Feng Shui has become somewhat mainstream, but the common interpretation seems to be that it has to do mainly with housekeeping and design. While housekeeping is extremely important (I have been watching Hoarders, and am appalled that people can live amongst such clutter and filth), I think of Feng Shui as a sacred art and when it is approached with reverence, it can become a spiritual practice. It’s all in the intention and the way that the subject is approached.
The people who are inclined to even think of Feng Shui (those who are spiritually advanced), tend to approach the subject when there is a problem in their lives. If there are money problems, there is a plethora of information on the web about how to beef up your Wealth Qua, for instance. But in the larger scheme of things, if Feng Shui is thoroughly integrated into your life, you begin to become hyper-aware of your surroundings, and will be aware of the negative impact of clutter, for instance (going back to the hoarders, many of the people have asthma and other respiratory problems, but neither they, nor the show’s producers, seem to have any awareness that the dusty, dirty environments are probably to blame for the maladies. It seems obvious to me, but there is no mention of the health implications of living in dusty, dirty, cluttered environments. I doubt that their doctors ask about their living environments, yet that is a crucial question and could be THE reason for asthma and other respiratory ailments).
In this sense, Feng Shui is about housekeeping, but it is much more importantly about awareness . . .
Where are you living? How are you living? What are your day-to-day habits and priorities? What do you see in your environment? What do you choose to ignore? What is important to you and does your life reflect that? Does your environment reflect that? Etc., etc.
When I was a working single parent and two of my children were teenagers, I was in therapy because I was having a hard time coping with some of the hairbrained decisions they were making.
I would show up in the therapist’s office, weekly, with the horrors of the previous week. It was an outlet, but did little actual good, as the problems were not of a psychological nature, but of a practical nature (money issues, cars breaking down, scary “associates,” etc.). I remember one grueling session where I regaled the poor therapist with my tales of woe. After I was done I asked for her suggestions. Her advice was “go home and clean your altar.”
I thought she was kidding at first. Then, when I realized she was serious, I thought the “advise” was a lame cop-out. Since I had no other ideas up my sleeve, I went home and started cleaning. Before long, I really got into it. I had absolutely no expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised to note my mood improving, greatly.
It seemed like magic at the time. I again had my hope restored and could cope for another week!
Looking back now, with my perspective as a Feng Shui practitioner, I note that I was moving energy in my environment, and as a result, the energy in my body changed. It is really very simple, but Westerners have a problem not believing what cannot be seen. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself next time you are in a bad mood. I’d love to hear your experiences.
As a human being, mother, grandmother, Feng Shui practitioner, etc., I find myself often frustrated when I can see things in someone’s environment that may be contributing to various problems, but the person is unaware of the power of Feng Shui and is resistant to advice.
Feng Shui is a practice of awareness and people are attracted to it based on their own level of awareness. If I suggest a Feng Shui cure to someone who is unaware of the power of Feng Shui, they usually just slough the suggestion off and the problem continues until they eventually change something in their environment through trial and error.
Resistant people in my environment are very challenging for me, personally, because I can see how life would be improved with particular adjustments, but I am powerless to assist those who do not request or want assistance.
It is common knowledge at this point that some of the easiest and most powerful Feng Shui cures have to do with removing clutter on a regular basis and keeping things clean. Dust is a big chi stopper and can contribute to illness and the feeling of being stuck in particular situations.
In Black Hat Tibetan Feng Shui tradition, the front door signifies the mouth of chi, and if located in the center of the home, affects career . . . a door that sticks contributes to a career that is stuck . . . I frequently encounter people who are complaining about various career challenges, and if the front door has an obvious problem, I might mention it . . . it is amazing to me that such advice is often ignored and the problems continue . . . my personal work is to remind myself that everyone is on their own path, at their own pace, and that my advice is not wanted or needed unless specifically requested. This is a huge piece of work for me because I don’t like to see people suffer needlessly.
Another problem I frequently see is the misuse of paint in a home. Color has profound impact on mood and behavior and even the Western science of color is well documented, but I find that people are often resistant to advice on this matter, as well.
For instance, a red bedroom is asking for trouble . . . and too much red paint, in general, will contribute to an atmosphere of argument and general aggression. Color theory suggests that soothing colors result in harmonious living . . . and the people who need this advice most are the most resistant to receiving it. It is quite ironic.
