“What you see you become “- ancient Vedic literature of India
Last month I had the pleasure of spending time at a resort called Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. Their sole mission is holistic wellness and they are devoted to providing the finest practitioners, services and information available to make the path toward health and well-being more accessible. That purpose is palpable the minute you arrive and every square inch of the place seems to conspire in making guests feel calmer and healthier. In just 24 hours you’d swear you’ve lost 10 pounds, become totally detoxed and look better than you have in years. And that is not by happenstance.
Canyon Ranch, like many other spas, understands that their guests are seeking a greater sense of health and rejuvenation, so they tailor the environment to support those feelings. The color palette is soothing, the bedding is comfortable, the food is healthy and the eye is met with beautiful artwork everywhere it lands. When the eye sees beauty, balance and well-being represented in the environment it sends those images to the brain which then believes it is experiencing beauty and balance and well-being.
These feelings are evoked because there is intent to evoke them. From intent, comes physical manifestation. In short, we have the ability to take a cerebral concept and manifested it into physical reality!
Think of all the places that evoke a feeling or support a belief. I know I feel more connected to my physical body and emotional center in a yoga studio.
Some feel a spiritual connectedness in a church or synagogue. Others may feel open for breakthrough in a therapist’s office, motivated in a gym or creatively stimulated in an art studio.
Imagine what would happen if we started to pay attention to our surroundings when we realized we felt good, or felt encouraged to reach our next level of potential. That feeling might encourage us to stop and make a mental inventory of the things we see around us. Done regularly, we’d become adept at identifying the things that promote positive feelings and steer clear of the things present when we feel negative ones. We’d start to make very strong connections between a concept and it’s physical manifestation. Now imagine the implications if we transfer this philosophy to our homes! What healing potential our personal spaces would have if we learned how to harness this energetic exchange when we need it.
As an interior designer, I know that my clients are asking me to help make those connections. They don’t ask for 84” sofas with dressmaker skirts or yellow plaid drapes with pinched pleat tops. That language may be a familiar starting ground but we quickly realize this is just shorthand for manifesting needs like comfort, relaxation or simple elegance. They are asking me to help find the things that feel good to them. Last month I met with new clients and they told me that they lived a very happy life, but their house didn’t reflect that back to them. My job is to surround them with reminders of happiness. It can be as subtle as a color palette that uplifts a mood or a painting that makes you smile when you walk by it. The representation of happiness wont’ be the same for any two individuals because their experiences and perceptions have been shaped by different things. But there are millions of fabrics, pieces of furniture and works of art waiting to be called to such duty.
Sometimes I am asked to help a person who is in transition and searching for new connections. This morning I met with a woman who has spent the last few years being defined by the cruel language that surrounds life threatening illness. She called me because she needed to say something different about herself, but didn’t know what words to form. I arrived to find a house that was frozen in a time warp, conceived pre-cancer and pre-chaos, when life was simpler and all was well in the world. But this client realized that she was no longer the same woman. She had been through hell and back and was living in a home that was “predictable” and spoke nothing of what she has learned facing life’s unpredictability. She’s ready for her house to more accurately align with the woman that she has evolved into today, but it will be like learning to speak a new language. It will be an emotional journey as she says goodbye to the things that represent “safety” and “struggle” and replaces them with things that say “healing” and “optimism”.
It is basic human nature to want our physical, psycho-emotional and spiritual needs met. By bringing mindfulness to our surroundings we can cull valuable information, and a starting point, about what we need/don’t need to surround ourselves with to fulfill those needs. We can make contented-ness, happiness, curiosity, etc. manifest as reality that dances all around us, instead of just vaporous concept.
I believe that the physical home is a reflection of our internal home and therefore a huge mirror that we can stand in front of and try on new looks, new ideas, new beliefs and new solutions until we find what feels just right. And we can continue to visit this practice over the course of our lives as our needs change by changing what surrounds us.
For me, this is the connection that takes interior design from the realm of the vapid and esoteric to the sacred realm of healing. With every new client and every new project I have proof that environment is a powerful tool toward the path to well-being and the peace that comes with finally being home.
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