In the era after coronavirus, work-from-home, school-from-home, eat-at-home, and so much more will be part of our “new normal”.
As we sequestered in place, many of us became aware of a feeling of claustrophobia and a need to escape. However for many of us, escape was not a possibility. We found ourselves sheltered or perhaps trapped in what used to be our favorite place: home.
Very quickly the limitations of our space became obvious. Some of us began to lead a cluttered mess of a life. Others of us tidied up excessively and left not a single item undusted or unposed on the shelf.
As we carved out spaces for work, and the all-important Zoom conference background, many of us forgot a most important space: our therapy corner.
Even if you can’t devote a whole room to creating a calm space you can go to escape work, you can create a nook or wall and make it your escape. Here are some considerations for your new Zen get-away.
The colors in your space are very important. You should choose from pastel whites and blues. For the most part, choose soothing and complementary colors that work well together.
None of the colors in your space should stick out or catch the eye. Avoid bright colors like anything metallic, “vibrant”, or neon. The goal is to create a sense of calm.
You don’t necessarily have to paint this space. Simply draping blue and white sheets over the back of a couch and adding similar pillows can create a soothing backdrop for your new Zen getaway.
You might choose one particular item of interest or a bright color if you intend to do meditation. Having an object to capture and hold your attention in the otherwise serene spot can aid your ability to focus the mind and restore your energy.
While many of us naturally tend toward chaos and clutter over time, it is not a state that is naturally soothing. Piles and disorganized clumps of the weekly evidence of life will gnaw at your subconscious and make it hard to concentrate.
You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo here, you probably don’t have to roll your t-shirts into tiny tubes to get the benefits of a tidy space. If you must have piles, and they seem a constant part of every person’s life, put them in attractive containers and on shelves. Yes – put the mess in a tidy place.
It is important for your peace of mind that visually, in this particular space, you have few reminders of the chaos that might – or might not – be your life outside of this space.
One easy way to accomplish this is to make the focus of your space an empty wall, with your back to your clutter. Even this simple visual trick can help put your mind into a more peaceful state.
When you enter this place, you want to create a Zen-like escape. Here, you have several options.
Silence – if it is possible, eliminate all sounds and distractions. This is the ideal state for restorative work and calming.
White noise – a second-best option is creating white noise. Any static, repetitive noise that can fade into the background can work for this. If you have one, a small fountain that makes a pleasing dripping or splashing sound would work. Or you can use your smartphone to find one of many white noise machines.
Meditation music – choosing music with no words and few distinct melodies is important if you must turn up the volume in your getaway space. There are countless playlists with “study” or “Zen” in the title from Spotify, iTunes, or your favorite music provider. A steady companion is the show “Echoes” by John Diloberto, available on playlist or podcast (the podcast often includes his soothing introduction of bands so is not ideal for meditiation.)
In a perfect world, you could sit outside in your Zen garden, lost in the sound of falling water, watching the koi gently wash through the pond.
That does not describe the situation for most of us right now.
But if you can introduce a bit of nature to your new Zen getaway, do. Whether it is an old Christmas cactus you got as a housewarming gift from your neighbors downstairs, or a spider plant you propagated in a 6th grade biology lesson, having one or more plants in the space will help.
Nature, understandably, has been proven to have a calming effect on us and our psyche. Introducing it in any way – even, as a last resort, in the form of a picture – will help send calming signals through your brain and assist your reset.
Of course, sometimes getting away to a new Zen fort behind the couch is not enough for everyone during this stressful time. If you need someone to talk to Sakina Issa is available to help you navigate this confusing and lonely time. Or perhaps you simply want to browse the blog for some ideas on managing your childrens’ energy or dealing with your significant other or navigating difficult family relationships.