Manifest the year of your dreams by going inward. Renew You 2017 is a month of mindfulness during which we’ll share content that guides you to create a deeply rooted intention for the new year. We’ll help you navigate inevitable obstacles with the latest science on habits, motivation, ritual, and more and equip you with tried-and-true techniques to outsmart even the toughest inner critic.
On Day 4, we start to look forward in the context of our past. While creating a vision board is fun and productive, we think that a vision board you see every day, that you can easily change, and that is involved in your rituals will produce a much more meaningful connection with your intention.
Look at your history map (from Day 2 of this challenge), and select items from your life during the times you want to be reminded of: whether they are meaningful, especially proud, even dark times when you were able to see the light. In a way, the altar is an abstract timeline of your life. Someone looking at it may not understand; only you will—that's part of what makes it so special.
You can have one item on your altar or many. We don't advise going out and buying anything for your altar but rather using items you already have that are meaningful to you. Again, this is for you, so no matter how you go about it, the most important thing is that it's practical and that you'll actually use it.
Where to place your altar
This doesn't have to be fancy! Some people are concerned about what others will think of your altar, but if you integrate it into your home decor, most won't even notice what it is. Steer clear of using surfaces that are often used for other things, like kitchen tables, coffee tables, ottomans, etc. Good options include putting it in an unused windowsill, on a fireplace mantle, using a nightstand, creating a little table in your bedroom, or in your zen den.
How to set up your altar
According to Dages Juvelier Keates, the modern altar does indeed have a structure. First, the altar is naturally divided into five sections: north, south, east, west, and center. When considering where to place your objects, keep these elements and directions in mind.
- Air/East: symbolizes new beginnings, conception, and the dawn. Examples: feather, wing, glass, blade, pen, essential oils, anything that helps you.
- Fire/South is passion and inspiration, high noon. Examples: beeswax candles, matches, orange/yellow/red flowers or crystals, images of passion and curiosity.
- Water/West: past, exploration, the dusk, a place of grandmothers and fertility. Examples: bowl, goblet, chalice of water, mirror, seashells, river rocks, salt.
- Earth/North: death, creation, transformation, midnight. Examples: stone, bone, crystal, a plant, dried herbs/flowers, pinecones, acorns, corn.
- Center: empowerment of all that is. Beyond dualities and containing paradoxes of both polarities, as center holds life, death, rebirth, and all in between. It's the creative void, both vibrant and fecund emptiness. It's that which occupies the center of your circumference, your holy visions, your personal spells, images, crystals, anything you wish to empower.
Now actually use it
When you write, reflect, pray, practice yoga, do a face mask—whatever your sacred time looks like—do it at your altar. If it's not one you can sit near, take an object from your altar and move it to where you are. By doing this, you'll charge up your altar and the items on it. Check in with your altar to remind yourself of your vision and why you're chasing it. Also, change it up! If you have a new goal or wish, update your altar to reflect it. Maybe you move an item that's already there from one area to another, or maybe you visited your grandma's house and add a relic from her sacred traditions for longevity.
If you missed the first few days of the challenge:
- Day 1: How (And Why) To Do A Guided Body Scan
- Day 2: How Happy Are You? Here's How To Chart Your Happiness History Map
- Day 3: How Abundant Is Your Life, Really? Here's Your Abundance Assessment
- A Letter From The Editors: Renew You 2017, A Month Of Mindfulness
Read more about altars: