Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hooray for Feng Shui

A good old cleaning session is always good for the soul.

If there's one thing I neglect when I'm feeling down, it's tidying! It's just one of those jobs that I can't bring myself to do when I've got a lot on my plate and I don't feel up to much. But then it's a double edged knife, because when you're spending a lot of time in a cluttered mess, it doesn't exactly help your head.

So invariably, when I come out of my blue patches, I always have a good tidy up and de-clutter... maybe throw away a pile of stuff I've decided I can do without. Sometimes I go full whack and rearrange my living space. This feels like a change, and never fails to make me feel better.

A few weeks back I decided that not only was I going to have a good tidy up, but I was going to have a bash at a spot of Feng Shui. I have often considered doing it, but have never known enough about it, or really bothered to look into it. But a friend of mine lent me a simple (simplicity is, after all a major key to Feng Shui) and beautifully designed book called 'Chinese Whispers, Feng Shui' by Rosalyn Dexter. It describes the main principals behind the teachings, and gives suggestions on how to use them in your own home.

Now, I don't know how much I believe what I read, but I am a strong advocate of the principal that if something works for you, even if it is just a placebo, then it can't be bad. So I just accepted Dexter's words and tried to understand the thinking behind it.

The basic idea behind Feng Shui is that everything has a flow of energy through it and you can do certain things to use this to your advantage. Since I like the thought that everything in the universe is part of one system where each separate object is affected by and linked to every other object, this principal resonates quite nicely for me. Several Chinese teachings go together to make up Feng Shui, including systems of colours, numbers, astrology and the elements. I got the feeling I was really just catching a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg, but it seemed enough to go on, so I made some notes and drew out a plan for my bedroom based on a grid system given in the book.

Once I knew where everything was going, I started the process. I began by shifting everything from my room... I mean EVERYTHING. All that was left was my bedframe balancing on it's headboard, my red armchair and my desk, all pushed together in the centre of my room. I hoovered and then did a little energy clensing ritual, as suggested in the book. Again, not sure how much I believe in this stuff, but where's the harm if it isn't true, and if it is true, well that's good then isn't it?!

So, to clense a room and get the energy flowing again, you need to start by getting rid of as much clutter as possible. Then you fill a bowl with water, light a candle, and burn some incense (the book said frankencense, but I chose Nag Champra as it's my favourite smell). You then walk around the circumference of the room, clockwise or anticlockwise, whatever your instinct tells you, and as you walk, sprinkle a little sea salt around the edges of the room. Apparently this absorbs negative energy. Once you've done this, you walk around again, this time with metal windchimes. You need to chose windchimes that sounds good to you. All windchimes have a different pitch, and it's pretty personal whether you like the sound or not.

So, you retrace your footsteps, this time tinkling your windchimes. Spend a little more time in areas of the room where you think the energy might have become stagnant- corners for instance, or gaps between furniture. When you've circled the room once, rinse the windchimes with water. Then walk around the room with the windchimes three more times, rinsing them after each circuit. On the final round, concentrate your mind on picturing the energy in the room flowing freely. Once you're done, throw away the water from the bowl.

My housemate was sitting in the garden not far from my bedroom window while I was doing the ritual. She assures me it worked, as everything around her started creaking wierdly when I started tinkling the windchimes!

Once I'd got all the good energy going again, it was time to re-fill my room, putting furniture, ornaments, curtains, throws, cushions... everything I own in a specific place based on the rules written in the book. I was actually surprised to find that I already had many things in the right places. But I did have to make a few changes. For a start, my bed needed to move. Apparently it's really bad to have your head under a window while you sleep, or to have your feet facing a door, and I was doing both of these things. The best place for your bed is to have your head against a wall and your feet facing another wall, but to make sure you can see the door easily. If you can't, it's likely to screw with your instinctual fight-or-flight mechanism.

Then you should place objects in your room using the following rules:

Draw a plan of your room and split it into 9 squares like a noughts and crosses board. The centre square is number 5. The other squares are determined by which way your room is facing: 1-North, 2-Southwest, 3-East, 4-Southeast, 6-Northwest, 7-West, 8-Northeast, 9-South.

Section 1 
is Water 
and represents your career and your journey through life. You should keep colours in this section to navy and black, though if you feel you need more energy in this section of your life, you can use white, gold, silver and grey to boost it. Avoid yellow, ochre, orange or brown unless you want your career and life journey to slow down a bit! In this section you should place images of moving water, an aquarium, glass objects, seascapes, mirrors and bright lights.

Section 2 
is Earth 
and represents unions and relationships. Yellow is a good natural colour to use in this section. If you want growth in this sector of your life, use red and purple. Don't have green or pale blue in this section, unless you would like less energy in it. Place images of union, pairs of things, crystals, cushions, ceramics and flowers. Don't have any solitary figures in this section. A pair of candles is a good thing to have here.

Section 3 
is Thunder 
and represents health, vitality, elders, family and new beginnings. It's colour is green and pale blue, with navy and black to give extra energy, and white, gold, silver and grey to reduce the energy. Place images of rising energy, sunrise, tall plants, music, TV, stereo, bamboo, wood, and family photos in this area.

Section 4 
is Wind 
and represents wealth, blessings and growth. It's colours are the same as section 3. Place tall plants, images of rising energy, wooden objects, family photos, ceramics, gold coins, fans and hanging mobiles in this section.

Section 6 
is Heaven 
and represents leadership, achievement, helpful friends and mentors. Keep colours to white, gold, silver and grey, using yellow, ochre, brown and orange to create energy and red and purple to prevent it. In this section you should have images of support, and metal windchimes.

Section 7 
is Lake 
and represents creativity, joy and children. Its colours are the same as section 6. Place images of playfullness, childrens paintings, animals, vases of flowers, ornaments, games and metal windchimes in this area.

Section 8 
is Mountain 
and represents inner knowledge, wisdom and quiet. Colours in this section should be orange, brown and ochre, with red and purple to add positive energy and green and pale blue to create negative energy. Put heavy objects and cabinets in this section to represent the mountain.

Section 9 
is Fire 
and represents illumination of self, reputation and fame. Colours for this section are red and purple. Use green and pale blue to create energy, and navy and black to create negative energy in this area. Display images of heroes, ambitions and dreams, paintings and sculptures.

As well as this, you should think about where you place your furniture. Think of energy as a kind of wind blowing in through your door and around your room, getting into all the nooks and crannies. You don't want lots of places where it can get stuck. The book also suggested using throws to cover sharp corners, which are said to cause a turbulant energy flow. 

It's also very important to make sure that you like what you're looking at! Common sense really- but don't have anything out on show that makes you feel bad. Take down any photos or pictures you might have that remind you of things you'd rather not think about. Only display things that fill you with happy memories and thoughts. Place mirrors carefully. Mirrors are very important in Feng Shui. Used properly they can make a space look bigger. It's also a really good idea to have them facing something that looks nice. So if you've got a lovely view from your window, put your mirror opposite the window. If you have a brick wall outside your window, make sure you can't see it in the mirror! I have also made a conscious effort to hide everything in my bedroom that has anything to do with work. This is my place for resting now.

I noticed the difference in my room immediately. At first I put it down to the feeling of change and the fact that my room was tidy... but in the weeks since I rearranged it, I have loved spending time in my bedroom. It feels cosy. I can't put my finger on what I like about it now... it just feels nice to be in!

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