The art of skillful living is something of a mystery to many people. Given the high octane nature of many of our day-to-days, it can seem almost impossible to factor in time for reflection, meditation and relaxation. Anybody with any sense will acknowledge that the brain is the most overworked organ in the body, and yet it is all too easy to neglect its wellbeing.
We’ve been inspired by our recent experimentation with the Headspace Meditation App to redefine the way that we function, especially at home (in our castle). So, first things first, we urge you to give that a go. The ten day plan requires a mere ten minutes of your time every day, and believe us when we tell you that it makes the world of difference right from the off.
Developing on the theme of mindfulness that we’re beginning to nurture right now, we’ve decided to have an appraisal of our own space: The Home.
Your home is your place. Sounds simple, right? But the home is essential for you, as a place to retreat to and to rejuvenate in. Returning home after a long and stressful day should make you feel nothing but good.
For us, the home is also a place that should express who you are, and accentuate your identity.
If you want to replace the furniture and rip the wallpaper down, then feel free - you’ll find some great tips at Simple Luxe Living. But just in case you don’t want to, we’ve put together a few of our own thoughts on what you can do to your space, that will simplify your home and create a warm and mindful glow for your downtime.
Giving and maintaining life encourages the mindful practices of kindness, dedication and compassion, all of which are wonderful for the self. Also, the feeling of being amongst nature can reconnect the mind with the simpler and pure aspects of the world. Inspired by our friends over at The Chalkboard, we’ve taken to planning our own interior “garden”.
Based on your space, you can start with something as simple as a few healthy aloe vera plants, however, we’d encourage you to venture a bit further and start growing some of your kitchen essentials. Rosemary, basil, thyme, vine tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber and chillies are all in the early stages of growth at our place. One of our main daydreams during the day is getting back to them to give them the love they deserve! They’re also a lovely diversion, and offer the opportunity to switch off the outside world, and be in the moment with our little bit of nature.
Encouraging growth feeds really well into the practice of mindful eating. This is especially prevalent in the Vegan diet, given the importance of clarity as to origins and sustainability.
First things first, only eat when you are hungry. Seriously, refrain from eating when you are tired, sad, anxious or bored. Not only is this healthy, it also refocuses your mind on dealing with your emotions without succumbing to any and all coping mechanisms.
Secondly, when you do eat, take a minute to appreciate your food - especially if you have grown it yourself. During preparation, consider the provenance: where did it come from? What journey has it taken to end up on your plate? Conceptualise the people that might have been involved in providing the food that you’re about to enjoy.
Thirdly, whilst eating, make sure you’re in the moment. Think about how the food will nourish you. Focus on the tastes and smells. Engaging your senses in the process of eating can direct your focus internally, on yourself, which is what the home is all about after all. Several studies also show that when we practice mindful eating, we take in only what is necessary.
Everything In It’s Rightful Place
As humans, we are habitual creatures. We associate certain behaviours with certain stimuli - like the telly, which is good for watching; the fridge, which is good for snacking; the bed, which is good for sleeping. The secret to mindful habits is to embrace all of these, for only then can we begin to understand the patterns that form our selfhood.
However, clutter is the enemy of a relaxing and mindful home. Make sure that there is a space, for everything, so that you give it a rightful place in your home. You should engage in regular organising times where you look through cupboards and drawers and either donate unwanted items to charity, pass on to someone else, or remind yourself that you own it and start to use it again! Letting go of things can make you feel physically and emotionally lighter, and it also allows you to bring new things into your life.
Also, read in your favourite chair, and only there. Watch television on the sofa, rather than in bed. Take your morning coffee over to the window and look out on the dawn of a new day, every day. Habits like these can affect your mood and mindfulness, so that you associate everything with it’s rightful place.
Michelangelo famously said, shortly before his death: ‘I’m still learning’. Now, whether or not you are a genuine polymath, it is crucial to your mind to keep learning, and to stay curious. We recommend scheduling a little time every week for learning about something new that excites your intellect.
With the vast and bountiful plethora of blogs, magazines and articles available at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to develop an understanding of something new. Also, engaging your brain and focusing on something you’ve always wanted to know about has the same effect as working out a muscle. It boosts performance and stimulates growth, which is essential for mindfulness.
The new and the fresh encourage mental activity and excitement, which, put simply, is good for the soul.
The Rudimentals of Routine
Just like having a place for everything that physically occupies your space, make sure that your personal behaviour reflects a sense of mindfulness in your own home.
Consider the words of writer Haruki Marukami, in conversation with The Paris Review:
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10 kilometers or swim for 1,500 meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
Mindfulness is all about engaging that ‘deeper state of mind’, so make that work for you. Make good choices about your habits, and then stick to them until they become second nature. By doing so, mindfulness can perpetrate into your unconscious and lead to a healthier state of being.
This one is a bit more of a “life hack”, rather than anything else, but it is absolutely crucial for the end of your day. Remember to disconnect from the outside world, and to focus on yourself. You can do this quite simply - remove technology from your evening at least an hour before you go to bed.
If you set your morning alarm on your phone, then stop. Turn it off, so that you don’t receive texts, emails, or (possibly) drunk phone calls from someone who wants to put the world to rights from the back seat of an Uber. Don’t leave your laptop by the side of the bed for you to look at last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Making your bedroom a technology free space will encourage you to engage in the process of going to sleep, and getting those crucial winks that make the world go round.
We hope this encourages you to embrace a more mindful lifestyle at home. For more instructions on how to curate an atmosphere of tranquility, you can check out ‘The Mindful Home’, by Craig and Deirdre Hassed, which is available both on- and offline.