Everyday Zen

We are a household whose tidy skills are not our forte, nor our priority (as this blog has documented here and here).

We were messy before we had kids. But now it is not just adult mess, it is a typhoon of little clothes, pencils, works of art, yogurt pot tops (yogurt side down – of course), dead ladybirds, books, lots and lots of books, lego, lots of that too, usually detected underfoot with a sharp yelp. We are really craving a way to find a little calm, a little order in the chaos. And yet we know that we will not have a tidy-personality transplant any time soon.

This is our everyday zen project.

Everyday zen is inspired by our time in Japan and throughout Asia where every home, often every room had a small sacred space or altar.

It was reading Rachael’s Variegated Life blog and Goddess Leonie’s creating your goddess space e-course (see the link at the side of this blog). They made me think – we need a clear space in every room. A focal point which makes my spirit soar, which gives me calm and peace when I look at it, rather than despair and depression at the deluge of paper and packages and dirty dishes which cover every space in every room. Or so it seems.

I have had a nature table for a couple of years now for the kids. It combines flowers or nature finds of the season with little Steiner figures, felt fairies or wooden animals.

The zen space takes this one stage further. Its intention is simplicity. Beauty. Calm. Emptiness. Balance. A soul restoring place in the midst of the necessary clutter of daily life. The zen space was inspired by my husband’s new shelves which we display some of my father’s pots on.

Like an altar it is tended daily – NOTHING is allowed to be dumped in the zen space. It must be kept clear. We actively maintain this small calm space. We refresh it with fresh flowers, or a single stone.

It encourages me to embrace zen moments in my daily life. To snatch small moments of calm throughout the day, to meditate for two minutes here or there, rather than not bother because I don’t have the time or energy. This inner and outer calm are connected I realised. This not being bothered, despairing at the level of chaos is connected. And in honouring the calm and the stillness, I also learn to honour the life which causes the chaos, to honour the mess, the living which is so precious and yet I so often apologise for. Both are necessary. The chaos and the order. Both are just as real. And it is for us to embrace them both, to cultivate and balance them.

  1. Katrina Jackson
    Katrina Jackson09-12-2011

    What a great idea! I am nitpicky about picking up. I can’t go to bed without clearing away at least most of the clutter. But I don’t always feel that peaceful calm in my home unless the kids are in bed and I take one look at the downstairs that I just cleaned and know it will stay that way until morning. I need to be better about finding “calm in the chaos”. Perhaps I will keep your idea in mind. :)

  2. Rachael @ The Variegated Life
    Rachael @ The Variegated Life09-13-2011

    The shelves with your father’s pots are just lovely!

    And I like the idea of having an altar or altar-like space in every room. Right now I just have the one altar in our bedroom (which the cat seems determined to destroy), plus the photo of my mother, also in our bedroom. I’ve thought about doing a nature table in our living room. Can you suggest any resources on how to set one up?

  3. mrs green @ littlegreenblog
    mrs green @ littlegreenblog09-13-2011

    Lovely; great photos too. I agree that life is full of chaos; especially in a house full of creatives (my mantra every time I walk in my daughter’s bedroom LOL!) but we can create little oasis of calm throughout the day both physically in our life spaces and in our souls. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Henrietta
    Henrietta09-13-2011

    Yes, these little homely oasis of tranquility are so necessary. We too do steiner inspired season tables but I still yearn for more serenity. As you so eloquently say..it is the interior calm which helps us to not only create the external peace but also accept and understand the chaos…if I meditate, everything is easier!!

  5. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet09-13-2011

    will do one on nature tables soon just for you Rachael.

    thx all for your kind words

  6. melissa
    melissa09-13-2011

    I love this concept, and your beautiful photos, Lucy! I really try to fight and deny it, but the husband and I are quite messy as well. I know my soul would benefit from greatly from a bit more zen space in the midst of it all. Once again, you’ve inspired me!

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