Clutter Clearing

By Sarah Van Arsdale on December 12th, 2009

In thinking about abundance, our thoughts naturally turned to Feng Shui, which is all about abundance---abundance of money, to be sure, and also of health, well-being, and, dare we say it, happiness.

And what better time than when the economy is in free fall to look for abundance by using Feng Shui in the home?

The relationship between Feng Shui and abundance has to do primarily with the flow of ch'i, or energy, in the home. Feng shui, after all, is about paying attention to how the ch'i flows. If it flows too quickly, you lose the benefit of the energy; if it gets stuck, well then, you may get stuck in your life in ways you don't like.

So how does clutter fit in with this? Clutter, by its very nature, is stuck-ness. Clutter in the home is usually composed of that stuff we dare not look at: the papers that seem to constantly drift into the mailbox, in the form of junk mail, notices from the kids' schools, advertising circulars, bills, banks statements….who wants to look at this stuff? No one. So instead, we let it pile up on the desk, or the dining table, or the kitchen counter, but there it just collects not only dust but also energy.

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Clutter also takes other forms: the recycling you keep meaning to take out, the mail that needs to find its way to the mailbox, the library books you're done with….once you start analyzing clutter, you start to see how it's all about being stuck. You don't want to take the books to the library, or the clothes to Goodwill, so they hover somewhere near the door---blocking the ch'i and keeping you stuck and feeling bad about your own inertia.

One big problem with clutter is that to think of it is often overwhelming, so the first thing is to not try to tackle it all at once. Instead, take one small, manageable area. For example, you could start by clearing out the front hall closet. Take everything out, and apply this simple rule to it: if you don't love it, or use it, toss it. Do you love it so much you wear it regularly? If not, you're probably hanging onto it just as a way of hanging onto the past. If you really love a piece of clothing, for example, but you never wear it, can you make it into something else? Use bits of it for a quilt, or take a pretty patch and frame it? If not, it may be time to pitch.

Spread everything from this one closet out on the living room floor and pick up each item and ask yourself if you've worn it or used it in the past year. If the answer is no, toss it.

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One thing that may help you to do this pitching is if you give the items that are still usable to charity. You may not have worn that black down coat in a year, but someone out there really needs a warm coat, and knowing you're helping someone less fortunate can make it easier to part with your things.

So can knowing that keeping clutter around actually costs you a bundle of money. How? think of all the things you buy, only to find out you already have one. Last year's basic black gloves, a big roll of packing tape, an electrical extension cord… these are the kind of things that often lie huddled in a heap at the back of the closet, buried under a pile of things you haven't worn or used in years. It's only by getting them all out that you can see what you have and therefore not have to replace it.

The other big benefit of clutter-clearing, of course, is that your home looks better, and feels better. And here is one of those things about feng shui---whether or not you subscribe to the philosophy behind it, it cannot be denied that the principles, when used correctly, vastly improve the feeling of a place. And especially when you clear out the clutter and can actually see the pretty wall color and your cleverly-arranged furniture.

And that makes a person abundantly happy.