Shrine of a Buddhist devotee, featuring Gautama Buddha and the worshipper's teacher, probably the present Dalai Lama.
Home shrines are memorobilia and symbols that help us focus our attention and recall mystical experiences.
The items in the shrine are holy in the true sense of the word, which means "dedicated to the divine". Those items and the shrine itself has no other purpose, it is dedicated to serving us to recall the many aspects of the spiritual life to come and the changes we must make in ourselves to get there.
Someone may put up a poster of a Carribbean beach, as a reminder to help him focus on his goal to save for that trip. He saves and looks at the poster dreamily, wishing he was there already. Because he is saving, he knows that the day will come and one day he will walk on that beach. Similarly, people bring a bit of heaven into their homes when they set up their shrines.
Below is a shrine in one of my therapy rooms at a healing center in Asia.
People are of course different and make different use of shrines.
For me, I talk to the Lord and the angels all the time. I say good morning, sometimes I remember to say good night. Its pleasant company for me in meditations. I work as a spiritual teacher and healer, therefore I need to be closely connected. The shrines in my office and in my home contain elements from nature that remind of memorable moments, perhaps a piece of ancient pottery we found in an old ruin, a seashell, a flower, incense, candles, and an image of how we depict the Father in Heaven, Amitabha Buddha, that spiritual being so close to my walk.
Below is a photo of the shrine of Amitabha Buddha in the garden at my Cambodia retreat center.
Some people use shrines to direct their energies to loved ones in need of care or healing. Some use the shrine to retreat to a simplicity and humbleness.
In Thailand and several other places, as it should be in your home too, images of spiritual beings like buddhas are never used as a decoration. Those images must never be placed on the floor, must always be elevated even i only a few cm. But here is the underlying ethic, images of spiritual beings and heaven must be treated with due respect.
In Thailand for example, one can go to jail for disrespecting a buddha. Many foreigners were arrested, had their visas cancelled and were fined for having tatoos of a buddha that were deemed decorative, therefore disrespectful.