Storage boxes will help you get organized, right?

Storage boxesMany people buy storage boxes to help them get organized, but the truth is that they promise much and deliver nothing at all unless you know how to use them.

A disorganized mess does not magically sort itself into neat groups of things and then jump into boxes by itself, however much you wish it would. And without first thinking it through, the chances are pretty high that that the boxes you buy will not be quite the right size, shape, or quantity for what you need them for, as I have so often discovered in the homes of clients who have called me in to help them clear their clutter. Just about everyone I have ever worked with has a stack of empty storage boxes they have never used!

The best approach is therefore to sort through your clutter, discard what you no longer wish to keep, measure up the storage space you have available, and THEN buy boxes to match your needs exactly. Or if you have only limited storage space available, buy boxes that fit the space and only keep what fits in them.

What type of storage boxes?
Many different sizes, shapes, and types of materials are available, so it’s important not to succumb to multiple choice melt down at this stage. If you’re drowning in clutter, don’t let this be yet another reason to delay sorting through and organizing your stuff.

The simplest approach is to choose between clear and opaque.

If you like to be able to easily see what’s in a box without opening it, then the transparent plastic type will work best for you.

If you prefer opaque, then choose a colour that goes with your décor. You will enjoy using them more, and it will encourage you to make good use of them. Find the colour you like in the material and size of your choice and you’re done. For airtight storage, plastic is best, or at least a box that has a plastic coating inside. For cheap and functional, cardboard may do. If appearances are important to you, you may want to consider more exotic materials such as rattan, wicker, palm leaf, banana leaf, or sea grass, or elegant designs made of leather, wood, or canvas.

You can also purchase bespoke boxes for storing mementoes, hats, shoes, jewellery, and so on. Some boxes have a simple lid; others have a lock and key. If you are environmentally conscientious, you may want to buy the type that are made of recycled materials, or that can be recycled at the end of their useful life.

What size and shape?
If you are storing heavy items,  buy smaller, stackable boxes that you can easily lift rather than a large one that you will struggle with. This will cost a little more, but it can often make the difference between using the boxes for their intended purpose or not bothering because too much effort is required each time.

Square or rectangular boxes fit most spaces best and stack easily. Search the internet or local stores to find boxes that are the size you need and are made of a material you like in the colour of your choice.

Label your boxes
Name each box in a way that is meaningful to you, and label it so that you know at a glance what is in it. An inexpensive way to do this with a transparent box is to use your computer to print the name on a piece of paper (or you can write it by hand) and then cut or fold it to the correct size and insert it vertically inside the box so that it is visible from the outside. A neater way that can be used with both transparent and opaque boxes is to create a printed or hand-written sticky label that is fixed to the outside of each box. Position the labels in the same place on each box for a more pleasing visual effect.

Don’t use storage boxes as a furniture substitute
An important aspect of managing items you own is to group them together in meaningful ways so that you can find things when you need them. And the best way to do this is the good old-fashioned way by having furniture with compartments such as drawers and shelves.

So before you rush out to buy any storage boxes at all, check to make sure that you really need them.

Small storage boxes can be used within drawers and shelves to further sub-divide and it’s fine to use larger boxes for things you keep in the attic such as Christmas decorations that are used only once a year. But if you are intending to stack boxes in a corner of a room and fill them with things that you use quite often, then what you actually need is furniture. It will do the job much better, and look far more attractive too.

Can’t afford to buy new furniture? Consider second hand (which is usually a healthier option because it will no longer be out-gassing), or search Freecycle, Freegle, or similar websites that put people who are giving things away in touch with those who can use them. At the very least, use storage boxes only as a temporary solution until you can acquire the furniture you need. I’m constantly amazed what a difference it makes to people’s lives when they finally do this. Furniture allows them to fully land in their home instead of feeling like a temporary squatter living out of boxes.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2015


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Space clearing products online store now open again

Altar clothsA short message to say that Richard and I are back from our meditation retreat in Australia over the Christmas/New Year period, and the space clearing online store is now open again. We have the following products in stock, and as always there is free worldwide shipping on orders over £90 in value:

Space clearing kits
Space clearing bells & bell stands
Harmony balls and stands
Altar cloths & colourizers
Basilica incense

We also have:
Books by Karen Kingston
Books by Samuel Sagan
Grief recovery books by John W. James & Russell Friedman
Meters for measuring electromagnetic radiation


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How to create clutter-free zones in your home

Clutter-free zoneIn any home there are certain areas where daily clutter tends to accumulate. You don’t know quite how it happens, but it does.

