A Desire to Declutter

Healing Your Space

I recently completed a new presentation called "The Power Of Intent" as a contribution to my Radiance Wellness Festival held between Christmas and New Year. We camped in a sea of mud this year and it rained throughout five of the six days but we still managed to attract over 12,000 people.

In this new presentation I refer to the expansive nature of the universe. Like a growing garden, nothing stands still. As an integral part of this constantly evolving source we should strive to mirror this effortless tendency toward adaptation and change in our own lives. The first law of expansion is order. Nature is organised and disciplined. If you want your life to blossom you need some order and self-discipline. Usually when your house is a mess, so is your life. Nature and life are about constant change. A brown insect on a green plant doesn't last long. Adaptability is a big key. Happy people don't just accept change, they embrace it!

The concept of order, self-discipline and avoiding stagnation can best be applied to the space in which we live. The majority of our lives are spent in our homes and there can be profound rewards linked to healing this space using universal principles. Feng Shui is the Eastern energy science dedicated to home healing. My friend, Moira has studied Feng Shui and she suggested that it might be a good idea to declutter my large home during my fortnight of annual leave at the start of January. It rained every day during that break and I had been feeling overwhelmed at the accumulation of "possessions" in my home so, with some consternation, I agreed to embark upon the project.

Starting with the Shed

I had already begun this journey a few weeks earlier by clearing and organising my large shed. This involved 12 hours a day over a three-day weekend, many difficult decisions and four ute loads to the tip (and another to St Vinnie's charity). The countless empty plastic plant pots, rusty tins of dried up paint and broken bikes, birdcages and body boards were easy, but the constant decision making kicked in when it came to old stereos, discarded furniture and a vast array of garage sale bargains that "might be useful one day". I used to love attending garage sales but I have since realised that abstinence is the best strategy to starve the hoarder's fire.

One Man's Treasure is Another Man's Trash

Within my house there are over 150 drawers and cupboards. A couple of them are the size of small rooms and yet every one of them was overflowing and I was engulfed in a sense of despair when wandering about this monument to unconscious consumerism. The largest storage cupboard for example, contained six discarded printers. Two of these were abandoned within the last 12 months because it was only marginally more costly to replace the whole unit rather than renew the print cartridges (and you got all of the new updates into the bargain)! It appears that we have become so enamored by new technology that yesterday's breakthroughs rapidly become tomorrow's trash and I mean this literally. I decided to discard a giant, rear projection television. It took three of us to carry the monster to the Ute and I imagined the delight of someone securing a home theatre for a pittance in comparison to the original $7000 price tag for the unit. I took it to the retail outlet at the dump and asked if a couple of staff members could help to unload my generous offering. The bloke behind the counter said, "Sorry mate, no one wants secondhand televisions these days. Just throw it onto the tip!" It was hard for a tight-arse Kiwi to give away something like this in the first place but much harder to just throw it away. I decided to take it to St Vinnie's instead and they begrudgingly added it to their stable of dinosaurs. This unit is uniquely unsaleable as it will only really suit someone with a very large house and a very small income and these two things don't usually go together.

The Hoarder's Horror

The Chinese refer to a life enhancing energy (chi) that should flow freely within our homes but is blocked in the presence of physical, emotional or spiritual clutter. It appears that addressing the physical opens the door to other positive change so it is the best place to start. Revitalising and reorganising your life should ideally be a joyous activity rather than a tiresome chore but I found it traumatic. There is an undeniable load lightening effect but the easing of the burden felt more like amputation than exploratory surgery. What do you do with the mass of schoolbooks from five children, for example? It is sentimentality vs. sensibility. I mean, is there ever really going to be an enchanted review of rows and rows of faltering running writing in old text books, by young adults who print with the biro embedded in their fist (when they are not texting or emailing)? I doubt it, but who knows. Will I be able to handle the heart shattering guilt when their crestfallen little faces ask about the whereabouts of their treasured textbooks. It was this kind of pressure that marred the first week and I was snapping at Moira like a nicotine starved smoker by the end of each tortured day. However, she proved a remarkably tolerant decluttering coach. She pointed out this was now my space rather than theirs and that my first responsibility was to myself if I wanted to be of real value to others. There was a turning point on day eight where the teeth pulling agony eased and the old books, clothes, games, toys, video tapes, electronics, business records and unwanted paraphernalia of a past life were flying into the garbage bags faster than rats down a drainpipe (and I was actually singing as I worked).

feng shui

Perfecting the Positive

Chi involves both negative energy (yin energy) and positive energy (yang energy) and healing your personal space obviously involves perfecting the positive. Negative energy is tired energy and it inevitably comes from clutter. When you remove the clutter (bad vibes), nature abhors a vacuum and there is now some room for a positive replacement. Observe within your own home the areas to which everyone gravitates and these are the rooms where energy flows freely. Work on the lonely rooms with light, music, colour and plants (an essential yang-building additive).

