Feng Shui Your Way to a Simpler Home
by Wendy Priesnitz
Minimalism and Asian practices
can bring our surroundings into
harmony and balance with our lives.
When I’m struggling with a problem, I often find
myself cleaning a closet. It’s like I need to literally clear away the clutter
in my life before I can make a decision or a change. What may seem like mental
gymnastics actually has a strong foundation in many world philosophies. What I
may be unconsciously doing is attempting to balance energy or remove barriers to
energy flow, which is the basis for yin-yang, Taoism, Feng Shui, and other
Makes sense, doesn’t it? When our world is
balanced, we feel balanced. Most of us have lives that are so busy and full
we want our homes to be peaceful, orderly sanctuaries. And orderliness is
easier without clutter.
The search for minimalism, simplicity, and calm in our homes is
leading to a boom in furniture and decor products that are simple and
minimalist, and often in the Asian style. Home decor retailers report
increasing demand for items like aromatherapy candles, incense, water
fountains, and crystals. Sushi trays, items made of bamboo, and wooden lamps
with rice paper shades have also increased in popularity.
popularity of the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway)
has also increased as a way to bring our lives into harmony and balance
with our surroundings.
In Eastern philosophies, energy is called Ch’I (in
Chinese), Ki (in Japanese) or prana (in Indian) – meaning the vital force.
Feng Shui works with Taoism to create the path of least resistance for the
Ch’I (pronounced chee). That’s why an uncluttered environment allows us to
focus on the task at hand.
Feng Shui literally means wind and water.
Essentially, it is the belief that the environment in which we live should
be balanced by ensuring a flow of wind (feng) and water (shui). The aim is
to prevent good energy from being dispersed by wind and to have the good
energy retained by water. It has also been described as the process of
balancing the yin (female traits) and the yang (male traits).
Feng Shui is at least
4,000 years old. Over the centuries, it has developed into approximately 30
different schools or disciplines. The three main schools are the Form or
Land Form, the Compass, and the Black Hat Tantric Sect or Western School.
All three schools
use a mapping device called the Ba’ Gua. “Ba” means eight (the luckiest
number in Chinese culture) and “gua” means areas, thus the Ba’ Gua is
essentially an eight-sided compass, which is used to determine various
traits. Each gua on the compass reflects a different aspect of life. See the
end of this article for more detail.
Feng Shui is a complicated science and a
professional consultation can be expensive, depending on the scope of the
work and the experience of the practitioner. But anyone can employ some of
the more basic principles in their home.
Clearing the clutter and debris in your home
and in your personal life is the first step of Feng Shui and it costs
nothing. Clutter is trapped energy that has a far-reaching effect
physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Clutter makes you feel
unorganized and confused, keeps you in the past, congests your body, makes
you feel lethargic and tired. As I instinctively knew when I started
cleaning out the closet while pondering a life change, the simple act of
clearing clutter can transform your life by releasing negative emotions,
generating energy and allowing you to create space in your life for the
things you want to achieve.
|“If there is harmony in the
house, there is order in the nation. If there is order in the
nation, there will be peace in the world.”
If you are having trouble with the metaphorical
thinking required by Feng Shui, look at it this way. Is that ugly knickknack
that your aunt gave you – the one that you keep on display out of a sense of
obligation in case she ever visits – worth the negative energy that you feel
when you encounter it? If it is sapping your energy, get rid of it.
Making sure your surroundings are in good
repair is another Feng Shui tactic. Windows are said to be the eyes of the
Chi and affect your clarity, so replace broken glass panes and clean the
windows. The main entrance to the house or building is the main mouth of the
Chi. This is where, symbolically, energy enters your home. For that reason,
make sure the main entrance is clear, open, and well defined. Create a clear
path to the front door and trim back any hedges. A well lit front entrance
will also help create good energy flow.
Metaphorically, Chinese culture teaches that
broken windows create conflicts with a child or the inner child. Similarly,
broken or blocked doors are thought to block the voice of the adult. Feng
Shui says that a sticking door can contribute to tension between partners in
the home so get out the can of oil or shave off that extra bit of wood.
Plumbing represents our digestive system, so
repair those leaky faucets and clogged drains. Our home’s electrical system
is a metaphor for our neurological system, so replace those dead light bulbs
and tend to that tangle of wires behind your computer.
With Feng Shui, less is
definitely more. And always keep energy flow in mind when decorating and
locating furniture. For example, consider furniture that is smaller in
scale, such as two love seats and an armchair instead of a long six-to
eight-foot sofa. Use lighter colored woods and fabrics, and smaller patterns
in the wallpaper.
Great Feng Shui can be achieved by employing
simplicity and minimalism and by creating light, air, and open spaces. Avoid
decorating with a lot of knickknacks, numerous furnishings, or a
preponderance of art covering the walls.
Mirrors can be used effectively to improve the
energy in your home. Practically, a properly placed mirror can expand the
horizon, give the impression of more space and help you see what’s behind
Other Feng Shui tips include using
multi-faceted leaded glass crystals to bring more sunlight and full-spectrum
colors into the home, and hanging wind chimes or strings of bells to create
pleasant sounds and stimulate energy circulation. Conversely, heavy objects
like stones and statues can stabilize an unsettling situation in a home or
Live objects such as plants, flowers, and pets
have their own life force. Plants and flowers are healthy for the
environment, encourage growth and new opportunities, soften harsh angles,
and fill in empty spaces. (Dead or dying plants are not good Feng Shui!)
Fish bowls and aquariums bring a water view into your home.
Use Nature as a model by bringing the five
natural elements of Chinese medicine — water, wood, fire, earth, and metal —
into your home to create balance and harmony.
The Five Elements
Feng Shui uses symbolic representations of the
creative and regenerative cycles of the five elements to make modifications
in your home. Based upon the metaphorical analogies of these elements when
used decoratively in your home, you can make changes in your life.
- Water – Black, Focus: flowing, clear,
clarity, sensitivity, emotions
- Wood – Green, Growth: beginnings,
freshness, nurturing, activity
- Metal – White, Reflection: vision, riches,
- Earth – Yellow, Grounded: stability, grounding,
- Fire – Red, Getting Started: action,
activity, motivation, passion, spontaneity
In Feng Shui, the Ba’ Gua is an eight-sided
compass used to determine various traits. Each direction reflects a
different aspect of life.
- North: career and prospects
- South: recognition and fame
- East: relationships and health
- West: creativity and children
- North West: mentors
- North East: knowledge and education
- South West: marriage
- South East: wealth and prosperity
Wendy Priesnitz is Natural Life
Magazine's editor, a journalist with forty years of experience, and the author of