When days are short on light it is time to brighten up your life beginning with your meditation altar.
What's available in abundance in many areas are boughs of holly and pine, cedar and yew. These can be formed into a swag across the front of your altar by laying alternating branches of different colors and textures of your greenery in an overlapping patterns starting at each side and meeting in the middle.
Another way to arrange the greens is in a circlet with a thick candle standing in the center. Be sure your thick candle is sitting on something fireproof like a clay saucer or small plate or saucer. To make the circlet wreathe open out a wire coat hanger so it approximates a circle. Lay out you small pieces of branches and wrap on with washable ribbon.
If you begin wrapping at the hanger hook end leaving a length free at both ends you can tie a bow for more color and decoration if you wish. If you don't want your branches to dry out so quickly lay your completed wreath in the tub or a wide sink for a few minutes, shake out, hang up on the shower nozzle to dry over the tub and then arrange on your altar.
Choose a nice large, thick and colorful candle that will burn slowly for your winter meditation altar. I like to continue with red or gold candles from the holidays. After holiday sales are a good time to stock up on candles you can use throughout the year. I store mine in a box under the altar. Since I use an altar cloth they are convenient to reach but hidden from view.
The spiciness of the pine boughs can be emphasized by choosing cinnamon, sandalwood or other sharp scents of incense to burn. Little cones of incense laid out in a small saucer are a safer way to burn your incense, or if you can find it use a bronze incense burner - a small container with holes for air which let the trails of incense emanate upward. I find it peaceful to watch these trails of incense rising when I begin to meditate.
Now, I think we've covered the main points. Individualize your altar with objects that are special to you and hold precious memories and meaning. Then sit still, taking some minutes to feel appreciation for what you have in life such as your family and friends, and send thoughts out for world peace and harmony. Close your meditation with a deep breath in and out, stretch and go on with your day recharged, energized.
Article by Susan Kramer
For offline reading
Meditation for Teens and Adults
More than 70 offerings, from guided meditation techniques to on-the-go stress relief and relationship meditations interspersed with verse, and a section of special occasion prayers. 114 pages.
Meditation for all Kids
Sitting, walking, dance and group circle meditations, along with positive affirmations, verses and benefits of meditation for kids of all ages and abilities in a 100 page book with illustrations.