To live mindfully is a simple, as much as challenging task when it comes to our society and our daily life. Tight schedules, hectic timings, mass media, social networks, unrealistic standards, obsessive rankings, continuous labelings, pressuring competitions: do I need to keep going?
So one day, after the -nth time I was struggling with creating mindful manners in my everyday experience, I stopped, so overwhelmed by the need for a “breathful” life, and I wondered: how do I make my life more mindful? Where do I start to help myself?
I needed actions and things that would constantly, but gently bring me back to mindfulness, in order to create mindful habits and a mindful pattern in my behaviour. I didn’t want to use reminders, apps or electronic stuff. I needed something that would keep me close to nature, my greatest master when it comes to this practice.
There’s no way of living a mindful life if you are not surrounded by a mindful environment. Our home is our own first environment, regardless of how much time we spend there. That’s where we start and end our days. That’s where we always go back to.
That’s where “me-time” is more luckily to happen and that’s what we probably identify as a slow-paced place more than anything else. So how do you make a mindful home?
At this point, the majority of us would probably start buying as many mindfulness, yoga and meditation gadgets as possible, and that’s fine, but how mindful would that really be? To consume in order to be is a contradiction when it comes to this practice. To project on the outside, instead of focusing on the inside.
So what makes a home truly more mindful?
Life and natural beings that help you focus your attention and stay in the present moment through care, patience and your senses.
Indeed, we are not meant to live in artificial fabrications, touching artificial and synthetic objects all the time. Natural, organic, living realities and materials are a core presence for a healthy and mindful existence, in order to become human again.
Day after day, I started turning my home into a more mindful place, and managed to create mindful habits and a mindful pattern, until making it possible to unfold this list. So here are 7 natural things to make a mindful home.
1. Plants to grow
Growth, care, consolidation, cultivation: these are actions we are not used to anymore, but are actually very important in order to live in the present moment. Ready-to-go and ready-to-use things populate our lives almost hopelessly.
We delegate patience, cultivation, consolidation and care to industries: all we do is to live somewhere and somewhen else, while machines and chemical products do the work for us. The result is complete absence to ourselves.
Growing a plant requires lots of patience, dedication and presence. Slow timings and love-giving. Incredible trust, persistence and listening. I’m not talking about buying an already grown plant and keep nursing it, nor to use those incredibly powerful non-organic fertilizers to keep it alive, beautiful and exquisite at the view.
I’m talking about planting a seed, taking care of it day after day, gathering information on how to look after it properly and in the healthiest way possible, not delegating it to anything and anyone else.
I personally did it with avocado seeds. I picked them because I love avocados of course, but also because they’re not that easy to grow and don’t always sprout. So they need lots of presence and care, but also lots of patience, faith and a little dash of resilience. I decided to use wood pegs to block them on glasses and vases, instead of piercing them with toothpicks, as I find it a gentler and more respectful way of growing them. Also, I decided to plant all the seeds I would come across, regardless of their potential. I use a mix of coffee dregs and banana skin to fertilize them, as well as some ash from my home fireplace.
2. A mindful space
This space can be defined by anything: it can be a sustainable yoga mat like for example this one, a cloth, a small cushion, a chair, or even a line drawn on the ground.
That’s a space for yourself: when you enter it, it’s your time, to do your practice, whether it’s mindful breathing, a yoga session, a meditating experience, or simply being with yourself.
It’s your time to reconnect with your breath and your interiority and experience the present moment to the fullest. Always remember: when you enter this space, there’s no goal to achieve. There’s only you, your breath and the present moment. If your mind starts to wander, just gently and non-judgementally bring it back to your breath and invite it to pay attention to it again: that’s what mindfulness, yoga and meditation are all about.
3. Tea, herbs and spices
Having a cup of tea can be an excellent way to create a moment of mindfulness during your day, as well as a good way to get started on mindfulness and meditation.
In general, herbs, teas and infusions are filled with healthy properties. They can help you to generate rituals and go through the day in a more conscious way. They can be associated with specific thoughts, bring attention to specific feelings, or enter (or exit) a specific moment or activity.
Also, they are fundamental to take care of our body and wellbeing, so always make sure to have plenty of biological teas, infusions, herbs and spices in your hutch. Among them, turmeric is a real prodigy, to the point that indians call it the miracle spice. To “activate” it properly, always combine it with a pinch of black pepper. If you can, try to grow at least some of your own herbs – actually, you are doing a 2 in 1 mindful action 😉 You don’t necessarily need a garden: a few small vases will do to grow herbs and spices.
4. A natural object
As it goes for your space, this is an object that you turn to when you want to enter your moment of mindfulness, yoga practice, meditation or “me-time”. You can also use it to go back to a mantra that can help you to root and calm your mind in any moment.
I found mine to be a wood mala, which is a “necklace” or a bracelet made of wood beads, or seeds that buddhists use to pray and repeat their mantras. However, it doesn’t involve any religious symbol, so it’s perfect also for those who don’t belong to any specific faith (like myself).
Of course, each one has their own object, according to their characteristics and identity. Regardless what you will choose (which of course has to be made of natural material), its power to make your life and your home more mindful can be truly providential. Make it your personal totem, something to turn to to find confidence, calm and help. Try to keep it small, both because you can take it with you all the time, and because it will help you to go back to smallness and simplicity, two very important concepts to stick to when we feel overwhelmed and stressed out: one breath at a time.
5. Himalayan salt lamp
These are truly magical objects that can turn your home into such a mindful place. Their beneficial features are incredible and, to summarise them in a word, we can talk about pure calm. This is both because of the himalayan salt they are made of, and the beautiful, warm light they spread in the room. This is especially indicated when it comes to sleeping and practicing. I have one on my bedside table and I turn it on al least one hour before going to bed. Also, I always keep it on when I practice yoga, mindfulness, or when I meditate. Its capacity to calm the atmosphere and make it more healthy is incredible!
I’m talking about both body oils and essential oils. There are so many kinds of them that you will find one for each need and will.
Thanks to their scent and properties, they can be a sensorial and physical door to specific states of mind.
Some will help you energise, some will help you calm down (each one in a specific direction and according to a specific part of the body and/or emotion). You can use them on your skin, apply a few drops on clothes and objects (pillows, yoga mat, blankets) or spread it in the air through a diffuser, better if made of pottery. During winter time, you can drop the essential oil in your radiator humidifier.
Are you maybe not the first example of nature you know? We always think of ourselves as something “other” than nature and the world we live in, when we’re actually a fundamental part of the ecosystem, like any other natural thing. That’s why we feel so good when we are outdoors. When we talk about the healing power of nature,we are like fishes talking about the healing power of water. Nature doesn’t heal, it brings us back to where we belong.
If you don’t really know what you do with yourself, you can start by simply breathing and listening to your breath. Pay attention to it at least once a day and recognise its existence. Try to understand how it works and how it manifests: is it deep? where does it stop? how’s the air that you inhale? How’s the air that you exhale?
All of these questions are not meant to judge, but rather to gain knowledge, which is the first mean to mindfulness, self-discovery and self-improvement, or simply to be present at ourselves and live in the moment.
Another thing you can use are your hands: mudras are gestures that you can practice with your hands, sparking specific energies and stimulating specific parts of your body. They generate calm and aware states of mind.
They can help you through yoga, meditation and mindfulness, as well as through emotions and uncomfortable feelings. They can be extremely powerful and useful.
I really hope this guide gave you a hand in identifying a few things to start from to generate a mindful life and create a mindful home. I’ll be happy to hear your tips and thoughts. Sharing is such a great mean to growth.
Regardless, I wish you all a mindful and breathful life.