Stop worrying about clutter, just move your stuff around

You see it all the time in feng shui books–move your stuff, get rid of your clutter, empty out your closets! The weight of all our unused stuff, we are told, is ruining our love lives and wrecking our finances. Most of us have carried the burden of clutter at one time or another, and some of us feel positively buried, if not by the stuff at least by the guilt it brings on. So I’d like to give you a slightly different perspective– it’s not about the clutter, it’s the lack of movement. There is a fine distinction.

You see, chi (energy) needs to move. If it’s not moving it can cause pathology. We see this all the time in Chinese medicine. In medicine it’s called stagnant chi and it can cause all sorts of problems from pain to tumors. When an acupuncturist places needles, they’re encouraging the chi to flow again in a nice regular pattern. Good chi flow creates good health.

It’s the same in feng shui. There should be a balance between stability and flow in your house. Typically every house has a little of both. For instance large pieces of furniture tend to stay in one place (stability,) while lightweight things like decorative items and plants tend to get moved around (flow.) The problem comes when nothing moves, even the things that are normally transient like newspapers, mail, and paperwork. Then we have stagnant chi, and just like with our patient in the example above, this can create problems in your life.

The thing to do is aim for movement. You don’t need complete order and perfection. In fact this expectation usually inhibits people from doing anything at all about their piles of stuff. It should be like sticking an acupuncture needle in–just place it and get some movement. For instance, you could start by putting things in neat piles, and on a different table. Go ahead, get your hands into the stuff. Move it around. Now you have some chi flow.You might be amazed at how much difference this can make.

And please know that it’s quite possible to have a very stagnant environment in the midst of complete order, with everything neat as a pin. Still stagnant, nothing moving. To avoid this problem one of my teachers advises his clients to move the art and decorations in their house at least every change of seasons.  This keeps the chi flowing.

I used to worry that my house was never “done,” as in finally arranged in the perfect way. Every month or so I would be seized by a compulsion to shake everything up. I’d spend a day moving things around, then sit back happily wondering why it took me so long to see the “right” arrangement–only to repeat the whole flurry again a month later. Now I see this as natural. Now I just see it as chi flow.

So have fun. Move your stuff around. Don’t go for perfection of form, just notice how you feel. You can always move it again next month.




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