Often it’s the entrance area, where things get dumped when you arrive home or where you put things you want to remember to take with you when you leave. In some homes it’s the kitchen table, countertops, the dining room table, or some other place.

The first step is to go around your own home and identify the areas that act like a clutter magnet. If you share your home with others, it may be their stuff as well as yours, or it may be all their stuff and none of yours. Whatever the case, the way it slows and stagnates the flow of energy around your home will affect you and everyone else who lives there in some way, so it’s in your interests to do something about it.

Clutter clearing these areas presents a different kind of challenge to other places in your home because it rarely stays that way. You roll up your sleeves, tidy it up, and a few days later, it’s started to fill again. Clutter, by definition, is unconscious, so the only way to prevent this is to consciously own the space and declare it a clutter-free zone.

What does that mean?

It means you can still use the area for its intended purpose, such as eating at your dining table, but as soon as you have finished, you make a conscious effort to clear it. You can also use the area for other purposes, such as doing paperwork, but then you pack it all away again and return the table to its clutter-free state.

It also means that in a clutter-free zone you never put anything “just for now” because it doesn’t have a home, or it does have a home but you can’t be bothered to put it there. You make the extra effort to put it where it belongs. If necessary, make a CLUTTER-FREE ZONE sign and place it there to remind yourself and others you live with, until you all get the knack.

If you have children, some persistence may be required. I stayed at a friend’s house recently and watched as a 9-year old child arrived home, kicked off her shoes in the hallway, threw her jacket and bag on a chair, and left it all there for her mother to tidy up later. She’d never been taught any other way.

But allowing children to live like this is doing them a great disservice. They will grow up to become the next generation of clutterers, with no idea how to organize their own home or manage their own affairs. You can start by introducing clutter-free zones, and then gradually expand this to other areas, such as tidying their own bedrooms.

Untidy partners can be trickier to handle but as with all types of clutter, the underlying issues are the problem, not the clutter itself. Agreeing to specific clutter-free zones can be a very helpful  first step towards resolving this.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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The art of living with clear space in your home

Empty spaceClutter clearing brings an exhilarating sense of new-found freedom and space, but if you’ve become used to living with a certain quantity of stuff in your life, it can take a while to get used to the clear space that clutter clearing creates.

One person described it to me like this: ‘Each time I enter my home and see the empty spaces on the bookcase, I’m still sort of shocked and then immediately feel very relieved. It’s so good to have some empty spaces. It’s such a new sight. I will get used to it.’

Another client I worked with reported similar emotions. The first time he arrived home after going out for a few hours, he was so taken aback by how bare his shelves looked that he thought he’d been burgled! We actually only cleared about 30% of the objects, and there were still about 100 decorative items left on three small shelves, but this just goes to show how much the unconscious mind sees all these things even if the conscious mind has long since learned how to tune them all out.

Then there are people who find it difficult to tolerate any unfilled space at all. It makes them too uncomfortable. They use their possessions as a protective layer, and any clear space makes them feel emotionally vulnerable and exposed. They feel compelled to fill it as quickly as they can.

A teenage girl I once met gave me some deep insights into this. She lived at home with her parents in a very tidy house, except for her bedroom that was filled halfway to the ceiling with piles of clothes and other things. For six months or more, she hadn’t opened the windows, changed the bedsheets, or allowed anyone in there. ‘I don’t like it like this’, she confided, ‘and I did tidy it up once. But so many emotions came up that I had to clutter it again’.

She was going through a very difficult time in her life and this was her way of coping, using clutter to suppress her emotions. It didn’t resolve anything. In fact, it made her situation worse, because the stagnant energy that surrounds clutter made her feel even more stuck. But there it stayed until she was ready to face her problems and found a capable therapist to help her move through them. After that, she didn’t need the clutter any more. She tidied it all up and got on with her life.

The truth is that to some degree, everyone who has clutter of any kind uses it to suppress emotions in some way. It creates a numbing effect that allows you not to feel things you would rather not feel.

