A UK poll conducted by market research company OnePoll.com reveals that caravans parked in driveways, garden gnomes and over-sized trampolines are high on the list of Britain’s most hated garden accessories. But the most hated, by far, are wind chimes.
The literal translation of feng shui is “wind and water”, and feng shui consultants often recommend wind chimes as “cures” for various problems. So I want to go on record at this point and state that I’ve never recommended them to any client I’ve ever worked with, and never will. Here’s why…
Wind chimes can drive neighbours mad
In my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I mention an experiment (Lefcourt, 1976) in which two groups of people were given complicated puzzles and a piece of proof-reading to do while being subjected to an irritating noise. One group had a button that enabled them to turn off the noise; the other group did not. Not surprisingly, the group with control completed five times more puzzles and did a much better job of the proof-reading than the group that had to put up with the noise. But very surprisingly, this group never actually pushed the button to turn off the noise! As Howard Bloom explained in his book, The Lucifer Principle, ‘it wasn’t the noise or lack of it that affected their performance; it was the mere idea that if they’d wanted to, they could shut it off.’
So what drives people mad about having to listen to a neighbour’s wind chimes is that they can’t turn them off. This doesn’t stress the owner because they have it within their power to disable them whenever they want to but it can drive neighbours up the wall, and this certainly doesn’t lay a good foundation for good relationships.
Movement of wind or water certainly can be a method of activating sluggish energy or chi, but this particular form needs to be used with the utmost care and is certainly not suitable for urban environments with neighbours living close by. It’s a form of noise pollution that most people do not welcome at all.
Wind chimes make you busy
Another unfortunate side-effect of wind chimes is that the constant noise keeps your mind full of chatter and means that you never fully rest. This affects you even more than your neighbours because the sound is closer to you.
I’ve often observed that people with outdoor wind chimes are always busy, generally in useless, unproductive ways. There’s no stillness in their lives, and very little navigation. They seem to be pulled this way and that, with as little rhyme or reason as the way the wind blows. The continual activation of their energy by the sound of the chimes keeps them on the move, but it’s mostly running around in circles rather than purposefully moving forward.
These disruptive effects are well known to meditators, of course. Far from being restful, background noises such as wind chimes will limit all but the most experienced to a superficial practice, where the sounds keep bringing them back to the chattering mind.
The Top 20 most hated garden accessories in the UK
So in case you’re planning to install a few garden features of your own, or want to know how irritated people may be by the ones you or your neighbour already have, here’s the full list, compiled in 2010:
1 Wind chimes
3 Over-sized trampolines
4 Garden gnomes
5 Children’s swings
6 Solar lights
7 Hanging baskets
8 Swimming pools
10 Water fountains
11 Swing balls
12 Towing trailers
15 Bird feeders
16 Football goal posts
17 Children’s climbing frames
19 Hot tubs
20 Garden ponds
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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2011, updated 2016