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The Mindfulness of Tiny Living

It seems every day there are more and more articles on tiny houses focused on the physical aspects of construction mindfulwhich 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 mindfulness1I 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 mindfulnesshimself 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.

Your Turn!

  • Does living the tiny life bring you a greater sense of peace?

Via

Tammy & Logan

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Tammy and Logan have long since been, for me,  “the poster child” for how living in tiny houses as a couple can work.  They recently were featured on peak moment and I really loved their interview.  As I watched this video I couldn’t stop agreeing.  One of the big things I admire them for is ditching their cars.  Every time I talk to Tammy she makes me feel guilty (in a good way) about my car.  Here is the video.

Teaching Kids To Farm?

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I was flipping through Good.com the last night and in their post they talked about if students should learn to farm?  It’s an interesting question and I can see so many arguments for and against it.  Growing up I was fortunate enough to take 2 year of shop class and 2 year home economics.  This is quite rare for even my age, in an time of fast food, I literally have no friends who know how to cook, sew, build something from wood.  At one point the fact that none of my friends cooked struck me quite hard when I had to show my girlfriend at the time how to boil pasta!  Life skills such as these are so important for men and women, young and old; I mean you gotta eat right?

One thing that I did not get was how to grow food, obviously in line with such tasks of cooking, woodworking, welding, sewing and child care.  This is a true gap in my knowledge, up until my grandparents, almost everyone gardened to some degree, but today very few do now.  What is interesting that now as an adult and growing in my pursuit of self sufficiency and environmentally consciousness, I find myself lacking a green thumb.   What is missing is the cultural knowledge of how to grow, to make our own food with our bare hands.  Back 2-3 generations everyone knew a little about it, if you needed advice, you could ask your neighbor.  Better yet, you could ask the farmer himself, because he was local.

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All of these reasons are certainly defensible, but at the same time I know we also need to be hunkering down on the core subjects of academia.  Working in the non-profit sector, I am working within the schools to solve issues that impact the bottom line.  We are in need of a change, of a plan that will take our schools to the next level to achieve a high quality education for all students, does gardening have a place in our schools?

Wasted Food of NYC

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Every day 270,000 pounds of food are wasted in NYC! Check out this great add they shot.

and how they actually shot the video

The 7 foods experts won’t eat

1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked tomatto ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.


2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. cowMore money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.


3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer.pop Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.


4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

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