Feng Shui: Uplifting Bathrooms

Dear Lynn,
Can you talk a little bit about clutter? My husband is notorious for allowing clutter to build up at his work bench, in his truck, in the garage — any place I don’t clean regularly is a pig-pile of clutter and he refuses to allow me to clean up “his” areas. There are narrow little walking paths around the piles of clutter and in front of the doors. I’m hoping he might gain some insight reading your response. Thanks Lynn! — Living with a Hoarder

Dear Living,

Clutter, that much maligned stagnant energy, is a tomb of postponed decisions and unrealized potential. It tends to collect on counters and floors and creates areas you can’t use or occupy. If you think this is just giving you less usable space, think again. It is shrinking your own energy field. Living with boundaries that you do or do not acknowledge erodes your focus, limits possibility and creates a lifestyle of adaptation that is not, in this case, beneficial.

To demonstrate this with your body try clearing an area that has been congested, then walk into it and notice your change in posture. I guarantee you’ll stand up a little straighter. Without navigating these clutter blocks (dams, practically!) you will be more open and freer to move ahead, to sense this possibility viscerally. Instead of lowering your expectations you can free yourself to grow. A few days of unopened mail won’t be your undoing, but opportunities? They can’t find you. The longer clutter continues, the smaller your world can get.

In addition to the sluggishness of clutter, which feeds on itself by always creating more, take a look at the baguaand evaluate where most of this stuck energy has accumulated. Most likely there will be lack of progress and struggle in the corresponding life issue where the clutter has concentrated — love, career, money sector. This clutter situation can also add momentum to the decline of your health.

If this knowledge motivates you to clear up and eliminate some stuff, that’s great. Break it down into areas and if possible start in the area — per the bagua — that is most problematic in your life. If your reputation has taken a nosedive start with the “fame/recognition” area in one or more rooms. You will feel increasingly energized as you begin to make a little progress.

Hi Lynn,
My bed is directly across from the bedroom door. I once read in a feng shui book that this was a big no-no. I tried to rearrange the room but the way it is now just looks best and is the most practical. When you open the door the bed is right there. How can I use feng shui best in this room? — Mika

Hi Mika,
What’s wrong with looking best and being most practical? However, with nothing between you sleeping on the bed and the door there’s a feeling of exposure and vulnerability. You may find your sleep is more restful if you can relax the part of you that probably fees like its on alert. Keep the door closed at night.

I suggest anything that helps makes the bed itself seem like a room with clear and solid boundaries all its own. Headboards, footboards, platform beds, even a trunk or quilt rack at the foot of your bed will help. A four-poster bed is another option but probably brings more problems than solutions and is a significant expense.

Hi Lynn,
Here’s my dilemma: my fiancé and I live in a one-bedroom apartment. We have two big windows in our living room and one in our bedroom. Our bathroom is off our bedroom. It is quite small. The building we live in is very old and I do not like the energy that is here; there is no chi flow. My kitchen is also horrible because there is no counter space to cook on. Is there anything that should absolutely never be in a bedroom or anything that should never be in the living room? I’m hoping there is a solution for the bad energy in the area. Thank you. —Melanie

Dear Melanie,
Clearly the space is unsatisfactory for you, but with small changes a better sensation of being in it could be achieved and perhaps let you re-evaluate the qualities of your home and discover spaces within it that bring you peace.

I think that “never do this” or “always do that” depend on the circumstances. Creating sweetness — as determined by you — could be a blueprint to up the comfort index while you live there. If your kitchen has a window with a sill, grow some little herbs there. Take good care of them.

You bathroom being off the bedroom is quite convenient. Its small size keeps it from being too dominant in scale so close to your sleeping area. Keep the bathroom door closed. Introduce shades of green and blue because these colors represent the wood element and they offset the water element that dominates bathrooms. (Wood uses up the water to survive). You could bring these colors in using towels, bathmats, wall color, artwork. A little ivy plant in there would be sweet as flowers and plants are also wood elements that “use” the water element of the bathroom to survive. Try spritzing a citrus scent in your apartment. Or try oranges that make everything better when they are opened up and eaten!

Dear Lynn,
Do you have any suggestions for using feng shui in my house around the holidays to spruce up, lift spirits and add extra holiday cheer? I love your column! — Sherry B., Melrose, MA

Dear Sherry,
You’ve used the word “spruce” and already answered your own question! Evergreens give environments a wonderful and uplifting infusion of scents adorning counters and cascading down railings and over doorways. On a frolicsome note you could spruce up just about anything with lights — strands of lights adorned or draped in an area you see frequently as well as ones you don’t! Harvesting what grows naturally near you — even those dastardly invasive bittersweet twigs, vines and berries — can give you brilliantly concentrated color. Many turn red during and after the first frost and they can be brought inside to use as backdrops.

Try bubbles! Bubbles are possibilities as they head skyward. Champagne’s an easy version but those good ’ole-fashioned bubble makers can be fun in all their rainbow palettes. Candle traditions are simple and show up in just about every culture.

There are many jolly feng shui holiday decorating tips but the best aren’t formulas or remedies so much as strategies for providing balance for ourselves and others in this season of inevitable excess. Balance is the basis of feng shui and winter holiday traditions provide a ready mix of elemental balance. The 5-element theory in feng shui includes wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Winter is a water season; the lights, candles and red color are fire; shiny, decorative ornaments bring metal into play; the greens, trees and poinsettias are wood; and earth is that grounded, “let’s go inside” feeling along with holiday food  and sustenance that are also of the earth. and more time spent indoors is earthy. For a natural holiday “home tuning,” try getting rid of stuff. Look at what you do and do not need and remove what you don’t, freshening and clearing your spaces. Strengthen your foundation and vision by cleaning your baseboards and washing your windows.

Turn your thoughts to what you love and appreciate. It could be that you assist and inspire someone whose home and self is weary or unrecognized or poorly organized. You can bring joy and renewal and the magical sense of possibility by helping someone change or enhance their surrounding environment in the true spirit of the holidays. The seasonal wisdom after the trees finish their spectacular, fiery light show and drop their leaves is to bring the light inside. Days are shorter and we turn on lights, make fires, light candles, and finally, decorate with lights. Sparkly ornaments join the festival emitting their own light. You may participate in whatever manner on whatever scale seems right for you. Could be you just grow your own light inside and greet it in others, allowing you spaciousness in envisioning the upcoming year.

The late Lynn Taylor was a senior feng shui practitioner, teaching and consulting in the United States and Mexico for both business and home environments.