The home is a powerful therapeutic tool if it is understood and used with a new awareness

*Donatella Caprioglio, psychologist, psychotherapist and writer, author of  Nel Cuore delle Case’, Edizioni Il Punto d'Incontro

 

During the last confinement we learned a lot about ourselves from our homes.

Six months ago, perhaps for the first time in our life, we lived in ourselves: that is, we understood that the house is us, our body and our primary needs. We have grasped the symbolic value of the rooms and used this knowledge to get in touch with our internal world and to keep the underlying fears at bay with everyday gestures. Some of us have understood that the home can be the center of our well-being.

And now? Can we think of this new, albeit hopefully different, confinement as a chance to exploit what we have learned to find a new domestic well-being?  To create a renewed geometry of ourselves, more in tune with our needs and with our inner poetics?

I think so. If we start from an essential act: look at our domestic space and the way we live it with critical eyes.

The house, in general, is built slowly, proceeding by successive layers, between errors and ingenious ideas. Each transformation – a new object, getting rid of something old, moving furniture or changing colors – is an opportunity to get to know ourselves.

So let's think of it as a path, a work of art to be built by relying on our intuition, on our need to calm our anxieties, in search of a harmony that encompasses what is beauty for us for us the beauty in our home?).

Where to start? From a greater listening to our deep needs, from the ability to observe, change, shape space in search of a subtle enjoyment: reminding us that through the gestures we make we control the anxieties of our inner world, we smooth the roughness of life like sheets on a bed.

Understanding what enjoyment is for us – for everyone it is different – is fundamental. Let's look inside and find firm points in this moment of uncertainty. Perhaps the body requires carefully prepared food. Perhaps the pleasure is a plant on the terrace, a library with books that you want to browse, a scented candle while taking a relaxing bath, soft sheets for the coming winter. Do we have works on our walls that we like or do we fill the space with a horror of emptiness?

To feel good in our living we need houses and personal spaces but also nature, cities, intimacy and continuous comparison. The lonely man inside the house can also go crazy. As is now clear to most of us.

The architectures of the future must therefore take into account this need for psychological and structural integration: I am thinking of the steps of the houses of small villages built to sit outside, transitional architectures that allow a protected exchange with the outside; I am thinking of the bow-windows that prolong the presence of the house and remain in contact with the city. We need the encounter, the unexpected to give a limit to thought that, left without comparison, can become hypertrophic and even delusional.

To feel good, then, it is necessary to create metaphorical spaces of connection between the buildings: hanging gardens, arcades, walkways, bridges and galleries. Living the thresholds more and living them not as barriers, borders, but openings, fluid exchange of essential energy.

It is the same process I suggested doing for our homes (looking at them and looking inside them, growing in osmosis) but applied to the city. What is happening to us can, in this sense, be a beautiful adventure, an opportunity to discover something blocked, or simply denied. We may eventually have learned to live in order to live deeply, free ourselves from cumbersome memories, breathe in a new space. In our homes as in our cities.