The breadth of Feng Shui in its entirety is a life-long course of study. It is a system filled with depth, tradition, practicality, and grace. With that being said, attempting to wield the wisdom of Feng Shui and its tremendous wealth of information and applications, can often seem daunting to novice practitioners.
Many people often find themselves asking, where do I begin?
In any tradition of Feng Shui, the first step to implement any aspect of the practice, is to clear all clutter from one’s environment. If this clearing of clutter does not take place, the fruits of Feng Shui practice will have no foundation from which to grow. This seemingly mundane principle (and usuallly the most difficult) is very core of Feng Shui practice, regardless of the system or style of Feng Shui being practiced.
The next question people usually have is, what classifies as clutter?
While the answer to this question is unique to every person, the simplest and most universally relevent questions to ask yourself about the art, images, and objects within your space(s) are:
Is it functional? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?
If you answer 'yes' to 2/3 of these questions in regards to the art, image, or object at hand, then it is NOT clutter. If you answer 'no' to 2/3 of these questions, it IS clutter. In an ideal 'Feng Shui world,' all art, images, and objects in your environments would be functional, beautiful, and lovable. But as most of us know, life is often far from ideal, so do the best you can with what you've got.
Clearing clutter is more than keeping space "clean." It's a practice that brings us into a living dialogue with the relationship between ourselves and our environment. Moreover, our external environments directly correlate to what's happening inside of us. For example, if we walk into a home with stacks of unopened mail, we are lead to assume a number of things. It could point to a procastinating or avoidant nature. Perhaps they are overworked. Perhaps they've been on vacation. Regardless of the root cause, the environment points to a mechanism between the space and its inhabitants. By clearing unnecessary clutter, we begin to address our inner processes of disharmony.
When beginning your practice of keeping your home or office free of clutter, remember that you are in essence, engaging a practice to establish mental clarity. You are not learning how to “clean.” Routinely remind yourself of this as your practice evolves. Its what allows you step outside of seeing your practice as a monotonous chore. Know and trust that you are embarking on an artistic exploration of yourself. In the beginning, it can be difficult to keep any area clean for any amount of time, but I assure you, it does become easier with time. The theory of yin and yang points to the interdependence of polar opposites as the basis for balance and harmony in nature, i.e. with night there is day, with positive there is negative, with death there is birth. By experiencing opposition, we come to understand our existence. If we never experienced light, we would never value darkness. In addition to this, this continual dance of opposition is cyclical. All oppositions repeat themselves; day to night, night to day, and so on. We spend many hours in our days tending to the necessities of daily living, but ultimately, we must retire to bed, shut down, and slumber in darkness. Fighting these natural cycles aligns us with ill health over time. This cyclical process in nature paints a beautiful metaphor for our practice with Feng Shui. As we grow, heal, and attend to our interior landscapes, at some point, we then must venture out into our external environments to do the same. Moving from internal to external is as perennial as the seasons and is just as important as any other cycle in nature. It too should be honored, nourished, and attended to. To remain in either environment for too long will ultimately create disharmony within ourselves and in our lives. Tending to clutter and being mindful of our environments becomes an extension of tending to our inner and emotional terrain. This gives us a way to leap forward when we’ve reached plateaus in our inter-personal growth. Again, Feng Shui is a tool, and tools are meant to be used in different capacities at different junctures. When our minds have run ourselves ragged from the inside, it may be time to consider looking outside. Shaping and molding one’s environment then becomes a natural extension to reshape our minds and emotional patterns. When we can no longer be with the chatter of our minds, shifting our 3-D environment can act as a catalyst to proverbially burn the candle from the other end. It is a natural and harmonious way to reassess and restructure our lives. The art of Feng Shui embodies life and naturalistic cycles when it has rich soil to root into. In this case, rich soil is dependant upon spaces free from clutter. From here, rooting our lives becomes palpable and more importantly, possible. Having less, minimizing, and consolidating our environments yields greater mental/emotional clarity and allows us to find our own unique expression Feng Shui. Feng Shui is seen as a living system eager to aid us in our journey of evolution and self knowledge. But our spaces must be clear. From that space, we can begin to grow our environments, and therefore, our lives.