From ALTAR YOUR SPACE by JAGAT JOTI KHALSA
THE DINING ROOM: NOURISHMENT FOR BODY AND SOUL
For many, the dining room is the hearth of the home, a place where the body is nourished and the soul fed. It is a place for family meals, holiday celebrations, coffee, conversations and breaking bread with old and new friends.
It is a primary location in most homes where we connect in relationship through ritual sharing of food and social conviviality.
The first clue that a dining room isn't working is when it becomes a place, not to relax and savor, but to chew and bolt. This was the case for one of my clients. Her family tended to rush through dinner and leave the table immediately afterward. Even guests seemed less than comfortable at the dinner table and eager to retire to the living room when the meal was over. She asked me to come and look at the dining room to help her figure out why and what to do about it.
When I got there, I noticed several things. The dining room was open and spacious, but the lighting was bright to the point of harshness. The walls were empty and painted a stark white. As a result, the room had no warmth or personality; it was a sterile environment. That wasn't the only factor.
The dining-room table and chairs were of excellent quality. But the table and chairs had hard, sharp edges, and the table was a bit high relative to the chairs, which seemed to push you back and away, to separate you from guests on the other side of the table. All of these things combined to create a sense of distance and discomfort. Sitting at that table in that room was not relaxing or enjoyable.
There are usually very practical and solvable reasons why rooms don't work. Such rooms are often baseline environments that are not consciously designed to make us feel relaxed and comfortable. A well-designed room serves our practical needs and has warmth and feeling that resonate with us. It makes us feel at home. Other than that, there are no hard and fast design rules or rigid conventions that absolutely must be followed.
For instance, your dining room can be a formal, elegant space or a casual hanging-out place. It doesn't have to have a traditional matching table with chairs as a central focus. The Japanese do fine with a low table and floor cushions. You'll notice a variation on this, with a low table that is also an altar, or with plush floor cushions for seating.
The dining room is a primary location in most homes where we connect in relationships through ritual sharing of food and social conviviality. We want our dining room to provide a space to nurture the conversation and enhance the comfort of our guests. You can imagine feeling nourished by any of the settings pictured, while enjoying a good meal, coffee or conversation.
For everyone individually, redesigning your home is a creative and spiritual process. As you design and transform your external living environment in a way that pleases delights and inspires you, you reprogram your own psyche, and your environment, for new and positive life experiences. The process of rediscovering, reconceiving, and transforming your living environment will produce corresponding changes in you. Projecting your intentions into the world around you will bring you one step closer towards manifesting your goals in life.