It’s hard to imagine a chic life that isn’t also calm. And to cultivate calm in a stressful world, it helps to have your own daily peaceful practice.
If your days are characterised by rushing, with each moment filled and perpetual pressure to get to the next thing, then it’s unlikely you feel chic and elegant. It’s likely poise and grace elude you.
You shove in the next mouthful before this one is finished. You stop listening to loved ones and start formulating your reply. You begin the next episode before the credits roll. You rush to the next thing before your mind and body have processed this one. You probably look and sound harried. Nothing has time to be. Nothing touches the sides.
But don’t worry. The antidote to this state of baseline panic need not be immediate removal to an ashram or signing up for a silent retreat where all the screaming moves inside your head. No. All you need to enjoy more chic and less fluster is a sense of space. And you can find that through cultivating a peaceful practice.
You shove in the next mouthful before this one is finished. You stop listening to loved ones and start formulating your reply. You begin the next episode before the credits roll. Nothing has time to be. Nothing touches the sides.
Peace, Space, And A Chic Life
One principle of design is to include white space or negative space. To deliberately add emptiness, absence. To have areas of nothing in order to avoid a sense of clutter. The white space gives a design a feeling of balance and harmony.
Psychologically it’s been said (possibly by Rollo May) that:
‘Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
So, to have a sense of balance, harmony, and freedom, we need emptiness. To live a chic life, we must have space.
But there’s a problem. In a world of ubiquitous social media, over-scheduled lives, TV binge-watching, and instant gratification, where is space to be found? The answer is: nowhere. There is no room for emptiness, no time to pause between stimulus and response.
When there is something on our phones, TVs, computers, and schedules to fill every space, every second, the only way to have space is to create it.
To stop the relentless tide of more and next and allow breathing room so we have space for a chic life, we have to consciously fashion an oasis of stillness for ourselves. And we can make this oasis in a peaceful practice.
In a world of ubiquitous social media, over-scheduled lives, TV binge-watching, and instant gratification, where is space to be found? The answer is: nowhere.
How To Cultivate A Daily Peaceful Practice
Here are some ideas for cultivating your own peaceful practice:
- Meditate. There are countless apps – I like Breethe and Calm – that offer guidance or simply background music or sounds of nature. Or you could sit in your car or bathtub or anywhere you can be alone and close your eyes. I suggest you choose 3 or 5 minutes to start if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of sitting with yourself for too long. Remember: better to succeed at what you CAN do than fail at what you SHOULD do.
- Read something inspirational. Choose a book that pulls you out of your everyday world and shifts your perspective to something larger. It could be philosophical, spiritual, or even a classic novel.
- Walk – but without listening to songs, podcasts, or audiobooks. Just be alone with your thoughts and nature and the rhythm of your body as you move.
- Listen to a beautiful piece of music. Do nothing else but enjoy the melody and let your feelings flow. You may feel sadness well up – it’s okay! All your feelings are okay. They are just being felt for a change. Don’t worry – you’ll get used to each other.
- Write in a journal. No need to read it back or even keep what you write. If you want, you can rip out the pages and burn them. Or, you know, simply tear them up if you don’t want to be so dramatic. But a daily practice of downloading your thoughts can be therapeutic.
Listen to a beautiful piece of music. You may feel sadness well up – it’s okay! All your feelings are okay. They are just being felt for a change. Don’t worry – you’ll get used to each other.
Tips For Cultivating Your Peaceful Practice
- Good news: you can do this imperfectly. It doesn’t have to be every day or any certain way or yet another source of stress and pressure. Simply see your peaceful practice as a resource for yourself, to take when you need it.
- Let something else go. To make the time, you could watch less TV. Or lower your domestic standards and assign a piece of housework to another family member and let them do the task their way. Or give up something you do out of obligation but don’t genuinely care about.
- No need to explain or justify your commitment to a peaceful practice. If you want to let people know what you’re doing, mention it as simply as you can.
- ‘I’m going to sit in the backyard by myself to meditate for 10 minutes.’
- ‘I’m going for a walk around the block – see you when I get back.’
- ‘I’ll be in the dining room with my earbuds in while I write for 10 minutes.’
As you forge these small pockets of peace in your life, you’ll become aware of how it feels to be calm and elegant and chic, and also how it feels to be harried and flustered and rushed. Over time, you’ll be able to choose more peace and poise.
As Coco Chanel famously said, ‘Elegance is refusal’ To be chic and elegant, to have grace and poise, you need refusal, emptiness, white space. And in our modern world the only way to have these gaps in your life is to consciously create them for yourself. I hope these ideas help you create your white space, your peaceful practice.
As you forge pockets of peace, you’ll notice how it feels to be calm and elegant and chic, and also how it feels to be harried and flustered and rushed. Over time, you’ll choose more peace and poise.
Your Chic Life Assignment For Week 9
- Choose a peaceful practice to introduce to your life. If you feel resistance, remind yourself how chic you will feel with a greater sense of calm and inner poise.
- Schedule at least two sessions this week when you will engage in your peaceful practice. Don’t make it too difficult – you only need to set aside a few minutes each time.
This post is part of my 12-Week Series: 12 Ways To Live A Chic Life.
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