A place of refuge or safety. Is this what your home feels like?
Take a moment, breathe, and look around your home. How does it make you feel? What do you see? Do you feel peace when you scan your environment? Do you feel calm?
When I was at home healing from an illness that had me down for a while, I suddenly had time to really look around and spend time in my home. I began to notice that I felt irritable with things that weren’t working and something made me feel uneasy. As my health improved I decided to consciously make notes and eventually a list of the things I’d like to improve in my environment.
The first step was to get rid of the clutter. I had been reading a lot about minimalism and how stuff makes us feel. I looked into Fung Shui and began to feel the energy in my home. Space can either facilitate flow and openness or stop or stagnate energy. I read Marie Kondo’s book and began to understand why the excess and clutter made me feel anxious and upset. In her book, she says, “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.” I realized that all of the internal work I was doing was affecting what I noticed in my home, prompting me to want to get rid of the excess or anything that reminded me of the former unhealthy approach to life I was taking by constantly pushing leading to burnout.”
If your space makes you feel anxious, it’s likely pointing to some inner work needing to be done and it will only perpetuate the anxiety. This reminds me of the title of Gretchen Rubin’s book Outer Order Inner Calm. When you see all kinds of undone projects or notice irritations every time you try to do something because a door is broken or your dishwasher racks don’t hold things properly or you’ve got so many clothes that you can’t even see what you have, this creates a feeling. Most likely it is not one of refuge, safety, or peace.
As my health improved, so did my energy. Instead of trying to do it all at once, I went room by room and paced myself. Now, I feel that even if your health isn’t compromised this is the best way. Take your time and look at each room. Make a list of the things bothering you, not working, cluttered, undone projects, things you are storing that you can’t even see because there’s so much piled on top of each other. Notice the feelings that arise and take a few minutes with each space and pay attention to any other thoughts, memories, or experiences that arise or are triggered. The work to make your home a sanctuary is both inner and outer work and they affect each other.
I found that if I took time in each room, it became an enjoyable process. My husband now thanks to me for having remotes that work in every room at every tv and that we can listen to music in our home at the touch of a button on our phones. Before no one knew how many of them worked and it took two or three remotes to operate one tv. Often they would get misplaced when the kids would walk away with them and without one of them you couldn’t do anything. This was just one of my irritations!
Today I’m still pulling things out of cabinets and off of the countertops and sifting through them, little by little I’m finding I need so much less to be happy. For me, a sanctuary has just what I need, and a few things I truly love. It reflects my new state of peace and happiness. I know this pandemic has been hard. It’s tempting to feel stir crazy and to only focus on the negative i.e. the places we cannot travel, the restaurants that we love that may still be closed, the uncertainty. What if you reframed this as a gift to work on your heart and creating your sanctuary? We may never have this much time to live slowly again without a great deal of effort! I’d love for you to share your sanctuary with us. Find me on Instagram and share your images and tag me! I’ll share them with my community! Can’t wait to see!