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Feng Shui for the Spiritual Seeker

This article was originally published in Eye for the Future in 2001.

Denise Linn, teacher of sacred space and author of Feng Shui for the Soul says, “Clutterclearing is modern-day alchemy.” Alchemy turns the ordinary, represented by base metals in the alchemical worldview into the extraordinary, represented by gold. In sorting, throwing away, recycling and gifting, we open a space inside ourselves for healing to occur. Clutter occupies space and prevents us from using that space optimally and functionally. It keeps us from shifting the emotions, ideas, beliefs and events associated with the things. Where it is cleared sacredness, another kind of gold, can take its place.

The view entering Patricia’s house was a grand piano and three open floor-to-ceiling bookshelves containing music, toys, books, artistic vases and other decorative objects. The impression was chaos - too much for the eye to process at one time. As we worked she spoke of issues in the marriage. Near the end of the meeting we looked at the shelves. Those beautiful vases and art objects were wedding gifts. We devised a plan to rearrange the shelves, displaying one vase or object on each of the centre shelves with a light shining on it, sorting all the practical things and placing them on the left and right, which would be covered with fabric picking up colours and motifs in the art objects. This would clear the chaos and highlight the beauty of the marriage. Simply talking about it she felt a softening of hurt places in her heart. There is gold in each of us. Sometimes it is hidden by the hurts of day-to-day living.

In her book In the Meantime, author and teacher Iyanla Van Zant likens personal growth to a journey from the basement of consciousness to the top level “where love reigns supreme”. The journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary is depicted as moving from basement to attic in life’s house. She says “our task in life is to sift through the programmed clutter, the mental garbage and emotional junk accumulated in the basement . . .” The stuff may be found in the basement or the garage or spread about here and there, depending on you. Here are some examples.

Darlene worked in an office and studied at night to become a holistic practitioner. Her apartment was small and filled to bursting, things carefully wedged into every nook and cranny. Like her home her schedule was crammed to accommodate study, work and personal time. Darlene carried extra pounds as well. Body weight can correspond to extra stuff at home: the ice cream we ate when we felt overwhelmed, the chips when we were depressed. More than the body could process at the time, they remain as fat, a physical manifestation of an emotional event. Fat congests the flow of energy in the body like clutter does in the home. She “needed some space” and agreed to clear a single shelf in each cupboard to symbolize the intent to create it.

Dealing with clutter can be part of a package that sets the stage for losing weight. Sally cleared a room and soon after was able to get halfway to her desired weight. She continued inner work through therapy and spiritual practice, which she had been doing for years. A year and a half later she has for the first time kept the weight off. She sees this as an indicator that the work on herself is paying off. Now she is planning to tackle the storeroom and kitchen cupboards to prepare to lose the second half.

Baby boomers may have grown up with parents who lived through the great depression and inherited the “you never know when it may come in handy” mentality. Greg grew up on a farm in 50s and 60s. Now he lives in the city and still has a garage filled with bits and pieces. The cars stay in the driveway. How much of the stuff represents a fear that we will not have what we need when we need it? There can be a direct relationship between the amount of stuff and fear. As you release the things, affirm, “I now release fear of financial insecurity.”

Sometimes clutter represents living between times: “I may be moving to Ottawa so I haven’t unpacked my boxes”. Or you may be moving in with a boyfriend, buying a house, or furnishing a cottage. Whatever it is, you cannot decide what to do with the stuff until . . .

There are times of transition in every life. If you are reading this article a part of you wants to move up a floor or two. You can take heart in knowing that the higher your floor the shorter will be the “in between” times. If you do find yourself in between, create at least a single room that is orderly and comfortable without extra boxes, objects or furniture. That may require designating a room for storage for awhile, in effect saying “I cannot deal with this part of my life at the moment, so I close that door to focus on what I can.” If the room stays closed for months that turn into years, too much of your life is “in between”. But the problem is never too great to deal with.

Betty had “a room” in her house, a spare bedroom jumbled with old clothes, used furniture, sports equipment, books, a broken lamp and lots of stale, negative energy. We smudged (burning sage) and felt some of the negative energy leave, but it took quite a while for her to get to the room. The master bedroom was not in very good shape, either, with brittle, yellowing wallpaper and overflowing closets. She redecorated it and the freshness lifted her spirits. Then she created a comfortable family room in the basement. As she made these changes her eyes grew brighter. Her voice became clearer. She found new activities to enjoy. Then one day she dealt with “the room”, just like that it happened. No big deal.

We all know the closet, zone or room we have to deal with and may beat ourselves up over it, but one day we find the energy and we just do it. Rather than passively wait for the energy, tackle what you can as Betty did, or light a candle, burn incense and ask the universe or God - whoever you pray to - for energy to move on the problem area. When it comes, consider each object silently and know if it is to go or stay. As you let go of something say, “Thank you for having served your purpose in my life. I release you with love.”

If you have a room, a basement, a closet, an attic and a garage you do have a problem. Admitting it is the first step. Have compassion for yourself. The stuff represents difficult issues and is a way of coping, however dysfunctional. You’re ready now for a more functional way. In the process primary relationships may be called into question.

JoAnne had stuff everywhere. The kitchen countertops were covered, the furniture in the sitting area was covered and there were boxes in the corners. She had taken tentative steps toward change, beginning to clear her junk room upstairs and learning about feng shui. Another spare bedroom upstairs was the husband’s junk room. Most of what was in the basement and garage was his. She wanted a promotion at work and wondered what to do in her career area, which was the front hall on the ground floor and the husband’s junk room upstairs. She placed a fountain in the front hall but did not get the job. One way of looking at the situation is that his stuff stood in the way of her promotion. She may find herself asking if it is possible to stay in the marriage and maintain her self-respect. A place clear of clutter is the place of a self-respecting person.

Whether you have untidiness up front for all to see, a basement or a garage full of things that may come in handy some day, boxes stashed in corners, or cabinets that have not had a good cleaning and organizing in years, the stuff keeps you down. To move up, clear it out. Beyond that stuff is the gold of beauty, joy and prosperity. You are a few boxes from enthusiasm, lightness and love, a pile of papers away from freedom, vitality and flow.

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©Helen Williams 2001, 2008. All rights reserved. 

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