Interior Spaces & the Power of Intention

“If you do not create change, change will create you.” ~Unknown

In our Western culture, we often discuss how difficult it is to make changes although most of us are smart enough to know that the only constant in life is change.There are plenty of folks who understand metaphysical healing-the belief that negative mental patterns can lead to illness. New research in medicine informs us that if we change our physical bodies, our minds will follow. Or vice versa. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal tells us that changing our mind about stress changes how much stress negatively affects us. See her fabulous TedTalk with almost 4 million views here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, suggests that changing our postures changes the hormones in our body and thus our behavior. See her great TedTalk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc Used as a therapy tool and often credited to in Alcoholics Anonymous,  the phrase”fake it till you make it” suggests we act as if something was already true.

Many of us read and nod understandingly not realizing that when we walk into a space that has been intentionally designed, it really is a healthier environment to live in. If we can consciously use elements of feng shui, decluttering, interior design, and staging when we design our living spaces, we are bound to feel more supported and aligned with our priorities. Contact me if I can help.

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Guide To Selling Your Home and Moving

Here’s a new and improved list for preparing for a move. Remember to approach the task a little at a time and ask for help where needed. The overwhelming task of moving is more than one person can handle so don’t  expect to muscle through on your own. Enjoy! <a href=”http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/47067172?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u1194&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery1″ title=”Guide to Selling Your Home and Moving” target=”_blank”></a>

Designing Therapy Spaces: A Series to Enlighten and Delight

You’ve finally snagged a great new office space and you’re ready to move in but your momentum hits a roadblock. There isn’t much research on what constitutes healing spaces and as you now realize, there is little training in the halls of higher education for aspiring therapists and healers entering the field of healthcare. So it should come as no surprise that designing physical environments where therapy is conducted is often left to chance. The frightening news is that the few studies that have been done find that the competence and character of a healthcare giver are often judged based on the physical office spaces they occupy! People actually had opinions about qualifications based on pictures of offices!!! So the good news is we’re a shallow society that will always need therapy (I jest). But based on this, it appears to be vitally important for those in the health care profession to take heed – your income and the success of your business seem to depend on how well you appoint your office space.

In this age of pinterest and instagram, of course there are pictures everywhere on the internet with ideas of how a therapy office should look. After looking at many of these online examples however, I saw very few that support the my findings of environments people feel most at ease in, primarily because a decent picture requires bright light, the opposite illumination that  clients prefer when dealing with sensitive interpersonal issues.

Apparently your clientele is basing their initial perception of your work, first impressions of course, on the formality of your space and diplomas posted on your walls – this is extremely important. Your professional space should also support and empower you, the service provider, thankfully. Framing up those hard-earned documents isn’t difficult but formality is a bit different from comfort.

Neat and orderly are at the top of prospective client’s list and as I overlay my Feng Shui information, it appears that we begin finding patterns common to our culture. However, it’s interesting to note that much of this research has been conducted cross culturally with similar findings. You would think that clutter needn’t be mentioned when discussing a work space that invites clients inside but apparently that isn’t the case. If you are one that has less than tidy paperwork habits, I suggest another space to spread out or a desk that can be closed off behind doors. This rates a giant ‘no confidence’ for clients and will likely lose you business. So comfort is defined as orderly, warm, nurturing yet formal.

This being the first installment of the series, we’re looking at the larger picture. On the macro level, the space should reflect the intent of the practitioner and facilitate and encourage open communication. A reflection of your values as a practitioner should be apparent in the space and will demonstrate outwardly your philosophy of caring for your clients. Since therapists have different specialties, decor will differ but be mindful of your clients before diving in. The space – the room itself, the building, and even the approach to the building should allow for client privacy. Of course the offices should be welcoming,  and feel safe for your clients. As these design decisions are very subtle in determining outcomes, mutual goals are paramount as is getting feedback and opinions from others.

The Feng Shui of the seating is an interesting dilemma – the power position faces the exit however that is also a safety concern for many so ideally both patient and therapist have the door in their sight line whenever possible. Being able to move the seating (non-fixed) is also a great advantage and every piece of seating needs to be supportive and comfortable. This brings me to one particularly disturbing picture on the internet where there was a ledge just behind the back of the couch at head level. Any situation where there may be the possibility or perception of something falling on the head  such as bookcases, shelving, heavy wall-hangings, should be avoided.

Next time, we’ll discuss decor but be aware we are striving for a gender neutral color scheme and interestingly, a leaning toward the slightly more masculine for adult clients based on a photographic project I perused where therapy offices were photographed and reviewed. By the end of the series,  we’ll also have discussed color theory, lighting, stimulation levels, and seasonal flair and try to pull it all together in the end. Till next time then…

Re – Imagining the Spaces You Live In

It’s fall in Minnesota and we all know that means that soon it will be cold. Really cold. And dark. And depressing. And icy, miserable, and did I mention cold. But I’ve learned over the years how to best keep my own spirits up, and judging by the feedback I get from my clients, it works for them too.

Seasonal Decorating 005I’ve been working with people in their personal spaces my entire adult life and I’m ready to make some bold statements about how our surroundings either support our good spirits or they don’t. Similar to the way a chiropractor makes adjustments to your physical body, the art of placement can offer adjustments to your psyche.

