Engage Your Thoughts to 'Live-by-Design'

10/28/2010 08:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Long ago you decreed that taking care of your family would be your contribution to society. Decisions you have made out of love have strengthened your center with steadiness. Decisions you have made out of duty have come naturally, as loyalty is a very strong part of your relationship with others. However, you are forced to stop temporarily; at this point your loved ones need to take care of you.

You are recovering from a knee replacement surgery and sometimes it feels like "zoning out" with the television on is about as active as you can be. You shouldn't really be upset with yourself for spending too much time sitting, passively viewing whatever is on. You are too tired to work on your fibercrafts like knitting, braiding or crocheting. Besides, the outcome is never good enough. You do not really create art -- just follow instructions. You want to make your own instructions, but the choices are endless and you can't decide.

On the other hand, sitting around is too boring. You want to start making strategic decisions. You want to consciously engage your thoughts in structuring and embellishing your experience. What if you conjured up an image of a building to help you in the process of organizing your plans?

It is in your power to eliminate destructive thoughts like, "I am just plain lazy, fearful, confused and destined to have conflicting desires and motives." It is in your power to substitute them with constructive ones. Engaging the architect within might be an effective approach.

You can have respect for the "joints" in your character; you can take time to articulate them meticulously. You can treat them as the embodiment of your beauty and strength. Take Yale University Art Gallery by Lois Kahn, for example! The building's exposed structure is an honest expression of how things are made with its joints celebrated. Hmm. This mental image might just give you the ammunition needed to address your negative self-talk.


Lois Kahn's Yale University Art Gallery, interior sketch by Miller Yee Fong, Architect

Alignment. The moment you enter Lois Kahn's Yale University Art Gallery, you are brought to a sudden stop by something astonishingly powerful hovering over. The web of the ceiling spanning the entire volume alerts, evokes awe and, finally, draws you in. Its "architecture of mass" pivots your perception of the space and your experience within it. Its monumental presence engages you, forces to search for that absolute truth you are bound to find inside.

Honesty. The architect makes a statement. He intentionally leaves structural and non-structural elements of the ceiling's hollow tetrahedrons immediately visible. He does not want to hide how the building is made. As a matter of fact, Khan postulates that it is his moral imperative to expose methods of construction. Convinced that carefully designed joints are the ornament, he insists that there is no need for further embellishment. Thus, as a visitor, you are endowed with an opportunity to experience the imminent qualities of simple brick, glass, concrete block, and pine in an orchestrated composition.

Clarity. The architect believes in the "act of making" as a symbolic way of conveying the building's true nature. He wants to explain its essence by thoughtfully considering, evaluating and making every component discernable. Nothing is left to chance. The process is guided by the desire to enable solidity, starting with systems that uphold and ending with details that enhance. Every single nuance aims to show how the building comes together and functions.

Order. The architect maintains that even mechanical needs of a building should not only be acknowledged, but celebrated. He lectures that it is "intolerable" to bury "tortured ducts, conduits and pipelines." As the integral part of the organism, they deserve recognition as well as their own well-engineered service zones. Naturally, all of the mechanical systems for the exhibition spaces, including lighting, are distributed in an orderly manner within interconnected voids in reinforced concrete ceiling structure. For Kahn, the sensitivity to the process of construction and the commitment to the articulation of the materials embody heart and soul of architecture.

Revelation. The architect within structures and defines your experience. Every move you make can be intentional. Of course, you can do something creative for the sheer joy of it! You can embrace who you are even if you are not perfect. You can decisively order:
"Enough of that inner critic dishing out misery! It's time to enjoy my individuality, instead!"

Alla Kazovsky teaches "The Architect-in-You" online workshops