It seems every day there are more and more articles on tiny houses focused on the physical aspects of construction which are incredibly useful and necessary. There are a plethora of videos and blogs providing excellent instruction on how to get your tiny house built but what about the act of living the tiny life? Living the tiny life has brought a certain mindfulness to my living. Now that I live it, I truly believe that acquiring mindfulness is assisted by downsizing and learning to live with less.
When I speak of mindfulness I’m referring to the act of attentive awareness of reality. Being in the present moment, for me, is more easily achieved in a small space without the distractions that a larger space often brings me. I am very good at finding ways to distract myself but in a tiny house, often, whatever you are trying to ignore continually stares you in the face. I mentioned this very thing in a post back in March dealing with conflict but it goes for anything you might be trying to avoid-an article to write, a work assignment to finish or a hyper pup to walk! There is no where to run in a tiny house. You can only go so long before you may, quite literally, bump up against, or be jumped on, by the very responsibility you are trying to avoid!
For me, procrastination is often an attempt to avoid the present. I’ll make excuses but the simple fact is that in 98 sq. feet I just can’t find that much to distract me for long. Mindfulness is a very difficult thing for many of us. I certainly have a bad case of “monkey mind,” the Buddhist term for restlessness (among other definitions). Living the tiny life has increased my awareness of the present moment thanks to lots of banged elbows and head bumps in the loft! Physically you are constantly being made aware of where you are in space because there isn’t much of it!
The Buddha taught that mindfulness was one of the seven factors of bodhi, or enlightenment, and that it was of great importance to reach this state of non-suffering. While I don’t expect a tiny house to give me complete freedom from suffering, there are aspects of living the tiny life that provide me a path to mindfulness. Having less material items gives me a great sense of freedom. Downsizing the stuff I’d been shuffling around for years really lightened my load, both physically and spiritually. Living the tiny life pushed me to really look at what I needed, rather than what I thought I needed. That was an important step in my path to increased daily mindfulness.
Cedric regularly feels physically restless in our tiny house. It leads him out the door into the woods and he’s able to bring himself back to the present. Nature is where he finds mindfulness and our living space releases him into the forest where he rediscovers serenity. I think it’s important to think about lifestyle and reflect deeply, not only on the physical make-up of a small space, but the spiritual and emotional side of tiny living. You may well end up discovering that it allows mindfulness to infuse more of your daily life or it could have the affect of inhibiting it. I’ve come to learn that such considerations are essential to building a tiny house that brings the most peace and comfort.
Does living the tiny life bring you a greater sense of peace?
Yesterday I found this video from a friend and fellow tiny houser that I thought was worth sharing. The video talks about a whole slew of things, some I agree with, some I don’t, but it makes some really good points. I like its commentary on how we have a decision to make on how we perceive the world, how we make our way through our life is our choice. He also made a really good point about how education isn’t just about knowledge, how it is about the ability to consider things around us that might often not be considered, but can have dramatic implications on our lives.
So usually I am a big fan of ultra modern houses, but this one might be a bit much, today we have a 215 square foot house out of Paris France. The renovation was done for about $50k and instead of paint, they decided to bring in color with different light bulbs. The sodium light-bulbs bring in a really interesting architectural quality, with it being such a raw mechanical element contrasted against the stark white. The designer noted:
The apartment is designed in a simple and neutral expression, without color or particular detail, annihilating any architectural expressiveness or narrative to leave only the logic of composition generated by light.
I have noticed over the past month or so I have been getting a little burned out with working on my tiny house. I think it really has been a combination of my time at work skyrocketing, a series of big set backs and less than favorable weather. Additionally I had been asked to bring my house to a particular event, which put a deadline on things for me, so it became more of a job, not something that I was enjoying.
I have had some big set backs. The biggest being my electrician was injured pretty seriously on another worksite the day before he was going to do my house. He will be fine, thank goodness, but it meant I had to restart the process of getting quotes and scheduling work, which set me back about 3 weeks.
Enjoyment of the building process was one of the things that I wanted to make sure was part of building my house. I wanted to enjoy the journey, to enjoy the realization of my dream, I wanted to take my time and have great posts for you all. So this week I made the decision to decline bringing my house to that event, which on one had I was disappointed about, on the other, and more importantly, I felt like I could now enjoy the process of building again. I felt a sense of relief when I made the decision and I think it was the right one to make.
So the moral of the story here is when you build your tiny house, or pursue any of your goals in life, make sure that you enjoy the journey, because it is often better than the destination. In the near future I will be doing some more house update posts, but here is a photo I took this past weekend.
Spring has sprung up here in the Northeast! While Ryan huddles in the wet and chilly weather that has descended on the Carolinas I’m getting sunburned in Vermont! (Sorry Ryan!) The weather has been amazing the past couple weeks and we’ve been relishing sunny, mid-70′s days as the buds on the trees explode in a panorama of green! Folks are out in their gardens working away, tulips are blooming and bees are buzzing. This is my favorite time of year in a tiny house because you can really get outside, enjoy the weather and take a break from the cabin fever that winter can bring.
This was a tough winter for Cedric and I, mostly because we wrenched ourselves from the balmy winter weather of Charleston, South Carolina to the frigid northern landscape of Vermont! The sudden change and necessity of staying indoors for extensive periods took their toll but now all is green and right with the world. As inspiration for the season, I want to share with you this incredible garden shed created by German designer Nils Holger Moormann. He calls it Walden after Henry David Thoreau’s story of life and his relationship with nature while living a simple, more self-sufficient life in the woods. I think Moormann’s interpretation of simplicity is stunning and as a tiny lifer and gardener, I have to admit some envy for the efficiency and beauty of this project!
This design is my dream guest house. To me, it’s the perfect tiny house extension. The description on Moormann’s site explains how he looked to the concept of simple life as well as creating a space that invited you outdoors. There’s no doubt you’d be invited by it’s cozy, convertible indoor/outdoor eating area, easy reach of garden tools and sliding sunroof that beckons you to experience the sky! There is an upper level with a double bed for those mid-day, summer siestas and space for a campfire or cooking on a hung grill. He includes lots of space for storage of tools and materials, including firewood, a wheelbarrow and garden hose to name a few. In our tiny house we struggle with storage as well as guest space and this design is one of my all-time favorite answers to those predicaments!