The bedroom is critical because, when couples are involved, this is the room where relationships are built or broken. Even if you don't share a bedroom with a partner, that one room is where you will spend almost half of your life! There are some simple Feng Shui rules, worthy of consideration. Even the skeptics could benefit because you don't have to believe to gain benefit. I must admit that I pity the true skeptic. If life is about happiness (and it most definitely is) then these hardliners have missed the boat. How many happy skeptics do you know? How many depressed, spiritually aware people have you met? It's like the debate about the power of positive thinking. There is no debate when you turn it around and ask, "do more negative things happen to negative thinkers". Of course they do! We create our own reality. If we believe that nothing is valid unless we can hold it in our hands then we are more inclined to honour possessions in a life without meaning, while more fortunate souls discover their heaven on earth. I wouldn't mind betting that skeptics suffer the worst clutter, as they are tailor made to hoard possessions in the absence of real wealth.

The bedroom rules are logical and often also apply to the rest of the house. Here's my top seven.

The Seven Secrets of a Happy Bedroom

  1. Always keep your dirty laundry in a laundry basket. In this case you're not concerned about airing your dirty laundry in public. It's just as important to avoid this practice privately. Obviously it is not particularly respectful to scatter dirty undies and sweat soaked work clothes around the bedroom, but from a Feng Shui perspective it's all about energy. Perspiration, for example, is a means of detox and this involves negative energy that accumulates in the clothing and can be transferred to those nearby. If you have decided that you no longer want to wear your dirty clothing why would you leave it lying about infecting the energy in your most sacred room?

  2. Avoid positioning your bed in the "death position". The foot of the bed should never face directly toward the door as, in Feng Shui terms, this promotes a flow of energy out of your body and out of the door. This energy loss is seen as a precursor to a shortened life (hence the "death position"). It is certainly true that there is tremendous energy generated in the bedroom and it's not all sexual energy. There is serious energy required during sleep when your body is literally rebuilding itself, so optimising the flow of subtle energy can only be of benefit. If you can't avoid the energy-sucking position then the solution is to place a large trunk at the end of your bed to temper the flow of energy from the room.

  3. Make your bedroom a haven for lovemaking, sleep and revitalisation. Keep phones, computers, fridges and televisions out of the bedroom and don't work in bed. It is obvious from an EMF perspective that we should avoid this disruptive radiation in the space where we regenerate each night. However it is another type of energy that is impacted, in Feng Shui terms, when we bring the pressures of work and the negativity of nightly news bulletins into our place of peace. Similarly, the hum of a refrigerator motor should be restricted to those of us unlucky enough to have frequent hotel rooms but there is little justification for fridges in private bedrooms. Unless of course you don't want to have to move too far from your bed (which is facing the door) to get your next beer. When you are lying amidst a pile of dirty laundry, watching the news and talking on your mobile, it's bloody annoying to have to walk to the kitchen each time for a drink!

  4. Be careful about mirror placement. It is considered a problem if you can see your head and shoulders in a mirror facing your bed. I guess it is definitely a problem if there is no body joined to that head and shoulders but seriously.… it's not because you will spend too much time constantly preening in that mirror or perhaps burying your head under the blankets to escape the horrific sight. In the Feng Shui gameplan, mirrors are used to attract positive energy or deflect negative energy. They can be used to magnify what they reflect and so if they reflect a good luck symbol then the power of the symbol is doubled. If the mirror reflects a cluttered room or corner, then the negative effect of the clutter is similarly magnified. When you sleep there is apparently an intake of positive energy and an outpouring of negative energy. This exchange is interrupted if the mirror is directly facing the bed, as the negative energy (Yin) remains trapped in the body. Nightmares and insomnia are both possible outcomes. If you suffer from insomnia and/or frequent nightmares then cover up the mirror facing the bed and monitor the response. There are many people who find that this is the root cause of their problem although all of the evidence is anecdotal and I can't find any hard research on this.

