A reader asked a very key question: “What’s a good way to start using feng shui?”
My Answer: A good first step to experiencing the power of feng shui principles in action is to do the somewhat obvious: get rid of all your messes. But I want to shine a little more light on the idea of clutter clearing as it applies to feng shui.
I have included this lovely illustration of an installation entitled “Waste Not” by artist Song Dong that was on view at MoMA in 2009. Song Dong’s “Waste Not” installation is a meticulously catalogued and categorized artwork borne from the clutter that his mother had accumulated over her lifetime in her home in China. Her “hoarding” – if you will- would be vilified today, but it fits culturally with the spirit of the Chinese belief that nothing should be wasted. This artwork makes the monumental force of our consumer culture and “fixation with stuff” glaringly hard to ignore.
Making beautiful piles or lovely, catalogued drawers, full of things that are extraneous is still clutter. You can have the most organized, even artistically profound, collection of clutter and its still clutter. Really removing what you do not need from your home- donating, selling, gifting, recycling, shredding- is a fantastic first step to clearing clutter. It is not unusual to hear from my feng shui clients that they have hauled 5-10 trash bags filled with stuff to the Goodwill or the trash bin, stuff they never realized was just “extra.”
All this aside, collections are different from clutter. If you have a collection of anything that you value- from magnets to teapots- feel free to display them proudly. If they overwhelm your home, however, that’s when you need to get crafty in creating space. In the fabulous documentary Herb & Dorothy, the couple began collecting art in New York – passionately collecting- on their Postal Service salaries… and carried on for decades. They amassed a collection of some of the most stellar art, which literally filled every free square foot of their perhaps 400-square-foot apartment. When a museum came to collect their art collection from this tiny apartment, it filled several enormous moving trucks. No one could believe how much art could fit in a small space. While I don’t recommend sleeping with your paintings under your bed, I am willing to make some exceptions to the “clutter rule” for collections… but not many!
Right now I have at least 40 lbs. of stuff to carry from my living room closet to my car to donate later today. That’s my final word on clutter— clearing it makes you lighter, physically, mentally and emotionally. In crisis times, purging junk can lift your spirits. Purging can be key to creating space for better ideas and more money to flow into your life. Clutter-dumping can help you shed pounds as you shed negative emotional attachments to the past and to stuff that no longer serves you.
Plus, if you don’t dump your junk now, you will end up hiring me and I will spend enormous amounts of time persuading you to clear your clutter rather than focusing of the feng shui jedi stuff that you need me for! So… start dumping!!!
If you have a feng shui question that you’d like answered, please join me on Facebook or Tumblr to join the forums of question-askers! I do my best to answer every general (and sometimes specific) question I receive!
And, if you are ready to design your dream life, you can always work with me one-on-one online or in-person to make the big moves!
Always, I love hearing from you! xoxo Dana
Great article and visuals! So true that the first step is to get rid of what you don’t need so that you can honor what you have!