Chapter OneAt Home
Home is as much a feeling as it is a physical place. “It’s good to be home,” “home sweet home,” and “welcome home” are all expressions that strike a deep emotional chord. “Feeling at home” is synonymous with feeling content, comfortable, and secure. It is important to your health and happiness that the physical space you call home provides you with this sense of comfort and security. Creating a home—and more specifically, a special place for your baby—that will give both you and your child this sense of peace is essential.
There is no better time to create a home that supports and nourishes you and your family than when preparing for the birth of a baby. The transition into parenthood can be one of the most extraordinary, yet also demanding, times in your life. As you adjust to your new role as a mother or father, your home can become a great source of support. An organized, healthy home and a peaceful, beautiful, comfortable nursery can help you function with ease and grace. In addition, as you design the nursery and make space for your new baby, you will also take an inner journey that will prepare you for parenthood: as you change your home, you too will change. Your home will become a vehicle for becoming more conscious about who you are, what your priorities are, what kind of parent you want to be, and what kind of children you want to raise.
For a newborn, the significance of the nursery is even more profound: the nursery is your baby’s next womb. An enchanted, peaceful, and cozy nursery will give your baby the security and comfort to thrive. Some of your baby’s first interactions with you and the world will take place in this room. By creating a nursery filled with healthy, happy, and loving energy, you’re building the foundation for a healthy, happy, and loving relationship with your baby. You and Your Home
Your home has an enormous influence on your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. An organized, beautiful, and toxin-free environment can boost your energy, promote good health, and support your dreams, while a disorganized, cluttered, and uncomfortable space can deplete your energy, undermine your ability to succeed, and dampen your spirits.
Your home tells the story of who you are, what you enjoy doing, how you are feeling, and who you spend your time with. Your surroundings are an outward manifestation of your inner experience. Your home is a reflection of you. For example, if you’re feeling a little down, you might find yourself unconsciously creating a gloomy environment by shutting the curtains or allowing your home to become messy. On the other hand, if you come back from a vacation reenergized and with a “new outlook on life,” you may choose to reflect your new state of mind by displaying souvenirs or photographs from your vacation. The pictures on your wall, the food in your refrigerator, the objects you have stored in your closet, how you decorate (or don’t decorate) are all things that can tell you something about yourself. What story is your home telling about you? Take a moment to “read” your home by observing your surroundings. Do the objects you have chosen to surround yourself with reflect your interests, hobbies, and habits? If the answer is yes, then go one step further and ask yourself if you are happy with that reflection. If the answer is no, ask yourself why not?
Being conscious of your environment is so important because your surroundings have the ability to influence your life. For instance, a clean, clutter-free desk may help you pay your bills on time, which may in turn affect your finances. A comfortable dining area may encourage more family meals, thereby shaping a closer relationship with your family. A restful, quiet nursery will help your baby sleep, allowing you to also get more rest, which will then affect your family’s health and happiness. What’s in your home and how it’s arranged can affect some of the most important aspects of your life. Designing Your Life
Once you appreciate the power of the connection between your surroundings and your life, you can use this new understanding to organize and decorate your home so that it supports you in building the life you desire. As you design your home, you have the opportunity to design your life. What better time than when preparing to welcome a new baby to create the life you envision for yourself and your new family?
The most effective changes in your home will result not only in the physical transformation of your surroundings, but also in a transformation of your mind, body, and spirit. Your home offers an opportunity for change because it is a tangible reflection of your innermost feelings, yet it is separate enough that you can step back and be objective. It is often easier to address the state of one’s home than one’s state of being. For example, a disorganized home may be easier to identify and change than a disorganized life.
It is easy to only focus on the big events—such as holidays, celebrations, or entertaining out-of-town guests—yet it is the small everyday moments that make up the majority of your life. What seem like tiny annoyances or disturbances in your home can actually affect your well-being in much greater ways. Clutter on the kitchen counter may prevent you from cooking nutritious meals, which over time could affect your health. Searching frantically for your keys each morning might make you consistently late for work, which could then affect your career. Your home should nurture you by supporting your daily rituals. Your living room should be comfortable and lively so that your friends feel welcome. Your bedroom should promote peaceful sleep so that your immune system has time to recoup and your health is maintained.
