Being in the now
Mindfulness is not just in your head, it can also be applied to your surroundings, writes Carol O’callaghan
Mindfulness has an enticing ring to it but what is it exactly, you may well ask? According to www.mindfulness.org, it’s the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Now, who wouldn’t want a bit of that?
It seems it’s also applicable to our homes because the state they’re in can make us feel peaceful or overwhelmed by what’s wrong with them.
Tackling the topic and combining it with the trend for home improvement are Dr Craig and Deirdre Hassid in their book, The Mindful Home: Secrets to making your home a place of harmony, beauty, wisdom and true happiness.
In it, the duo maintain that a mindful home is one you want to live in; where you are likely to be better rested; more fulfilled; happier and healthier. Getting started is a mindful activity in itself. Start, they say, by sitting down at a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed.
Close your eyes, get comfortable, letting your mind drift around what your ideal home looks like, though not necessarily from an architectural point of view, but more about the qualities and feelings you’d like the house to evoke when you walk through the door.
While you’re doing this, they suggest taking a sheet of paper and along one half of it, write down key words or points that come to mind. But, how, pray tell, with one’s eyes closed?
A practical modification of the instructions had me organising my pen and paper beside me before I began the exercise so when I opened my eyes I was ready to write down what cropped up, before it slipped out of my mind again.
After that, I was instructed to stroll around the house to look at it with fresh eyes, bearing in mind the words that came up during contemplation, and writing down on the other half of the page anything I observed relating to them. It wasn’t without a
“Close your eyes, get comfortable, letting your mind drift around what your ideal home looks like...
Comfort was one of my words, and it applied specifically to my bedroom where there wasn’t enough of it. I realised I’d put all my creative efforts into guest bedrooms which languish unused for the most part, while I made do with second best in my own.
Colour — red in particular — also cropped up. It happens to be my favourite, but there’s precious little of it around me, outside of the wardrobe.
The simple act of replacing an enamel fruit bowl filled with lemons and limes on my white kitchen table, with a red glass hurricane lamp lifts the space and perks me up when I walk into the room.
This leads me onto the third word which arose: Feelgood, and certainly the kitchen feels better, brighter, warmer even, with just that one adjustment.
This exercise was probably the most useful part of the book for me, along with section three, which, rather than dividing up the house into rooms by function, spoke of five spaces for leisure, socialising, quiet time, storage use and outdoor living, and how they ought to evoke calm, peace and comfort.
Familiar topics are also touched on, like decluttering and a particular insistence on