But when it gets to the stage where every shelf is full, every surface is covered, and even the tiniest unfilled space feels unbearable, there are some serious issues that need to be looked at and you may need help to do so, such as working with a professional clutter clearing practitioner or a cognitive behaviour therapist, or both. If left unchecked, this can lead to full-blown hoarding, where every space in your homes becomes full. That’s very difficult to reverse, so you really don’t want to wait that long to address this.

The photo near the top of this article of a solitary jar on a shelf will feel artistic and pleasing to some but not at all so to anyone who dislikes clear space and sees it instead as empty space. However the concept is well known in graphic design. Called “white space” or “negative space”, the area around the subject of a picture is just as important as the subject itself. It’s what makes it stand out. It’s also why text in advertisements is usually in upper and lower case, because the space around capitals is not as easy for the human eye to read.

Rubins vaseThere is also the famous example of Rubin’s vase, which one person might see as a black vase surrounded by white space, and another might see as two human silhouettes in white against a black background. The choice is in the eye of the beholder, and you can view any clear space in the same way.

So if you want to change your relationship to space, take a playful approach. Clear a shelf in your home, put a single item on it, and keep it that way for a day. Each time you see it, look at the item as well as the space around it. See how they fit together. If seeing the space brings up feelings, let them surface, feel them, and let them go. You’ll discover it gets easier each time. Repeat this exercise one day at a time until empty space becomes normal and holds no fear. Most people find it doesn’t take very long. You just have to be willing to give it a whirl and begin.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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Christmas decorations clutter

Christmas treeNo festive season would be complete without all the accompanying paraphernalia of Christmas decorations, but how did they come into being, and what do they really mean?

The tradition certainly didn’t start in Bethlehem, or anywhere near it. It’s thought that Christmas trees were first introduced to Germany in the 7th or 8th Century by a monk called Saint Boniface, and the practice of Christmas decorations spread to the rest of the western world from there.

There may well have been a genuine spiritual impulse behind this. The conical shape of the fir tree, for example, was said to represent the Holy Trinity, and the reason it was adorned with white candles may well have been because people at that time knew how to use the physical structure of the tree and the flames of the candles to anchor high spiritual forces during the Christmas period.

This knowledge has long since been lost, and what remains is a symbolic imitation, with many Christmas trees now made of plastic, and spiritual forces now symbolically represented by electric fairy lights, shiny balls, stars and angels.

The same is true of tinsel, which was introduced in the early 17th Century and was made of shredded strips of real silver. Originally I’m sure there would have been people who knew how to use the qualities of this precious metal to anchor the spiritual frequencies that resonate with it, but now it’s all plastic and purely for decoration.

In fact, Christmas decorations have become a huge, multi-billion dollar industry, tempting us all with their glitter and glitz. It’s the part of us that yearns for the spiritual realms from which we came that is so attracted to these items, but the sad fact is that no amount of tinsel can bridge that gap. There certainly are spiritual practices that can facilitate this, but decorating your home with Christmas bling isn’t one of them.

I’m not saying that Christmas decorations are bad or wrong. But you will certainly see how insubstantial they are if you ever go to Bali and experience first-hand the 10-day festival of Galungan, where the island’s 20,000 temples are adorned with decorations, and ancient rituals are used to invoke sacred presences. This is not symbolic. You can go to a temple, participate in the ceremony, and tangibly feel the presences land and wash over you. It’s deeply refreshing, revitalizing, and uplifting. When you leave you feel like you are walking on air.

In Bali, as in the west, when the festive season is over, the decorations come down. In many western homes they are stored up in the attic or down in the basement, but clever commercial marketing and ever more tempting designs means the collection tends to grow with each passing year. One box becomes two, three, or ten. One woman I heard of recently has an entire room in her home just for storing Christmas décor.

So this year, when Christmas ends, I suggest you do some clutter clearing before you pack it all away. The first to go can be any decorations you didn’t like enough to put up this time. Next can be any that are broken, damaged, or beyond repair. Then seriously assess how long it takes you to put them all up and take them all down, and whether a more modest quantity would suffice. Or – dare I suggest it – none at all, now that you understand more about them.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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Death – The Great Journey

Starry skyDeath is a natural part of life, but even talking about it is largely taboo in western society. I discovered a very different attitude to this during the twenty years I lived in Bali, where the topic is openly discussed and they have some of the most advanced death practices I have seen anywhere on Earth.

