Over the past two years of additional indoor time, I’ve been willing to try anything that might give me a new perspective on my living space. Unfortunately, that often meant spending my money on a new item, followed by little return for my happiness. Funny how that is.
So I came up with the idea of Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”), a spiritual practice directly related to how our physical environment affects the flow of energy. It originated in China thousands of years ago and has grown in popularity in the United States in recent decades. Feng means ‘wind’ and shui means ‘water’, two powerful yet calming natural forces that can direct your sensitivity.
“When you live with intention, you create balance and joy in your life,” said Sara Bird Nelson, a certified BTB feng shui consultant and teacher based in Gorham. “Feng Shui gives people more power in their lives.”
While there are deep, complex feng shui theories about the materials you use in your home or the placement of objects based on cardinal points, there are also simple, no-cost practices that will transform the spirit of your home and your own everyone can refresh the day.
STEP ONE: CLEAN UP
Sara Bird Nelson always begins her counseling sessions by cleaning up and reorganizing. Physical clutter becomes visual clutter, which can have a significant impact on our ability to think or feel clearly. “Cleaning your home is a way of honoring your home and thereby honoring yourself,” Nelson said. She noted that fans of Marie Kondo might find some feng shui practices familiar, such as “everything should have its place and when not in use, it should be there.”
STEP TWO: CLEAR OUT
Like cobwebs and dust bunnies, feng shui says that dead energy also accumulates in the corners of our homes. The traditional method of clearing corner energies is to smack the area a few times, but you can also use sage, a hand fan, or whatever works for you.
“When you’re feeling blah, it will move energy through your home, which will help your creativity thrive,” said Nelson, who is doing the same after recovering from illness.
Another opportunity to clean up corners is when you’ve just had guests over, perhaps an uncharacteristically overwhelming experience after a second COVID winter. “When you clear dead energy, you restore the boundaries of your home and re-center yourself,” Nelson said.
STEP THREE: OPEN THE DOORS
When doors present opportunities, we want to make sure they open for us. “In New England, we often have two or three doors to our house, but we only use one,” Nelson said, observing how people, including her family, typically go in and out through the door closest to our parking lot.
Now that spring is here, Nelson suggests leaving your less-used entryways open for a while while you’re home, longer if you have a screen or storm door. Take a moment to sit on the front steps you never take. They can also place bells at or near entrances so they can ring prosperity like the bells in a shopkeeper’s door.
STEP FOUR: CHECK THE FLOW
Water is a powerful element that is constantly in motion. To optimize your overall home flow, start with a newly opened door and walk through your home as if you’ve never been there before, following the paths of least resistance. Nelson says you want a “meandering energy” like a river. You don’t want a big block, but if you encounter a long hallway, consider punctuating the space with a small table or piece of art, such as a table. B. a boulder that slows the speed of the water.
Speaking of blockages, the best advice I can give anyone, including myself, is when you’re limited by space and budget, focus on what’s possible in your home, not the shortcomings. And while it’s not as fun as decorating, cleaning, and disposing of items, it gives you room to expand and evaluate what’s really needed. Nelson wanted to throw an awkwardly placed ottoman into her home that the family dog likes to sit on. That’s why her human family won’t let her dissuade her.
“So I walk around it!” she said, laughing. “Reality is not perfect. We need to live in the homes we have and we can find ways to honor our space as we go about our daily lives.”
MORE REDECORATING TIPS
Nelson says the following are the top three issues her clients are concerned about and the feng shui practices she suggests to tend to them. To get started, refer to a simple Google-enabled bagua map with nine squares.
love and relationships
No matter where it is in the house, the bedroom sets the energy for your romantic relationships. If you’re in a relationship or looking for one, keep straight numbers in your bedroom—even pillows, nightstands, and lamps. As a couple, you don’t want extra space for someone, while being single frees up space for that future partner.
career or purpose in life
This area of your life is influenced by the room in the front, center of your home. To encourage your ability to grow through learning and teaching, highlight this area, which could be an entrance hall or a kitchen, with blue colors and glass materials like mirrors to help you think clearly. Avoid grounding materials like ceramics, the earth element, which can cloud the river’s water.
wealth and abundance
What would be the room in the far left corner from the front entrance of your home? Here lies your potential for financial and spiritual wealth. Feng shui principles suggest decorating with elements of growth to cultivate these riches. Use wood grain furniture, woodland or floral artwork, or if there is western light, select and care for houseplants. Avoid metals that “cut” wood.
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