Cleaning the Garage and Workbench Feng Shui Style


Common sense cleaning and organizing automatically incorporates the fundamentals of Black Hat Feng Shui. Yes, even in a garage, you will get “two-fer” credit when you start cleaning !

Labels add to the serenity of the workbench

What a simple thing to do.
What a simple thing to do. | Source

For people who are not naturally neatniks, the workbench and the garage offer bountiful opportunities to leave messes and piles. Fitting an actual vehicle INSIDE the garage can seem like pie-in-the-sky fantasy. If the family workbench and tool supply occupy the garage, the balancing of needs and functions can potentially turn into war. By forcing oneself into even a little common sense cleaning, one can simultaneously keep the peace and claim the benefits of trendy Feng Shui.

Quick Feng Shui Primer

The Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui dates back thousands of years. Its goal is to increase positive energy in one’s life. The classic practitioners accomplished this through the orientation of buildings and the structures inside them to the earth. Of course, every philosophy evolves over time. When Westerners re-established contact with China in the latter part of the twentieth century, a New Age twist on Feng Shui developed. It calls itself Black Hat Sect (or Black Tantric Buddhist Sect) Feng Shui. Instead of using the earth, magnetic poles, or geographic poles as a reference point, it focuses on one’s living space as the primary entity.

Man Caves and Chinese VooDoo?

Even though I love playing with table saws and power drills, I will concede that in much of America the man of the house more strongly attaches himself emotionally to the workbench. Therefore, I will frequently use the masculine pronoun in this article.

Some men keep immaculate shops. These men recognize the value in cleaning, sharpening, and oiling their tools to prolong their life and usefulness. (Of the tools, that is.) Furthermore, shop safety principles maintain that a clean floor and workspace promote no “time lost through accidents.” Everything hums wonderfully. These mechanics are already Feng Shui-ing without knowing it.

Easy to Find; Easy to Put Back

Other schools of thought might call this "a place for everything and everything in its place."
Other schools of thought might call this "a place for everything and everything in its place." | Source


In contrast, other workshop users find more than enough challenge in completing a project successfully and economically. After all the thumbs are banged, swear words explode, and wingnuts fall into the great void, these do-it-yourself-ers want to run away as fast as they can. Spending one more hour in the shop to put it back into tip-top shape does not compute for them. There are only so many hours in a day….

Nonetheless, every few years or so, the latter can persuade themselves to attack the garage and workshop. And, when they do, they can claim that they practice the au courrant Feng Shui.

In the love and romance corner

A red cloth covers the table saw which happens to be in the love and romance area.  Red and pink are very auspicious colors - but this is going too far!
A red cloth covers the table saw which happens to be in the love and romance area. Red and pink are very auspicious colors - but this is going too far! | Source

Are we talking crystals, Buddha statues, and bamboo windchimes?

Black Hat Feng Shui does divide each room into eight parts, each having significance for a particular human need. However, it seems extremely ridiculous to attend to a love and romance corner in a workshop/garage. Well, perhaps I speak too soon. Weren’t “girlie calendars” a popular decorating feature for auto mechanics in the twentieth century? Although some of the trinkets mentioned in the heading are offered as suggestions for focusing one’s consciousness on strengthening each area of life, they are merely light suggestions. More importantly, Black Hat Feng Shui has several over-arching guidelines which fit right in with cleaning ideas in America. Really.

First, clean versus filthy dirty

We all know that clean tools run better. Clean containers close more tightly. Dirt and dust constitute hazards to the personal environment according to public health standards and Black Hat Feng Shui. So, clean it up!

Yuck

Dust, cobwebs, dirt - it does not take Feng Shui to know these must go!
Dust, cobwebs, dirt - it does not take Feng Shui to know these must go! | Source

Next, unobstructed light

The obstruction could be dirty windows, or it could be burned-out bulbs. Neither is considered good for positive energy. Light and some air movement are considered to be positive energy. So, by wiping any windows and for-goodness-sakes replacing a few bulbs instead of blaming the outlet – one is already highly Feng Shui compliant.

Working light bulbs

Wow - let there be light!  This is a no-brainer and it is Feng Shui!
Wow - let there be light! This is a no-brainer and it is Feng Shui! | Source

After that, uncluttered versus cluttered

If piles of tools, projects waiting to be completed, or papers and trash block your ability to work, then they are also blocking the positive energy from circulating, according to Feng Shui principles. So, re-think what you really need and use and recycle the rest. Don’t be like the sewing hobbyists with bumper stickers reading “She who dies with the most fabric wins.”

One's well-being is not enhanced by digging through five boxes of clutter to find a tool or supply.
One's well-being is not enhanced by digging through five boxes of clutter to find a tool or supply. | Source
No tool hides behind another.
No tool hides behind another. | Source

Finally, surround oneself with smile-inducing items


Broken possessions usually do not bring smiles. So, fix them or ditch them. Saving the wobbly ladder that you fell off three summers ago, requiring a trip to the emergency room and stitches: that is not good Feng Shui. What tools do you like to use – do you like to “play” with? Keep them in full sight. Go ahead – hang up a picture or a calendar featuring pictures of your favorite hobby, sport, or your favorite place.

One does not need Buddha. Perhaps a coat of fresh paint on the garage wall in a color you like would brighten your mood and energy flow. A weather-proof poster of your ideal vacation should probably fit somewhere. Or, if you like to sit on a stool at the workbench, make it a really comfortable one, one that says "welcome" to you.


Not so hard, eh?

Replacing lightbulbs and shop-vacuuming the sawdust under the table saw are good practices, whether they are done weekly or every three years. To call it Feng Shui may take us away from our comfort zone. But, all the same, I think I have proven it truly is compatible with those ancient Chinese beliefs about maximizing the positive in your life by auspiciously arranging your environment. Arranging your environment to support you --- think about it in that language and it makes sense even to the most traditional manly man.

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan

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