Here on the Monterey Peninsula, we live in a beautiful and highly energized area. Sometimes we take the beauty and resources of our area for granted. This is the time of the year when we may have become distrated by matters beyond our control or experiences that took more time and energy than we had. Before we start the New Year, it's time to take a look at how we can energize and reflect on living more harmoniously. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite times for being home and preparing for the New Year. After all the energy that goes into preparing for and celebrating the Christmas holidays, and before that, Chanukah and the Winter Solstice, there is finally some time for letting go and relieving ourselves and our homes of the activities and energy that has built up. The energy we expend in meeting expectations (our own and those of others), trying to take care of everything we think we should do, or simply dealing with the basic tasks amid the rush and hype of the holidays can leave many of us feeling depleted and tired. Our homes usually reflect this in some manner too. Now is a good time to consider using Feng Shui principles to clear out clutter, let go of excess stuff and energy, cleaning up (inside and out), and doing a major space clearing
Everything is composed of energy, and the time and resources we put into living, working, and celebrating requires a great deal of our energy. As I usually suggest, start by mindfully assessing your home and yourself. Sometimes I begin with an assessment of my emotional and physical energy to determine what is either missing or overwhelming me. Other times I begin by looking around me to see what in my physical environment needs attention. Where to begin?
If you wake up feeling uneasy, dissatisfied, or in some way out of sorts, you might start your process by an assessment of what you are feeling and why you might be feeling it. For example, you might feel you have neglected your physical or emotional needs. You might feel you have neglected some of your relationships, or you might feel a need to spend more time with friends and family. Or you might feel you need some time to yourself. Beginning with this inner assessment can be helpful for making choices and getting clearer about how you want to arrange your life for the new year.
If you woke up this morning, and felt overwhelmed with clutter or chores neglected over the holidays, you might begin your assessment of what you notice that needs to be taken care of. Walk around the house and notice the piles of papers, or wrapping paper that needs to be recycled. You may open the refrigerator and find it packed with leftovers. You may find, as I do, that the closet has become a stashing place for anything I couldn’t figure out what to do with. However you begin your assessment, be honest with yourself, and then make a plan to address your needs.
For an emotional clearing and decluttering, begin by writing down the areas of dissatisfaction in your life, and then begin asking yourself what needs to change? You might then begin prioritizing what can be changed and how soon, and what will require more major, long-term solutions? I would then suggest, doing the physical decluttering, clearing, cleaning, and space clearing allowing yourself time to reflect on the emotional issues you are facing. Sometimes it helps to get physically active and make some positive changes in our environment to get ourselves emotionally back on track.
Make a plan. Begin by setting aside a period of time to work on the Feng Shui process. Some experts advise space clearing between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M.. If that works for your lifestyle, that’s great. However, I often find the best time for me is not in the middle of the work day. I work at home, and especially after a long holiday weekend, the next few days are days I need to get some work done. Early mornings and late nights may be when I do Feng Shui clearing and cleaning. Choose the time that works best for you, but be intentional about it.
Prepare and Gather Materials Needed. In preparing, have all the supplies you will be using. Get cleaning products, bags/boxes for recycling, cleaning cloths and other equipment (vacuum cleaner with a new bag, tool kit for making simple instant repairs, light bulbs and batteries) candles, incense, or essential oils for space clearing.
Begin Decluttering and Clearing. Declutter the front entry, kitchen, and bedroom) and I would add, any other place in the house that has become a major magnet for clutter. That might be the walk-in closet, or the top of a work table or desk, or the files that have been collecting on a bookshelf or dining room table. Clear off counters and table tops. Keep only items used every day on the counters. Recycle papers and other containers that have collected over the last week.
Entryway: clear clutter both inside and outside the entryway. This morning by my front door there are boxes, a table to be recycled, and a dehumidifier that needs to be returned. The sooner this all leaves my house, the better. Removing items from entryways allows energy to flow into and out of the home. Placing a tall, healthy green plant to the side of the front door, either inside or out, is a good idea. A water fountain or aquarium on the right side of the front door, attracts energy and opportunities each time the door is open. Religious and spiritual items are often placed over the doorway, on the door jamb or on the door to symbolize protection and good will. A colorful welcome mat is also a good idea. If coats, umbrellas, and shoes are left by the front door, make certain they are organized neatly and do not block the door or create an unsightly appearance.
Kitchens: The kitchen is the heart of the home in Feng Shui. It reflects the family’s prosperity and health. Keep the stove and oven clean and well-maintained. Use all burners on the stove and keep them clean. Keep your cupboards and refrigerator well-stocked as this symbolizes abundance and generosity. Feng Shui is based on the principle that like attracts like. Abundance and generosity attract more of the same. If you have a large enough kitchen, sitting at a round table is desirable. If you eat in the dining room, the same rule applies. Make certain the table doesn’t face the door, and that guests aren’t seated facing the door either. Keep the dining room and the kitchen clear and clean. Clean out the refrigerator regularly. It’s easier to do weekly than it is to do when it becomes a big mess and thus an larger chore. Use wipes to clean up spills and wipe out the inside and outside of the refrigerator daily. Throw out food that is spoiled, and go through your freezer periodically to get rid of food that should be tossed (the food with ice burn or something you know longer recognize as food).
