Feng Shui, Creativity and Your Environment
Finding Simplicity in a Cluttered World

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Feng Shui, Creativity and Your Environment

You have a personal space.  Everyone has a personal space whether they are live in king’s palace, or pauper’s hut.  We all have an environment in which we live. Some of us are lucky enough to have a room of our own, a space where we work, or play, where we create, meditate, or transact business. Some of us have a part of a room that we share with other people, or other activities. Our personal space may be a corner of our bedroom. Whatever it is, you can create that space in a way that it supports who you are and what you do.


Let’s tell the truth about our space. Whenever I start talking about personal space people start telling me about how cluttered their space is and how if they could just get organized everything would be different. People buy lots of file folders, bookcases and filing cabinets in an effort to overcome this problem, but usually just end up with more piles of file folders, and overflowing shelves and drawers.

We live in a society that values the written word, but we also live in a society where you are very likely to have in your possession hundreds of pieces of paper that are no longer useful to you; junk mail, wrappers, receipts, birthday cards, papers you meant to read, interesting articles, instruction manuals, etc. I’m not going to tell you what to do with all that stuff. It is really up to you!

We’re going to talk about “chi”. This goes with the philosophy that you can’t resolve a problem at the level at which it occurs. In order to resolve a problem we need to move the whole issue to a higher level. Chi is energy. The study of the movement of energy through a space is known in Chinese culture as Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is a beautiful word picture, wind moving over water. It is easy to imagine... a flowing stream of water, the wind blowing, ripples the surface. We understand water. We take a lot of showers, water passes over our skin, and we feel cleansed. Each day we perform this ritual, often without thinking of how different our skin would feel if we could not wash it.

We also understand using the wind to clear the air. Usually in the fall there are several weeks of strong winds that blow all the leaves off the trees. After a windy day the air feels cleaner, pollutants disperse and we breathe easier. Our breath is a perfect example of the cleansing power of air; with each breath we cleanse our entire system of CO2 and replace it with fresh oxygen.

Every natural cycle has a method of self renewal that involves a cleansing process. The Hindu religion describes all things as always being in one of three conditions: they are coming into being, being, or going out of being. Think about the leaves of a tree… in the summer they are being leaves all day long, in the fall they start to go out of being, they become hard and dry and fall off the tree, through the winter they lie under the tree, gradually rotting and breaking down until you can no longer recognize them as leaves. Then the same elements are reabsorbed by the tree, coming back into being in the spring, first as buds and then as leaves. The cycle is self-renewing.

We don’t always think of fire as cleansing, but it can be. It is red and it is hot. It is a more rapid and intense kind of energy. Think of fires used to clear brush, native people used selective burning to renew the land. Think of fevers that burn the illness out of your body. That is the energy of fire. How quickly it moves things from the state of “being” into “going out of being”. If you want to get rid of things thoroughly you burn them, like in some cultures, burning a house where a person has died of a contagious illness. Many of us have released the memory of love gone sour by burning old love letters.

The Chinese distinguish two other kinds of energy besides air (wind), water, and fire. There is also wood and metal. Wood is an energy we are familiar with, but don’t often distinguish in our culture. Wood energy coming into being is the energy of all growing plants. In the spring wood energy is strong as millions of tiny plants break out of the earth. Wood energy cleanses us in several ways. Plants are our counterparts in the cycles of oxygen and carbon dioxide that purify our air. Plants take the fiery energy of the sun, mix it with water, metal, and air and produce the “wood energy” food that we consume, lettuce and tomatoes and all the rest.

Now metal is a slower moving energy and I think we are less familiar with its influence on our beings. The earth is composed of many different kinds of minerals and metals. We need some of these like iron in order to breathe, calcium in order to have strong bones. There are minerals in our blood that cleanse our circulatory system of toxic deposits. We wear gem stones and put special rocks around our houses. Their influence is more subtle and slow moving than fire, water, air or wood.

This is not meant to be a scientific discourse, just a few ideas to remind you that we are all part of a much larger universe that flows in cycles. We are in all ways immersed in and a part of those cycles, and our energies are at all times interacting with all the other energies; coming into being, being and going out of being.

Now lets get back to your room!
Lets go back to your room and do a little guided meditation.

Meditation I

Sit in your favorite chair, make sure your computer screen is turned off and please put down your pen. This is all about relaxing, and as you close your eyes to your room you feel yourself becoming very present to your space even without seeing it. Just relax for a few minutes, breathe and feel yourself in your space. Feel for a moment how the element of water is circulating through your body, your blood on its constant tour through your blood vessels. The last glass of water you drank slowly working its way through your system, the moisture in your mouth and nose. Think of all that moisture.

Your body is 80% water! How is it flowing, circulating, being absorbed, evaporating, cleansing, cooling. Take a moment and be grateful that all these miracles happen constantly without much conscious effort on your part.

Okay, now you have a feel for that, expand your consciousness out into your room. Where is water present? Does the air feel moist or dry? Are the plants thriving? Are you drinking water? Can you hear the sound of water flowing from a fountain? Imagine for a moment that a stream of water, not a torrent, but a small stream after a good rain, is flowing in through the door of your room. Don’t worry about your papers and books this is just an imaginary stream. Let the water flow in the door and just imagine for a moment where the water will flow. Is your room a “dead-end” or is there somewhere for the water to flow to? Let the water get deeper until it spills out the windows.

Now lets think about air. Come back to your body and breathe. Think about air entering your body and leaving, the cleansing process of breath. And while you’re here, acknowledge the wonder that breathing is. We just can’t live without it. Feel the air around your face, on your skin. Does air circulate in your room? Is there a fan, a heating or cooling system creating a slight breeze. Are the windows open? Is there fresh air coming and going? Now imagine a strong wind blowing through your room, fill all the corners and whirling about in the enclosure of your space. Where can it escape to? Are there places where dust bunnies have been hanging out? Give them a blast! What about those piles of papers, the dead leaves on the plants, the cobwebs in the corners. Feng Shui is a kind of cosmic house cleaning. While water mainly stayed along the floor, air energy fills the whole room touching the ceiling and high shelves. You can also notice how the fast moving air dries up all the moisture left from the stream.

The energy of fire is a little too wild to bring into our rooms unless it is safely contained. We like incense, candles, fireplaces and cooked food. We love the element of fire expressed as sunshine. How does fire exist in your room? Feel it as light. Is there light circulating in your body? In your meditations do you see golden light, feel a sense of brightness within your head? Think of your room. Does light come in? And how do you use it? What about electric lights? Do you like to have rainbows in your room? Can you see the colors clearly? Yes, fire is involved in all these things, light, and color. Can you see into all the corners of your room? Where are the dark places? How do they feel to you? Notice how light can bounce of any mirrors or glass that you have in the room.
The energy of the universe is mutually interpenetrating.  The energy of human beings is inseparable from both their immediate environments and the energy of the galaxies.  The energy of matter is fundamentally identical to the forms of energy we associate with light, color and visible movement.    - Master Lam Kam Chuen