Smart Lifestyle, curated for you by BGE and Empower Maryland

Issue 2: 2023

Finding Your Center Is All About Good Energy—Inside You and Your Home

We all, on occasion, seek a state of Zen—a calmness where you are centered, at peace and free from distractions. And the ways to reach a state of Zen are as diverse as the people who want to be there. You can meditate. You can pray. You can do goat yoga. You do you as you reach your state of Zen.

And if there was ever a time to take a break, it’s now. A recent survey reveals that more than half of Americans report they are addicted to their cell phones. The same survey found that we check our phones 144 times a day. Our screen time has increased by 30% in the past year. And we have gone on average from 2 hours and 54 minutes of screen time a day to 4 hours and 25 minutes. When we’re spending more time interacting with a screen than with the world around us, we’re due for a change.

Our Attention Spans Are Not in a Very Zen-Like State

According to Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, we’re losing our ability to focus. In her book “Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity,” Mark says, “In 2004, we measured the average attention on a screen to be 2.5 minutes. Some years later, we found attention spans to be about 75 seconds. Now we find people can only pay attention to one screen for an average of 47 seconds.” This only underscores the need for a vacation from our technology.

It ’ s really not about how you get there. Very often, simply committing to the journey is all it takes to set you on the path to reaching your state of zen.

Through Meditation, Zen Goes Mainstream

One of the most popular paths to a state of Zen is meditation. Over 40% of the U.S. population meditates at least once a week—impressive for a Western country that relies mostly on Western approaches to health. Other research shows the practice of meditation has tripled since 2012. The only other complementary health approach that is more popular is yoga, another path to reaching a state of Zen. As a culture, we have widely accepted the mind-body connection on our way to better health.

Now that you have a concept of Zen and the benefits of Zen, you just need a place. Begin with a place you can dedicate to finding some inner peace. It’s a place where you can relax, destress and begin on a path to rejuvenation. It could be a room, a nook or even a central space you can temporarily marshal to serve your Zen-seeking purpose.

Balance

Pump Iron on Your Road to Zen

Regular physical activity can prevent depression, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Now, working out often involves a lot of technology. Not here. You want your space to be quiet enough for you to hear your own breath and nothing else. You have many options for decking out your workout space as long as it’s an unplugged workout. Think of a pull-up bar and some kettlebells. Just remember, the best workout is one that you enjoy and can do consistently.

It turns out there’s a real connection between the environment you work out in and the quality of your workout. Yes, the right temperature, ventilation, carbon dioxide and oxygen levels can increase your workout performance. Enter an HVAC Tune-up. It’s the best way to ensure your home’s heating and cooling equipment is doing its best to help you do your best. And, because it’s available through BGE at no additional cost, it’s easy to feel better about your health and the health of your HVAC equipment.

40%

One of the most popular paths to a state of zen is meditation. Over 40% of the U.S. population meditates at least once a week.

Meditating Your Way to Zen

Consistent, focused meditation can help you manage stress, reduce negative emotions, increase your creativity and improve your sleep quality. Just remember that shouting “inner peace” is probably not the best way to achieve said peace.

When designing your meditation space, focus on natural light to increase serenity and openness. Incorporate natural elements like wood and stone to develop a oneness with nature. Lastly, create a central focal point with a small table, painting or mirror to help you stay present. This focal point can settle a listless, wandering mind.

And your air should be a vital aspect in creating the perfect mindfulness environment. Meditation is built on your breath, so air quality is key. Anything from cleaning products to candles to simply cooking can diminish the quality of the air you breathe.

Choose a qualifying air purifier and get a $40 instant discount.

An air purifier can filter out odors, dust and other airborne distractions to create a more meditative environment. Choose a qualifying energy-saving model and get a $40 instant discount.

Crafting Your Way to Zen

Crafting can improve your mood, improve self-confidence, improve your mental agility and decrease stress. What type of craft? Well, that’s the good news. It doesn’t matter. Choose something you enjoy, and you’ll reap the benefits. Just keep the crafting in the craft space. You can’t just call your dirty car “distressed” now that you make crafts. That being said, you can allow your crafting sanctuary to be a little cluttered. This isn’t about cleanliness. It’s about expressing yourself, so anything outside of a full craft apocalypse should be considered part of the process.

Your craft space can be basic or next level. If you want to keep it simple, just pick up a secondhand table that will welcome spilled paint, glue and, yes, glitter if need be. Grab a couple stackable bins to store your supplies conveniently under your table, and you’re done.

Reading Your Way to Zen

Reading regularly can lead to decreased depression, increased empathy and improved cognitive ability. And having your own library is a 100% foolproof way to rediscover your love of books. They’re portable, entertaining and never ever need batteries. Just know that reading books that eventually become movies will ruin those movies for the rest of your life. Yes, we know that character’s hair should be brown, but standing up and screaming that in a crowded theater isn’t going to change anything.

Make the most of your space with bookshelves that are floor-to-ceiling. If you have the room, a rolling library ladder is a feature that is not only practical but also impressive and fun. A comfortable reading chair should be the focal point of your space. And since good, functional lighting is key to any reading marathon, outfitting your Zen reading nook with LED bulbs will save both your eyes and your energy budget. You can even step up your reading game by choosing the LED bulbs that are most conducive to reading. Look for bluer white light (yes, that sounds like a contradiction, but that’s the term). Bulbs that are 5,000K to 6,500K are best for your eyes as you enjoy a good book.

Finally, add accessories to your library shelves, like houseplants, vases and other decorative pieces. This mixed approach to filling your shelves will allow your library to evolve with time as you add more titles to your collection. And don’t forget to participate in those free libraries popping up in front yards and public spaces. Most have the “Take a penny. Leave a penny.” approach to book exchanges—allowing you to keep your reading shelf fresh and to donate titles you’ve read to the greater good.

No matter how you choose to transform your Zen space, one thing should be consistent when it comes to the result. It should be a welcoming escape—a place to shut out the world and focus on yourself. When you use your new destination that way, it will become more than a guest workout/craft/storage/meditation space. It will be the most cherished place in your home.

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