Be­ing in the now

Mind­ful­ness is not just in your head, it can also be ap­plied to your sur­round­ings, writes Carol O’cal­laghan

Irish Examiner - Property & Interiors - - Interiors -

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...

few sur­prises.

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

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