I’m very excited to introduce Jane Alexander, author and friend I met at Penninghame a few years ago. Jane happily agreed to write a blog post for the ‘expand your knowledge’ series which I will be hosting over the next month or so. Jane is a fantastic wellbeing author, she also write a column for Natural Health magazine and journalist for Queen of Retreats. Enjoy this fabulous post on the Spirit of the Home!
Midwinter – a time for sitting snuggled on the sofa musing and dreaming. You might well be thinking about your vision for the year to come. If so, I hope you’re being gentle on yourself. Kind. Compassionate. Truly this isn’t the time for draconian plans and tough love projects. However it is, I believe, a perfect time to think about your home – how to make it a sanctuary, a place of refuge, inspiration and comfort.
Now, more than ever, we need our homes to be places of nourishment; safe places in what feels like an increasingly unsafe world. Our ancestors honoured the home as a sacred space which provided protection and peace and I wrote my book Spirit of the Home because I think we need to reawaken this sense of spirit in our home – whether you live in a whole house or just one small room.
A soul home doesn’t need designer furniture. It doesn’t depend on fancy kitchen gadgets or “this season’s colours”. It’s about creating a place that hugs you when you walk through the door.
In Spirit of the Home, I suggest new ways of looking at your home. Some may sound whimsical – such as talking to your home and playing with the ideas of household spirits and gods. Some are eminently sensible – such as learning how to make your home safe from toxicity. For now, let’s just look at a few first steps…
Seven simple steps to a soul home
1. What does home mean to you? Look back at the places you have called home in your life. Draw your first home and the people that lived in it – what do you notice? You may want to recreate that feeling or create something entirely different. Now write out a list of words that summon up home to you. What is the feeling you want to create? We’re looking at a feelgood home here – more than simply a lookgood home.
2. Clear the clutter. I know, – you’re sick of books getting bossy about cleaning. I don’t go draconian (I am so not a minimalist) but I do think that it’s hard to feel relaxed in a home that’s stuffed to the gills with stuff that doesn’t reflect your core beliefs. Look round your home with fresh eyes – or ask a good friend to help.
3. Colour has been used for millennia to shift our emotions and modern research is starting to bear out this ancient wisdom. Think about the colours that draw you in. Often it can help to think about the places you love around the world. Are you drawn to cool calm Scandi tones, the warm earth-based pigments of the Mediterranean, or the colour pops of the Caribbean?
4. Soothe with natural scents. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient part of our brains, so we react to scents at a deeply primal level. Don’t be tempted to go the synthetic route – natural fragrances are your path to olfactory nirvana. My favourite feelgood essential oils? Geranium, grapefruit, mandarin, vetivert. I’m also besotted with the blends from ila and ilapothecary.
5. Make your home as natural as possible. In Spirit of the Home, I give guidelines on ridding your home of chemicals and synthetics but you can work on this the other way around – by keeping everything as close to nature as possible. Bringing nature into your home blurs the distinctions between us and the rest of creation. It puts us in touch, in the tiniest of ways, with Mother Earth and Father Sky, with the old sacred pull of the planet.
6. Use all the elements in your home. Wooden floors subconsciously evoke the spirit of the forests while exposed brickwork and flagstones support with the solidity and strength of earth. Stones make lovely paperweights and door stops. Choose earthenware and wooden bowls, hand-turned vessels or play with crystals – the earth’s magic toy-chest. House plants have never been so popular so find plant-friends to share your home. In ancient times, the hearth was the sacred heart of every home – and candles bring in the fire element.
7. Create an altar. Retreats are so popular, I believe, because they offer a chance for sanctuary – time and space to be totally ourselves. Take that feeling home by creating small sacred spaces in your own home. If you don’t have the luxury of a meditation room, or even a study or nook in the living room, you can still provide a place of stillness with a home altar. You only need a little space – a window ledge, a table top, part of your desk, a bookshelf. Evoke all the elements and add any favourite images or statues. Use your altar as a spot for meditation or mindfulness. You might like to keep your yoga mat or meditation cushion nearby.
I hope these small tips give some inspiration for your own soul home, and I wish you all bright blessings for a wonderful 2019.
Spirit of the Home – How to Make your Home a Sanctuary (HarperCollins). I am giving you the chance to win this fabulous book over on my Instagram & Twitter page. Competition finishes on Sunday 3rd February.
Much love x