Feng Shui New Year’s Ritual: Clearing and Cleaning
Part Two: Releasing the Old, Creating Space for the New
New Year’s gives us the sense that we have a fresh start. We can begin again, and make improvements, better choices, and set out on a new path.
Advice Columnist, Ann Landers once noted: “Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to let go, and then do it.”
Only you know what you need to let go of, but sometimes the process of organizing your space accelerates and works on those unconscious places within you that resist the change that you also seek. Ambiguity is one of the best words I have found to describe those feelings we get of wanting and not wanting something at the same time. Let Feng Shui help you tap into those areas of uncertainty at this auspicious time of the year. Use Feng Shui to help you release what needs to go, and make room for that which is coming in the year ahead. If we have no room in our lives for people or new experiences, for company or fresh ideas, we are not ready when new opportunities arrive. For many of us, we hold onto things, stuff, and the familiar in order to fill our lives and avoid the dreaded ‘emptiness’ that we fear.
Letting go of that which is wearing us out, dragging us down, or draining us of energy, time, and resources, releases the flow of Chi/energy, the life force that keeps us healthy, creative, and active. In this second part of the New Year’s Feng Shui series, let us focus on some specific ways we can prepare the way for the new year, and release ourselves from the past. One of the main principles of Feng Shui deals with the cleansing and clearing of our space to release the flow of energy in our lives.
Cleansing. Many of us are caught up in the idea of cleansing our bodies with fasts, detoxing, or starting new regimes of nutrition. We also need to practice the rituals of cleansing our homes, offices, and studios. To make this manageable, make a list of 5 tasks you would like to complete, and then allot a specific time period to get one task completed. Often we spend more time and mental energy thinking about doing something than we do actually taking care of the task. Make your list, and then set aside 15-20 minutes for each task. Do one chore in between work assignments or during commercials for the games you’re watching. Set a timer, and then begin.
Refrigerator. The refrigerator is one of the most important places in our homes. It is where we store the food that we feed ourselves and our families with. Our refrigerator need not look and smell like a science experiment.
1. Clear Out: Take everything out of the refrigerator. I like to do this when I am getting ready to do my regular monthly shopping. That way, when I get home with the fresh groceries, the refrigerator is ready. Toss anything that is past its prime, spoiled, or not going to be eaten. For some reason we buy foods that we think we ‘should’ eat, and it sits on a shelf or takes up space in our refrigerator. For future reference, buy only food you know you will use.
2. Clean the Inside of the Fridge. Take the drawers out of the refrigerator, wipe them out, and then fill them with hot, soapy water and leave them to soak. Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator, first with a non-toxic cleaner (mixture of vinegar and water, alcohol and water, or some other home-made cleaner). Use a brush to clean the crevices and corners, and clean out the rubber gasket around the refrigerator doors.
3. Finish cleaning the drawers, dry them, and return them to the refrigerator.
4. Restock Refrigerator. Put food back in the refrigerator, wiping down bottles and containers as you do so.
5. Organize the refrigerator, remembering to keep the items that require the coldest temperatures in the lowest part of the refrigerator (dairy, meats).
6. Freshen Up. Put a fresh box of baking soda to absorb odors. Arrange bowls of lemons, apples, and oranges (or other seasonal fruit) on easy-to-reach shelves.
7. Clean the exterior including the top of the refrigerator.
Now brew a cup of tea or coffee, and sit down and feel the relief of having accomplished this task. Notice the change in energy within you.
Sinks and Drains. Keeping sinks and drains clean and clear is essential for the health and well-being of each home. Using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, regularly clean out your sinks and shower drains. Pour the baking soda in the drain then pour about a half a cup of vinegar in the drain. Let stand for about 5 minutes, and then run hot water to clear the drain.
Do a Thorough Cleaning of Fixtures and Floors. Clean all the sinks, toilets, tubs, and showers in the house thoroughly. Get rid of mildew and molds by wiping the shower and tub down after each use. Sweep the floors and mop the bathroom and kitchen floors (and laundry room).
Clear and Clean All Surfaces. Room by room, clear all the surfaces, and wipe each one down before rearranging. Before replacing items on top, consider what needs to be changed, put away, recycled, or stored. For example, I have my Halloween pumpkin still sitting on a table. It is in good condition but needs to find a new home (in a pie or as compost in the garden).
Recycle. For every new item that comes in the house, one or two go out. For example, if I buy a new book, I give away one or two books. When I get a new article of clothing, I give away one or two pieces of clothing. Many of us have a number of shipping boxes in the house now. I use many of them for my business, but still have quite a few. Instead of storing the boxes, I am packing them with items that I am taking to Goodwill, the local consignment shops, or the women’s shelter thrift shop. Use your boxes and bags to load up and take to recycle before the end of the year. Put the boxes in the GO BOX.
Flash Mob Clearings. Instead of dreading the closet, bureau, or cupboards, override your need to control and think through everything. Right now, get up and go around your house picking up 10 items you can give away. Don’t think it through; listen to your intuition and just fill a bag or box with 10 items. I’ll be doing the same thing. Okay, well that didn’t take me more than 5 minutes. I found more than 10 items including: an armload of books, and about 10 items of clothing. Imagine how much you could clear out if you did this flash mob clearing once a day or even a few times in one day? This idea, not original to me, came from author Julia Cameron’s Artists Way. In an effort to release the old and make room and energy for the new, Cameron suggests doing this regularly. I do, and it works. Also, bookstore owner, Julie Wallace of Wallace Books in Portland, Oregon, taught me how to release books. Julie runs a great bookstore where she stocks both new and used books. She encourages the flow of books, and she taught me how to release books and let them flow on to their next intended reader. One thing I noticed, that you might want to observe when you do this exercise, are those items that still hang in my closet, perpetually unworn and perpetually there. What am I keeping these items for, and do I want to continue carrying them forward in my life, as baggage tying up my energy? What are you hanging onto, and how can you get comfortable about letting go? This is a question for another day; for now, work on letting go of what you can, and don’t laden yourself with guilt about what still needs to be released. We’ll get to that later.
Have a GO BOX and Use It. Often I will put items in bags to take to someone or drop off at Goodwill or the library, and then the bag sits in the closet or in a corner of my office....for months and years. Put a box by the front door, and take whatever is in the box out of the house and to its intended destination whenever you go out.
That’s enough for today. If you are anything like me, you may end up doing more than this because of all the energy you are releasing. Take a walk, listen to some music or play some, have coffee with a friend, or write a poem. Do something creative and healthy. Once you have worked on cleaning up the house, mix up one of those cleansing juices or teas, and enjoy feeling righteous about getting ready for the shift of energy from the old year to the new. Head over to the library, or go for a walk along the beach. Have fun and enjoy the day.