Cafe’ au lait.
I love the way those words sound together and the thought of a simple act as a way to engage more fully in life. Having coffee in bed is one of those simple acts. I encourage you to try it, whether you’re single or in a relationship, because either way, there’s something decadent about crawling back into bed with your morning coffee or tea.
The sensory side of our mind gives us the ability to experience life through our five senses. The analytical side of our mind gives us the ability to make plans in our lives that we believe are relevant. But it is our sensory experiences that allow us to enjoy our lives the most. And having coffee or tea in bed engages all of our senses, including our sense of hearing… if we stir our cup with a metal spoon or sip it loudly, correct?!
Unfortunately, we can get so busy solving problems in life, we allow our thinking to take over our sensory awareness. And if this happens often enough, we rob ourselves of many experiences that can bring so much more pleasure to our lives.
By adding more sensory-related activities, however, we can get more in touch with our senses and create more balance between the thinking side of our lives and the experiencing side, which ultimately leads to feeling happier and less stressed.
Achieving this balance aligns similarly with the principles of Yin-Yang in Chinese philosophy where it is believed all of creation consists of opposing forces. These forces must be brought into balance in order to experience harmony in life. And Yin and Yang are at the foundation of the ancient art of Feng Shui, where the goal is to enhance our environments according to principles of harmony as well, so good ch’i or energy can flow. I apply some of the principles of Feng Shui in my own home, because I firmly believe we are constantly affected by our living environments and our relationships with them.
I’ve shared ten simple ideas below that I hope you will find helpful in adding more sensory experiences or ‘good Feng Shui’ to your life. As a nurse, I am dedicated to caring for others, but I also must remember to take care of myself. I have found that by incorporating these simple acts into my own life, I experience a deeper state of wellness, less stress, and a greater sense of balance. I sincerely hope the same holds true for you!
1. Take the time to sit in front of a campfire or fireplace for a few moments and just watch the flames. Notice the colors and shapes they make. Calm your mind and feel the warmth. If you don’t have access to either, here is a link to a virtual fire you can watch on your PC.
2. Allow yourself to luxuriate in an aromatic bath with essential oils added to the water. Essential oils are concentrated, liquid plant extracts used for therapeutic purposes.* Choose oils like rose, sandalwood, neroli, lavender, and chamomile. All have lovely fragrances and may help with relaxation.
Remember, oils are not water soluble so any skin passing through them will be exposed to their full strength. Use whole milk, due to its fat content, or bath salts to disperse them. Simply add five drops of your essential oil to a cup of whole milk and pour into the bath. The bath base I use consists of one part baking soda, with two parts Epsom salt, and three parts sea salt. Add six drops of lavender oil (or any oil you choose) to approximately two tablespoons of this mixture and add it to the water just before stepping in. The mixture will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
3. Make your own linen or room spray from essential oils. Just add a few drops to distilled water in a spray bottle and lightly spray on your pillows and sheets for an added sensory experience. You can also spray an aqueous solution of citrus oil or pine into the air to create a holiday feeling in your home. Remember to shake the bottle before spraying.
4. Wear your nicest sleepwear to bed. Hang garments next to your bed so you can remember, if necessary. Some of my prettiest nightgowns look like pieces of art when they are hanging on hangers as opposed to being stuffed in a drawer. For both ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the feeling of soft fabrics like satin, brushed flannel, or silk next to your skin. Consider purchasing Egyptian cotton sheets with at least a 200-thread count as well. The higher the thread count, the softer the sheets, but the construction and thread type are important too.
5. Add soothing sounds or music to your playlist – sounds like falling rain, birds singing, a babbling stream, or soft piano music. Consider purchasing a tabletop fountain to add the sound of water to your home environment. Most only hold 8 to 10 ounces of water and run out quickly, so consider placing a small pump in a ceramic bowl about 12 inches in diameter and 6 to 7 inches deep with some rocks and water. Use only distilled water in fountains to prevent the pumps from corroding. I use about a gallon of water per week in mine at the cost of .50 per gallon at the grocery store.
6. Create an uplifting tablescape in your home. For instance, to ease the winter doldrums, arrange sand and seashells on a tray or plate. Add some beach glass, smooth stones, or scented soy candles. Set the tray on your dining table, bedside table, or someplace where you can view it often. Visually, it will uplift your spirits with warmer thoughts every time you see it.
7. Keep fresh cut flowers and plants in your home on a regular basis. Replicating the lush energy of nature will help you attract the same quality of energy in your living space. Use live flowers, herbs, and essential oils to replace synthetic scents, varying these items in order to vary the scents in your home. Purchase lucky bamboo for its peaceful vitality and strong growth. Known as an “idiot proof” plant, it will grow in low light in a vase with pebbles and water. I place these plants in my bathrooms to create a spa feeling.
8. Mindfully indulge your sense of taste by slowly savoring your dinner tonight. Try adding a glass of wine or light a soy candle on an ordinary weeknight. Use your nicest dishes and flatware more often. Eat dinner in a different place in your home, perhaps in your formal dining room or on the coffee table in front of the couch. The idea here is to break up routines.
9. Hang images of plants and water in your home. Choose simple images that are refreshing, uplifting and healing. Consider purchasing high-quality wall murals. Hang large mirrors in your home as well, which enhance natural light and open up your living spaces. Make sure mirrors reflect only pleasant images.
10. For the ultimate sensory experience, book a visit to the spa. Or ask your significant other for a rejuvenating massage. Give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or facial. Indulge in a long, warm, aromatic bath with soothing music and scented candles… just lay back and let your senses take you away!
*Pleasant scents are enjoyable and may help with efforts to relax, however, there is no evidence that aromatherapy products provide health benefits.
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