Spring Cleaning With Feng Shui: Remove It and Move On
by Susan Tartaglino
Nature is beautiful in its imperfections and seems to express itself most fervently with the arrival of Spring.
Life wakes up from the deep sleep of winter and everything comes alive. People just can’t wait to shed layers of clothing and feel the warmth of the sun on their skin. Nature responds the same way. The crocus and daffodil plants push their way thru the earth as they sprout new stalks and reach for the sun. Shrubs and trees start to form buds and are turning green.
The Chinese system of living in harmony with the natural elements and forces of earth is referred to as feng shui. This ancient philosophy demonstrates that the world is defined by the following five elements of nature: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Each element has its own specific characteristics, and can be described in terms of season, direction, color and shape. As a feng shui practitioner, it comes as no surprise to me that wood is the element of Spring, and that the direction associated with wood is east, where the sun rises and the day begins.
Wood promotes change. It represents flexibility, growth and new beginnings. Wood is represented thru the color green, which is also the color of photosynthesis. The shape for wood is tall, rectangular or treelike – all traits that are perfectly revealed during the Spring season.
Cyclically, Spring it is a natural time for us to focus on removing physical, mental and emotional clutter from our lives. Anything that is neglected, forgotten, unwanted, or unused will cause the energy in your home to slow and stagnate. Subsequently, you will feel clogged and stuck in the past – as if your life is not moving forward.
Disorder, confusion, chaos and blockage are not signs of a healthy space. When the energy in your home gets congested, so does your body. The stagnant energy of clutter pulls your energy down with it, which can lead to fatigue or depression and even illness.
Everything in your environment mirrors your inner self. A cluttered space actually reveals secrets about you. For instance, a garage that is in disarray from useless items and trash could indicate procrastination, while a basement packed with stale junk may signify living in the past or fear of an unknown future. Folks with attic clutter may tend to worry more about the future than others, which is a direct result of having all that stuff constantly "hanging over your head".
Having obstructions at the main entrance of your home can restrict the flow of opportunities coming to you. When furniture or other miscellaneous items, such as coat racks or hooks, prevent doors from fully opening, the energy is not allowed to flow freely in your space. As a result, everything you do takes more effort. Objects hanging from doorknobs are another form of thwarted energy. All of these obstructions may seem slight, but through the eyes of feng shui they symbolize stumbling blocks that can hinder us from feeling comfortable and balanced in our environment.
Clutter can be described as a confused multitude of things, but it can also be defined as follows:
- Anything that is not being used
- Things that are disorganized or disorderly
- Having too much stuff in a small space
- Anything that is unfinished
Inherited belongings that you don’t particularly like and unwanted gifts also fall into this category. Even unwelcomed and non-relaxing sounds can be counted as clutter!
Physical clutter in your home equates to clutter in your mind. Piles of paperwork, books, magazines, memorabilia, unused toiletries, etc., all have an insidious way of multiplying and haunting you in the process. Having a disorderly space creates mental clutter in the form of stress, frustration or depression. Other examples of mental clutter include worrying about finances or concerning yourself with goals that were never achieved.
From an emotional standpoint, there is a parallel line when dealing with clutter and dealing with difficult emotions. When we get rid of clothes that no longer fit or will likely never fit again, it reminds us that our aging bodies have changed. Removing possessions that belonged to a previous partner or someone who has passed on requires us to come to terms with our loss and feel grief, or to let go without feeling like we are betraying our love.
Getting our physical space in order allows us to regain a sense of clarity and order in our thoughts. To live without clutter is to trust and have faith in the choices we make. By becoming more conscious of what you allow and keep in your home, you will develop an ability to trust the decisions you make in life. The more you trust yourself, the more fulfilling your life will become.
Take the time to inventory your home (or office). De-clutter by asking yourself the following two questions: “Do I really need this?” “Is it something I really love?” The answer should be yes to at least one, but preferably to both of these questions.
A simple method to help you along is to get some boxes or garbage bags and label them:
Trash – remembering to recycle.
Give Away – which is really another form of recycling.
Put Away – for the things that have made the cut and will find their way to another place in your home.
You may also need a separate bag for repairs, but you must commit yourself to taking the time to get them repaired. There will be things that you just cannot part with at this point in time. Put them aside and give yourself a reminder to revisit them at a later date. Once you start the clearing process, however, you will feel so empowered that you will be surprised how easy it will become to release things!
Remember to get the belongings out of your space entirely. Putting them in nicely labeled boxes or bags and placing them in a garage or storeroom defeats the purpose as it keeps you psychically linked to them. Take that extra step to fully remove them from your property.
Remind yourself that it is safe to let go. Difficult feelings will likely come up as you work through this process. Acknowledge them and be gentle with yourself by taking baby steps and working at your own pace. Make a list and set realistic goals. Try one closet, one drawer or one shelf at a time and then give yourself the satisfaction of crossing if off your list. Each small area you clear releases energy and offers inspiration to continue.
Rather than look at the removal practice as a chore, consider it a way of honoring yourself and taking back control of your life. Remember, you are free to create a personal living space of your own choosing.
Let a little Spring cleaning and clutter clearing lighten your load physically, mentally and emotionally. You will see procrastination dissolving and find yourself motivated for a lifestyle change. Follow nature’s lead – now is the time to be like wood. Welcome change and try new things; take a few risks and be flexible in your thoughts and actions.