Essential Feng Shui provides a worldview that can dramatically shift our perception of our surroundings. Instead of being inanimate and separate from us, our possessions are viewed as animate “beings” with whom we share an intimate connection. When we feel the living relationship we have with everything around us, our experience of life changes. Our true natures emerge and we treat our belongings with a kindness that unites us with the living world.
When I was first introduced to Feng Shui, I didn’t realize that everything – including my furniture, clothes, computer, and car – was alive. I went from having a bunch of lifeless stuff to being in a relationship with a large group of living things. Entwined in my belongings’ dancing molecules were the thoughts, feelings, and memories I associated with them. I couldn’t move in my house without receiving and responding to impressions from my possessions—impressions that were, for better or worse, affecting my health and happiness.
Returning home from my Feng Shui studies was like opening my eyes for the first time. Suddenly, I was able to clearly perceive what my stuff was alive with. I walked from room to room giving myself orders: “get the dead plants out of the bedroom; take that sad art down; move the crap out of the garage; clear the stuff crowding the front entrance; get rid of those terrible chairs!” My home was an expose’ of how unconscious I had been about what I was living with. That night, I gathered several bags of giveaways based on the negative memories they held. There had been something making me feel bad in every room!
There were also the things that I love to live with, big as life, grinning at me around the house. My kitchen table was (and still is) an island of good cheer, alive with the memories of my grandmother. My sister and I sat there many a morning feasting on the mashed potatoes and ice cream she’d serve us for breakfast. Tea parties around it always included Grannie’s delicate porcelain teacups. The table continues to collect layers of meaning in my kitchen: coffee and pancakes with my husband on Sunday mornings; evenings making art and wine-tasting with friends; quiet candlelit suppers. The table is teeming with memories that make me happy every day.
Opening your Essential Feng Shui eyes and taking stock of your surroundings can be very revealing. The goal is to tune into the quality of your connection with every possession you own, sort out the bummers, and ultimately to live exclusively with what you love. This includes all of the stuff you might think doesn’t count in the garage, basement, attic, closets, drawers, and cabinets. Because you are connected to it all, it all counts. Let your feelings, memories, and associations bubble up to the surface, and notice:
What possessions make your heart sing, lift your spirits, hold happy memories, elicit positive thoughts, and/or strengthen your sense of well-being?
What possessions make your heart heavy, drag you down, hold unpleasant memories, elicit negative thoughts, and/or weaken your sense of well-being?
When my client Susan was faced with a divorce, I suggested that she do this exercise. Looking through her Essential Feng Shui eyes, she suddenly realized that her bedroom furniture flooded her with unwelcome memories. No wonder she couldn’t sleep! She immediately consigned the suite at a local shop and moved into the guest room until she could find new furniture. We assessed her bedroom together and decided to place her bed on another wall to mark the beginning of a whole new chapter in her life.
Even before her new furniture was delivered, Susan felt herself shift from past to present. She noticed that it was much easier to relax, enjoy the moment, and feel hope for the future. This spurred her on to identify other possessions that kept unhappiness alive in her space. If it made her feel good, it was a keeper. If not, it was outta-there. She shed belongings that made her feel bad, including several pictures of lonely-looking women, and replaced them with things that affirmed her new life.
The changes Susan made in her environment have reinforced her healing journey. She attends a women’s group dedicated to making peace with the past, keeps a journal, and meditates every day. Her new writing chair and meditation alcove encourage and support her healing process. She has surrounded herself with environmental affirmations in a home “who” evokes life-affirming responses, connects her with the living world, and anchors her happiness in place.