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Saturday
Sep082012

Healing Places and Spaces

It’s important to take time to evaluate your physical environment, noticing how it impacts your mood, behaviors and levels of stress.  Sometimes we have a sense for which environments promote our wellness and which ones cause stress, but we still don’t take the time to create an environment at work and home that capitalize on this self-knowledge. 

Here are a few changes I have made in my own physical environment that have had a substantial impact on my wellbeing.  I hope they will encourage you to begin brainstorming ways to change your own environment to make it more supportive of health and happiness. 

Music:  I’m not someone who is constantly plugged into my iPod but I have discovered that music has an important influence on my mood and outlook.  I have even become aware of how certain songs trigger a cascade of memories and stories in my mind.  Sometimes this is beneficial but often it causes me to begin thinking or worrying about the past or future, hijacking my enjoyment of the present moment.  So I decided to take control of my musical input by creating tracks on my iPod for the mood/outlook I desire.  I have a track for exercise that is upbeat and energizing as well as a track that pulls together music I find relaxing.  I also like listening to Pandora Radio because it allows me to create my own stations.  When a song is played that doesn’t generate the spirit I desire, I can quickly log this into the system and it won’t play on my station again.  I’m particularly fond of ambient music, finding it helps me focus when I’m working and relax when I’m ready for bed. 

Visual Cues in the Kitchen:  When it comes to eating, I often makes choices based on convenience and the amount of time I have to prepare and eat a meal or snack.  With this in mind, I decided to put healthy and quick options clearly visible and readily available in my kitchen.  I purchased a variety of clear plastic containers to sit on my kitchen counter and filled them with nuts, seeds, dried fruits and whole-wheat crackers.  In addition, after shopping for produce I immediately clean and prepare most of the fruits and vegetables and place them in easy to reach containers in my refrigerator.   When it’s time to prepare a meal or snack, they are ready to cook or eat immediately with very little additional effort. 

Special space for Meditation:  It took me time to find a space that was conducive to my formal sitting meditative practice.  I tried a number of locations in my home before settling on a surprising site.  I live in a four-story narrow brownstone in Boston and discovered that a small bench on the fourth floor landing is perfect.  This very small space has little to distract me and a skylight provides natural light.  On the padded bench, I have a small meditation book and a bamboo basket that holds small scrapes of paper with the names of family, friends, or situations I wish to hold close to my heart.  The simplicity and natural light are undoubtedly important but I also realize, having a space that is completely devoted to meditation validates how essential this element is to my life.  The more I practice on this small landing, the more this space seems to cultivate my practice and create a deeper sense of wellbeing.  

Take a few moments now to reflect on your own physical environment.  Is there something easy you can do right away to make your environment a bit more conducive to your health?  If so, set this intention and act on it today.   In addition, consider sharing your goal with the Age Well Be Well community by posting it on my blog this week.  I look forward to hearing and learning from each of you. 

Be well,

Paula

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