Domestic Victim: Why I Turned to Feng Shui
A Cluttered Interior
The curse of the spring-clean
It is no coincidence, methinks, that the Lenten period coincides with that of the spring-clean. This is the time of year when the sun rises earlier and sets later, shining through to every domestic nook and cranny, and no longer can you shroud your dusty household gods in their shadowy, comforting cloak of winter darkness. Shocking the body that has grown languid and lazy throughout the months of cold and inclement weather into a taut and pleasure-denying moral regime is akin to that of eliminating domestic streaks of dirt, spots of grease and dancing dust motes. However, the annual make-out has always left me feeling dissatisfied, especially when a few weeks later, the household spaces look as if they have never been touched by duster, broom or mop. The dust motes dance merrily as ever, the streaks of grease and grime return with a new determination and every carefully put-away item sneaks back to its recently vacated place, like the return of avenging ghosts. This year, determined not to be beaten by grime and disorder, I turned eastwards to the ancient art of feng shui. This is the philosophy that sets out the ideal environment in which to live, with regard to the position of your house, the placing of the furniture, the colour of the walls and the elimination of clutter. If your efforts to stay clean and uncluttered are continually defeating you, then you are quite likely attracting detrimental chi, a kind of negative energy from the incorrect configuration of one of the above. As a believer in the spirit world, I had no problem in accepting the existence of this energy. Using an article in a magazine as a reference (see Sources below), I rather rose to the challenge of defeating the dark forces that were keeping my house, well, dark. Nothing is as simple as it seems, however.
We need to talk about clutter
Apparently, you can identify this detrimental chi by following symptoms. Inside the home, look for light bulbs blowing and electrical equipment frequently breaking down, the presence of damp and mould, and cold spots and excessive clutter. Outside the home, you can identify detrimental chi (also known as geopathic stress) by looking for patches of soil where plants and flowers won’t grow, trees bending to one side, the growth of “excessive” ivy, armies of mushrooms, legions of ants and wasps, and the frequent presence of cats in the garden. You can rid the area of its negative energy by pushing wooden stakes into the ground (I always thought the wooden stake treatment was for getting rid of vampires).
A quick trek of my garden area drew a blank on bald patches and bending trees. It was the wrong season for ants, wasps and mushrooms. There is a growth of ivy on one tree trunk that I didn’t think “excessive” and as for cats, I rather welcome the furry, whiskered creatures into my green space. So, what was causing my indoor clutter? I read deeper into the feng shui principles of house orientation.
Roses Round the Door?
Encouraging Beneficial Chi
Ideally, your house should sited be at or near the centre of the street, so that it is “supported” well on either side, and the back of the house should be supported by other buildings or even a tree. Also, the buildings overlooking the house should not be very much taller, in case you become “overwhelmed”. I drew a positive on all of these criteria, but I had a problem with the following.
Make sure there is nothing blocking your front door. I don’t know if my front door is the entrance to the block I live in or the door of my actual apartment. One resident parks his car in front of the block entrance when he is at home, and a stairwell balcony is placed yards from my apartment entrance. I can’t change either of these factors, nor would it be desirable. To complicate matters, there is no front view of the block from any of my windows – I can see out the back and both sides - and the front of the block overlooks the side of another building. There is more confusion.
Do not live in a house in front of a T-junction. I live on one side of a road leading to a T-junction; does this count?
Make sure that there are no electrical stations, pools of polluted water or hazardous chemicals stored near your home. There are electrical substations on every urban street – how could there not be? I can’t see any polluted water or hazardous chemicals around, but how can you tell if they are there and hidden?
The area around garbage bins should be clean, and well away from the front door. The designated garbage and recycling bin area for our block is shielded by a high wall and strip of garden. It is always clean and tidy.
Place pots of flowers on the right side of the front door, (with your back to the front door and you looking onto the street). I have already explained the complications involving the two doors, neither of which looks onto the street. There is a strip of garden (with lots of flowers) beside the block entrance door, but it is on the left side.
If you really want beneficial chi to enter your home, build a little porch onto the front, where good feelings will gather before entering the house. If my stairwell serves the purpose of a porch, then fine.
Paint the interior walls painted in a neutral shade, keeping them fresh and bright by repainting. No problem here; my walls have been delicate magnolia since I moved into the apartment.
The Dazzling Solution
Puzzled, I went to bed and fell asleep and dreamed. I dreamed that I was in a dark place, running and running while a thin, young man with reflective, orange sleeves chased me. Although I ran on terra firma, the man seemed to glide about the place, as if the ground beneath him was oiled. Although he did not speak, I knew that he had something important to tell me. I awoke and asked help from my Dream Angel in finding the meaning of the dream. It was soon apparent; the orange sleeves of the young man highlighted his elbows and he was gliding around as if on – grease?
Elbow grease is amazing stuff. It doesn’t cost anything to buy and is non-polluting, both in manufacture and use. With just a little of it mixed with furniture polish and window cleaner, you can transform your smudged, smeared and dusty living space into a haven of cleanliness. Elbow grease works equally well with dusters, mops and electrical equipment, like vacuum cleaners. What is more, elbow grease is indispensable in clearing clutter. From my experience of this marvellous stuff, I developed the following spring-cleaning checklist.
The Cleaning Checklist
Before beginning actual cleaning, clear out the clutter and junk, old clothing, broken and unwanted items. In addition to making the actual cleaning easier, the freed space will fill you with energy.
Arm yourself with a full complement of cleaning products and equipment before beginning work, glass cleaner, furniture polish, surface cleansers, mop, bucket, dusters and vacuum cleaner. The more companions you have, the less alone you will feel on your task – and don’t forget that elbow grease.
Clean the windows first. The light pouring in through sparkling panes will enable you to see dirt better.
Divide your rooms into zones. Create a schedule for cleaning each zone and tick it off the list, when it is done. This way, the task is much more manageable and you can see the progress you are making. You can have more than one zone in each room; both my living room and kitchen have three zones. Cover items of soft furniture with dustsheets before beginning work in that zone.
Wash down painted areas; doors, skirting boards and window frames with hot, soapy water. Keep a tin of paint and brush handy for covering irredeemable scuff and scratch marks.
Don’t try to tackle “specialist” jobs, like oven cleaning, at the same time as the general cleaning. Place those tasks at the end of your schedule for when all else is done.
Always clean “top down”, first knocking dust from ceiling fittings and high ledges, followed by mid-height furniture and ornaments and finally, vacuuming floors and carpets. Be prepared to wash the odd, mucky spot on the carpet with soap and water or even carpet shampoo.
To celebrate when you have ticked all of the boxes, do something feel good, like throwing a small party for friends. Finally, I do actually believe in the principle of feng shui. There may even be such a thing as geopathic stress. When I have made my fortune, I will move to a house with a porch at the front, trees at the back, etc. But in the meantime, I will never use geopathic stress as an excuse for a cluttered house and I will always welcome a cat into my garden.
A Harmonius Home with Feng Shui Tips by Effie Petras, from Soul & Spirit magazine, June 2013