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Jane Alexander

The Spirit of the Home 
by Jane Alexander


Why are our homes so very important to us? How come, when we talk about our worst nightmares many of us will shudder and say that the most terrible thing we could imagine would be to lose our homes, to become homeless, to live on the streets? Statistics show that homes are very much on our minds nowadays--more and more emphasis is being put on them. More of us in the West own our homes than ever before. We spend more money on fixing our homes and one of the most popular hobbies is home improvement. It seems that now, maybe more than ever before, we need to feel the security of our homes. Itís not hard to see why. Our working lives are becoming ever less secure--few people nowadays can count on a job for life. With divorce rates soaring there is little certainty in our relationships. Acts of terrorism like 9/11 shake our faith in the predictability of daily life. And as our knowledge of space and the cosmos deepens, we can no longer rely on being at the centre of a gentle, embracing universe. Life is becoming psychologically very frightening.

Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander

In an uncertain, scary world, we cling to home. Yet many of us find our homes are not satisfying our needs. I think thatís because we often equate a "good" home with a large, showy, impressive home. We talk about getting larger square footage, upgrading to a bigger space, a grander style of house. We fantasize about pillars and columns, huge back yards and monumental spaces. Our egos might rate such criteria yet our souls cringe. Iím sure, if you think about it, you know what I mean. Iím talking about the kind of buildings which are built and designed so full of pride and prestige that you feel uncomfortable the moment you walk in. You barely like to sit down in case you crease the cushions. These are the kind of homes that make you stand to attention; that make children and animals unwelcome and adults feel ill at ease. They symbolize a complete breakdown between the owner and the earth--the link is simply not recognized. But anyone with sensitivity of soul can feel it in their bones. The place is not a home, it is a statement--like the latest designer clothes or the smartest sports car. It is hollow.

A true home should be our own mini-world, our own Mother Earth. It needs to be the kind of place which nurtures you and makes you feel safe yet also gives you the freedom to be totally yourself. When we feel safe and comfortable in our homes then we feel more able to deal with the often frightening outside world.

I find the psychological aspects of home totally intriguing and could merrily go on about it for the entire feature. But I want to get onto some more practical suggestions. So, if you want to look into the psychology and archetypes of the home, Iíd suggest you check out my first book on the subject, Spirit of the Home, which goes into it all in far greater detail than I can include here.

OK, weíve looked briefly at why we need a home full of spirit and soul, but how can we practically achieve it? There are so many components Ė space cleansing and feng shui is part of it. So too is indulging all the senses and bringing nature into the home. I love to use ritual and build altars to provide small places of focus and contemplation. There is just so much to say. However, for now at least, Iím going to take it right back to basics.

Spirit of the Bedroom by Jane Alexander

WHAT DOES HOME MEAN TO YOU?

Letís start by looking at your childhood home. This can have an enormous effect on your entire life--particularly on your attitude towards home.

CAUTION: If you know you had an unhappy childhood or suspect you might, it would be advisable for you to work through these exercises with a trained psychotherapist or hypnotherapist. Equally if, when you start working this way, you find uncomfortable feelings or memories emerge, I would strongly urge you find a qualified professional whom you trust and talk through what came up.

Weíre going on a journey back in time. It should last as long as you feel comfortable with it, but no longer than twenty minutes. Our first port of call is to the most important home of your childhood. This may be your very first home; at least the first one you can remember--or it could be the one in which you spent the most time as a child. It should be the "major" home of your young years. This first exercise will put you into a state of deep relaxation. If you don't feel comfortable with this, cut out the instructions for going down the flight of stairs and simply use your memory and imagination in a full state of consciousness.

If you are fully awake you can note down your thoughts and feelings in your journal. If you are keeping your eyes closed you may find it useful to use a tape recorder, or have a friend ask you the questions and note your responses. If you would like, you can take your guardian angel or spirit with you on your journey.

