley Brown, the room is filled with a small Tibetan altar, paintings and Asian-inspired furniture.

"I feel very blessed to be able to have such a room that reflects to such a degree the sacred aspect of our lives," says Duma, who has been meditating for about 10 years. "It's an honour to have the ability to put something like that together."

The room was designed by Aly Velji, resident designer with Ellipses Design. It was inspired by a Thep Thavonsouk painting that Velji and Duma saw on a recent visit to the Calgary artist's studio.

The painting, part of Thavonsouk's June Rain series, features three monks walking into a violet mist. Violet is the colour of the highest chakra.

It was so beautiful, says Duma, it brought her to tears.

"You should put things in the room that you love and that speak to you because this is going to be an environment where you go to relax and you want things to inspire you while you're there," says Velji.

While a meditation room may sound extravagant to some, Velji says the popularity is catching on.

"It's becoming more common to create spaces for people, whether it's a small little area in the bedroom or actually a whole room where people can just go and relax," says Velji.

Ironically, Duma says while it is nice to be able to have this room, she wouldn't need a space like this to meditate.

"It's not the space," says Duma. "It's not about a fashion statement. I'm very fortunate to be able to do this, but it could be anywhere."

Tracy Kundell, owner of Avalon Interiors in Thornhill, Ont., and a visiting designer on WTN's The Decorating Challenge, agrees the trend has been growing because people are searching for peace of mind and wellness.

"Lifestyles show absolutely no signs of slowing down. We just get busier and busier, so finding a space where we can just chill is becoming more and more important for people," says Kundell. "People are realizing the benefits to their health and to their work life if they've got a part of their home that they can relax in."

According to designer Lisa Zinck, co-owner of Calgary's Foresees Imports, a meditation space doesn't have to be in a separate room.

"You need enough space that you can sit; you can create that (anywhere). I live in a very small house and I've just created a space by my window... I always light a candle and I like to incorporate a plant or something lively and just a small little Buddha," says Zinck. "You don't need anything. That's what Buddhism is all about."

Zinck says Buddhas have become so popular -- for both in the home and garden -- that they can't keep them in the store.

"It's absolutely amazing, (as well as) pagodas. Having a Buddhist symbol just creates tranquility and mindfulness and we just find that more people are really embracing the culture," says Zinck.

Along with meditation rooms, people are incorporating yoga rooms into their homes.

Margot Kitchen, who teaches at the Yoga Studio and has been practising yoga for 35 years, built a yoga room when she and her husband renovated nine years ago. The room has ropes installed to the wall, a wooden backbender and soft berber flooring, as well as a treadmill and weights.

"Because I am an Iyengar teacher (a type of yoga focusing on posture and breath control), I have a lot of props. I have an altar -- I'm Christian but I have found that Eastern philosophies have helped me with my Christian background. There's a Buddha, there's a picture of Mary and Christ, there's a mala (string of prayer beads), there's a rosary, there are rocks I've found in different parts of India, things that mean a lot to me and things that remind me of people who've been special to me," says Kitchen, who uses the room every day.

"It's wonderful (to have this space). It helps me keep my life in order."

Nattacia Mantei and her husband, Jurgen, also a yoga teacher, have had a yoga room for about five years. The room has a cork floor, a few Iyengar props, such as straps on the wall and a swing, and an altar with Buddhas and prayer beads.

"It's kind of sacred space for us, really... we don't go in there to read or anything like that," says Mantei. "A lot of people envy us for having (the room)."

Yoga and meditation rooms may not be for everyone, says Kundell.

"I've had (clients') husbands who have said 'It's a waste of space' and 'When can I get my room back?' " But, she adds, "People who have wanted the rooms are loving it. It's their personal escape."

What to put in a meditation room:

Tracy Kundell suggests water elements, comfortable chairs, soft window coverings, cushioned mats, bamboo, plants, candles; Indonesian Buddhas incorporate harmony into your home.

Aly Velji suggests warm, neutral colours, particularly green, for tranquillity and calmness, organic furniture, bamboo, Asian-influenced furniture.

-- CanWest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 25, 2005 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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