My introduction to this came early on in my relationship with the Balinese man who was my husband for 12 years, while we were sitting in a restaurant, waiting for a meal we had ordered.

‘Have you ever seen a dead body?’ I asked (I’m well known for unusual conversation starters).

‘Hundreds,’ he replied.

This took me aback. I was expecting him to say “no” or at the very most “one or two”. I began rifling through my mental filing cabinets looking for an item on Balinese history that would explain this.

‘Were you in a massacre or an earthquake or something?’ I asked.

‘No.’

What had started out as an idle inquiry had suddenly become very interesting.

‘What then?’

‘Well, every time someone in my village dies, we all go to the family’s house and keep vigil all night with the body. Then we help the family wash the body, prepare it for burial or cremation, and organize all the death ceremonies. This happens everywhere in Bali. Doesn’t it happen in England where you come from?’

‘Well, no. If someone dies, the family pays undertakers to do that.’

‘What? You let strangers handle the body?’

‘Yes.’

He gave me one of those kind yet withering Balinese looks that says, ‘Don’t you westerners know anything about anything?’

‘Death is a sacred event,’ he explained. ‘If someone in your familiy dies you can’t leave people who don’t even know the person to take care of what happens to their body and the journey of their eternal spirit. If someone in my village dies we all go to help and everyone wants to touch the body one last time to say goodbye.’ He patted my arm repeatedly in different places, imitating a group of people clamouring for one last touch. ‘No-one feels quite right if they’re not able to do this. It feels like you haven’t finished the relationship properly.’

This casual, pre-dinner conversation gave me much pause for thought, and began an in-depth research into death and grieving practices that continues to this day.

The most insightful writing on this topic I have ever found is one of the Knowledge Tracks written by Samuel Sagan of the Clairvision School of Meditation. It’s called Death, The Great Journey. I rate it as the single most important book I have read this lifetime.

As Samuel Sagan explains, the techniques for death are the same as the techniques for life, so the best time to read this book is while you are still very much alive. Put simply, the more you understand about dying, the more you will understand about living, and how to make the most of every day you have.

It’s also invaluable to read if you are facing death, want to prepare for your eventual death, or have experienced the loss of someone dear to you. It explains many of the mysteries of death and includes a Book of the Dead for Modern Times, to be read to a person soon after they die, to assist them in navigating the astral realms they find themselves in after departing their physical body. It can be used by people of all religious, non-religious, and spiritual beliefs. Reading it to my mother after she died was one of the most beautiful and uplifting experiences of my life. I experienced a much higher dimension of the woman I had known, and a rich completion of my relationship with her.

The book is self-published by the Clairvision School and comes in the form of a set of audio CDs so that you can listen to them again and again, and a PDF copy of the text that you can read onscreen or print out if you prefer. At US $130 it’s a touch pricey, but worth every cent. It’s only available direct from the Clairvision online store in the US, but they ship to everywhere in the world.

More information
Other books by Samuel Sagan

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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New Italian edition of ‘Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui’

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui - Italian editionI’m glad to see a new paperback edition of my Clear Your Clutter book has just been published in Italian. It is a translation of the third and latest edition of the book that was published in 2013 in the UK.

I like the cover and hopefully the content of the book is a good translation of the original. But I am very surprised to see that it has been given the title Feng Shui e Space Clearing, which means ‘Feng Shui and Space Clearing’. Readers will soon discover there is no information at all in the book about space clearing except a brief section in Chapter 1 that explains why space clearing and clutter clearing are not at all the same thing.

I have contacted the publishers to point this out this error, and they have apologized and assured me the book will be given a new title in future editions. I’m hoping it will be changed to Clutter Clearing e Feng Shui.

Where to buy it
Published by Edizioni Red!
ISBN: 978-88573-0571-4
Buy at www.amazon.it


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‘Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui’ in Arabic!

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui - Arabic editionClear Your Clutter with Feng Shui has now been published in Arabic!

I realize this may not be of huge interest to most of the people who read my blog, but for me it really is a significant milestone that I’ve long awaited. I’m very interested to see how this book will be received by the Arabic speaking world.

