Extract from Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
|UK edition (2017)|
|US edition (2016)|
I once met a woman who set off travelling around the planet with little more than the ticket to her first destination in her pocket, but she had one extraordinary skill – the ability to read palms – and no matter where she went, she was never short of a place to sleep or food to eat. She would pick a local restaurant or hotel, meet the manager, and offer to do palm readings for guests in return for food, shelter or a small wage. When I met her she had been doing this for three years, had already visited more than a dozen countries, and was having the time of her life.
I have found that feng shui has this same universal appeal. When people discover how much their home can affect them, for better or for worse, they are usually fascinated to learn more.
The rising popularity of feng shui in recent years has been extraordinary. I first discovered a passion for working with energy in buildings in the late 1970s, and by 1993 had developed my knowledge and skills to the level at which I was ready to being teaching publicly. When people asked me then what I did for a living and I told them, their common response was a puzzled look and a “Feng WHAT?” Now they generally nod wisely and the conversation simply glides on. Just about everyone has heard something about it these days.
Feng Shui is the art of balancing and harmonizing the flow of natural energies in our surroundings to create beneficial effects in our lives. These natural energy flows were well known and understood by the ancients, and knowledge of them still exists in some cultures today.
In Bali, for example, which is my home for half of each year, the people still live in total harmony with both the seen, physical world and the unseen energy world. Daily offerings at hundreds of thousands of household shrines throughout the land and an endless procession of indescribably beautiful and very highly evolved ceremonies in the island’s twenty thousand communal temples ensure that balance and harmony is maintained. This, to me, is feng shui at its best – not just a set of principles applied to an individual building for a specific result, but a whole island of three million people in tune with the sacredness of the land and living feng shui as a complete way of life. Materialism is starting to noticeably weaken the fabric of Bali's spiritual culture to the extent that it will surely not survive beyond another generation or two, but at the time of writing there is still much of this to see and experience if you visit the island.
My approach to feng shui
My own approach to feng shui is rather different to that of other practitioners because I work directly with the energy of each space. I have a highly developed the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and sense energy, so to begin a consultation the first thing I usually do is go around the entire inside perimeter of the building, taking an energy reading with my hands. The history of events is recorded in the walls and furniture in the form of subtle etheric and astral imprints, and through reading and interpreting these I can detect everything of significance that has ever happened there. Traumatic or repetitive events are the most deeply embedded and have a correspondingly greater effect on present day occupants. I am also able to find areas where the energy in the building has become stagnant and discover what needs to be done to improve its flow.
Whenever I come across clutter, its energy field is unmistakable. It presents an obstacle to the flow of energy and has an unpleasant, sticky, unclean feel to it, like moving my hands through unseen cobwebs. This is what first made me realize that clutter causes problems in people’s lives. It also has a distinctive musty, pervasive odour which I can smell if I walk into someone’s home, even if the clutter is hidden away from sight. Actually, if I tune in, I can also smell it in a person’s energy field around their body if they stand near me because they become imbued with the smell of it. But don’t worry about this if you ever meet me in person – there is so much clutter in the world that I don’t tune in all the time!
The good news is that after clearing clutter, this unwholesome, stagnant energy and accompanying odour quickly disappears.
The feng shui bagua
One of the most interesting aspects of feng shui, and one which I will be focusing on a lot in this book, is the feng shui bagua grid. This can be used to locate where each aspect of your life is located in any building you occupy.
As an example, there is an area of your home to do with Prosperity (you can find out later in this book exactly where it is). Many people read about feng shui or attend a workshop on the subject, get very excited about it, and then rush to put it into practice without realising they need to clear their clutter first. They hear they can hang a mirror in their Prosperity corner to attract more wealth. But what if that area is cluttered with junk? Sadly, putting a mirror where these is clutter is more likely to double their financial problems than resolve them.
This book focuses on just this one aspect of feng shui – clearing clutter – which is so vital to its successful application. It is the first book ever to explore this subject in depth in this context, and is intended as an ideal starter for those new to feng shui and an invaluable tool for those who have studied it for a while.
Throughout this book I refer mostly to applying the information around your home but of course it can be used equally effectively in your workplace and any other building you occupy.
This is the term I coined many years ago for the branch of feng shui that I pioneered and have become best known for. It is the art of clearing and consecrating energies in buildings, and is primarily what my first book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, was about. Since the publication of that book, space clearing has become a generic name for all kinds of energy clearing techniques. However, the specific ceremony I developed is the only one i can guarantee the effectiveness of and is the only type of space clearing I refer to in this book.
