by Carol C. Wheelock
Spring cleaning, that annual rite of spring, is approached with enthusiasm by some and merely talked about as a nice idea by others. Most of us are somewhere between these two extremes, tackling a few overdue cleaning projects with determination and thoughts of warm sunny days ahead. No matter where you are on this continuum, being in a space that has been thoroughly cleaned is refreshing and welcoming. It has a positive influence on your outlook. Feng shui provides guidelines for creating that "good energy" feel in all your spaces. Spring cleaning is a perfect time to begin to apply these guidelines.
Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, was developed several thousand years ago. The goal of feng shi is to live in harmony with your environment so that the energy of your surroundings works for you rather than against you. Feng means wind and shui means water. Wind represents the unseen in our lives and water represents the seen. Both are symbolic of the flow of energy or chi in our surroundings. Too strong and flood waters or hurricanes develop. Too little and stagnation or stifling conditions develop. With the flow of energy just right, there is a gentle breeze or a meandering stream. Both are symbolic of the flow of energy that is optimum in our homes and offices.
Feng shui teaches us that, just as we are affected by our surroundings, we are also reflections of our spaces. We have all walked into a room or building and immediately felt uncomfortable. Conversely, we have all walked into spaces that have made us feel relaxed and calm. Feng shui works on several different layers to achieve balance and harmony in our environments.
The first layer is balancing the energy flow. The primary reason for energy blocks is clutter. Clutter can make us feel overwhelmed, depressed, confused, and stuck. Clutter includes: anything that is unloved or unused, too many things in too small a space, piles and piles, disorganization, too many little things, unfinished projects, anything in a state of disrepair, and/or anything dirty.
Take a look around your house - both inside and out. Open closet doors, look under sinks, check out the attic. Don't forget under the garage and under the deck. Do you have a pile of junk behind your house? Just because you don't see your clutter everyday, does not mean it's not there! What you keep around you reflects you whether it is visible or not.
To avoid that overwhelmed feeling while trying to get rid of clutter it is important to make the process manageable. The first step is to break it down into smaller tasks. Choose one drawer or one shelf as your first project. Congratulate yourself when that is done. Then move on to another one. You may only have time for one small project a day. The important thing is to set realistic goals. If you wait for enough time to do it all at once, it will never happen - that is really an excuse to not get started at all.
When you start any de-cluttering project, plan to sort items where you are. Make piles (or use boxes) for different types of things; for example, things to throw away, things to go upstairs, things to give away, things to put in a yard sale, things to file, etc. Once you've sorted, then it's time to get rid of the things you are getting rid of - items to thrift shop, junk to the trash can, yard sale items in the garage (temporarily!), and so on. Then find homes and containers for the other items. It is only then that it is appropriate to find or purchase the containers that you need. Many people make the mistake of buying containers before they sort anything and the containers just become more clutter and never get used because they are not the right size.
Do you have a hard time getting rid of things? Do you keep things "just in case"? Do you keep gifts you've never used because you don't want to offend the givers? Do you feel uncomfortable if you are not surrounded by a lot of things? Do you keep clothes that you haven't fit into in ten years with the idea that you'll wear them again when you loose those 15 pounds. ? Do you have books about subjects that no longer interest you? When you answer these questions honestly you may begin to see where your clutter comes from.
Letting go of objects that we no longer use, need, or love is a very cleansing process. It can also be a very difficult one for some. If you need help with the process, hold an item that no longer supports you in any way, give thanks for the place it held in your life at one time, and then let it go. Remember that letting go of the old makes room for the new. It also indicates a trust in the future.
There are many organizations that can benefit from things you no longer have a use for. Shelters for the homeless and battered women, the Salvation Army, and Children's Aid are just a few of the many organizations and places that depend upon donations to support the people they serve. Is it better to hold on to something you will never use but you keep because your great aunt gave it to you 15 years ago, or is it better to pass it on to someone who will appreciate and use it? By donating items to a worthy cause, you are getting rid of clutter and will feel good in the process.
Spring is a wonderful time to begin clearing clutter. As you clear the clutter in your home or office you will start to feel positive changes in you surroundings and yourself. What better way to welcome spring than with a focused de-cluttering cleaning?
Clearing clutter is the first step toward balancing the energy of your surroundings in feng shui. It is also important to slow down any rushing chi. Another layer is working with the bagua, a template that is superimposed upon any structure and identifies specific areas that correspond to various aspects of your life. Repositioning furniture, using color and other enhancements, balancing yin and yang, and balancing the five elements are other steps in the feng shui process. Begin this spring to feng shui your home and/or office and change your life!
Carol C. Wheelock, M.Ed. of Feng Shui Vermont is a certified feng shui practitioner who has studied in the United Sates and China. She practices Black Sect or western feng shui. Carol does private consultations for homes, schools, libraries, and businesses; clutter counseling and clearing; spaces clearings; phone consultations; presentations; and teaches workshops throughout the United States. She also does personal clearings.