We’re all familiar with the phrase, “My body is a temple”. Not so common is the concept that our homes are temples too.
Whether religious or not, we often view the places that are sacred to us as places outside of our homes. They can be churches for some. And equally, they can be the sea or another body of water we love to visit, a local park or a woodland. They can also be theaters, favorite local cafes, restaurants, or even the pub.
We all need places in our lives that help us to recharge our batteries — mentally, physically and emotionally. I have long believed our homes should be one of these places, and we should treat them accordingly.
This lockdown has surely shown us we need to have more than one option when it comes to having a place of sanctuary whenever the need presents. We cannot depend on permanent access to any one spot, so we need to have backups. And we certainly need to be able to create a sense of sanctuary in our homes.
Last week in Ireland we were given a roadmap for the reopening of society and business. On the one hand it’s reassuring to be able to see how we will slowly come out of the lockdown. On the other hand, that certainty means we now know for sure that most of us will still be remaining in our homes as much as possible in the coming months.
Our homes (and gardens, for those lucky enough to have one) will remain the place where we spend the vast majority of our time. They will remain our primary source of sanctuary for the forseeable weeks and months.
Does your home feel like a sanctuary right now?
For people who are living with domestic violence, their homes are not safe places and so expecting them to feel like a sanctuary is expecting too much. Some of the tips below may help ease tensions, if they are possible for you to implement.
For the rest of us, who are not living with an abuser, creating a true sense of sanctuary in our home is achievable for sure — and easier than you may think.
The first step is to shift our perspective. If your home is feeling like a jail to you, then try acknowledging that it is not that. It is a safe space, even if you do feel constricted by the obligation to spend so much time there right now. And the simple act of feeling momentary grateful can help us to reboot from the stir-crazy to a more uplifted feeling.
Switching up the look of our homes can also help us feel better about them and within them. And, unsurprisingly, the lockdown has spawned a lot of interest in home improvement with people digging around in their garden sheds for leftover paint they can use to brighten up their homes. We all know, because we’ve all painted a room at some point, what a difference colour can make to how our homes feel — and to how we feel in a refreshed room.
That said, we don’t have to repaint or redecorate our homes in order to improve their sanctuary-like vibe. Although that can certainly help — if you get the color selection right!
However, to set your home up as a true sanctuary — a place that nourishes your wellbeing on all levels — think more along the lines of temple than magazine cover.
Whether you align with a religion or not, thinking about how temples are used and cared for will help you set your own home up as your (and your family’s) personal sanctuary for your mind, body and spirit:
It will be clean and clutter-free. Yeah, I know, not fun! It is the fundamental step though, like washing our bodies before we put on clean clothes. Of course, different levels of clearing are possible in different households, depending on the age and needs of everyone living there. Where mess is completely unavoidable, is it possible to zone it? Or could you organise your storage better, to create pockets of temporary calm when the lego and other necessities aren’t in use? And clear out what’s definitely past being loved and used — even if it’s only to the car boot, until the charity shops can reopen.
Use sound, mindfully chosen with the intention of raising spirits. Sing, chant, play instruments. Turn off the news and play Mozart in the background as you go about your day to day activities.
Smudge the space by burning incense or herbs. Make sure your incense has natural ingredients, not synthetic, and set an intention around what kind of energy you want your home to support prior to the smudging. What do you and your family need right now? Maybe to feel safe, or to feel trust in how you will all come through this. Do this regularly, and especially after a member of the household has been sick, or after an argument.
No redecorating is required to implement any of these steps, and all will help to create a more nurturing space in your home.
Other simple steps are opening the windows as much as possible to allow fresh air (energy, chi) to circulate through your home. And while we don’t see plants in religious temples, they make a great addition to a home. This is especially true if you have no outside space at all, as plants bring vital living energy into our space.
If your home feels cramped then look at how rearranging the furniture might allow for easier movement around and through the space. As well as improving circulation, rejigging your furniture layout is the quickest (and zero-cost) way to change the look and feel of a room. Many interior designers admit to “shopping their home” regularly, moving rugs, cushions and other accessories from one room to another. I love to do this with furniture too, when I’m not feeling the love for a particular piece. Often, in a different room, and given a different purpose (which improves how the room functions), I change my mind about a piece I might have wanted to get rid of before.
Right now, donating, recycling and free-cycling furniture isn’t an option, so try looking at pieces you wanted to replace in a new light. If moved to a new spot, could they solve a storage or study need?
And, of course, repainting can also help enormously. Color has a huge impact on how we feel, so choose carefully — especially if you want to reduce instances of conflict.
For more peace and calm, go for blues, greens and paler colors. Avoid red in your home. It is very stimulating, and not a good idea if you want to create a relaxing vibe. The best place in the home to incorporate red is the dining room, as it can stimulate both appetite and conversation. However, in a home where tempers are known to flare, it would be helpful to get rid of all red. If it’s on the walls, paint over it. If you have a red sofa or armchair, cover it with a large throw.
Blue and green, the colors of nature, are both calming to the psyche. They are both on the cooler end of the color spectrum too though, so be mindful of that when choosing your shade. In north-facing rooms, blue in particular can make a room feel cold. Green is slightly warmer, as it is blue combined with yellow. In a south-facing room blue and green will feel less cool, while injecting their soothing effect.
If your room is more northerly, then think about paler versions of the warmer colors (red, yellow, orange). Orange and yellow have a cheery effect on us, but in strong saturations they might feel overbearing. If you and everyone in your household love these colors though, then go for it in places like the kitchen, dining room, hallway. Avoid them on the walls in the living room or bedroom, as they are a bit lively for use in places designed for relaxing or sleeping.
If a dedicated working-from-home space is newly required, dark blue or navy is a good choice. It helps to promote concentration and focus. Painting one wall or corner can also help to delineate that zone as separate from the rest of your living space. And avoid it feeling gloomy by adding appropriate lighting.
Lastly, review the art and other knick-knacks around your home. Does it reflect you and your life? Does it symbolically support the journey you wish to take going forwards? If you want your home to feel peaceful and happy, does the art you’re looking at daily evoke those feelings? Art depicting stormy scenarios or sadness might be better swapped out for more joyful scenes. And in the bedroom, be sure you’re displaying symbols of happy couples and not sad or lonely-looking people.
Overall, we want our homes to symbolically represent joy, health, love, compassion and all the other good stuff we wish for ourselves and our loved ones. When we walk through the doors, we want to feel uplifted by the space.
So notice how you feel when you enter your home, and as you move from room to room. If any part of your home has a dragging effect on your energy, then it might be time to apply some of these tips. Start with the free and easy ones and work your way up to the painting. You’ll be glad you did.