Terry Murray has always been drawn to spirituality, but organized religion isn't part of his life. His wife Jacki is a regular churchgoer. By meditating together, they have deepened their spiritual practice and enriched their forty-two-year marriage. Here's how it happened, and how you can do it too.
Creating a Sacred Space
Terry turned to meditation after beginning a serious yoga practice nearly seven years ago. "I wanted to be able to meditate not just at the yoga studio, but at home and I needed a focal point," Terry says. He began to collect meaningful objects – symbols, pictures, mementoes.
He bought a meditation cabinet, a Japanese tansu, and furnished it with incense and candles and yoga CDs. Terry and Jacki brought things back from their travels, like a clam shell from walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and a medal of St. Patrick from Ireland. A student of Terry's contributed a prayer wheel from Tibet. They added a Buddha, a crucifix and a singing bowl. "Our spirituality is broad and inclusive," Terry says.
The meditation nook is just a corner of the room that serves as home office for both of them, a welcome symbol of calm in the rush of daily life. Jacki and Terry begin each day at the meditation altar, lighting candles and sitting on cushions on the floor. Jacki does spiritual reading (Thich Nhat Hanh is a favorite) while Terry meditates. Both set intentions for the day. They strike the singing bowl to begin and end their 10-minute practice.
Spirituality Down the Generations
Meditating has enriched their lives. "I feel a definite sense of calm. If a problem is not worth getting worked up about, I can let it go. In our relationship, things that once were an annoyance aren't anymore," Jacki says, adding, "Friends have noticed a new calm in me. My grandson said, 'Nana, you never raise your voice.' I told him, 'When I do, watch out.'"
"For our daughter, son in law and their children, it's a signal that spirituality is important in our lives," Jacki continues. "We always know when Nathaniel has been here; he loves to rearrange the objects. We'll find the rosary around Buddha's neck." They built a prayer table for his older brother Zachary the Christmas he was five. "It's his peace table, a place to calm," Terry says.
"This gives us a common way to pursue our faith," Terry says. "Starting the day with conscious attention to my spirit has been important and powerful."
Last summer the Murrays expanded their meditation practice by bringing it outdoors. Starting with a kit and adding his own imaginative touches, Terry built a beautiful rock-clad fountain on a small patio at a tree-shaded corner of their house. Water burbles, birds sing. It is a magical place.
Yearn for more peace in your life? Create your own sacred space. Just google meditation altar and you're on your way.