How do you feel right now? Think about it for a minute. Happy? Anxious? Rushed? Angry? Serene? Sad? Tired? Worried? Sick? Now take a look around. Where are you? Is the current space you're inhabiting pleasant? Does it give you a sense of peace? Maybe the room is just the right color, the lighting is not too bright and not too dim. What can you see from where you sit? What can you hear? It all matters when it comes to your well being and health.
This week's Pod Club pick( On Being : The Science of Healing Places ) touched on how our health can be directly affected by our physical surroundings. Even the architecture of a place can impart peace and enable the pathways of healing in the mind to be open. I think most of us know this inherently. We look forward to vacations that take us to beautiful places. Yoga and meditation are no longer a hippie fad in America because those that regularly practice one or both find that they simply feel better and often are much less stressed. Some folks go to a spa, some to the mountains, some to the theatre... no matter the exact local, it's for that feeling attained by surrounding one's self with beauty.
After I listened to Esther Sternberg talk about the study she's doing and her own personal experiences, I couldn't help but think about our homes. We spend so much time at home. It needs to be a place where we can relax, lose track of time, unwind and heal. Our bodies are constantly repairing daily damage done just by being alive in the world. We fall ill when our body simply can't keep up. Maybe we don't get enough sleep or excercise. Some of us might feel an underlying sense of stress constantly, even at home. What if we took the time to create a peaceful place? Consider the color of your walls, the cluttered shelves, the electronic stuff strewn about, the music that's a little too loud or a little too harsh. Is there enough light? Would you feel better if your couch was facing the other way? Would you feel best if you got rid of the couch altogether?
I've been in this apartment for almost a year now. For the first time in my life, I've been deliberate about every single aspect of decor. Happily, I can report that for the first time in my adult life I'm sleeping regularly. For the first time in my adult life, I smile when I walk in the door. For the first time in my adult life, I enjoy being at home more than going out most of the time. I needed this healing space and I created it on my own. Now that I'm also meditating more and more, I'm learning to create a place of healing in my mind that I can go to anytime. I call it a PPOP (portable place of peace).
We can't all afford to pick the perfect home. We can't choose what our workplace feels like. What we can do is the small things that we know might not be easy at first, but will make us happier and therefore healthier in the long run.
Here's a few things about my living space that truly make it peaceful, even here in Los Angeles:
Very limited art/pictures hanging on the walls.
No furniture that isn't used regularly.
The T.V. is in a closet and rarely used and no stereo.
Music isn't always playing and when it is I've chosen what I'd like to hear at that moment knowing how it will affect my emotional state.
Windows are usually at least cracked so fresh air is flowing.
Very few decorative knick knacks - more plants and books.
Luckily I have a small space where my yoga mat is always out and ready to use.
The bedroom is an electronics free zone and this includes my phone much of the time.
No paper clutter except the small amount of mail and a notebook or two.
Keep it clean. If I use something, I put it away when I'm done. If I dirty a dish, I wash it right away.
No clocks. Zip Zero Nada. It helps that there is no microwave or coffee maker or a visible DVD player: none of the things constantly alerting you to what time it is. If I want to know the time I check my phone or computer.
The color scheme is very natural and the shades stay open to let in as much natural light as possible.
So that's me. What do you do to make your space a place of peace and healing? Please leave me a comment and don't forget to see what Jill had to say over at her blog Just Jill. We have a new member who will join in as she has the time. Soft Spiral is a brand new blog you're sure to love.