When someone complains to me about persistent problems and simple solutions have been suggested and routinely ignored, it is maddening.
There are so many subjects that could be taught at home and in school that would actually help people lead harmonious lives. In ancient times, tribes taught basic skills and truths from day one – there was not the time or space for personal discovery. I wish, as a collective, we could revamp society to prioritize harmonious living practices.
I think this is a good example of the reason many people cannot clear their clutter.This cat was recently given to me by my mother. She said it belonged to her mother and that it was a “lucky cat” full of nickels.
When I brought it home I had absolutely no idea what to do with it, so it sat on a dresser for several months. Just today I decided it has to go down to the basement (yes, some old houses in Santa Cruz have basements).
One of the reasons for my procrastination in assigning it to the basement is the fact that as unattractive as it is, it is a family heirloom of sorts. It evidently had some meaning to my grandmother and it is full of nickels she collected.
When I pass on to the next realm, I would like my children to not just toss it out like the junk it looks like it might be, but who has time to tell one’s children about every last thing they own? Not me, hence it has stayed in my house till I just can’t take it anymore.
I still don’t know how I will convey that it was my grandmother’s lucky cat without attaching some kind of note to it, which is what my mother spends a lot of time doing with her stuff. Maybe there should be a family book of semi-important notes for such things.
But the larger point is about clutter. Clutter clearing is all about making decisions in the moment regarding what to do with “stuff.” This is just an example of “semi-important stuff.” There is also “broken stuff waiting to get fixed,” “stuff I might be able to wear someday when I lose ‘x” amount of pounds,” “stuff I might read some day,” “stuff I might want to use to cook a special dish,” “stuff I need to take care of but not right now,” etc., etc.
Note: I orginally published this blog on Active Rain where someone pointed out that it was not a cat but a dog! Duh!
I think it must be a survival skill that people get used to their own surroundings, and after a while can’t see various problems. I find that it’s always so much easier to see other people’s problem areas . . .
A case in point is my laundry room, which is in my wealth area . . . not a pretty sight at the moment. It seems to magnatize clutter. You would think I would automatically keep it spotless and pristine, but I fall into a trance and get swept up by time considerations just like everyone else and before I know it, that area is a disaster!
There are other areas in the Feng Shui Bagua of my home that tend to be persistent problem areas, and I find this is true of most people.
During a Feng Shui consultation, I will note client problem areas, and also ask which areas are the most difficult to keep clean and tidy. The areas that tend to attract clutter are those areas where you tend to see blockages or difficulties in your life.
Once you become aware of problem area tendencies, you can pay special attention to these areas and note corresponding positive changes in the areas of your life they represent. This simple awareness can be a powerful catalyst for changing bad habits, and thus effecting change in your life.
I love a clean, orderly house. You would never know that if you visited my house on an early Saturday morning. By the end of the work week, my house always looks like a madperson trashed it. The effect is the cumulation of a week’s worth of not doing the little things that would have resulted in beauty and order.
In the kitchen, it is not putting away pots and pans, leaving random stuff on the countertops.
In the bathroom it is not putting bottles and grooming stuff away – everything is out where it was last used.
The dining room table must have some kind of invisible magnet attached to it that attracts any ole thing I don’t know what to do with at a given moment.
And my living room table is a mess of paper that needs sorting and filing.
I almost forgot the bedroom, which is too traumatic to think about with reading material and clothing everywhere.
Life takes a lot of organization and management. Keeping the environment organized and beautiful takes time and that is such a precious commodity.
I marvel at people who have a natural ability to keep their environment orderly. I imagine it is due to exceptionally good habits and super-effective time management. I keep having the best of intentions, and keep noticing that I have a unique ability to attract clutter.
I flatter myself by telling myself it is because I am a “creative type.” And I seem to have a lot of projects in various stages – “stuff I am going to take somewhere else” is a particular ongoing challenge I face.
But I do clean everything up and organize it once a week. Some people are not able to do that and I think of how chaotic and unhappy their lives must be.
I think the degree to which a person is conscious of their environment and the time and effort that is allocated to maintain it has a relationship to a person’s mental health and how well their life is working for them.
I know my mood immediately lightens when my home is restored to beauty and order. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everyone believe this simple Feng Shui truth.