For us, change always begins at home. After years of working on ourselves and our homes, we have realized how deeply connected we are to our environment. When our home is in disarray or cluttered and it doesn’t reflect our current goals, our inner lives feel chaotic. On the other hand, when we apply the principles of Feng Shui by surrounding ourselves with things we love, beautiful objects, and peaceful furnishings, we experience inner beauty, love, and peace. It is as if our homes becomes an extension of our bodies and Feng Shui is the acupuncture.
Based on this idea that our health and well being is affected by the places we live and work; Feng Shui is the practice of making positive changes to our environment to produce positive changes in our lives. Fundamental to creating positive change, is balancing the energies of Yin and Yang.
Feng Shui believes we are all interconnected and made up of a life energy called chi. Chi expresses itself as yin and yang. Yin is associated with feminine energy and is characterized by the words soft, ornate, curved, small, dark, earth, wet, low, cool, slow, moon. Yang is associated with masculine energy and is characterized by the words hard, plain, straight, large, light, sky, dry, high, hot, fast, and the sun. The process of finding a balance between yin and yang energies in our homes, helps balance our personal chi, which in turn, affects the chi outside our homes.
In today’s world we tend to have more Yang energy in our homes and lives. Interestingly, in Chinese astrology, the United Sates was born under a Yang/Metal year. Metal is one of five elements in Feng Shui, which we will discuss in another blog, but the positive chi qualities of metal are mental clarity, determination, concentration, perseverance, brilliance. Too much metal though in an environment leads to rigidity, black and white thinking, and an inability to compromise or change course. Our country has a predominance of Yang and Metal energy.
You can see this emphasis in the Yang in homes built in the last twenty years. Everything is larger—some homes so large it’s difficult to even find the front door due to the gigantic driveway and garage (any time a home is dominated by a garage and driveway we find the house is not in service to humans but in service to cars—very yang creations). In decorating magazines we also see these extreme environments such as all white rooms or rooms with very high ceilings or lofts with an industrial look or hard metal furnishings with sharp angles and harsh corners. While sometimes these environments create a sense of drama and look good they don’t always feel good and aren’t always comfortable places to live.
You can also see how this predominance of Yang energy influences our lives; doing is often valued over being, thinking over feeling, rushing and multitasking versus slowing down and focusing, big picture and future versus detail oriented and present minded, acquiring more instead of enjoying what we have; goals and self improvement versus the present moment and acceptance. Yin energy is concerned with feeling and the body. Yang energy is about thinking and the mind.
In our technology-obsessed, fast paced Yang world it is easy to disconnect from nature and “numb-out” to our own bodies needs for comfort, safety and balance. We tolerate uncomfortable furniture, unhealthy cleaning products and finishes that can make us sick, florescent lights in work spaces, too much noise, bedrooms that are “wired,” all the while forgetting that our souls (and bodies) long for a home that is a true sanctuary- healthy, peaceful and comfortable– and a life that is balanced where we have time for work, play, relationships and creativity.
Take some time to walk around your home room by room and look for how your home’s energy expresses itself as yin and yang. How could you bring more balance into your home and life? Are there some rooms that could be free of televisions, computers and other electronics? Could you balance a monochromatic room by introducing other colors? Is your desk chair and bed comfortable? Do you have a comfortable place to read and eat? Could you “lower” extremely high ceilings with light fixtures or art hung at eye level? Could you soften sharp corners? Of course, some people do tend toward the other extreme and “overly-Yin decorating,” which includes many floral or patterned fabrics, overly plush furniture, lots of furniture cramped into small spaces, and often an abundance of tchotske. Keep in mind the ideal is a balance of both Yin and Yang.
If you do, however, find your home is quite Yang ask yourself similar questions about your life and personal chi as you did about your home. Could I slow down in my life? How could I focus on being rather than doing? Could you schedule downtime on your calendar? Is there a hobby or creative outlet you have not made time for? Could you commit to at least one home cooked meal a week by the fire or at a candlelit table? Could you spend a few hours doing nothing?
The most important thing to do is to take a step—make one small change. You may be surprised by what a big difference a small, well-intentioned change will make in bringing balance into your home and life.