Living on the Floor



A flat hard surface is not comfortable to sit, sleep or work on: it's natural to feel so for most humans and mammals. Yet, nature is not always the right guide, for the discomfort we feel is temporary, as we gradually familiarize with the new position and realize the advantages it offers.

The short pain, that is more mental than physical, happens because of a shift between two different lifestyles. Favoring a soft or smooth surface is mostly an obsession, living without which causes no actual physical harm.

Living on the floor is not a new lifestyle. It has been for millennia practiced in traditional Japanese houses and other parts of Asia, where most daily activities are done on the floor.



Furniture in a house is like concrete buildings in town: both depressingly block view, light, air, movement ... among other things. There are many benefits of doing without either, and keeping your horizon free. Here are some, house-wise:

Visual Freedom

  • More space gives relief to eyes and mind: walls look taller, ceiling higher, and floor wider.
  • It gives focus, that even living outdoors "under the blue sky" cannot give, however relaxing the latter is.

Studies show that outdoor and indoor environments affect the mind differently: one makes it philosophical, wanting the whole picture, the other meticulous, wanting the details. Even different indoor structures have different effects, e.g. the inside of a pyramid. With practice, without leaving one's room, as in some monastic orders, the brain can even get into an extroverted out-of-body state, similar to that when it's in an open environment. (Isaac Asimov, who wrote hundreds of books on science and space, was a "claustrophile" himself.)


  • There is no table, desk, chair, sofa or bed you may fall off, or drop down your belongings off: computer, phone, vase, dish, etc.
  • There is less bumping into objects by accident as you move, like in traffic jams.
  • In case of fire, there isn't much furniture to catch on fire, or carpets to spread it to the rest of the house; and so with dust, mud or water, in case you forgot to protect yourself against each.
  • Even if accidents happen, there is less mess to clean or possessions to lose.


You take minimal time cleaning: you move all your stuff away, clean up, then put it back in again, after you finish.


You see everything around you, where no obstacles block your sight or movement. Thus, you easily visualize and organize it in the order you like.


On the floor you can mix many activities together—working, reading, exercising, resting, etc.—simultaneously or consecutively, with more flexibility and less time, than when being chained to a chair.


  • A hard surface forces you to keep your back straight, which is physically and mentally useful:
    • Physically, it allows more blood circulation, particularly helping those with varicose veins. Sleeping on the floor helps fix a slipped disc.
    • Mentally, it speeds up the neurons going through the spinal cord from brain to body, and vice versa.
  • When sitting or lying on the floor, we naturally resort to our body cushions, i.e. fat sacks, for resting, and bones for vertical support. Sitting on heels or in a lotus position, for example, turns the pelvis and backbone together into a "tripod" carrying the head and keeping the back effortlessly erect, where the buttocks become natural cushions, that most sitting mammals have.

Free Movement

On the floor, one can exercise at virtually any time, even during the most absorbing mental activity. Movements that are simple, safe, slow and easy, do not cause distraction: doing arm exercise while sitting, feet swinging while lying on stomach, slow stretching, push-ups ... are good for blood circulation, weight loss, and physical and mental stimulation. These are mostly needed by individuals living a sedentary lifestyle.

Power and cardio exercises naturally cause tension and speed heart rate, respectively, and distract the mind, unnecessarily simulating and preparing it for nonexistent danger. Contrarily, stretching exercises only cause minimal distraction.

Modern life has made work more dependent on thinking than moving, negatively affecting our health. Exercising an hour every day or other day, as many people do, is not enough, and not healthy (stiffening arteries and honing appetite). Our ancestors used to work most of their day, at a slower pace, unlike modern humans who work out hard non-stop for a short time, then rest and overeat the rest of the day.

Living on the floor allows physical and mental freedom, all day long, with more space to move through and focus on one's work. Sitting, lying or just being in a chair, bed or sofa limits that freedom.


The floor can socially unite people, putting them on one level with each other: one simple unpretentious level. This simple physical behavior has a psychological effect like that of sharing a bath, meal, dance, etc. Even children painting on the floor together are more comfortable & connected with nature, free from adults' useless boundaries. This all inspires other types of unity, political, mental or physical, that might become a reality one day, when we all merge together.


We all belong to the same earth we came from that deserves our respect and attention, not our arrogance and negligence. We are reminded to respect plants, animals and other life forms sharing life with us, by such simple physical contact with earth. We show gratitude even to inanimate lifeless objects and to the floor, that we are constantly pressing and gravitated to, by keeping it clean, not trodden by disrespectful feet/footwear.

Touching and seeing the world from a ground-perspective is a great inspiration for modern ballet, that many favor over the unrealistic classical one. (The latter is good too, reflecting our dream to fly and levitate above the ground.)


This is too obvious to talk about.


Tips ...


One may keep some "higher" furniture for guests who are not familiar or comfortable with this lifestyle, especially the old, sick or slow.