There’s an astonishing power that ‘place’ has. The difference between being in your favorite place on earth or the grocery store check out line. It’s the difference between watching a stunning landscape pass before your eyes on a leisurely drive and emptying the trash. Lying in a warm bed on a cold morning or changing a flat on the side of the road.

So it should come as no surprise that:

  • our physical surroundings are either nurturing, neutral, or downright depressing.
  • studies indicate that we heal faster in some places than others
  • adjusting furniture and possessions affects depression
  • colors have different effects on our buying habits, our eating habits, and our dispositions
  • air quality and temperature affect our moods
  • different colors affect our moods, our appetite, and our behaviors
  • eliminating an aggravating item from our sightline changes our hormones
  • practicing power poses changes our hormones
  • brains respond to conditioning
  • you can change your spirits by changing your spaces

There’s so much written now about how space can heal. And it’s important to note that the opposite can be true as well, of course. In fact I’m a little surprised more isn’t written about the topic although since few stand to gain by studying this, it’s understandable that it’s lost on lots of people. Statistics in this morning’s paper suggest that suicide rates are once again on the rise here in my part of the US and I wish more space was devoted to the idea of carving out even the smallest of sacred spots in your environment and spending as much time there as necessary to heal your wounds.

We know that stress can make you sick and in fact be the death of you. We also know that relief from that stress can heal the wounds it created. The excellent work of Dr. Esther Sternberg whose book The Science of Place and Well-Being explored just this and isn’t the first to bring national attention to this emerging field. So in our search for stress management solutions, let’s not forget the obvious- your home and your work spaces are your sanctuary and can help you heal. Or there’s the Samueli Institute’s paper Healing Spaces: Elements of Environmental Design That Make an Impact on Health:

The “ambiance” of a space has an effect on people using the space. In recent years, design for health care environments has begun to include esthetic enhancements in an attempt to reduce stress and anxiety, increase patient satisfaction, and promote health and healing.

Although there are other modalities that claim energy clearing is necessary and charge big bucks with promises, claims of improved health, better relationships, improved sleep and greater prosperity are not uncommon after space adjustments.

Inviting More Chi Into Your Life

For 2 decades, I’ve been helping people redesign their personal spaces. And I have heard the most amazing feedback from them, all of which has encouraged me to delve deeper into the importance of the spaces in our lives. There’s an enormous amount of material covering the healing properties of our physical spaces, the spiritual potential of them, as well as the quality of life issues many of us long to understand. A fascinating read:

In 1984, medical researcher Roger Ulrich examined the hospital records of 46 patients who had undergone gallbladder surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital. During recovery, half of their beds faced windows that overlooked a grove of trees. The other half had a view of a brick wall. It seems like the difference should hardly matter, but Ulrich found that patients who could see the trees left the hospital almost a full day sooner than those with a view of a wall.

Not only that, but those with views of nature required fewer doses of pain medication and had fewer negative nurse reports. Ulrich controlled for other variables that could affect recovery time, like age and sex, and each pair of patients — one with a view of trees, one a view of the brick wall — had been cared for by the same nurses, so differences in nursing could not account for the speed of their recovery. The difference lay entirely in what they were looking at. (http://experiencelife.com/author/esternberg/)

We think of our homes, offices, and other dwellings as simply containers for all of our material possessions however the spaces we inhabit influence our attitudes, our peace of mind, the quality of our thinking, and our ability to perform. They seem to impact our spirit and our ability or inability to think clearly. The energy we emit and the energy around us both are directly impacted by our physical environment. This perpetual dance, always in motion, dynamically impacting us, may be far more important than we’ve realized. Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to relegating this to the outer reaches our minds, either because we’re unaware of the significance or because we have yet to be enlightened and delighted by how change and enhancement will be a catalyst for better vitality for our bodies, minds, and spirits.

As with Feng Shui, the art of attracting chi into specific areas of our physical space and intensifying the energy can be learned. First comes the awareness, then the research and cognition, and then the creative manipulation for specific purposes. And with everything of this sort, there’s both the art and the science of noticing blockages in your life and then intentionally realigning the flow to alter current energy patterns.

My journey into this work began with chaos – the chaos in my own emotional and physical life. The artist in me refused to believe this was a problem to be solved with $$$$ but rather one to be solved with creativity. This offered me a chance to seek out information about color theory, materials that offered ‘grounding’ effects, feng shui placement, textural analysis, and spatial manipulation. Articles and opportunities seem to come my way again and again helping me to learn that I could not only ‘stage’ someones house and have it sell the first week on the market, but I could also manipulate their physical things and change the chi that flowed into their lives.

Often this work is a catalyst for larger changes in people’s lives as they realize what enormous power they have and enormous possibilities there are to shift. My work not only catches their attention but enables them to realize they can continue to bring light and energy into their spaces themselves using these simple principles and the intention to improve their physical surroundings.

A Refresher Course

Sanctuary

  • Replace exterior fixtures and numbers if they’re cheap looking or worn
  • Clean up the front door- repaint or replace
  • Update window treatments
  • Update lighting fixtures
  • Assess the bathroom- re caulk and/or clean grout
  • Replace wall plates if necessary
  • Look critically at the floors- replace old carpet and throw rugs, sand floors
  • Clean windows