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Friday, February 19, 2016

Studio Focus: Physical Environment

Last month we focused on posture. This month I thought I would spend some time focusing on our environment. This is a rather large topic though, so we may touch on merely a bit of the subject and save a deeper discussion of another aspect of environment for another time.

Become Mindful and Aware

In order to make any changes about anything, we need to become mindful first. We need to know what it is that we want to change and why. We need to discover what we really want to accomplish, and then we can think about the next steps that we need to follow in order to accomplish this.

Painting by Mikiko Kudo 2015
So if we were to focus on our environment, we first need to become aware of what our environment is. This involves paying attention and being observant. What sorts of things will we learn?

There are two kinds of environment: physical and psychological. The physical environment may be the easiest to address, so let us start with that aspect first. Let me put forth some questions that might help us to focus on our physical environment.

Notice and Describe

What is our teaching or practicing location like? Is it the same place or a different place from time to time? Is it a small or large space? Is there enough room? Do we have all of our supplies near to hand or do we need to interrupt our teaching and learning momentum in order to retrieve an item that is necessary to continue teaching, practicing, or learning? Take a few moments to note and describe the physical location, the setup of the space, and the items contained therein. What sorts of things do you notice now that you’ve written that description?

Mood and Energy
Painting by KM Robinson 2014)

What is the quality of your space like? By quality I mean, how would someone describe the type of mood that the space creates? Is your space colorful and vibrant? Is it noisy? Is it peaceful and calm? Is it messy or clean? Is it organized or does it spill over the edges?

Take the time to observe and answer carefully these questions related to the quality of the space, because my theory is that there are many children and adults who respond in less than positive ways to various sorts of “energy” being expressed in a room. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when I walked into a colleague’s office that had well crossed the boundary of orderliness and spilled over into chaos. When I found myself holding my breath for fear that by letting it out I might blow over a stack of papers that was taller than I was, I knew that this situation was much less than ideal.

Cleanup after the 2015 flood
I’m not the greatest housekeeper. I do, however, clean my space on a regular basis and focus on consistency as my main priority. I also try to be mindful about how my space looks to others. I spend a few minutes daily putting things in their proper places, and I think about organizing the things in the studio in a way that looks “neat and straight.”

As for calm and peaceful, I do things to help myself exude relaxation. I do a lot to breathe out my air, because I find that I completely calm myself down when I do that. We can spend more time this month thinking of ways to bring calmness to our studio. I welcome reading your suggestions in the comment section below.

For now, give some thought to the above areas and let me know what you discover. In the meantime,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2016 by Paula E. Bird


  1. So helpful! Thanks for posting!
    -Elissa //