For your life to work well, it is vital to have a good flow of life force energy or chi in your home and workplace. Feng shui teaches many ways to improve this energy flow and space clearing is one of the most effective. It is a simple yet powerful 21-step ceremony to clear the stuck energies that accumulate in buildings over time and cause you to feel stuck in your life. The results are impressive, and many people choose to make it part of their regular building maintenance programme so that the space is energetically as well as physically clean and clear. All buildings, no matter how well designed, benefit from having this done regularly, and feng shui always works better and faster when done in conjunction with space clearing.
In relation to clutter clearing, there are three main causes of stuck energy that space clearing addresses:
- Physical grime
- Astral imprints
- Stagnant energies
Physical Grime – By this I mean all types of dirt, dust, filth and grunge. Low level energy always accumulates around dirt, hence the old adage, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. Having a good clean-up is an essential part of space clearing.
Astral imprints – Everything that happens in a building is recorded in the walls, floors, furniture and objects in the space in the form of astral imprints. They build up in layers in much the same way that grime does, except that we cannot see them, and they affect us in profound ways. For example, if you move into a home in which the previous occupants were happily married, it is likely that you, too, will find marital bliss there. On the other hand, if the previous occupants were unhappy, got divorced, got sick, went bankrupt, put on weight, or any of a million other things, those energies remain in the building and will generally cause history to repeat itself (known in feng shui as the effect of predecessor energy). Imprints of your own experiences and anyone who shares the home with you will also form layers on top of the historical ones, causing any tough times you've had there to continue to affect you. Depending on the skill of the person doing the space clearing, some or all of these imprints can be cleared to give you a fresh start.
Stagnant energies – Any kind of clutter creates an obstacle to the smooth flow of energy around a space. This, in turn, creates stuckness and/or confusion in the lives of the occupants. Space clearing clears the stagnant energies that accumulate around clutter, which makes it much easier to sort through and clear it.
While a space clearing ceremony can easily be done in a few hours, cleaning the physical grime and clearing the clutter can take some folk a while longer. In fact, it's fairly common for me to hear from readers that they glided through the early chapters of my first book, came to the clutter chapter, and there the bookmark stayed for six months or more until they had done enough work to read on.
These are the kinds of letters I get:
'I have now cleared out most of the clutter and am ready to do the Space Clearing ceremony. I feel that in the last six months I have not only sorted through every cupboard in my home but also through every part of my life. I already feel healthier and happier than I have felt in years.'
'I read the clutter chapter in your book and am now on my fourteenth rubbish bag and still going strong. My husband is astounded because he has been nagging me for years to do this.'
“When I cleared my filing cabinet I found stock certifcates that are now worth $4000! Your book certainly paid for itself!'
The next chapter will start to explain more fully why most of your lovely clutter is more of a hindrance in your life than a help.
In the course of doing feng shui, space clearing and clutter clearing consultations all over the world, I have the opportunity to visit many homes and poke about in places people would never let me otherwise. As a result of this unusual (and sometimes dubious!) privilege, I have been able to identify and verify the type of problems clutter causes.
Clutter and feng shui
It's important to realize how fundamentally intrinsic clutter clearing is to the whole practice of feng shui. Before this book was first published in 1998, other feng shui books mentioned the subject in passing or not at all. Perhaps they assumed their readers had already dealt with this issue, but of course the truth is that most had not. Now, I'm glad to say that all feng shui books worth reading have a section on this topic and it is given the importance it deserves.
I do not consider clutter clearing to be one process and feng shui to be another. I have come to realize that clutter clearing is one of the most powerful, transformative aspects of feng shui there is, and in most cases, feng shui cures and enhancements are at best only minimally effective until this has been done.
If you have already been using feng shui for years without knowing this you will be delighted at the energy upsurge clearing your clutter will bring about, and if you are new to feng shui, you will be pleasantly surprised to realize that the first and most important steps to learning this art are already well within your reach.
Clutter is stuck energy
The word ‘clutter’ derives from the Middle English word ‘clotter’, which means to coagulate – and that’s about as stuck as you can get.
Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates, and likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. So the clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with you in your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself.
You know what it's like. You're walking down the street and you see that someone has thoughtlessly thrown an empty cigarette packet in a corner near the roadside. The next day you walk past the same spot, and the empty pack has been joined by a few more items of trash. Before long it becomes a full-blown garbage dump. Clutter accumulates in the same way in your home. It starts with a bit and then slowly, insidiously, it grows and grows – and so does the stagnant energy around it, which then has a corresponding stagnating effect on your life.
