My interest in Feng Shui started when I was in college 20 years ago, studying architecture. I was working on a model of a home for a Shaman, and my teacher handed me a book on Feng Shui. I am a very unique home organizer, because I weave together elements of health, creativity, energy work, and home organization. The work I do is best understood if you look at it through the lens of Feng Shui. To most people, these seemingly unrelated topics, may seem like I have a very broad scope. But these concepts are foundational to even begin to understand Feng Shui.
What is Feng Shui?
It literally translates to Wind Water. Classical Feng Shui originated in China and is 5000-6000 years old. Other cultures use it too. Feng Shui practitioners use the teachings of the ancient classic text, the I Ching, as a point of reference. Roger Green and William Spear are two of the major pioneers of Feng Shui in the West. Roger Green, teaches the more classical approach of the Form School. William Spear created Intuitive Feng Shui. There are many other influential teachers, but these are the two that I am choosing to reference for this post.
Feng Shui became popular in the 1990s in the United States. Roger Green refers to it as kind of the “last kid on the block” in terms of the Eastern influence on Western culture. Here is a very abbreviated timeline to some of the events that helped pave the way for Feng Shui in the West. (Although extraordinarily important, to keep it simple, I’ve intentionally left art, architecture, religion, and a variety of other topics out of this timeline.)
1930’s and 40’s- Dr. Mikao Usui developed the energetic healing modality, Reiki in Japan in 1922. It was brought over to the United states in 1937.
1950’s and 60s- Macrobiotics and whole foods became popular, introduced to the West by Michio Kushi, student of Japanese philosopher, Georges Ohsawa.
1950’s, 60’s and 70’s- Martial Arts such as Karate, Jujutsu, and Judo (among others) became popular.
1970’s and 1980’s- Traditional Chinese Medicine has been firmly established, especially Acupuncture. The pivotal moment here was when Nixon went to China in 1972 and James Reston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, underwent an emergency appendectomy. The doctors used acupuncture to treat his post-operative pain.
1990’s- Feng Shui became popular in Western Culture.
To understand this history a little deeper, let’s start with the energetic healing modality of Reiki. Dr. Usui passed it on to several practitioners including Dr. Hayashi. Hayashi further developed Usui’s system of Reiki, and passed it on to Mrs. Takata, who brought it back to Hawaii in 1937, and spread her teachings to the United States. If you count Dr. Usui as the first generation of Reiki, I am a 10th generation Reiki Master. Although I don’t practice any Martial Arts, and have never studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I am a huge fan of acupuncture. Matthew Flesch and Inger Johnson are two of my favorites. TCM looks at the meridians of the body to allow for chi (or “ki”, “prana”, “life force energy”) to flow easily and harmoniously. Ayurvedic medicine (originating in India) observes the 7 main energy centers called “chakras”. (There are 7 main chakras, but many more mini chakras). Reiki also looks closely at the body’s chakras. Reiki is also used environmentally, to clear passages and to free up energetic blockages, to guide energy to flow easily within spaces, or even for events, thoughts, and other actions. It’s pretty darn cool! I use Reiki, and other energetic healing modalities, on a regular basis with my clients.
Then there is Macrobiotics. In 1971, William Spear went to Europe and was a student of the I Ching. He met Asian teachers who introduced him to the work of Japanese philosopher, Georges Ohsawa, founder of the macrobiotic diet. Michio Kushi was a student of Georges Ohsawa, and further propelled his teaching of macrobiotics. Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, also studied extensively with Michio Kushi. I have been a student of Joshua Rosenthal, and hold a health coaching certification through his school. I have a deep respect for Joshua Rosenthal, as he created the field of health coaching. It’s through Rosenthal’s teachings that I talk about the Wheel of Life in the way that I do. Although the Wheel that I’ve created is different than the one Rosenthal created, we both talk about it in terms of achieving balance and experiencing synchronicity. When looked at through the lens of Feng Shui, it’s very much like the concept of the Bagua (explained below). Because everything is interconnected, making shifts in one area of the home will undoubtedly impact other areas as well.