Keep clean sneakers ready for guests to wear before entering the house and treading on your floor (bringing dirt and germs from outside). Make sneakers/slippers attractive and comfortable, so that people easily like the idea and not feel offended (for forcing them to GET DOWN).


Some people are obsessed with expensive colored carpets and sophisticated styles of furniture, modern or classic, that they may find living on the floor plain or dull (as you may feel yourself at the beginning). However, you can add a simple artistic touch fitting your new style of living:

  • A glossy floor, or one with attractive tiles can be as attractive as a carpet. Using one light color for the entire room's floor makes it look wider.
  • Having any artistic representation of nature will make the floor more lively, looking like the soil that plants, animals and humans live on outside.
  • There's no need to hang many pictures or fill the place with artifacts, losing the sense of space this lifestyle offers. Instead, use mirrors, electric light or natural daylight, and natural view (from a window if you have one), or pictures representing nature with dimensions making the place look bigger. If the floor is very glossy it will act like mirrors, making you feel weightless.


If you forget turning off water or get soaked up for any reason, the damage is less if you separate in advance the floor of each room by any convenient removable barrier, making sure when designing the house that the bathroom floor is lower than the rest of the house. Different flooring types require different levels of maintenance and protection against water, fire, insects, dirt, damage, etc.


Sound travels fastest through solids, that if your ear touches the floor directly, you will be amazed by the variety of sounds you can clearly hear coming from outside: footsteps, people, animals, raindrops, wind, etc. On the other hand, the noise you make might be heard by others too, if you loudly work, talk, play media ... This is a minor problem barely noticed, that you can solve, however, by keeping a distance (few centimeters/millimeters) or an insulator (e.g. a piece of cloth) between your ear/speakers/machines ... and the floor.


  • Living on the floor is not advised for people with stiff joints, because they will suffer each time they stand up and sit down, possibly hurting their knees and elbows. However, if they have any form of support to hold on to, or even few stairs to climb, they can still live "close to the floor" with no difficulty.
  • The floor is usually colder than the air, which is good and stimulating in hot weather; but in cold weather (especially during sleep when the body is warmer and susceptible to infection), some sort of insulation must be used: a rug, blanket, comforter ... along with wearing heavy/insulating clothes for protection. This also helps those unfamiliar with sleeping on the floor directly.
  • Low furniture is useful in other activities on the floor too, that many companies now manufacture, inspired by centuries-old Asian furniture, as well as by recession and lack of customers.
  • There is no need to worry about "crawling" creatures that might like to share your floor with you, as long as you keep your house clean. It makes no difference if you sit on a floor, bed or chair, in an unclean place: the risk is still the same, as they can just climb up furniture too. On the floor you even have the advantage of "seeing your enemy," that cannot hide behind furniture—if confrontation happens.


  • One should generally be slow when sitting or lying on a hard surface to minimize friction (initially, you can't fidget, toss and turn much). Gradually, you can speed up as you familiarize with the sequence of comfortable movements. Luckily, standing/walking/running/dancing on a hard surface is easier than on a soft one. Even stretching exercises become natural, as we automatically tense up the muscles close to the floor and loosen up those away from it. Accidents can equally happen on both soft and hard surfaces, by "wrong movements" and not just fast ones: you can twist a body part whether in bed or on the floor. Similarly, accidents can happen to both thin and fat people: the fat have more protective body cushions, while the thin have more flexibility shifting between positions. However, thinness is more advantageous, as no fats protect the joints which are equally exposed in all people, and the thinnest person still has fats in pivotal areas (buttocks, heels, palms ...) for protection.
  • Keeping minimum furniture is good to use in some occasions, e.g. moving fast without having time for repeated sitting and standing, or needing support while doing a job requiring height.
  • Some positions are good for resting and meditation yet impractical and unhealthy for working on the floor, such as the Burmese, lotus, half-lotus, etc., hampering and slowing down one's movement, and putting more pressure on the lower back which causes lower back pain. Instead, alternative positions can be assumed:
    • Sitting on heels: hunkering down in a Japanese style, as the traditional Japanese do around their dinner. Variations can be:
      • Half-hunkering, sitting on one heel only.
      • Sitting on crossed ankles.
      • Straddling, with bent knees apart.
      • Hunching: sitting on heels but with back bent at the bottom. This position takes the least space for the human body and triggers a fetal sense of security.
    • Squatting: simple relaxed squatting, with fully bent knees and entire soles touching the floor, is a good transition to have for a few minutes between uncomfortable poses. It's the lowest position with the least contact with the floor.
    • Lying on stomach
      • With an obtuse back, it allows extra head height, free hand movement, healthy back position, and less pressure on neck. A cushion/rug may be used to lower pressure on elbows, ribs, and abdominal muscles.
      • With a flat back (the free fall position), it's the position with the least effort any body position ever takes: a short transition between work, resting ... and sleep.


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