Designing your home is both an inner and outer process. By making changes in your outer surroundings, you are supporting a change on the inside. If you want to bring more serenity into your life, you’ll want to bring objects, colors, and art into your home that are relaxing. You could bring in a small fountain if you are calmed by the sound of water, or light candles if watching the flicker of a flame brings you a sense of tranquility. Whatever you choose to “do” or “bring” to your home you are also “doing” and “bringing” to yourself. To further achieve your goal of bringing more peace into your life, think about the changes you’d like to make within yourself, such as reducing stress, maintaining a positive outlook, or seeking clarity about personal issues. Perhaps you will choose to meditate each day, or to start each morning writing down everything that is “on your mind” to help you feel more at peace. As you bring peace and harmony into your home you are simultaneously fostering inner peace and harmony. As your environment becomes more and more a reflection of who you are, your state of mind and physical surroundings seem to blend. The more aligned your inner and outer world, the more you feel “at home.” Feng Shui
Many cultures recognize the link between your home and your life. In India, the five-thousand-year-old Hindu design practice called Vastu holds that you must first create harmony in your environments in order to experience harmony within yourself. Many Native American rituals revolve around connecting to the land and giving thanks to Mother Earth. In Germany, Bau-biologie, the study of how your environment and the materials in your homes and office affect your health, holds that you must live in healthy buildings in order to experience optimal health. Feng Shui is the three-thousand-year-old Chinese practice of making positive changes in your environment to produce positive changes in your life. All of these practices have evolved similar holistic approaches to design, the core of which acknowledges the connection between one’s environment and one’s well-being.
Feng Shui revolves around the universal principle that everything is made up of energy, including your body, your thoughts, and the empty space surrounding you. Even objects you may consider inanimate, such as a table or a rock, are made up of moving molecules and send out their own unique vibration. Your own energy is affected by all the energy that surrounds you. The goal is to help positive energy flow through your home in a way that enhances your life. Feng Shui embraces the idea that, just as different pressure points in acupuncture correspond to specific parts of the body, different areas of your home are associated with different areas of your life. These areas include health, family, love, relationships, career, wealth, fame, helpful people, children, creativity, knowledge, and self-cultivation. So when you improve the energy in part of your home, you’re also improving part of your life.
Although Feng Shui may seem complex, its philosophy includes commonsense practices and simple suggestions such as keeping your environment clean and organized, clearing clutter, arranging furniture so you can move easily from room to room, surrounding yourself with things you love that reflect and support your goals, and putting safety and comfort first by making sure your home is healthy and functional as well as beautiful. Fundamentally, Feng Shui is about making a home that you thoroughly enjoy—a home that supports your dreams and nurtures your mind, body, and spirit. Healthy Home
A basic tenet of Feng Shui holds that your physical environment is in essence an extension of your body and therefore how you care for your home is just as important as how you care for yourself. Think of all the care women put into nurturing their bodies while pregnant. You need to give the nursery the same kind of consideration. Just as a woman does not put toxins, such as alcohol and cigarette smoke, into her body during pregnancy, you should not put anything toxic in the nursery. With all the best intentions, many parents buy all new furnishings for the nursery, furnishings that contain chemicals that, especially when new, may release unhealthy fumes into the air of the nursery.
Paying attention to air quality and the chemicals found in your home is particularly important when preparing for a new baby. Babies’ immature organs are less able to cope with the toxins in their environment than those of adults. Children enjoy touching everything around them; eventually either their hands or random objects wind up in their mouths, exposing them to even more chemicals.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous chemicals in the environment. Many people know that most produce is treated with pesticides that remain on the food all the way to the kitchen. As a result, many people wash their fruits and vegetables and are becoming more conscious of the importance of buying organic food. People are also more aware than ever that industrial pollutants and pesticides from farm fields can contaminate water supplies, to the point where drinking bottled water and using water filtration systems in homes is commonplace. In today’s world you also need to pay as close attention to the materials that you use to build, decorate, and clean your home as you do to the food you eat and the water you drink.
Taking small steps to create a healthy home will make a big difference, so don’t worry if you can’t make big changes in your home today—do what you can. Even small changes in your environment can significantly impact your life. You may even decide to just start with one room; and what better room than the nursery where your baby will spend more than a third of his or her early life? A number of different approaches and alternative products to help you create a healthy nursery will be discussed throughout this book, and can also be found listed in the resource section.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpted from The Peaceful Nursery by Alison Forbes. Copyright © 2006 by Alison Forbes. Excerpted by permission of Delta, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.