Finding a sanctuary in our modern world isn’t always easy. Many of us work at home, or take work home from the office. Lots of you share spaces with roommates, significant others or family. Turning down the volume of life at home isn’t always intuitive.
Often we forget our bodies run on electrical energy generated by our own cells. In feng shui, this life force energy — or “chi” — is something we experience through our senses.
This example may help you understand “chi” more personally: Have you ever walked into a room after a heated argument just took place? You might feel the room is hot, “feel” the tension in the air and see the disorder of the space without even knowing there was an argument before you entered. That is how, in a feng shui sense, we experience the energy and flow (“chi”) of an environment.
To create a place to unwind, the idea is to unfurl the stuck energy in your environment — otherwise known as stress! — so your mind and body can feel at ease and fully untangle the mess of the day.
Do you have a place to relax at home?
We’re about to create one, or possibly improve the one you have!
Clutter is stuck energy in your home. This may be the hardest step for many of you, but clearing clutter can be a total life revolution in itself. Examples: papers you have been saving for the last decade “just in case” you might need them, clothes you haven’t worn in years, art you don’t like. I encourage you to dive in and recycle/donate/regift it all!
2. Lighten any drudgery!
What chores in your home do you dread? Today, find a way to make them fun. If washing your dishes is a nightmare, can you put an iPod dock in your kitchen? If you can’t stand doing laundry, maybe you get really cool artisanal linen wash and a gorgeous laundry basket? Reduce the drudgery and you’ll embrace the care of your space more artfully.
3. Find a good view!
If you have a great view of nature or the city, leave your blinds or curtains open to bring that expansive view inside. If you don’t have a view, can you create one with a great piece of art? Even an abstract but meditative piece of art, something you like to contemplate, will do the trick.
4. Dim the lights at night.
Bright light, as illuminating and refreshing as it is, can throw your sleep cycles off kilter. If you start to dim lights progressively in the evenings, switching more light off as it gets later in the evening, your body will be able to unwind more easily.
5. Appeal to your senses.
Explore aromatherapy bubble baths, essential oil diffusers and even pure incense to flood the air with layers of sensory goodness. Add a soft knit throw to your sofa. Get some fuzzy slippers! When is the last time you downloaded some jazz with its watery improvisation, or a classical score to steady the rhythm of your mind?
6. Clear the air of static.
One massive amount of clutter we all tend to ignore: Pent-up anger, frustration and hurt feelings that linger in your home. Just because you’re not speaking them doesn’t mean that other people aren’t feeling them. In my personal and professional experience, roommates, couples and families that take the time to calmly talk out their issues have far less stress at home. If you live alone, keep a journal to air out your feelings when you need to relax.
If you find it hard to express yourself, you may want to try clearing more clutter (back to #1 on the list!). Our homes are a mirror of our mind and our life. So if you can clear more space in the physical environment, it often helps open up emotional space in your life as well.
7. Add more nature.
Nature is the ultimate relaxation nirvana. There’s fascinating research underway on nature as therapy, with some studies suggesting that 20 minutes immersed in nature can significantly decrease stress hormones in the body. Psychologist Roger Ulrich’s research, dating back to 1984, has shown that when patients in a hospital gaze out at a garden they tend to heal faster and with fewer complications then those who had no view as they healed.
Plants, trees, rocks, crystals … I’m an advocate of adding tons more nature to your home.
In feng shui, it’s your personal experience of your own space that matters, so feel free to explore and improvise any of the steps above to make them work in your home for you. In pursuit of your own haven at home, you can do no wrong!