  1. Settle back and make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes and focus again on your breathing. Breathe softly but deeply, gently slowing down your breathing to a comfortable rhythm. Check through your body to make sure you are as relaxed as possible. Now imagine you are standing in front of a short flight of stairs. You are going to walk down the stairs, one at a time, counting slowly from one to ten as you walk down. As you walk you are aware that you are going down deeper into the past, down into your childhood, down to the house you used to live in, down, down and down. Count each step as you go, reminding yourself, "one, going down," "two, going deeper down".....until you are right deep down at ten. Before you is a door. The door looks familiar because it is the front door of your first real home. Look at the door and recognize it--the color, the material, the knocker, maybe the number? Slowly the door opens and you walk through.

  2. You are now in your childhood home. Is it the one you were expecting or somewhere else? Take your time to get your bearings. The front door is behind you so now look and see what lies ahead. Walk around this place. Go into every room and remember what it was like: how was it decorated? What colors were there? What was the furniture like? What could you see out of the window? What did you do in that room? Was it one you went into often or rarely, or not at all? Who used that room? What was the feeling of the room? Go round the whole place like this, remembering, recording. With this process you will find you remember extraordinary details about this home - details you had quite forgotten.

  3. Where were your special places in the house? Where was your bedroom and what was it like? See yourself in your room--what are you doing? Did you have a special place to play, to read, to dream? Was it a secret place, a corner? Where was it? See yourself there: what are you doing; how do you feel?

  4. Where was the heart of your home? Which room or part of a room encapsulated the soul of the house? Stand there and wait a moment while you connect to how you feel. What are your feelings towards this place? What emotions does it raise? Were you happy there?

  5. Can you connect with the spirit of that house? What is it/he/she like? How did the house feel about your family? Ask the spirit of the house for the house's impressions of your time there. Ask the spirit for any useful insights into this early house. What key words would you use to describe this house? What colour do you associate with it? What smell or scent? What name would you give the house?

  6. Are there any elements of this childhood home which make you feel nostalgic? Is there anything there you would love to incorporate into your present home--whether something in the physical structure, the furniture or furnishings or a feeling or mood? Is there anything you dislike, which makes you feel uncomfortable? What don't you like about the house?

This is quite enough for your first trip back in time so say goodbye to the house and thank the spirit of the house for helping you. Make your way back to the front door and gently open it. Before you there are the short flight of steps, as before. Step out and start walking up to the first one as the door closes gently behind you. Count from ten to one as you go up the steps, up towards a light which you know is your home in the here and now. As you go up you feel yourself becoming more and more awake, more and more aware of the world around you. You are feeling relaxed and yet full of energy. Up and up, more and more aware, hearing the everyday noises around you, feeling your weight, sitting on the chair. One--and you're back in your room, fully awake, fully aware. Open your eyes and stretch.

Spirit of the Living Room

Spend some time thinking about what you saw, heard, smelt, felt. Record it all in a journal. Or talk it over with your friend and then make notes in your journal. Were there any surprises?

MOVING ON

Spend some time thinking about the following:

  • Have you lived in very similar places through your life or have they differed widely?
  • Which was your happiest home? Why do you think that was? What elements of it made you feel good?
  • Did you spend long periods away from your early homes? Were you sent away to school or to camp or to stay with relatives? Did you enjoy going away and, if so, what did you particularly like about it? Did you look forward to going home? What did you particularly miss about home?
  • What was your first home of your own? Was it when you went away to a new job or when you went to school or college? What was it like? How did you make it your own? Did it feel good to be in your own place or did you miss your old home?
  • As you grew up and moved out of your family home did you have to share your space? Did you have room-mates, flat-mates? Did you enjoy sharing with other people or did you crave your own company?

These exercises build up a kind of web. At first they may not seem to make sense but as you constantly add to them and review your thoughts, you will most probably see a clear pattern. Certain thoughts, moods, ideas, feelings will repeat over and over again: watch out for these markers of the soul.

