See Calm, Be Calm with Feng Shui Home Tips
With the arrival of the warmer months and more available daylight, many of us find our fast-forward lives accelerating even more. Our homes, which ideally should serve as quiet sanctuaries of peace and nurturing energies to restore our equilibrium, often contribute to our chaos and stress levels instead. A home filled with clutter or imbalance cues messages of stress back to our subconscious mind, causing us to trample even faster on the treadmill of life.
The science and art of feng shui has been practiced in the Far East for centuries as an antidote to our sense of disconnection and overwhelm within our environments. Its mindful and often subtle use of the five elements — water, wood, earth, fire, and metal — along with intentional object placement and color selection can shift an uncomfortable space with agitated energy into one that is sustaining on many levels. We can derive immediate benefits from this practice with some easy-to-follow basic guidelines.
Balance the Five Elements
Begin with balancing the five elements of water, wood, earth, fire, and metal and check for their harmonious use. You may be surprised at how the obvious has been overlooked! Start with the basics:
Is there too much fire energy in a quiet, personal space such as a bedroom? The bedroom is a quiet, yin space and a location for the shielding elements of earth, wood, and water to bring a sense of calm. The water element puts out excess fire with flowing, asymmetrical lines. Dark blues and black get us in touch with our feelings and emotions. The wood element provides the nurturing and healing connection to the natural world with plants, soft fabrics and wallpapers. Earth stabilizes and grounds us with the colors of cinnamon, rose, burnt orange, and yellow.
Many of us are not having enough restful, deep sleep because our bedrooms are too energized with fiery red tones, animal prints, intense lighting, computers and electronics that are always on, cell phones and texting tones going non-stop. Those struggling with sleep issues may suddenly find their problems reversed when soothing dark, earth tones are brought in, and electronics and excess mirrors are removed. Focus on using soft fabrics without distinct textures in a variety of shades from medium blue to midnight blue and black. Small amounts of crystal and glass will also help to encourage the calming effects of still, yin water.
Is your bedroom too bright? Excessive use of artificial lighting has created the unfortunate phenomena of light pollution in our non-stop, 24/7 culture. Especially for urban dwellers, the constant intrusion of nighttime commercial lighting seeps into our bedrooms and disrupts normal circadian rhythms, prohibiting deep sleep. Dimmers, warmer tones, low wattage bulbs and smaller fixtures increase our chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Start by turning down all but one or two smaller lights at least an hour before retiring to allow the body to transition naturally into the evening’s quiet energy. Unlike the on and off switch on your wall, your body needs adequate time to shift out of the active yang energy of the day into the still yin energy of night.
Mindfully walk through your home with feng shui eyes open. The simple but powerful corrective of adjusting the five elements and yin/yang balance will go a long way towards creating more calm in your living environment. Even our most yang public spaces such as living rooms and family rooms tend to be overly active. We have revved up our lives far too much, and consequently seek out the familiarity of busy and buzzing environments. A plethora of LED-blinking electronics with a profusion of wires everywhere or the use of primary and/or bright colors that do not harmonize and disrupt visual flow can easily turn a room into one, big yang screech!
Step back from these spaces to create more healing living spaces in your home. Turn the visual and auditory volumes down to help the conscious and unconscious minds recalibrate to a more natural, healing balance. Simply put: “See calm, be calm.”
Your home is a mirror of your internal state of being. If you enter a room and are greeted with pointy, sharp, angular, prickly, busy and chaotic visuals and sensations, sanctuary is hard to find. Likewise, the broken chair hidden in a corner, the ripped edge of a window treatment or the cracked vase are cues that trigger you to remain in a state of anxiety; something’s not right. Desensitized to their presence, however, you are not even aware of their counterproductive messaging power.
Bring Nature Indoors
Pay attention to nature’s cycles and seasons and live in harmony with them. Our physical body is our first home; our dwellings become our second one. Just as we naturally use more yang foods and clothing choices in summer, and more yin choices in winter, our spaces need to be aligned with seasonal requirements if we are to be fully supported. For summer remove heavy, dark drapes, use lighter color and fabric slipcovers, and eat more upward-growing, plant-based foods.