Bedrooms: Our bedroom provides a haven for rest, rejuvenation, and romance for ourselves and our partners. Having the bed in the commanding position, that is, facing the door. While some homes may allow you to have your bed in a particular direction, what is most important is that the bed be facing and not directly across from the door that it faces. Another guiding principle is that the door should command the widest scope of vision. I have a very small room and feel and sleep best, when I can see out the windows to the beautiful view I have of the river. And finally, the door should be visible to whomever sleeps in the bed.
Other Feng Shui principles relating to the bedroom include:
Avoid working in the bedroom or from the bed (although sometimes this is not possible). If you work from the bedroom, place your desk in the power position but not too near the bed. If possible, put a screen between the desk and the bed, and keep the desk clear. It is best not to have a desk in the bedroom, but sometimes it is necessary. Keep book cases out of the bedroom (especially those who suffer from allergies).
Lighting. Natural lighting is best in a bedroom. Take advantage of all natural light. If you have a dark bedroom, use incandescent lighting, not fluorescent. Increase the amount of ambient lighting to increase harmony and a greater sense of serenity and happiness.
Clutter. Keep all surfaces, drawers, closets and floor space clear of clutter. Clutter blocks energy, and creates unhealthy energy and poor health.
Electronics. Keep televisions, computers, and other electronic devices out of the bedroom. The bedroom is meant for restful, relaxing space, and the negative images of television are not conducive to healthy sleep. A book on the nightstand is fine, but again, avoid stacking books and papers in the bedroom.
Decor. Decorate your bedroom simply and with beautiful objects and artwork that soothe and inspire you. Avoid cluttering your decor. Keep a small notepad/diary near your bed to write down ideas or thoughts that might otherwise disturb your rest and sleep. This is a good tool to use for recording dreams as well. Bring in nature. If you have a view of nature, keep it open. Use plants and flowers to bring the element of nature into your room. Plants symbolize new growth and provide calming energy that helps keep your blood pressure lower and your mind at rest. Embrace the senses by using relaxing scents like lavender or rose to bring calm to the bedroom. For bedrooms meant for two, use combinations of twos in the decor. Two candles, two nightstands, two chairs beside the bed, or two lamps. This energetically attracts harmony. Use bed linens, covers, and drapes that you like and the provide soothing patterns, colors, and designs.
Other ‘Black Holes of Clutter’: In addition to the three main areas to use Feng Shui for the New Year, tackle any major area of clutter that is piling up and holding onto old, unfinished business. It may be the collection of receipts you’ve been saving for taxes (get it neatly organized now), papers and documents waiting to be filled out (do it now; don’t start the New Year with a lot of unfinished business), the walk-in closet that has become the catch all (clear, declutter, and reorganize it now so you begin the year with a fresh slate). One thing I have found in my quest to declutter and keep my home and office clutter free is that it takes much less time and energy to take care of the task than it does to worry and fret about doing it. I notice when I calculate the time I spend thinking about doing something with the actual time it takes to do it, I waste a lot of my time and energy.
Major Space Clearing. Major space clearings are good to do at key times transition times of the year (New Year, birthdays, anniversaries) and after any major life-changing event (divorce, death, illness, moving, tragedy or trauma of any kind). I like to do a major clearing practice each year at the end of year after my house cleaning and clearing. For a major space clearing, set aside some time specifically to do the clearing. Plan a clearing after you have completed your major house decluttering, cleaning, and reorganizing. Before you begin, take a shower and take a walk to get into a calm frame of mind. Use candles, incense, crystals or stones, smudging tools like cedar or sage, and music if you wish. You might want to pray or meditate or while you are doing this, seeking blessings, clearing, clarification, guidance, protection or whatever you seek to attract to your home and life in the new year. Walk into each room and symbolically use your incense, holy water, prayers or incantations of music to clear the spaces of each room. Ask that all negative and stuck energy in your life and your home, be cleansed, unblocked, and dispersed so that only clear, positive energy flows in all areas of your life and home.
Finally, consider that whatever you do to clear, cleanse, and create energy in your home and life, requires that you commit to intentionally following through in your own thinking, behavior, and actions. As we create energy in our lives, we are creating opportunities to clarify, strengthen, and improve our own health and well being, our relationships, our work, and our connections and involvement in the world in which we live. We can make a difference by taking care of ourselves, helping others, and striving to use our energy wisely.