If you somehow get your life moving again, you will instinctively want to clear the clutter out of your home and make a fresh start. It will feel like the obvious thing to do. So one approach to clearing clutter is to embark on a course of self-improvement and wait until you get to the stage where you just can’t stand having clutter around you anymore. There are many self-improvement books you can read and courses you can take (and I certainly recommend that you do) but it can take a while for you to get inspired enough to clear your clutter taking this route.
What I am teaching in this book is a new approach – sorting out your life by sorting out your junk, which results in a tremendous renewal of your life force energy. This is something practical and tangible you can do to actively help yourself.
Stuck energy is very sticky
This is why it is easy to let your clutter stay put. You have to have some pretty good reasons to rouse yourself enough to do anything about it. That’s what the next chapter's about.
Every aspect of your life is anchored energetically in your living space, so clearing your clutter can completely transform your entire existence.
Clean up your life
Back in the 1980s, I was one of the top professional rebirthers in London (rebirthing is a way of releasing inner blockages through the breath). I have always been a great one for motivating people to help themselves, and I began to suggest decluttering as extra ‘homework’ for some of my clients who were particularly stuck in their lives. Sure enough, in the process of sorting out their own belongings, they made substantial inroads into sorting out themselves. For the really stubborn cases, I would tell them at the end of a session that next week I would be rebirthing them at their home, not mine. I think it was realizing the difference between how their home felt and how mine felt that shamed them into action.
One particular long-term client I remember was a young girl who was a recovering heroin addict. After she had had a couple of relapses I realised I had to take a firmer approach. I refused to work with her again unless we did a session at her home and she showed her commitment to kicking her habit by getting her place fit to do a rebirthing session in. This was very tough for her to do. Her self-esteem had sunken so low over the years that she was living in squalor. But she set to work with a will and triumphantly invited me to her apartment several weeks later. It was plain to see how much work had been done, and the change in her in those weeks was also remarkable. The next few therapy sessions marked profound breakthroughs for her.
Several years later I bumped into her in a public place and didn't recognize her. She had transformed into a radiantly beautiful woman, full of happiness and love for life, with a successful career doing what she had always dreamed of doing. She dated the change from those sessions and told me she had never touched heroin or looked back since. Through clearing out her clutter she had cleaned up her life.
You and your home
The reason why clutter clearing is so effective is that while you are putting your external world in order there are corresponding changes going on internally too. Everything around you, especially your home environment, mirrors your inner self. So by changing your home you also change the possibilities in your own life. Removing the obstacles to the harmonious flow of energy in your living environment creates more harmony in your life and the space for wonderful new opportunities to come to you.
Go for it!
One woman who came to one of my workshops got so inspired that she went home, called a charity shop and said, 'You are going to need to send a truck!' She cleared out all but five items of clothing from her wardrobe, her ancient stereo system and stacks and stacks of junk. In doing this, she released huge amounts of stuck energy, which created space for something new to come in. A week later she received a cheque in the mail from her mother for £5000, and she went straight out and bought herself a whole new wardrobe of wonderful clothes, a new sound system and everything else she wanted.
She told me the cheque was totally unexpected, and that the last time her mother had sent her any money had been ten years earlier. I don’t recommend that everyone does this quite so dramatically, but it certainly worked for her.
Here’s an inspiring letter I received from a teacher who read my book and also went for clutter clearing in a big way:
'Five months after my mother passed, I needed something to help me get my head above water. I picked up your book . . . and was SO energized and excited. I have cleared clutter that has been stored and gathering dust for over twenty years! Bags of things have been thrown out and SO much is ready to be donated to charities. During this month of sorting, discarding and cleaning, I was given an unexpected check for $5000, found out about an inheritance of $3000, found gift cards and gift certificates worth over $400, found out about more income that will be coming monthly, and gathered about $75 worth of change too. The additional income has been wonderful, but more than that, I’m energized and no longer feel overwhelmed. I’m comfortable and happy in my home. I’m reading about feng shui and applying the principles at home and in my classroom. Thank you for getting me started!'
Readers' letters like these arrive in my mailbox every single day and are what has inspired me to actually write this book. Of course not everyone who clutter clears can expect a financial windfall. I have chosen these stories because they show how tangible the results can be.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines clutter as ‘a crowded and untidy collection of things’. Yes, that’s a part of it but it’s only describing clutter at the purely physical level.