ISBN: 978-977-718-089-4
Published in Egypt in 2014 by The National Center for Translation
To buy: email nctegypt@nctegypt.org


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Space Clearing online store closed for seven weeks

Space clearing productsThe Space Clearing online store will be closed for an extended period over the festive season, from 26 November 2014 to 15 January 2015. You can still place orders during that time but they will not be shipped until 16-17 January 2015 after Richard and I get back from our meditation retreat in Australia.

The last date when orders can be placed for shipping before the store closes is Tuesday, 25 November 2014.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For the last few years the store has been open through most of the Christmas/New Year period, but this year will be different.


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Space clearing & clutter clearing practitioner visiting Australia

Richard SebokAnnouncing that Richard Sebok will be visiting Australia for six weeks from 1 December 2014 to 12 January 2015 and is available to do a limited number of space clearing, clutter clearing and healthy home consultations anywhere in Australia during that time. He will be based in Sydney and Coffs Harbour.

There are no other certified space clearing or clutter clearing practitioners available to do consultations in Australia at the moment, so if you live in Australia and want to be sure of having a consultation with Richard while he is there, please contact him as soon as possible to request a quotation.

More information
Consultations with Richard in Australia
More about Richard
Client testimonials


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Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

KnittingThere’s a wonderful acronym that I’m told is often heard in knitting circles. It’s SABLE, which stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. It is used it to describe a knitter who has acquired so much yarn that they couldn’t possibly use it all in their lifetime, even if they were to knit full-time for all their remaining years.

You might think this would bring a knitter to their senses, but not so. In her entertaining book, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee explains: ‘Achieving the state of SABLE is not, as many people who live with knitters believe, a reason to stop buying yarn, but for the knitter it is an indication to write a will, bequeathing the stash to an appropriate heir.’

I recognize this same syndrome in many of the clutter clearing clients I work with. They cheerfully employ my services, hoping I can help them organize and cram their possessions more effectively into whatever storage space they have. We’re talking jars full of paper clips that have been salvaged from documents over many years; great heaps of  scrap paper waiting for notes that will never be written; empty jam jars that will never have a purpose; plastic bags that could be knotted end to end to form a circle round the planet. And so on. You get the idea. A few of these items could come in useful some day, but seriously, ALL of them? It’s not going to happen.

In the case of knitting yarn, it’s conceivable that the ardent knitter may know someone who would love to inherit their stash. But paper clips, jam jars, and the like? Probably not.

So what is the fate of these things likely to be? Well, you can wait until you die and leave someone else to dispose of them (probably muttering and cursing as they do), or you can take responsibility for them now and relieve your heirs of such a clutter clearing burden. It’s the decent thing to do. This course of action may not feel so obvious while you’re still in the prime of your life, but when you reach a certain age and the youthful illusion of immortality begins to fade, the reality becomes more obvious.

I never tell anyone to throw anything away. What I do is to help people to see their clutter from a different perspective. The thing to understand about stuff that’s stockpiled and never used is that it stagnates the energy of your home, and this in turn stagnates your life. Whether you realize it or not, you will feel stuck in some way. So it’s not just your relatives or friends who will thank you for clearing out your stashes before you die. You will reap the benefits too.

And yes, this does include knitters. The turning point is realizing that SABLE is not a badge of honour but an indication of how far your hobby has got out of control. A much better motto to live by would be: Keep the Best and Dump the Rest!

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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Could you wear a killer’s cardigan?

Cardigan‘Could you wear a killer’s cardigan?’ This is one of many provocative questions raised by Bruce M. Hood in his book, Supersense: Why We Believe The Unbelievable (Harper One, 2008), and in some of his public lectures.

First he will do an experiment where he passes a fountain pen around the audience that he pretends once belonged to Albert Einstein. ‘The reverence and awe towards this object is palpable,’ he says. ‘Everyone wants to hold it. Touching the pen makes them feel good.’

Then he produces a cardigan and asks who would be willing to put it on. Usually at least a third of the people in the audience volunteer to do so, until he reveals (another pretense) that it once belonged to Fred West, a well-known English serial killer. Immediately most of the hands go down and people visibly recoil from those who adamantly keep their hands up. ‘Typically they are male and determined to demonstrate their rational control,’ he says. ‘Or they suspect, rightly, that I was lying about the owner of the cardigan.’