THE TREASURE MAP

I love this exercise and include it in virtually every book I write because itís so incredibly powerful. Basically youíre making a map of your subconscious. Hereís what you do:

  • Over a period of weeks collect images that speak to your soul. They could be pictures of houses (exteriors or interiors), decorating details, colour swatches etc Ė or pictures which evoke a certain feeling or mood (ie kids laughing, a serene seascape, someone meditating, a lively party).
  • Look at them quite often and see which ones really call to you. You may find this will alter over a few weeks.
  • At the end of a month, pick out the ones which really tug at your solar plexus Ė the ones which really have a charge. Stick them onto a large sheet of paper. Add a photograph of yourself in the middle. Now put the map somewhere you will see it every day. Thatís it.

You may well find that, as you look at the map, you find certain images start to jar. If so, take them down and replace with others. Your subconscious is taking over from your conscious mind. The other fascinating thing is that you may find that aspects of your treasure map start to come true! The subconscious is unbelievably clever and its language is symbols and pictures. So your map is asking it to act. I find this usually happens in quite unexpected ways. See what happens with yours!

TALK TO YOUR HOUSE

OK, this is the bit when I lose a lot of people! You either get this or you just think itís completely bonkers! Let me briefly explain how it started for me. The house I lived in before this one was totally beautiful Ė but a complete nightmare. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. It was the archetypal money pit. One day I was looking round the beautiful hall with its oriel window, cantilevered staircase and high vaulted ceiling, and began to wonder whether it was really worth it. I started getting really angry with the house and, without really thinking about it, started talking to it. "What the hellís the matter with you?" I asked, well shouted. "Here we are, slogging our guts out for you; spending all our money on you and how do you repay us? What is the problem?"

I waited, for all the world as if I were awaiting a reply. And - this is the weird bit - I got one. In my head I "heard" the house respond. It sounded old and weary and rather like a crotchety old aunt. "Whatís the point?" she, Iím sure itís a she, said. "Youíre just like all the rest of them. You like the look of me but you canít be bothered to spend the time, effort and money to put me back to my proper condition. You just donít care. Iím sick of it - sick of all of it. Why donít you just go away and leave me to decay by myself."

Spirit of the Kitchen by Jane Alexander

It was a bit of a shock. I donít consider myself psychic particularly and houses arenít in the habit of talking to me so I wasnít quite sure of the proper etiquette. But the feeling of the house touched me deeply and I spoke back to it - with the suitable decorum. I told it that we werenít going to be fly by nights and we werenít bodgers. We would do all it would take to restore the house and give it back its dignity. It was then I realised for the first time that a house has a spirit, a soul, all of its own. That it isnít enough to come in and stamp our will on the house - we need to take into account its own wishes and desires. A house is a living entity - itís way more than four walls, a floor and a roof. It breathes, it feels, it watches and listens. There are merry happy go lucky houses and there are dignified, rather snooty houses; there are serene peaceful houses and excitable, bustling houses. Ten to one you will pick a house which suits your own personality. There is a certain amount you can do to alter the feel of a house - but itís very hard to totally change a house.

How do you talk to a house? Itís up to you but I find this works quite well:

  • Run through some relaxation exercises or stretching to open up your subconscious.
  • Find what you think is the centre or heart of your home. You may like to light a candle or burn some incense or aromatherapy oils.
  • Now just stand or sit quietly. Allow yourself a few moments to centre yourself quietly and breathe.
  • Now quietly and respectfully greet the house and ask if itís willing to talk to you. Remember you may have lived in it for years and never bothered to say a word before so donít be surprised if itís a bit sniffy.
  • What happens next varies from person to person. Some can "hear" the house speaking in their heads. For some it seems like active imagination, you imagine what the house might say. Others get the odd word, or image, or feeling.
  • If you do feel a connection, you can ask it questions: is it happy or unhappy? What would it like you to do? What could it do for you? Is there anything specific it can suggest?

