How to Create an Intuitive, Balanced Environment
By Chelsea Vincent
On a recent yoga retreat, a big topic of conversation at dinner one night was Marie Kondo-ing one’s space. If you haven’t heard this trending term, here’s the scoop: Marie Kondo is an organizing consultant who self-admittedly inspires people “to choose joy and complete their tidying adventures.”
Now, while I never viewed the onslaught of weekend chores in such an optimistic light while growing up, there’s something to be said for what “being more zen” can do for us as adults.
Zen, which is actually rooted in a form of Buddhism, is all about finding the peaceful, relaxed state where we have less distraction and more mindful intuition. If you don’t regularly meditate, think about the way you feel after getting a fantastic massage, or when you wake up and realize it’s Saturday morning (and you don’t have to clock in). That’s when you feel zen.
Naturally, who wouldn’t want to feel that sense of ease more often?
Here are a few simple examples of how to make your surroundings more zen (no IKEA furniture assembly or gong purchases required).
Clear Out the Clutter
While it’s tempting to hold onto everything we’ve ever owned while ignoring the growing piles of bills or junk mail, that clutter has a negative impact on our mental capacities. It may take a few hours or weekends to sift through the contents of your space, but as Marie herself says, getting rid of that which no longer brings you joy will bring you peace. Hold on to those specific statement pieces which really speak to you (or have a function), and let the rest go.
From the zen perspective, this falls in line with not being overly attached to things. For you hoarders out there, this one can be tricky. I challenge you to consider this: how frustrating is it to dust, when there are 43 trinkets sitting on every bookshelf or table in your home? (Not worth it.)
Add Natural Elements
Spending time in nature has a proven ability to relax us. While most of us don’t have the luxury of having an outdoor office (or treehouse – bucket list?), one way to infuse your space with some of those healing properties is to borrow a page from Mother Nature herself.
Nature-based art creates a peaceful environment
Consider using natural fabrics, like linen, organic cotton, wool, or bamboo, in lieu of synthetic ones. Find sunny spaces where you can add a couple of real plants (which also help to clean the air). If you don’t have windows, you can add a grow light to help your plants thrive. And don’t forget that you can also add reminders of nature within your space, like artwork, or nature-based incense, like palo santo.
Balance Light and Space
This concept sounds rather ethereal, but it needn’t be intimidating. Are there ways in which you can bring in more natural light? How can you have light enter the space from a variety of angles, like floor or regular lamps, rather than just relying on overhead lighting?
This room does a nice job of balancing available natural light with lamps at various levels
If there are blinds in your space, for example, perhaps switch to privacy film on the windows. Also think about the source of the lighting in your space. Harsh fluorescent lights make everyone crazy. Switch to warm, natural lights instead. If that’s not an option where you’re at, turn off the overheads, and add some softer lamps.
If we believe that we’re equally created by “nature and nurture,” then our surroundings really do have a big impact on the way we feel and how we interact with others. But fear not – intentionally carving out some peace in your home, office, or other living space doesn’t have to be expensive or intense. Even with small touches, you can bring that weekend feeling into your everyday life.