One way to promote everyday spirituality is for an individual or family to hold services
in the home. Such services can be done to complement formal services that one might
attend at one’s place of worship. If one’s particular religious tradition offers
ways to encourage religious activity at home, by all means use them. The use of already
established ritual practices with familiar religious objects is to be encouraged.
The possibilities described here are meant to be only suggested options to get one
started in developing one’s own personal services. Expressions of individual spirituality
should constantly be a work in progress. There are two aspects to be considered in
developing home spiritual practices: (1) physical space and materials; and (2) activities
It is helpful to designate a particular place in one’s home as a special spot. The
establishment of such a spot should be based on common sense and psychological pragmatism.
There is no need for any kind of superstitious beliefs or any sense of worshipping
a “sacred” spot. The power and value of a spot is solely due to an individual’s attitude.
If one is uncomfortable with the idea of having what is called a home altar, The
word SPOT (Special Place of Tranquility) can be used rather than the word altar.
One’s SPOT should be located in the main living area and not be tucked away in a
study or bedroom. Practical concerns and personal preference are the main determinants
of the exact location. The SPOT could be on a book shelf, fire place mantel, or on
a designated table/cabinet/hutch, etc. The top of a television set is not recommended.
There is no doubt that most people spend more time in front of a television set than
a home altar. This quantitative difference perhaps is balanced by the assumption
that the qualitative difference of a greater depth of experience occurs when in front
of one’s home altar or SPOT. In any case, here is a suggestion: whenever you clean
your television screen, make sure you also dust your altar/SPOT. This will alleviate
any guilt that you take better care of your television set than your altar/SPOT.
Materials and Objects
Special religious objects such as bells, incense burners, candles, etc. can be gotten
at specialty gift shops, bookstores, or through catalogs and internet sites. A central
point of focus such as a statue, picture, or any religious object is good but is
not absolutely necessary. Fresh flowers are always nice. Customize your SPOT with
objects of personal meaning.
Any or all of the following could be done: Pause with bowed head; put hands together
in Gassho; recite appropriate words; for example: “As we reflect on the interdependency
of all life, we are humbly grateful for the food we are about to receive. Mindful
that lives are taken so that we may be nourished, may we dedicate ourselves to work
for welfare of all living beings. May It Be So.”