Biomimicry is the study of mimicking nature to find solutions that will insure human survival on the planet. For instance, like plants, humans are phototropic; we are hardwired to move towards natural sunlight with its life-affirming solar rhythms. Using full-spectrum or natural solar lighting indoors mimics the 1500 wavelengths of sunlight that reaches our retina and nourishes our body and brain. Artificial lighting that bears no resemblance to sun or moonlight streaming through our windows increases our subtle sense of agitation and disconnection from our own well being, and is often cited as an underlying cause for depression and seasonally-affected mood swings.
Employ the concept of biomimicry when making choices for your lawns, gardens, and planting arrangements outside. Using drought-resistant species in desert areas is an example of allowing nature to demonstrate the most beneficial use of the land for all concerned. Bring these plants inside as well. Connect yourself with the productive cycles of the elements and allow nature to show you what it needs to sustain itself and thrive.
Morphic resonance is the idea that every substance in nature has its own unique “signature,” and this essence is found in even the smallest amount. The mere act of bringing a lovely seashell into your home, with all of its specific, watery, healing energies will also carry with it the collective consciousness of all seashells and, thus, the exponential multiplication of its positive presence. Like connects to like. Integrating the unseen power of plants, stones, rocks and creatures in our indoor environments helps us more fully integrate our lives with the blue and green world outside of our buildings, leading to improved mental health.
What does your house sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Are you greeted with chemical or moldy odors, or dingy views that do not delight the senses? A house that has not been recently and thoroughly cleaned will cause the same reaction we have to a person who does not shower regularly. We are repelled, not encouraged, to come closer to this energy field. This lack of attention indicates a sense of despondency and hopelessness, and these negative emotions will be continually reinforced as we enter such a space.
Use the wood element where this situation exists in the form of purifying and energizing plants to shift the energy immediately. Fresh flowers placed in a dim space quickly work their powerful magic as well. Notice how uplifted you feel when gazing upon a bouquet of even the most humble wildflowers. Roses are said to carry one of the most healing vibrations on the planet. A single rose placed in your line of sight will bring a world of luscious, calming roses into your energy field.
Are there too many harsh, right angles and too few flowing, curving lines and shapes in your environment? In nature, energy ideally moves in a soft flow. A long, unbroken hallway allows energy to speed through and not meander into a space to nourish it.
Adjust the flow of energy in a space by counteracting with an equal and opposing force. To add horizontal energy to balance out fast-moving vertical, place pictures on the walls or a carpet runner that aligns side to side. Hang a crystal to disperse shooting energy. As your eye is distracted and slowed down by these visual cues, so too, will the energy that enters the space.
Are you able to enter each room of your home and find clear horizontal space? Clutter works Iike a black hole to suck the life force and healing energy out of a space. Unaligned, poorly hung pictures on the wall or clothing and paper precariously stacked everywhere will only reinforce your sense of “being on edge.”
Consider the toxic chemical load present in your home if you are not using natural and sustainable materials. The new furniture and carpets you have just purchased may also possibly have hidden health costs from the outgassing of harmful chemicals for many months or years to come. Listen to your body and pay attention to complaints it registers about how furnishings look, smell, feel or even taste!
Nature strives toward a state of balance, safety, and grounding. Feng shui masters discovered that living in harmony with the natural elements, the landscape, and the cycles of nature provided rewards such as good health, a positive outlook and abundance. The more the natural world is intentionally incorporated into a dwelling, the more its occupants will thrive, sending positive ripples into all aspects of their lives.
Karen Feldman is a certified feng shui practitioner and interior designer, and the owner since 1994 of Urban Eden, a full-service holistic interior design firm in Providence, RI. Karen helps her residential, commercial and corporate clients to co-create spaces that are beautiful, functional and in alignment with the best interests of their well-being along with the planet’s. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.karenfeldmanurbaneden.com.