Winter 2022

Zen Den

By Lauren Hurwitz

Carving out time to relax can seem impossible but with the perfect space waiting for you, life may be a little less chaotic. Dobbs Ferry based Jessie Asya Kanzer, is a Tao expert and author of the upcoming book, Don’t Just Sit There, Do Nothing: Healing, Chilling. And Living with the Tao Te Ching, says taking time to connect with yourself is very important and hard to do if you don’t have a specific place to do it in. “It doesn’t have to be a giant space, it can be a little space – even in a closet – the rule is that it has to be your space and nobody else’s.” She believes that while you can add incense, a vase with flowers and other items that make you feel calm, starting with something as simple as a comfortable pillow to sit on that is yours, and only yours, can create a space of calm.

Creating a Zen space is very different than creating the overall aesthetic of your house. “The way we decorate our homes are so important to us. Some people consult with interior decorators and some people want it to look a certain way. But when doing Zen space, you should start bare boned, with a meditation pillow when you can sit and get quiet. Then, your space can evolve as you use it. Start using it, sit down and do nothing for a few minutes every day, and let the space develop from there,” says Kranzer.

Finding the proper scent can also be imperative in enjoying your Zen space as aromatherapy can help mentally transport you to another place. Kranzer suggests finding a scent that resonates with you as, “do nothing” time either through candles, flowers or even oil to rub on the wrist and visit your “you” space regularly. 

Yaz Quiles, star of HGTV’s new design show, “Table Wars” and Iona College graduate says in addition to tapping into all five senses, good lighting is key for having a great Zen space. “A sunroom will give you lots of Vitamin D during the day along with natural light, but I also think about lighting in the evening. For example, I like to have a couple of options of lighting like overhead lighting that I can dim, or candles.” Quiles also stresses the importance of creating a quiet space that you can enclose with doors or even drapes, and make sure everything in the room is soft, textured and cozy to the touch. 

“When we think about being ‘Zen,’ a lot of people think of yoga and tea – but one size doesn’t fit all. Know what feels right for you and what creates that peace within you, and then enhance the space for your needs,” she says. “Simplicity is key – don’t pack a space with too much stuff because it’s supposed to be Zen. Having a tree, mat or a rock sounds great in theory but it can be overwhelming in a space.  Make it super minimal so you’re focusing on the actual peaceful part of having time to yourself.”