Did you know your space can support your good habits?

We recently returned home from vacation, visiting family in Washington DC. It was a wonderful dose of city living and family reunion; gathering young cousins and appreciating the wisdom of generations (as my husband’s grandmother reaches the 100 year milestone this summer).

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We were lucky enough to be able to stay at my in law's new apartment in the city (while they finished moving out of their old one). And the group of seven cousins (age one to eight years) and eight adults congregated often at my sister in-law’s family home that could accommodate such numbers - in a nearby part of the city.

 
 
 

I set intentions for the month - just prior to the trip - at the new moon, to actively:

  1. Uncover & release stagnant beliefs that do not serve me

  2. Embrace new growth and potential that comes with spring and

  3. Connect deeply to my inner truths as a way to inform and inspire my actions

Short and sweet. Somewhat vague, but clear direction for where I am in my life.

Often my new moon intentions are quite a bit more specific. Not this month.

This month I would spend much time in meditation, uncovering my truths, nuggets that I’ve held on to that I’m ready to release, gaining inspiration to act. Or so I imagined... 

At home, this is relatively easy for me, at least when I’m in our typical routine where the kids go to school and I start my work day in meditation, in gratitude.

My space is set up to accommodate this practice and thus, it is easy.

I have a place to meditate, either before the kids need me or after they’ve gone to school. My yoga mat rolls out right next to my cozy meditation spot so that I make time and space for a short home practice - something I find incredibly helpful in loosening up emotions that do not serve me (somatic psychology style).

On the weekends I’m less diligent, sometimes making the time, sometimes sleeping in (particularly now, 7 months pregnant :)).

Thing is, this moon cycle started off with two weeks of spring break - immediately off my rhythm.

My husband teaches and is on the school cycle and my son shares his lengthy vacation (no complaints here :)). I set up my work life to cycle with theirs. I know from experience that it’s best to follow this flow rather than use the “break” to attempt to accomplish much on the work front (while my husband is available pick up the slack). As you can guess, my own personal motivation was low in these attempts and I never accomplished as much as I wanted (and felt badly not spending time with my family).

I’ve come to appreciate those breaks I intentionally build in, particularly running my own business, which is also my baby and something that will take all of my time if I allow it.

I love vacation time - relish it - do my utmost to be present with my family and recognize my own needs. But, like most people, the lack of routine can lead to lack in some other areas as well...

Not only was it vacation time, but we were off for a week to DC.

I’m not a particularly rigid person (curious if my husband would agree with that statement :)), though I do thrive in my own space - that is set up very intentionally - and in the routines I’ve set for myself at home.

I also appreciate new experiences and recognize the growth that comes from expanding my comfort zone.

 
 A mantra that sits on my desk

A mantra that sits on my desk

 

Our space in DC was lovely and incredibly comfortable, set up to accommodate our two children with a number of classic toy sets that my mother in law has saved from raising her own.

Being on vacation and in a different time zone, we had the tendency to wake up later and stay awake later (something I avoid at home :)). I rolled with it, allowed myself to release (that was one of my intentions after all).

I didn’t think to intentionally come to the space with my meditation practice in mind and thus, I didn’t create an intentional space where I would do this (even if it was in bed when I woke up). I did utilize the same sun-filled floor space where my mother in law stretches to do my yoga a few mornings, but that was about it.

 How I  think  I look & how strong I  feel  when I do yoga :)

How I think I look & how strong I feel when I do yoga :)

The things you intend to do, only come to pass when you set up the physical space to support them.

We are funny creatures of habit. Supporting our good habits is easy when the space around us makes these habits easy. When we are in the midst of our daily life, it is only the easy intentions that we integrate into habit.

At home, it is easy to meditate every morning, because I go to the same place to do so every day.

On our travel day, it was easy to eat food that was good for us and supported our immunity because we intentionally packed an entire duffle bag worth of food (thanks to my husband) to sustain us on our full day across the country.

It meant that when we arrived at the crowded gate before our last flight, we sat down on the floor and our kids happily ate our leftover, go-to rice and beans dish, homemade kale chips, with a side of cabbage for lunch (dressed or not, depending on the child) and homemade lemon coconut energy bars for dessert. I sat and reveled in what great eaters they are and what we could be eating in comparison.

When we arrived in DC, our hosts had stocked the cabinets with some items we tend to have at home and we made an early trip to the grocery store for sauerkraut, olives, avocados....

Being overwhelmed by a new (and large) grocery store, I also managed to miss the organic aisle entirely and feel so restricted by the three organic cereal options in the cereal aisle, that I bought a vaguely sugary one (entirely out of character). We were on vacation after all.

My in law’s new apartment building lobby boasted the fanciest coffee machine I’ve ever seen - with ready made decaf lattes and cappuccinos at the push of a button. It was so easy (and fun) that it solidified my decision to eat dairy while we were there and not worry too much about all the chemicals or sweeteners that had to be in the milk powder the machine used. As I write that, I’m totally grossed out, but at the time I drank two a day.

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It is difficult to sustain the habits you want to support when your space does not support them.

I hate to ceed responsibility and say it was too hard to stick to the diet that I know makes me feel energetic and keeps the bugs at bay, but it’s true for all of us that in the moment, if bad habits are easy, that’s what we’ll go with. It’s simply human nature.

What bad habits are you looking to shift?

Does you space support those habits? 

What good habits are you looking to initiate that have been hard for you to stick to?

How your space could better support those habits?

I’ll give you a classic example:

 

On vacation, there was a tv at our disposal - first thing you saw when you walked in the living room (kind of like pictured, but not quite so prominent :)). It was easy to watch a show late into the night and blame it on the time difference.

And so we did.

I had no set place to meditate. It was easy to let that practice fall by the wayside. And so I did.  

I had, however, brought across the country a whole host of immune builders - from herbs and oils to homeopathics and supplements - intending with every cell in my body, to keep our family well during our travels and beyond. I used peppermint oil for two different child ailments (headache and tummy ache). Having created the space to support this intention, it was easy to dose my children with Elderberry and Echinacea, Vitamin D, C and Zinc. And so I did.

While two cousins developed constant runny noses over the weekend and two threw up, we maintained our health.

After a week with no meditation, living the city life - surrounded by so many people - I returned home to our sparsely populated mountain home and soaked up my morning practice. It felt more amazing to meditate than it ever has.

 It felt like this...

It felt like this...

 or this... in the comfort of my home. 

or this... in the comfort of my home. 

It had been awhile since I'd had first hand experience - realizing how big a role my environment plays in the strength of my practices. That is, of course, the premise of the work I do, but it really brought things home - so to speak - to experience an environment I had not intentionally set up and the effect it had on my lifestyle choices.

Your truth comes into focus often when you live in a space - or visit a space, or work in a space - that is not supportive of the life you want to live.

Lessons:

  1. It’s easy to have good habits when your space makes these habits easy… when taking the next step toward that good habit is obvious.
  2. It’s also easy to let go of good habits when you enter a space that is not actively supporting them.
  3. It’s difficult to shift habits you want to let go of when your space supports the old habit (as most spaces do).

What habits are you looking to shift? Around health… relationships… productivity…

What can you do in your space to help create a supportive environment?

When your space supports your joy, life inherently becomes more joyful.

When you are ready to set up your space with incredible intention that pays off long term in strong habits that support the lifestyle you want to live, be in touch. I have two client openings available this month before my maternity sabbatical begins mid-May. Time is growing short. 

To simple, joyful living, 

:) Tenaya