Many of us practice meditation and read self-help books on how to lead calmer, more peaceful lives; but we rarely think about how our surroundings can affect our moods, productivity levels and general well-being.
Because we spend significant amounts of time in our homes, it’s important to consider the atmospheres we create and how they influence our lives.
Thinking of our homes as not just walls and furniture, but more as our own personal sanctuaries, is the first step to achieving a zen environment. In more practical terms, this involves thinking about how different layouts, colours, textures and amounts of light can affect our well-being.
Here are some important factors to keep in mind when creating zen atmospheres in your homes:
- Your home can be a part of the daily solar/lunar cycle:
Making sure your home reflects and encourages the natural lighting patterns of the daily solar-lunar cycle. This can be done by simply drawing back the curtains/blinds/shutters every morning, letting in the light, and keeping an appropriate lighting during the night, to encourage healthier daily patterns. Letting in fresh air can also help you keep a clear mind and increase your productivity levels. The benefits of this can be seen especially in sufferers of the Seasonal Affective Disorder, who experience seasonal depression (too varying degrees) with changes in amounts of light.
- Your home can have a clear, flowing pulse:
One of the key principles of Feng Shui is to encourage the free flow of energy throughout the house. You don’t have to subscribe to Feng Shui ideals in order to understand the annoyance of having to navigate your movements between inappropriately placed furniture, or the frustration of looking for objects in rooms full of inconveniently placed cabinets, etc. Making sure that your daily movements are not disturbed can help decrease feelings of claustrophobia, and unblock physical, as well as emotional, passages and barriers.
- Your home can be a warm and welcoming sanctuary:
There’s no denying that there is a stylish and modern effect to cool steel, cold tiles and concrete on a house. These effects however, decrease the warm and welcoming atmosphere that many of us crave and hope to create. By adding a few warmer colours and textures to our homes, we can make them seem friendlier and warmer. This can be done by adding wooden textures to floors, walls, and furniture. Softer colours and textures on furniture like couches and beds can also go a long way to achieve this purpose.
- Your home can be reminiscent of a holiday-like environment:
We often feel relaxed and calm when we’re on holiday; these feelings do not have to be restricted to a few short periods during the year! Re-create some of your favourite holiday environments by adding light blues and greens, and warm island-like colours to help you create an environment reminiscent of islands and warmer, calmer times!
- Your home can be a peaceful haven:
Creating a calm and quiet environment isn’t always easy (especially when children are involved), but it is not impossible! Having dimmable lights and soft/calm music in the background can help to start the day in a calm way, and help end it in a zen and relaxed manner. Having spaces designated to “quiet time” (for example a chair, couch, or corner) can also help individuals get some quiet time without having to leave the house, or retreat to their rooms.
- Your home can be adjustable to various settings and circumstances:
Lighting plays a big role in your home’s ability to adjust to different situations. Dimmable lights can ensure that you can have both the maximum amounts of light necessary to stay alert and productive, as well as allow you to slowly recede into a more peaceful state that prepares you (and your children) for a natural, easy transition into sleep – this can help improve sleeping patterns. You can also create more “flattering” and welcoming lighting by avoiding overhead lights that can create harsh and unforgiving shadows!
- Your home can encourage clear thinking:
According to the principles of Feng Shui, clutter represents stagnant energy that decreases our quality of life. De-cluttering our homes can help de-clutter our minds, leaving room for more productive, positive thoughts. Unnecessary clutter also makes for a messy and busy environment; removing unnecessary objects can help create a calmer atmosphere.
- Your home can tell a story:
When decorating, think about what each room represents to you, or what story you would like the room to tell. While thought-provoking artwork with vibrant colours might do well in a living room where you entertain guests, the same piece may be inappropriate for a bedroom where lighter, warmer colours might prove more beneficial to creating the calm and peaceful atmosphere. The placement of objects matters too, think carefully before placing a mirror for example too high, or too low!
Using a combination of the above steps can help us achieve the perfect zen environment in our homes, to match with and compliment the calmness we try to achieve in our minds!