When I lived in an apartment, there were times that I yearned for the Nature Spirits I enjoyed as a kid. I was so fortunate to have spent countless hours as a kid playing in acres of woods across from my home. Sure, there were challenges bringing some element of the outdoors into my cramped little dwelling, but even within the smallest spaces there are solutions to be found.
Feeling Walled In?
If you lease your space, ask your landlord if you can paint the walls. When I lived in New Jersey, my apartment had stark white walls, but I was allowed to paint them, as long as I returned them to the original color upon my leaving. A visit to the craft store for ivy stencils and acrylic paints was the quick fix I needed. I then stippled my way to garden heaven covering the bathroom walls with leaves, tendrils and flowers.
Soaking in a warm, herb scented bath transported me to a place that looked like a magical garden. I placed small potted flowers on every flat surface and larger leafy greens on the floor. At the end of a stressful day the idea of spending a solid hour in the bath with my books and watching the zillion tea lights flicker and throw shadows against the walls of ivy was tranquil bliss.
Windows of Your Mind
If you don’t have the liberty to paint, there are plenty of creative ideas to choose from. When you look out your windows, what do you see? If your vista lacks an expanse of nature or is less than desirable, I found a place today on the internet that may solve this problem for you. Can you imagine having cathedral stained-glass windows?
Buy a bamboo room divider that you can paint or stencil. Use it to create a corner of Sacred Space.
Not using a small utility closet? Take the door off its hinges and create an altar space of all things meaningful to you. Hang up a photograph of nature on the back wall to use as a focal point. Add a zazen bench or zafu for meditation; throw in some plants and incense.Voila! You have your own altar space.
Place a large bowl of beach shells, sea glass, or rocks you’ve collected in your Sacred Space.
Display wonderful things you’ve found, i.e., rattlesnake skins, feathers, unusual tree branches.
Buy a Bonsai plant.
Put up any photographs of nature: corn stalks, seascapes, Mt. Everest, clouds, bushels of apples.
Purchase Sounds of Nature CD’s i.e., tropical rain forest, ocean sounds, thunderstorms. Or play indigenous chanting/songs of power.
String up some Buddhist prayer flags.
Add a Medicine Shield.
Even in a studio apartment there is space for Mother Nature as a roommate.
Happy Birthday dear Jone — May 27th — never forgotten — always loved.
As you read this post, you can feel Jone’s need to commune with Nature — we often talked about the Earth and our capacity to be healed with the power of simply breathing in the myriad essences of Mother Nature. Jone actually had a stele (a large upright stone) placed in her front yard, providing a meditation focus and its own earthy vibration. We both were able to feel the ancient energy of those huge stones deep within the ground (the Earth-keepers) — and every time we passed a construction sight that was dismantling these behemoths we were saddened as they were slowly crushed and their primordial spirit was lost and scattered to the four winds.
Jone’s homes always had some area where Nature held sway — a shelf with plants, a nook with stones and shells, Native American Dream-catchers and drums, a photograph of a sunflower or as she mentions — corn stalks. I am privileged to have a huge framed photograph of a sunflower taken by her friend — and also the corn stalks — a smaller photo that seems to hold within it a sprite or djinn — one of the Nature Spirits she so loved. Actually, Jone was able to make wherever she lived her own space. Her vivacious personality and elan overtook any mundane or ordinary area with an inner light and spiritual wisdom. Jone loved the ocean, the woods, any bucolic area where she could commune with Nature was where she found solace, strength, and succor.
I can still imagine Jone with me as I see a beautiful tree, an unusual stone, or just observe the new leaves beginning to blossom in the Spring — I can feel her smiling as she shares these magical moment with me.