While I am a very clean person, one who has been known to bathe twice in one day just because I like soaking inert in the tub, I am a woman afflicted with…..clutter. Mounded magazines (not newspapers because I don’t want to be found under a moldering pile of them when I’m 80), mail, mail, and more mail, books, books, books, oh yes and more books. Topped with new mail. And a couple more books to hold it all down. Now I know I am not alone.

My great friend Kristen emphatically recommended Karen Kingston’s book, CLEAR YOUR CLUTTER WITH FENG SHUI (Broadway, 1999) after she could stand her own clutter no longer. Kristen and I are both teachers and writers with young children, so we have similar forms of clutter: the flotsam & jetsam teaching/writing types collect plus brightly colored childhood related dreck. She claims this book has started to get her home, and by extension, her life, in order. As she explained the author’s assertion that clutter clearing is one of the most powerful, transformative aspects of Feng Shui, I surveyed the increasingly baroque piles of clutter in my home.Oh, how have I sunk to this low estate?, I wondered.I’ve not yet purchased said book, but just the thought of embarking on a clutter-clearing program that could energize my life got me instantly juiced.

Kristin read me a few choice excerpts from the book over the phone one morning as I procrastinated about sorting my mail. Apparently, Ms. Kingston uses the principles of Feng Shui to banish clutter, clear space and bring about a new sense of balance. She gets your Bagua in order. Yes, my friend, your Bagua , from the Chinese pa kua, literally “eight symbols”.

A bagua map is a tool used in some forms of Feng Shui to map a house, a room or even a desk to see how the different sections correspond to different aspects in life, such as fame/reputation, family/ancestors/health, love/marriage, children/creativity, helpful people/travel, career, knowledge/cultivation, and wealth/prosperity.

The bagua map is intended to find areas lacking good chi, (the circulating ethereal substance or life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things) and to show where there are negative or missing spaces that need rectifying.It seems that if you solve your chi issues in your environment it can carry over into the corresponding areas of your life. Get your Bagua in order; get your life in order. Don’t mess with the Bagua—that’s all I’m sayin’, till I actually read the book myself.

According to Ms. Kingston, dealing with clutter is one of the most important aspects of using feng shui. Clutter, which derives from the Middle English word clotter—to coagulate—tends to accumulate when energy stagnates, and vice versa. Kingston’s approach to feng shui is that you can sort out your life by sorting out your stuff.

Jazzed and enthused with the possibility of clearing an energy path in my life, I recently actually collected and purposefully disposed of three garbage bags full of mail and other assorted junk. I have a long way to go before I achieve spatial nirvana, but it’s a start. Wish me luck.


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