How to make your home feel like a meditation retreat
21st May, 2019
When life overwhelms, it helps to have a sanctuary. Hopefully that sanctuary is your own home.
With meditation and mindfulness going mainstream, more of us are understanding the importance of carving out a calming space for ourselves – a principle designers have embraced for centuries.“It’s really about creating sensory spaces,” says Caroline Lieu, an interior architect. This includes both sights and sounds. Lieu credits the scientific effects of certain lights and colours as integral to curating a peaceful space. “You should use more natural materials, avoiding artificial colours and finishes,” she says. As for that red feature wall lurking on your Pinterest? Might not be so calming.
Natural hues and maximum natural light, seen at Warrior One Yoga.
“With bright colours, you respond differently,” says Lieu. The science backs her up, with a study from the University of British Columbia finding red is a “motivating” colour – great for detail-oriented tasks but not ideal for relaxing at the end of a long day.
Your approach to creating a calming soundscape will depend on where you live.
“Near the city, you want to block out the sounds around you. But if you’re in the country, you need to open up to the natural sounds available,” Lieu says.
Playlists curated for different times of day take the pressure off choosing.
A curated playlist of relaxing songs will not only melt away stresses, but also take the pressure off your DJing skills.
Alicia Sbrugnera, head of music culture and editorial at Spotify Australia and New Zealand, says creating a relaxing vibe at home can depend on the time of day.
“We generally see an uplift in ‘Yoga & Meditation’ and ‘Coffee + Chill’ playlists across the mornings,” she says. “As the day progresses, playlists like ‘Unwind’ and ‘Peaceful Piano’ pick up steam.”
At the end of the day, Sbrugnera says Spotify’s “Sleep” playlist is one of their most popular, while if you needed proof that meditation has taken off, Spotify’s “Yoga and Meditation” playlist has almost one million followers.
Finally, the platform’s “Unwind” playlists are incredibly popular for relaxation and have “a nice spread of popular music from across the decades, packaged up in a stripped back manner”, she says.
With your look and sound sorted, Yoga Australia chief executive Shyamala Benakovic has some tips for respecting your new sanctuary. Benakovic’s philosophy is all about maximising light, minimising clutter and, more generally, treating your own space the way you might a beautiful yoga studio.
Think like a yoga instructor and fill your space with beautiful scents.
“Start with taking your shoes off at the door,” she says. “It allows you to settle as you go in.
“When you immediately see clutter, your mind goes – ‘I’ve got to put those things away’ – you make a to-do list in your mind.”
Both Benakovic and Lieu agree that designing the right space for you hinges on removing distractions and worries. But don’t worry – you don’t need to turf anything that doesn’t “spark joy”.
“Marie Kondo, I’d take it with a grain of salt”, says Benakovic of the Japanese sensation espousing minimalism. “But she does say everything in your house has to have a place … that helps.”
Accentuate the beauty outside and let some greenery inside, too.
Both women also agree there’s always a place for nature’s air filters: plants. Benakovic says if you’re looking out your window for greenery, you need to bring more plants into your home.
“They provide oxygen and beauty to these spaces, as well as sound and scent,” adds Lieu, who also highlights the importance of choosing items specifically for the space. “You want to choose objects that have character, history, that express a story.”
More natural hues and peaceful sounds, less distractions and clutter. The bones of your calming space are there – now make it your own.