Mindfulness in La Paz…Creating a Home of Zen



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By Mary Anne Harmer

‘Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, very important for good health.’   

Dali Lama 

It’s about 7 a.m., it’s 60 degrees, and I’m sitting on the patio of my little casita in La Paz. Another moment of calm and Zen, far from the hectic life experienced back in my hometown of Portland, where I consult with small businesses.

La Paz is my second home.  For some of you, it is your primary home.  And the cliché rings true… home is where the heart is, a place of respite and comfort.  It’s a place we make our own, a reflection of our unique life, loves and passion.   Whether we rent or own our condos, apartments or houses, full time or part time, we can create a personal oasis that is conducive to calm. Our home environment can influence our mood.

In fact, a new field of design is emerging called neuroarchitecture. It describes how factors like light, space, and room layout, plus color, décor and green, affect the physical and psychological well-being of people, in a positive or negative way.  

“The premise is to consider how each feature of the environment influences certain brain processes such as those involved in stress, emotion, and memory,” (Eve Edelstein, PhD, adjunct professor at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego)

Your home should be your “HAPPY PLACE” where stress is minimized.   A place where you can slow down, breathe and be mindful of each moment. “Coming home to a place that is inviting and evokes positive moods is ultimately as good for general health and well-being, as our thoughts.” (Kristin Whalen, award winning designer)  

We are fortunate in La Paz, for with some imagination, a home of tranquility and some Baja soul can be created.  For starters there is amazing art from artists and artisans, residing in La Paz. The Baja Citizen has highlighted in past issues, some of the amazing painters in the area. I also want to call out one of my favorite places in town, where I can find unique pottery that helps to create mindfulness  in the home, with its beautiful mandala patterns:

IBARRA POTTERY:

Although colorful Mexican pottery is frequently seen in many homes, there is a small, family owned ceramic business in La Paz with a very different style that is enchanting.  Located six blocks up from the Malecon on Guillermo Prieto before Republica, you can visit and watch grandma hand paint the bowels, cups and dishes, while other family members manage the shop. The pottery is more abstract than traditional pottery, and the mandalas and patterns are distinctive.  And by the way, it’s a wonderful place to buy a gift to bring home, as La Paz is written on the bottom of the pottery.   

(You can also buy at Ibarra Pottery pure vanilla without any additives, aged and stirred for over 7 months.  People from as far as Todos Santos, come to Ibarra Pottery for the vanilla.)

LOCAL ART:

Another way to make your home special and foster Zen is by buying a piece of art from one of the talented local artists of La Paz… a piece of art that is your own style. This may be a painting, drawing or sculpture that causes you to pause, think and smile.  Abstract, traditional, whatever your preference, you can find special pieces that add so much to the beauty and sense of contentment of your home.  

A few places to find local art include: the Jardin Valasco (Revolucion and Independencia) on Saturday mornings, the Organic Market on Saturdays and Tuesdays (Madero between Constitucion and 5 de Mayo) or visit Casa Parra and Caktu Souvenirs for original art.

And there are some wonderful places to learn to draw and paint in La Paz, an excellent way to be mindful.  I encourage you to explore this right brain activity that shuts down the clutter of over thinking. It’s one of the quickest ways to be mindful.

Dibujo Art and Drawing Club

Indigo Galeria de Arte Escuela

INCORPORATE GREENERY

Bring a spot of green indoors. Plants are a surprisingly easy way to change the ambiance of a room and bring Zen into the home. They are mood boosting and air purifying by reducing carbon dioxide levels, increasing humidity, reducing levels of certain pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide, reducing airborne dust levels, and keeping air temperatures down. Plants not only improve the air quality but will also improve relaxation, inspiration and focus by bringing nature indoors.

In La Paz, there are several plant nurseries (viveros) you can visit.  And plants are also available at Home Depot and other larger retailers.  Remember that the cactus is considered endangered and you generally can’t buy them, but you can get a cutting and start a plant from one that is already growing.  

With all that said, aside from making your home
a “happy place”, we need to return to the initial  premise that our frenetic minds are more
creative and we are less stressed when it shifts to a lower gear. It happens
easily in La Paz, where we slow down and relax.  

OTHER IDEAS TO BE MINDFUL

  1. BREATH: Listen and focus on the air as it goes in and out of your lungs – this is your pause button and immediate stress reducer. Think of your mind as the blue sky, where clouds come and go but it is always clear and calm once they pass
  2. TAKE A WALK: Even a small walk, especially near water or in nature, has a way of calming the mind.
  3. LISTEN: Many of us like to fill the empty air space with words. In the bigger scheme of things, maybe all those “interesting” ideas and thoughts are just a distraction. Use our ears and listen, with empathy and kindness
  4. CHILL: Don’t stress about the past or worry about the future. Focus on the experience of the moment. Pick your battles and don’t challenge everything … and instead play the mellow card!
  5. LET GO:  We may not be always right as there is often more than one way to reach a solution.. Be more open-minded and give the opportunity for the alternate solution to take the forefront. We often spend way too much energy and passion fighting for our way.

So find that perfect place and bring the peace of La Paz into your home and garden… it’s simple to be mindful and create your “happy place”.

Mary Anne brings passion and energy towards improving the physical, emotional and spiritual health of ALL individuals, families and communities across the spectrum of economics and cultures.  She is the co-author of the book, 25 Building Blocks to Create a Conscientious Organization and the recently released book Putting Soul Into Business: How the Benefit Corporation is Transforming American Business.  She lives part-time in La Paz.