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?
We have had several readers write in about house trucks, which isn’t a new concept by any means, but perhaps a precursor to tiny houses? They have a certain charm to them that RV’s lack and makes me think of gypsies for some reason. Anyway, there is some romantic appeal to them that I can’t put my finger on but regardless they represent a subculture in the Tiny House Community.
The Morisons exhibited their self-sufficient wooden house-truck, customized from a decommissioned fire engine and containing, next to a stove and pot plants, a library of apocalypse-themed fiction. Tales of Space and Time, as it was called, embodied a jauntily over-optimistic attitude to surviving the end of the world, simultaneously mocking the ‘art will save us all’ attitude of some contemporary civic reformists. Art won’t save Folkestone. I hope something does though – something real, something solid.
Jonathan Griffin, Folkestone Triennial, Frieze, Issue 117 September 2008
Ivan Morison: What made you build your first truck?
Roger Beck: The first one I call my escape vehicle! I grew up in LA, a metropolitan, screwy city. And so it just got to the point where I just had to get out. So I left a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t want to get rid of at my parent’s house and got into my first house car and headed north. I couldn’t head south ’cause I had long hair and didn’t want to cross the Mexican border; I couldn’t go any further west; the east coast was nothing more than big cities to me and so I decided to go to Canada!
So, it was my escape route. I got to Oregon and then I did a stupid thing. Me and a friend ripped a tape deck out of a logging truck and I was arrested the same day and I was put on five-years probation. And in those five years I built my second house-truck that had a lot of problems. I drove it to California again to see my parents and my father and I built my third truck. He really helped me build a house on the back of a truck. I travelled most of my travels in that one.
I had the idiosyncrasy of trying to distinguish myself as a New Age American Gypsy and not a hippy living in a school bus with a bunch of mattresses in the back. That’s not a house-truck, that’s because you’re homeless and you can’t afford to live in an apartment, which you’d prefer to do. I had no desire to live in a house. I had my house; it was just on wheels.
Ivan: Was there anyone doing this before you in America?
Roger: For me, when you think about house trucks you’ve got to go back to the depression. People were living in rigs because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.
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While the style of this apartment isn’t for me, it is well done and very cohesive. I think it best that I don’t say much and just experience it through the images, as the apartment is very visually driven. Make sure you click the “read more” link to see all the photos.
Name: Chris Nguyen
Location: Houston, Texas
Size: 500 square feet
More info: Here
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Here is good video about how the economy today is making some traditional home owners rethink the McMansion and of course pursuing the Tiny House Movement. Sitting at a around 425 square feet, this house is decked out with really high end finishing touches. Basically the owner is taking a traditional home budget and dumping it into a small foot plan for the costs savings and simplified living.