Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, Broadway Books, NY, 1999.
Many of us think about spring cleaning during these weeks leading into summer. A few of us actually do it. But for some of us, the mere idea of tackling all our junk is too overwhelming even to contemplate. And if we're blessed with closets, a spare room, a garage, a basement, even a large car trunk... well, you already know the picture. Procrastination can go on indefinitely as long as somewhere remains to toss, pile, or cram—and forget about it. Or try to.
This marvelous little book is in its 21st printing in the US, and with good reason. If you ever wanted something that would just get you moving, this book is it.
Karen Kingston is a writer and feng shui practitioner who has spent many years in Bali. But what does feng shui, which many of us in the West think of as a somewhat mysterious art of placement and decoration, have to do with clutter?
Says Kingston, "Feng Shui is the art of balancing and harmonizing the flow of natural energies in our surroundings to create beneficial effects in our lives." Kingston's approach, however, is unique:
"Over a twenty-year period, I have developed the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and sense energy in enhanced ways, so to begin a consultation the first thing I usually do is go around the entire inside perimeter of the building, taking an energy reading with my hands. The history of events is recorded in the walls and furniture in the form of subtle electromagnetic imprints, and through reading and interpreting these, I can detect pretty much everything of significance that ever happened there. Traumatic or repetitive events are embedded the most deeply and have a correspondingly greater effect on present-day occupants."
Having lived in homes with odd and unpleasant "feelings" in the past, and having physically experienced, in my mother's home after her death, a tremendous outflow of positive energy accumulated there, I have no trouble accepting Kingston's experience at face value. She continues:
"Whenever I come across clutter, its energy field is unmistakable. It presents an obstacle to the flow of energy and has an unpleasant, sticky, unclean feel to it, as if I'm moving my hands through unseen cobwebs. This is what first made me realize that clutter causes problems in people's lives. It also has a distinctive, pervasive, musty odor that I can smell if I walk into someone's home, even if the clutter is hidden away from sight. Actually, if I tune in, I can also smell it in a person's aura (the energy field around the body) if he or she stands near me, because the aura becomes imbued with the smell of it."
Which brings me to what I love about this book. Kingston is not preachy or moralistic. She doesn't laud willpower or include implicit or explicit judgments about materialism and excess accumulation. She just makes you know how great you'd feel without all this stuff dragging you down. That happy feeling is more motivating than a year of self-flagellation.
Kingston's book is larded with information about Chinese energy medicine and traditional feng shui. She's got plenty of facts and ideas for the mind to chew on. As well, she offers antidotes to most common rationalizations for keeping things ("But what if I need it some day?" "But my great aunt Thelma gave it to me!"). The heart of the book, though, is Kingston's friendly, matter-of-fact descriptions of energy patterns:
"You are connected to everything you own by fine strands of energy. When your home is filled with things that you love or use well it becomes an incredible source of support and nourishment for you. Clutter, on the other hand, drags your energy down, and the longer you keep it, the more it will affect you. When you get rid of everything that has no real meaning or significance for you, you literally feel lighter in mind and body....
"People's lives work better when they know where things are. For example, think of your bed. The energy connection between you and it is direct and clear.... Now think about your house keys. Do you know exactly where they are or do you mentally have to hunt around for them?... When your things get jumbled up and confused, the strands between you and them become like entangled spaghetti. This creates stress and confusion in your life, rather than the peace and clarity that comes of knowing where things are."
Oh duh! If there's any book that gets you out of the chair and up sorting through the junk drawer, this is it. It's a quick read, but I can almost promise that before you've finished, you'll have jumped up and tackled at least one long-deferred project. And just imagine how great you'll feel.