To those who cannot understand what they cannot measure and see, Feng Shui may look like a lot of superstitious beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll pick always pick a 4-leafed clover when I see one, but some superstitions can be downright toxic to believe. I am a proponent of creating boundaries with belief systems. When you can grasp the importance of the invisible energy around you, Feng Shui is meant to harmonize, and bring environments into balance through using natural patterns and forces of nature. Feng Shui can also be viewed from a very dogmatic and limiting perspective. This is not helpful. Allow for change. Don’t be too ridged. Guide, but don’t restrict.
“Feng Shui is too powerful to ignore, and too important to trivialize.” -William Spear.
In the early days of William Spear’s Feng Shui teaching, he would send the students home with a big black trash bag. Clearing clutter is the absolute foundation of good Feng Shui. Creating space in this way, removing unused items, washing dusty sheets, clearing out the old physical energy MUST HAPPEN “before the magic can take hold”. -William Spear
Spear also says that he would walk into homes for consultations, and the primary concern for his client may have been money or relationship issues. He couldn’t help but notice the food in their pantry. Health issues will overshadow any other issue.
It’s “pointless to tell them where to place the bed if dinner was going to be another fast food takeout meal.” -William Spear
I firmly believe that to be true for me, yet talking about diet can be such a highly guarded subject for so many people. My job as a practitioner is to show the interconnectedness between the relationship of our inner and outer worlds, at the rate that is right for my clients.
What is the Bagua?
Many schools of Feng Shui use the Bagua as a way to think about the spaces in the home. The way the Bagua is placed can vary depending on the various schools, but I will explain the most common way I’ve seen it used. The Bagua is composed of nine “squares”. These shapes can be stretched depending on the shape of the footprint of the dwelling. Each square refers to an area of life, and a natural element. The idea is to have energy, objects, visual imagery, and other sensory elements that support each of these areas.
1) The Journey (or “Career”), Water
2) Relationships, Earth
3) Elders, Thunder
4) Fortunate Blessings (or “Wealth”), Wind
5) Health, Tai Chi
6) Helpful Friends, Heaven
7) Creativity (or Children), Lake
8) Contemplation (or “Knowledge”), Mountain
9) Illumination (or “Fame”), Fire
Here is how the Bagua is often arranged. In “Black Hat” or “Black Sect” Feng Shui, they place the Bagua at the front door, meaning where “The Journey” section is. Classical Feng Shui aligns the Water (Career, Journey, #1) section of the Bagua with North. That’s how I do it.
To begin to Feng Shui your home…
1) Envision what you’d like each of these areas of your life to look like. What kinds of sensory images would you like to be represented in each area?
2) Survey your home as it relates to the Bagua. What messages are currently being conveyed in each area?
3) Clear Clutter. Remove anything that no longer serves you. Make space for something new to come into your life. Clear the clutter in your physical space, but clear it as much as possible in your areas of life too. You may want to make space on your schedule, refrain from eating processed food (at least for a period of time), and reduce time spent with negative ideas (this could mean personal relationships, the news, or maybe even your own thoughts.)
4) Energetically clear the space.
5) Choose a few Feng Shui “cures” to implement in the areas you feel inspired to enhance or shift. Use your intuition to move furniture, change imagery, use colors, place objects, or implement other sensory changes. Feng Shui practitioners may also use mirrors, crystals, lights, wind chimes, sounds, plants, flowers, water, fish tanks, artwork, and any number of other cures. More on this in subsequent posts. Please remember to clear the clutter first. Because using these cures will amplify the energy in a space, you want to make sure you’re amplifying the right kind of energy. For example, placing a crystal in a cluttered space will increase the clutter.
“No number of the finest crystals hung anywhere can have as much of a lasting impact as a shift in consciousness to improve one’s diet and way of life.” -William Spear
If you want to learn more about Feng Shui, check out my 2018 blog post, Clearing Clutter with Feng Shui.
Want to take it a step farther? Sign up for my free 4 Day Color to Declutter Challenge.
Become part of a like-minded community by joining my Facebook Group, Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle.
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