In my definition, there are four categories of clutter:
- Things you do not use or love
- Things that are untidy or disorganized
- Too many things in too small a space
- Anything unfinished
Let's have a look at each of these so that you will be in no doubt as you read this book where your own focus for clutter clearing needs to be.
Things you do not use or love
Things that are loved, used and appreciated have strong, vibrant, joyous energies around them, which allow the energy in the space to flow through and around them. If you have a clear focus in your life and you surround yourself with things that have this marvellous free-flowing energy, you will have a correspondingly happy, joyous, free-flowing life. Conversely, anything neglected, forgotten, unwanted, unloved or unused will cause the energy in your home to slow and stagnate, and then you will feel that your life is not moving.
You are energetically connected to everything you own. When your home is filled with things which you love or use well it becomes an incredible source of support and nourishment for you. Clutter, on the other hand, drags your energy down and the longer you keep it, the more it will affect you. When you get rid of everything that has no real meaning or significance for you, you literally feel lighter in body, mind and spirit.
Things that are untidy or disorganized
This category is for the messy people of the world and the hopelessly disorganised. Even if you keep your stuff honed down to just the things you use and love, your place will still be cluttered if they are scattered all over the place and it’s difficult to find things when you want them. Probably, like most messies, you maintain there is order in your chaos, and what’s more, you need to keep things in the open to remind you of important things you have to do. But if someone actually puts you to the test and asks you where something is, at best you only know the general direction and rarely the precise location.
Everyone’s life works better when they know where things are. For example, think of your bed. The energy connection between you and your bed is direct and clear. Unless you are the nomadic type, you know exactly where it is and you can connect to it mentally in microseconds. Now think about your house keys. Do you know exactly where they are, or do you have to mentally hunt around for them? How about that bill you need to pay? Where is it? When your things get jumbled up and confused, the strands between you and them become like entangled spaghetti. This creates stress and confusion in your life rather than the peace and clarity that comes from knowing where things are.
Clutter in this category consists of things that either don’t have a proper place of their own or do have one but have strayed from it and got all mixed up with everything else. Many of the items seem to just appear in your life rather than you making a conscious decision to acquire them. They include the mail that relentlessly arrives and dauntingly distributes itself in far-flung corners of your home, and other bits of paper which appear from nowhere and build themselves into mountainous heaps, defiantly resisting all your attempts to categorise and sort them. Then there are those impulse buys. You bring them home and say to yourself, 'I’ll just put it there for now,' and there it stays. Sometimes it can stay there for months, years or even decades, always looking slightly out of place and vaguely irking you at the back of your mind.
Now, I’m not advocating pristine neatness. A home that is too tidy, where everything is "just so", is energetically sterile and can be as much of a problem as a place that is a complete tip. But your home is an outward representation of what is going on inside you, so if you are messy on the outside there is a corresponding mess of some kind on the inside too. By sorting out the outer, the inner starts slotting neatly into place.
Too many things in too small a space
Sometimes the problem is simply one of space. Your life or your family has expanded but your home has stayed the same size, or it never was big enough in the first place. You can become creative with storage cupboards but the more you cram into your living space, the less room there is for energy to move and the more difficult it becomes to get anything done. With clutter of the just-too-much-for-the-amount-of-space variety, your home starts to feel as if it cannot breathe, your own breathing will actually become tighter and shallower (when was the last time you took a really deep breath and filled your lungs?), and you will feel constricted in what you can do in your life.
The only solution is to move to a bigger place or shift some of your stuff off the premises. You will be amazed at how good it feels, either way.
This form of clutter is harder to see and easier to ignore than the other types, but its effects are far-reaching. Anything unfinished in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms clutters your psyche.
Things not dealt with in your home reflect issues not dealt with in your life, and they are a constant drain on your energy. There are the niggy repairs such as fixing the broken drawer or repairing the tap that keeps dripping, and the bigger jobs, such as redecorating the house, servicing the central heating or air conditioning, or taming the jungle that your garden has become. The larger the scale, the more these things impinge on your ability to get on with your life.
Buttons that need sewing on, phone calls you need to make, relationships you need to move on from, and many other different forms of loose ends in your life will hamper your progress if you do not deal with them. Your subconscious mind will suppress these things nicely for you if you ask it to but it takes a lot of your energy to do so. You will be amazed at how your vitality levels soar if you just complete all your unfinished business.
The next chapter explores how all these types of clutter actually affect you in your life in ways you may never have suspected...
Copyright © Karen Kingston, 1998-2017