Life takes you on unexpected journeys. But no matter where you go, you will always come back home. Remember, there’s stress everywhere. The last thing you want is a messy home giving you anxiety.
This is why having a Zen corner in your home is becoming more important. When life gives you lemons, you’ve got to make that damn lemonade and sip on it while sitting in that calming oasis of yours.
Let’s look at three ways to create the ideal Zen environment. Before we begin, familiarize yourself with the following terms, which we use in this article.
- Kanso (簡素) – decluttering
- Shizen (自然) – naturalness
- Shibumi (渋味) – beauty in the understated
- Fukinsei (不均整) – asymmetry or irregularity
- Zazen (座禅) – a meditative state
- Zabuton (座布団) – traditional rectangular mat for meditation
- Zafu (座蒲) – traditional round cushion for meditation
- Densho (殿鐘) – a large bell for announcing services, ceremonies, and lectures
- Han (板) – a wooden board struck to announce sunrise, sunset, and the end of the day
- Mokugyo (木魚) – traditional fish-shaped wooden drum played during services
- Seijaku (静寂) – energized stillness, solitude, and tranquillity
- Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴) – forest bathing
- Bonsai (盆栽) – tree in a pot
- Yugen (幽玄) – subtle grace; suggestion overpowering revelation
- Ensō (円相) – a hand-drawn circle in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes
- Datsuzoku (脱俗) – freedom from routine
Choose an Airy, Well-Lit Corner and Declutter it
Zen says less is more; embrace minimalism and keep things simple. This is exactly what Kanso in Zen is about – decluttering.
We know it’s easier said than done in a chaotic house. However, you must begin somewhere. Start by choosing a well-ventilated corner that gets adequate natural light. After all, the absence of artificiality and pretense is what Shizen suggests.
If necessary, have the ventilation system renovated. A large window, plenty of sunlight and moonlight, and a cool breeze combine to create an ideal environment for total mind-body rejuvenation.
Remove any hanging wires, large decor items, or clothing that appears to be causing clutter. Replace harsh lights with calming dimmers or mildly scented candles. If you’re looking for the latter, Yankee Candle has some great options.
Paint the corner in soft, neutral colors. White, grey, beige, and mossy pastels are the ideal choices as per Shibumi. However, ensure that the colors, furniture, fabrics, and other elements are in harmony.
Include elements you know you’ll use to make it more functional. For example, if you enjoy reading, consider installing a wall-mounted reading light, or a murphy bed if you intend to sleep there.
Recognize that decluttering entails not only the removal of items but also their proper rearrangement.
Too many photo frames on the wall, for example, add to the chaos. Include only those that are meaningful to you, and make sure the frames are the appropriate neutral color.
Similarly, if you want to keep books, cover them in paper of a single earthy shade. Remember that your arrangements can be asymmetrical or irregular, as Fukinsei allows, but they must never be off-balance.
Welcome Softness Underneath You
No matter the type of flooring, you can always include a bit of softness to be placed underneath you, especially if you practice Zazen.
It can be anything — a furry carpet or rug beneath your feet, a meditation pillow, or the classic combination of a Zabuton and Zafu. Whatever you choose, make sure it matches the rest of the decor in terms of color and texture.
Talking about pillows, make sure to read reviews before buying one. There’s a lot you need to know, and PillowHunters has some interesting articles on almost every type, including meditation pillows.
A good thing about adding a rug is that you can walk barefoot without getting your feet entangled in the rest of the mess that your house might be. It also resonates with the concept of minimalism in Zen.
When you walk barefoot, you become more aware of the surface beneath you and its natural feel. This is an amazing ritual for mindfulness in which you become fully aware of the present without being reactive or overwhelmed.
Include Some Symbolic Elements
Because you are creating a Zen space, including a few Zen elements would only enhance its vibe. We aren’t talking about large Densho, Han, and Mokugyos. Those are for the monasteries and have specific purposes.
But a Rin Gong, the traditional singing bowl could be a nice addition. It is subtle, therapeutic, and pure Zen. Place it alongside burning incense sticks and watch how it brings about Seijaku.
You are sure to find the perfect singing bowls on Etsy or eBay. If not, try Sunreed Instruments, which is run by people specialized in sound therapy.
You can also bring home a few Zen plants if you believe in ecotherapy. The Japanese concept of Shinrin-Yoku emphasizes soaking in the forest atmosphere, taking in all of one’s senses via touch, sight, sound, and smell.
To make this happen, you can keep a Bonsai or Lucky bamboo plant in your Zen corner. They are available in plenty on Amazon and similar eCommerce sites.
All these symbolic elements would eventually come together to uphold Yugen. It is the overpowering of revelation by suggestion. When an area is devoid of clutter, you will observe more and think more while being in it.
Once your mind destresses and opens up, it will free itself from habits and formulae. It will help you break free from the routine and ordinary and transcend into the unconventional.
As you enter your Ensō moment, you will be able to express yourself more freely and creatively. A free mind will have more room for exploration and to welcome different perspectives.
Who knows, this Datsuzoku could even lead to you realizing your inner potential and heading toward a breakthrough. So, welcome Zen into your life and watch all the good things unfold.