• Sara Moinian

Spirit of the Home

by Jessica Barr

Going from one “home” to another is anything but easy, exciting – maybe, nonetheless, it shakes our routines and the comfort we have created in our current spaces. When college students visit or move for break or post graduation, the transition isn’t always as a happy ending to a hopeful outlook. Things change, parents remodel, pets are no longer there, siblings move out, along with a whole other slew of unexpected changes. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs holds shelter and belonging as two basic human needs.

So, what about the need to belong in our shelter? When our current home doesn’t feel so much like our home, it is important to create a positive relationship between our environment and the way in which we experience it. The nuances of the place we reside in can have both positive and negative impacts on our well-being: function, comfort, representation, connection all shape our human experience.

photo by Sue Barr

To consider the home in terms of its psychological influence is to regard the ways we interact with our environments: sensory engagement, emotions, reasoning, memory and imagination, movement through time and space, anticipation and expectation. Our dwellings are especially impactful on our well-being through change in these interactions.

photo by Sue Barr

Saffron orange walls, furniture soft to the touch with a burning incense giving off the aroma of fresh laundry and the taste of your favorite beverage; white walls, modern furniture lacking an ergonomic affect, no scent, flavor or texture amiably interacting with your senses. Comfortability here is likely to differ, along with motivation, imagination, creativity and function. Finding ways to appease our senses by creating a spirit within the home can be reliant on these elements: color, pattern, scents, textures, food and drinks. To treat the home as a place of nourishment for our senses, ensuring that at least a few of them are positively engaged on a day to day basis, can make any transition easier and have an inordinate effect on our productivity.

photo by Sue Barr

When considering the senses, we can look at research on color therapy and the effects of light on our emotions. Research from Psychological and Spiritual Effects of Light and Color From Iranian Traditional Houses on Dwellers states that, “a lack of natural daylight can lead to disorders of the autonomic nervous system, loss of energy, fatigue, a tendency toward self-isolation and metabolic disorders.” If your bedroom or the room you spend the most time in lacks natural light, your morning coffee may be better enjoyed in a room where the windows allow the sunlight to pour over you. In most religions, light symbolizes divine wisdom and the element of goodness.

photo by Sue Barr

The curation of goodness can be fostered through decor and artifacts. Through reasoning, memory and imagination every object we come in contact with create some level of mental association. Setting up your space to be surrounded by treasures of the past and time and places close to you can be more important than it seems. Something as simple as a photo album can foster gratitude and love while taking up minimal shelf space. Through imagination and genuinity, you can create a space that is exemplary of your spirit, while fostering a sense of home.

photo by Sue Barr

This can be done through movement of time and space as well. Sentimental pieces give us a sense of belonging and comfort, more-so than a luxury item bought solely for aesthetic. Moving through time and space is where the old meets the new and floor plan meets functionality. A daily routine requiring the movement of objects around the house doesn’t allow for as much fluidity in your daily routine. Letting the imagination take hold in rearranging things often has a huge impact on where we spend the bulk of our time and the serenity we feel in our day to day lives.

What you can or can’t anticipate in your environment has an influence on the level of control felt. Expecting and anticipating where things are allows us to maintain a creativity in something as necessary as organization. This is why periodically rearranging things can make our days feel so different. Making organization and storage specific to our daily functions gives us the privacy and control needed in life. When things feel right and we know they feel right, the home can be a sanctuary for self-sustaining potential.


A version of this originally appeared in “Healing” The Teller December 2019 Issue #9


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