  5. Let the sunshine in. Fresh air and sunshine are critical components in a healthy, harmonious bedroom according to the Feng Shui experts. Morning sunshine entering the room is ideal as it is a great source of yang energy. There is, of course, a conventional explanation of the benefits of fresh air and sunshine in your room. Fresh air contains negative ions. When you feel energised beside a waterfall or standing near waves crashing against rocks, that is the negative ions at work. These particles have been well researched and are extremely beneficial. There are very low levels of negative ions in air-conditioned rooms and high levels of health issues for those constantly working in that environment. Sunshine is a therapy unto itself but it can be a very effective tool to reduce mould spores in the room. Anyone living on the eastern seaboard has experienced an explosion of mould during the recent wet. It is important to keep it out of the bedroom, as mycospores can be a considerable health hazard when you breathe them in all night. UV rays kill these creatures and it is a good idea to hang bedding on the line for a few hours to remove this contamination. The musty smell disappears like magic. Our agricultural disinfectant, Path X™, is also a particularly powerful mould killer.

  6. Take care of the corners. Visible dirt, dust, cobwebs and microscopic litter tends to gravitate to the corners of a room. These areas are often neglected, as they escape the reach of the vacuum cleaner or mop, but in Feng Shui they also become a repository of unwanted negative energy. This is, in effect, the microscopic version of clutter, but it can often involve another principle from this approach. It is not desirable to have spent life forms in your personal space, as they are a prime source of yin contamination. This applies particularly to things like dead insects, particularly if it was your intent (Mortein) that killed them. There is a lot of misinterpreted crap that has made its way into Feng Shui and this extends to the concept of spent life forces. Some practitioners suggest that both fresh and dried flowers technically qualify as "dead", and, as such, they should be avoided like the plague. This is rubbish, as this logic would also have to apply to everything made of wood in your house, as it is also technically "dead". The original Feng Shui was about life forces other than plants. Fresh and dried flowers can both be a tremendous asset in lifting the energy of a particular space. However, there can be an issue with dried flowers if they are too old and attracting microbial contamination (mould). Cobwebs are an issue as they are, in effect, a holding pen for dead insects (spent life forces). The corner diagonal to the door is considered to be of particular importance. Don't use it for storage and keep it free from clutter.

  7. Clear your bedroom clutter. You don't want junk over, under or beside the bed but bedroom decluttering extends beyond good housekeeping. You should remove anything vaguely negative from this space. This might include divorce papers in a bedside drawer (or accounts or letters). Art can be a source of joy but it can also become distracting or stagnant, particularly if it evokes memories of the past. Embrace change and recharge your life. Put up some new photos or paintings but even here there are some cautions. If you have a partner, or are seeking one, it is not a good idea to fill your bedroom with family photos (particularly not images of your mother in law! he! he!) It is also a good idea to stick to images or ornaments that involve pairs, as this is seen as a statement of intent about how you see your future. Two candlesticks, two crystals or a pair of matching carvings could complement sensuous photos and paintings involving loving couples (including photos of you and your lover). That is assuming that you are seeking more sensuality and love in your life. If it is more important to you for the Aussies to win the one day cricket, then there are other options. You could set up a 4 litre container filled with beer, on the wall directly above the bed. This container should be fitted with a hose that is permanently inserted into your mouth. However, you will need to make sure that there is a pair of these containers to satisfy Feng Shui dynamics. Aside from the energetics involved, this will allow your lucky partner to share your joy. You can slosh together in front of the TV, punctuating the perfection with unbridled victory screams. You might even try wearing your dirty undies as a victory cap as you text "Oi!, Oi!, Oi!" to your mates when your team triumphs (but that might be a long time coming with the current Aussie eleven).

Does it Work?

My two-week break was the least relaxing and most harrowing I can recall. It rained constantly and the dismal grey was mirrored within my home, as I fought to escape the mire of the trappings of the past. I felt emotional and depressed and I was terrible company. Moira had expected this kind of cathartic response and she was understanding (apart from a couple of explosive outbursts that confirmed the origin of yin (female energy) as a negative force. he! he!. The television displayed constant images of the unfolding flood disaster and the despair of the victims. The massive piles of mud soaked possessions outside of every house during the cleanup seemed to fuel even more negative thoughts about consumerism and materialism. Slowly I came to accept the declutter and the rearranging of furniture and as my own flotsam was discarded I felt a measurable lightness.

Now I have a new home. There is a different energy and I no longer feel despair. In fact, I feel uplifted when I open a perfectly arranged cupboard and everything that remains has a place in my new life. My space has been healed!

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