My house has given me all kinds of answers Ė from where to find a set of lost keys to what colours it wanted to be painted. Is it really the house or just my own intuition? Who cares?

OK, Iím running out of space but, before I go, I canít resist adding in just a few more very swift pointers to bringing a sense of spirit and soul into your home. Think about the following:

  • Clear the clutter. Seriously, it makes a huge difference. Clutter exhausts you on all levels Ė physically it attracts dust and causes allergies; psychologically it makes you anxious and stressed (what have you forgotten to do?); energetically it causes the vital energy of your home to stagnate and go sour.
  • Learn basic feng shui Ė if you do nothing else, try to keep rooms uncluttered and your passageways clear. Keep shapes soft and organic. Always keep your toilet seat down. Sit with a clear view of the door. Most of feng shui is common-sense allied with your own intuition.
  • Learn how to space clear Ė itís as important as physical cleaning. You may find this hard to believe, but try it and notice the difference. Spirit of the Home or Spirit of the Living Room have details Ė or check out my website www.janealexander.org which gives instructions.
  • Indulge all your senses Ė throw away artificial air fresheners and use the power of aromatherapy. Make every surface a delight to touch. Think about the sounds in your home and how they make you feel. Choose ornaments and pictures that feed your soul AND your eyes.
  • If you canít have a real fire (the ultimate heart of the home) then designate a spot to be the heart and have a tray of candles to bring the warm, embracing energy of fire into your home (but be safety conscious of course!).
  • Enjoy the other elements. Have real flowers in your home whenever possible Ė they raise the spirits and can smell lovely too. Water features raise the energy and are good fun. Or float petals in bowls of water (add a few drops of aromatherapy oil if your flowers arenít scented). Have beautiful stones as door stops. Choose real wood (from sustained sources) where possible.
  • Make your home safe Ė shun building material and furnishings which emit noxious gases and choose natural alternatives instead. If you have young children please PLEASE pay attention to this. What horrifies me above all else is seeing parents-to-be decorating nurseries using toxic materials Ė from paint, curtains, carpet to the brand new furniture. If you can, check out Spirit of the Nursery, which will tell you whatís safe and whatís not to use for your precious newborn.
  • Spritz rooms with space clearing mists Ė they smell gorgeous and also impart a lovely clear, relaxed feeling. Check out www.pacificessences.com or www.alaskanessences.com for some of my favourites.
  • Build altars Ė they donít have to be big fancy affairs. Most of us do it subconsciously anyway Ė we stick a few favourite pictures next to a vase of flowers and maybe a candle. Put together things that are meaningful to you Ė or even disturbing (altars should challenge as well as soothe). You might want to include affirmations, prayers, wishes, hopes. Make a point of pausing regularly and thinking about the items there. If you have a particular faith, obviously include sacred images, symbols or texts. If not, meaningful poems or images will be fine.

Spirit of the Nursery by Jane Alexander

I hope this helps you, in some small way, to enjoy your home more. I send you a blessing on your house and on everyone with whom you share it. May it bring you peace and pleasure, comfort and joy.

Read more of Jane Alexanderís work on her website: www.janealexander.org

Copyright © 2002 Jane Alexander. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Energy Secret by Jane Alexander The Weekend Healer by Jane Alexander Live Well: the Ayurvedic Way to Health and Inner Bliss by Jane Alexander

Mind Body Spirit by Jane Alexander The Five Minute Healer by Jane Alexander The Detox Plan for Mind, Body and Spirit by Jane Alexander


Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander is a UK-based writer on natural health, holistic living and contemporary spirituality. She has written sixteen books on holistic (and soulful) living, including the bestselling Spirit of the Home (Thorsons), The Energy Secret (Element) and The Five Minute Healer (Simon & Schuster). Her website, www.janealexander.org is full of tips for living soulfully.

 

Visit:
www.JaneAlexander.org

 

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