Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway), in its simplest terms, is an ancient practice originated by the Chinese as a way to live in harmony with nature. Translated into English, Feng means wind, and Shui means water. Bear this in mind, because everything in Feng Shui is directly related to flow, or movement, such as in wind or water. Energy is a term you will also hear often in Feng Shui, and this relates to Chi, or the energy that permeates everything around us.
Alrighty then, the question arises as to whether Feng Shui really works. The simple answer is that it does seem to, although the reasons for why are debatable (more on that later). At its core, Feng Shui is a environmental discipline that emphasizes cleanliness, orderliness, and harmony with nature in and around the home and workplace. Clean house, clear mind. We've all heard it. The first rule in Feng Shui is to declutter - which will in turn supposedly declutter your mind. Fair enough, but what if you have 5 screaming kids and the house is a wreck all the time and you work two jobs trying to keep food on the table? You need Mary Poppins, not friggin Feng Shui. I get it. So a good portion of this section will be devoted to you, the harassed, the overworked, the disorganized, and the exasperated people who are actually the very people who can benefit most from Feng Shui. But don't misunderstand. These are principles that can and do apply to anyone who lives or works in a man-made box commonly called a home or office.
The very first step in harmonizing with nature using Feng Shui is to assess your surroundings. Very few of us live in a home with naturally great Feng Shui, and a lot of the concepts of Feng Shui involve just plain old-fashioned common sense. It's better for your house to be above street level than below street level because of careening cars, heavy rains, and such. It's better to have a hill behind you than have a yard that slopes steeply in the back for safety reasons - criminals can more easily sneak up on you from below grade and it's dangerous to enjoy the backyard when there's a cliff out there. Inside, bathrooms are a big deal in Feng Shui because of all the nasties that go on in there, and placement in the center of the house is not considered a good thing. In fact, it seems that placement anywhere is never really optimal for a bathroom in Feng Shui. The good news is that whatever horrific Feng Shui scenario your house or office endures, there is a Feng Shui remedy that will negate the bad and enhance the good energies.
Look around for a few minutes. I mean really look around. How do you feel about the space you are in? Is there a really good feature to that room, such as architectural moldings, great windows, or a cool nook? Is there a terrible feature such as a horrible light fixture or rusted vent cover? How you feel in your core about your space is what you have to learn to listen to. You can fill your space with new stuff, but if it doesn't sing to you, it's all just stuff. Learn to listen to yourself and modify your space accordingly. If your problem is that you are just overwhelmed with stuff such as toys, find creative ways to either put it to use or store it in an attractive way. And please get rid of what is not usable anymore and teach the kids to put stuff away if they want to keep it! Even if you don't have much money, there are resources available for creative storage ideas. Search for pieces of furniture that do double duty.
Coffee tables with lift up lids, end tables with doors and drawers, ottomans that open for storage, beds with dressers built in underneath - there are a lot of ways to cram stuff into a small space, and it doesn't have to be expensive. Thrift stores, flea markets, Craig's list - all are good sources for really cool storage. And for those with a few basic power tools and a tape measure, you can make shelves, rework closets, and make boxes to hold stuff for a big return with little investment other than time. I've done all this stuff at my house, so don't give me that crap about not being able to do it yourself. We have internet, people - and there are videos and web pages filled with wonderful information on basic do-it-yourself projects - use them!
Once you get the clutter under control, the real Feng Shui fun begins! For one thing, if you have followed the instructions above, your life is undoubtedly a good bit better than it was before. Nothing like a creative, useful project to make you feel better - especially when visitors notice! As referred to above, one of the reasons that Feng Shui works is that it is a vehicle by which you take back your life and feel more empowered. For those with kids, jobs, and no time or money, just this unprecedented mastery of your environment is empowering and invigorating. Even if you just spray paint that rusty vent cover, DO something to make your living space more appealing to you!
-The Crafty Witch