An excerpt from Dwelling – Book 3
We can vitalize and balance our life by engaging, and forming relationship with, that which has life-force. Our home is an organism that can breath and be in rhythm with the life-force of the earth and sky. Our home is our next layer of enclosure beyond our skin, and, as our skin, our home is an organ that is essential to our well-being. Our home can be healthful – feed our well-being – if we nurture it as we do our body.
Our home can be healthful – feed our well-being – if we nurture it as we do our body.
What follows are a few ways we can so consider, and live through, our home.
Our home is a vessel with exterior membrane-walls, forming a woven dialogue that can put us in relationship with our place. Further, our physical home and inner self mirror each other: As we live through our home, we give form to our soul; as we deepen our inner journey, we’re more open to the world in which our home unites us. This dialogue is Dwelling.
Central to Dwelling is an awareness that we can live in our home as a sailboat. We tend to live in buildings as when riding a powerboat – we unconsciously flip on/off switches, triggering various mysterious machines, hermetically sealed from the natural world. We can live in our home as when sailing – we can pay attention to the wind and currents, adjust our home to respond to the flow of nature, engage with the ocean – breath the fresh air!
Our home can provide a place for the many selves that we are, giving us a balanced life. Our home can offer: expansive spaces that take us out of our self; intimate nooks where we can be inward and reflective; gathering spaces to be with friends and family; comforting rooms for when we’re especially in need of healing; darker, inward spaces to retreat from the heat and hustle and bustle of life.
Nothing is more healing than being IN nature, and our home can put us in relationship with the natural world. This can happen spatially, as places in our home can be in intimate relationship with our garden, or a tree, or forest; capture summer breezes; provide sunny places to take in the earth’s warmth; or track the arc of the sun and moon. We can also be connected to nature via the materials with which we build.
Our home can provide a place for the many selves that we are, giving us a balanced life.
Just as we want to eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible, as it holds more nutrients, so do we want to build with recognizable elements – earth, wood, stone – as they hold a deep resonance.
Relatedly, the uncomplicated act of tending a garden is perhaps the simplest yet effective way our living through our home can nurture us. This dialogue is completely reciprocal – as we tend our garden and reap a harvest, we can help to restore the earth.
Light! We are light, seeking light. Much of my work as an architect is cracking
homes open to receive light, or designing new homes that act as a sundial, capturing light throughout the day, as appropriate to each room.
As with acupuncture, opening pathways in our home is vital to our well-being. The first act we can do in making our homes more healthful is to weed all clutter, prune all dead branches to make way for new life. And then we can intentionally arrange our home, aware of how it is a part of an energetic dialogue uniting all things, including the stars. We can engage with elements in our home, see them as living beings, not just inert, dust-collecting remnants of past lives.
Just as our body needs care and attention, so does our home. We tend to see maintenance or cleaning as a distraction from our busy lives. Alternatively, it may be seen as a respite, a working-meditation – a chance to get out of our heads. When we’re feeling disconnected, afraid, lost, these simple, humble actions bring solace.