Photo Courtesy of The Balance
Lifestyle 28 January 2018
As a female immigrant to this country, I had big dreams and even bigger obstacles to overcome. Looking at where I am now—running my own business, managing an all-female team of designers, and living out my passions to bring healing and positivity to the world—I wish I could tell my younger self to worry less and dream even bigger. I still wonder what was the strongest drive that kept me moving. Was it my motive to prove my worth as a woman entrepreneur? Or was it my desire to infuse greater meaning and mindfulness into the interior design industry?
Perhaps, it was both.
I am Mitra Pakdaman Silva, the founder of the Beverly Hills-based LA Healthcare Design Inc. I started my journey as an interior design student, made my way into the design industry by working with leading firms, and now, here I am, leading an all-female team of designers and architects in a joint mission to encourage greater healing through thoughtful, spiritually-minded, and eco-conscious interior design and architecture.
Photo Courtesy of addvantageusa
Over the last several years, popular design trends, such a minimalism and hygge, have shown just how significantly interior design can influence our mental attitudes. As someone who has placed my focus on the healthcare industry specifically, I would like to now familiarize the public with the concept of “healing design.” In taking a more mindful approach to the interior aesthetics and even the architecture of a space, I believe we can create environments that actually enhance our ability to heal. Furthermore, as a female interior designer thriving in the male dominated medical industry, I am hopeful my work will contribute to cultural healing between genders as well.
Mitra Silva. Photo Courtesy of lahealthcaredesign
Here are my top three design mantras:
“Heal the space and it will heal you.”
The word “healing” is a multi-perspective concept. It is both internal and external. Healing is an authentic place of being, and that which triggers recovery from within, but it is also energetically linked to our surroundings. For most people, a visit to the doctor’s office will trigger thoughts of a cramped, dark, and stressful waiting room along with a confusing maze of cold and intimidating examination rooms. This external experience impacts the patient’s internal wellbeing in a negative way, which is the entirely opposite point of visiting a doctor in the first place. These are places people go to feel better and yet, the design often connotes the antithesis of this. It is this lack of soul, energy, and life that inspired me to seek a more thoughtful solution to healthcare design. I believe that if you can heal the space, the space will in turn, heal you. Implementing mindful design elements that are both internally and externally aligned to the core purpose of the space will create a natural sense of harmony that will lend to greater peace, comfort, and wellbeing for everyone involved.
“Clutter invites chaos. Emptiness invites energy.”
This thought has altered my personal design perspective dramatically, as I move to create more authentic, appealing, and transformational medical spaces with a personal touch. As a spiritually minded individual, I have fused traditional healthcare interior design and architecture methods with my objective to create qualitative and quantitative healing spaces. Finding the balance of decluttering your environment while also ensuring no details are left out and everything is at a hand’s reach, is the basis to creating a healing space. When I look at a space, I draw a mental image of how I would want the space to look and feel if it were my own. I ask, “how can this contribute to recovery?” This is the starting point in finding the necessary precision that is required of a space that is both aesthetically-pleasing and functionally-efficient. I often meditate on the Yin-Yang, which indicates a balance of negative and positive energies. Healing design needs emptiness to breathe, but also a certain amount purposeful objects and elements to give it life.
“Design is neither masculine nor feminine. It is a powerful fusion of feminism with its masculine counterpart.”
I am a strong believer of Feminine Power and the potential of women in business. A majority of women entrepreneurs in the design industry dedicate themselves to residential design, and limit their scope to creating concept sketches, sourcing materials, and providing the complete design package. However, as a business woman in the modern era, I believe women have equal potential when it comes to contributing to the architecture and construction administration when compared to men. In a male-dominated industry, like Healthcare Design and Construction, I am wearing more than one hat – of an interior designer and another of a construction administrator. In a world where interior design delivers a gender-specific feel, my unique designs are a blend of masculine and feminine energy to create holistic balance, and of course, healing. We’ve always been the women who care, now it’s time to transform a generation of mothers, sisters and wives into ‘women who dare.”
4 min read
One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.
If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.
In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?
For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.
Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.
Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.
I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.
Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.
Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.