Devoting a separate space for contemplative practice, no matter its size, is important to sustained peace and well-being. There is something restorative about leaving the demands of our busy lives “out there” and entering a space that is solely dedicated to healing, relaxation and calm. From such a space, we can emerge, regularly, refreshed, renewed and enriched with purposeful intent, mindfulness and compassion.
When you create a peaceful space, you enter into an environment that is stressless. You dictate the terms of your state of being through mindfulness, meditation, prayer and other contemplative practices.
Creating “a peaceful space” is evidence-based design that focuses on the affect of the interior environment on mood and behavior. We use these techniques and not just design elements and principles to create a unique environment that nurtures well-being.
“Light, color, pattern, materials (and spatial arrangements) are the traditional medium of designers. These visual elementsgo beyond aesthetics, as they can affect how a space is experienced psychologically.” – Sally Augustine, Ph.D. and Barbara B. Miller, ASID, “Researching Home: Evidence-Based Residential Design”
Like most things in life, creating a peaceful space is a journey. It is a path that leads from the outside in – from an exterior space of peace to an inner peace. I know because I have been on the path for the past 12 years. For those interested in pursuing this path, some ways to begin include “downsizing your stuff”, attending to your health and nutrition, reducing debt, and ridding your interior environment and your mind of clutter, objects and people that “weigh you down”. It means observing and managing your thoughts, your body and your emotional response to situations.
The “peaceful space” Design Approach adds a unique focus to design. I call it the S.C.U.R.T. Method. These are the steps. Sit. Commit. Undo. Redo. Transform.
1. “Sit” and “be” in the space you want to redesign.
Turn your awareness to how you feel in the space and then to how you want to feel in that space. Are you comfortable? Don’t feel much of anything? Not sure what you feel? Are you anxious, overwhelmed?
2. “Commit” to the design and to your effort in this space.
Benjamin P. Handy, a noted Psychologist says, “your internal resolve, naked to an opposing environment is not commitment. (You must create) consciously designed environments that facilitate your commitment. If you are committed to something that is exactly what you’ll do.”
It is equally important that you create a space that “confronts” you. This is not a space to be ignored or entered into only when you think about it. It must be a space that triggers your senses in a way that causes you to pause and calm yourself. It must say to you, drop everything, stop everything, take pause, breathe and be present NOW.
Remove everything from the space or at least remove any clutter, furniture or items that may “distract” you from your commitment. Ideally the space should be cleared out completely in order to refresh and renew your design. At a minimum the space should be cleared of any clutter, dust and miscellaneous decorative accessories. Any thought of what you might fill the room with, dismiss. This is about clearing, releasing AND letting go.
I have developed 7 key elements essential to peaceful design. Each element has a foundation in evidence-based design.
Element 1: Light, Nature and Lightness of Being
Studies have shown that these factors improve recovery time and accelerate healing in hospital patients. If your soul needs some healing, open those blinds and shutters, step outside, take a deep breath and smile.
Element 2: Ambiance – Lofty or Intimate
Elevated ceilings (of 8-10ft) make people feel physically less constrained and encourage us to think more freely . . . Lower ceilings are more confining (perhaps, more intimate) inspiring more detailed thought and focus. Determining which works best for you depends entirely on the degree of “intimacy” you want to feel in your space.
Element 3: Vibrational Sound Triggers
Vibrational sounds invoke a deep state of relaxation which naturally assists in entering into a peaceful state of being. meditation, the ultimate goal being enlightenment. A quintessential aid to meditation, vibrational sounds trigger the mind to prepare for meditation and contemplative practice.
Element 4: Calm with Colors
Use neutral colors that are proven to calm and not stimulate. Cool colors tend to be more calming – pastel blues, blue-greens tend to put people at ease. Soft off-whites and beiges can also be used as calming colors.
Element 5: Simplicity
Keep it simple with one or two pieces of furniture and minimal decor. My favorite acronym here is KSO (Keep Stuff Out). Avoid overworked designs and “heavy” furnishings.
Element 6: “Q.O.B.™” (Quality of the Breath)
As you meditate or settle into your mindfulness practice, your quality of breath is as important as the breathing itself. The quality of your indoor air (IAQ) is important in deep breathing and meditative states. In fact, it is another key element in creating a nurturing environment. So make sure your IAQ (indoor air quality) is supporting your QOB™.
Element 7: “Ahness”
When you walk into your nurturary™ you want to have the immediate response of taking a deep breath and “settling” into a state of calm. I call it the “ahh” moment. Creating an ambiance of “ahnness” through sound (or the lack of) and fragrance can be helpful triggers to signal you to take that deep breath, relax, release and let go.
I often include meditation music, candles, and visual symbols such as statues, water fountains and art to evoke “ahness”. But it is important to ask yourself if you choose one of these elements, “Is this peaceful?”
We create our “life’s story” based on our responses to conditions in our life, our choices and how effectively we can channel our resolve, manage our resources and build our relationships.
By focusing on a specific set of contemplative practices and behavioral modification strategies designed to “hardwire” your spirit for peace, you can change your “quality” of thought for more serenity and calm. See lovesimpleliving.com.
Written by: Diane Pruitt, Serenity Designer and President of “a peaceful space inc”.