Hood is a Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society at the University of Bristol, UK, and takes a very scientific approach to such matters. In his book, he asks, ‘How and why should a cardigan come to represent the negative association with a killer? If I had chosen a knife or noose, the association account would have been adequate. A cardigan is not an item usually linked to murderers. It is something that offers warmth and comfort.’

He concludes that ‘The Fred West cardigan stunt triggers mostly a sense of spiritual, not physical, contamination. You can’t wash away such contamination as though it were dirt.’

Paul Rozin, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in research on the unusual topic of the origin, evolution, and meaning of disgust, also confirms that ‘more people would rather wear a cardigan that has been dropped in dog faeces and then washed than one that has also been cleaned and worn by a murderer.’

In his book, Hood explore the many types of “supersense” humans have. It’s a great read but, since he doesn’t have any awareness of etheric and astral imprints, he concludes in the end that ‘supernatural thinking is simply the natural consequence of failing to match our intuitions with the true reality of the world.’ He comes very close at times to recognizing that objects can have an energetic as well as physical component but never actually accepts it, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in his studies of so many people innately believing it to be true.

My perception, after years of energy sensing objects of all kinds, is that laundering clothing removes all imprints. So putting on Fred West’s freshly laundered cardigan presents no problem at all energetically.

However, if it hasn’t been washed, that’s a completely different matter. Particularly if he wore it frequently and even more so if he wore it recently, it will be saturated with his imprints. This will have an energetic effect on any wearer, as people intuitively know. And as I explain in the Clutter and Feng Shui Symbology chapter of my Clear Your Clutter book, if a person knows the history of an item and has a negative association with it, then just the sight of it will evoke those feelings and no amount of space clearing will change that. So if someone knows it is a murderer’s cardigan, even if it has been laundered a hundred times, they are likely to feel energetically contaminated if they come into contact with it, even though they haven’t been.

I love questions like this because they illustrate so clearly something we all know and feel, but most people don’t know why.

Related articles
Energy imprints in second hand things
Does Space Clearing really clear imprints?

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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New German edition of ‘Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui’

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui - new German editionAnnouncing the publication of the third edition of my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book in German.

The new edition includes many updates and revisions since the previous German edition of the book was published in 2009, and a whole new chapter titled Die Einstellung ändern (Changing Standpoint). Also included is the updated translation of the four categories of clutter that I requested, bringing this essential part of the book much closer to the original English meaning than was the case in previous editions.

Feng shui gegen das Gerümpel des Alltags
Translation of 3rd edition of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
Published by Rowohlt on 1 October 2014
ISBN: 978-3-499-62877-1
Buy the paperback edition
Buy the ebook edition

I have 2 free signed copies of the book available to the first two people to email me to ask for them. This offer includes free shipping to any country in Europe.

Update: Thank you to everyone who emailed me. The two free copies of the book were claimed within hours.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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How houseplants can be clutter

I’ll never forget the astonished look on my friend’s face when I casually picked up a houseplant in my kitchen one day while we were chatting, opened my bin, and threw it in.

‘Did you just do what I think you did?’ she asked, incredulously.

‘It was beyond redemption,’ I explained. And it was true. I had struggled with that plant for many months, trying to find a place in my home where it would thrive, but it always looked like an eyesore. Perhaps it would have been better if I had not chosen that precise moment to dispose of it, but when I saw so clearly that it had become clutter, into the bin it went.

Ornamental houseplants can beautifully enhance the look and feel of a home. Some also purify toxins in the air, as described in B.C. Wolverton’s wonderful book, How to Grow Fresh Air. But if plants are unhealthy, neglected, too large, too numerous, too spiky, or too droopy, they can affect the energy of a space adversely, and can in fact become clutter.

Dead, dying, or scruffy plants
Dying houseplantYou’d think the decision about whether to keep a plant that’s as far gone as the one in this photo would be a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often I see such specimens in people’s homes that are beyond salvation or unspeakably scruffy.

When I ask the person why they still have them, sometimes it’s simply a matter or laziness, busyness, or neglect. They just haven’t got round to doing anything about it. There is also sometimes the hope that the plants can be revived or their appearance can be improved over time, and this is certainly worth a try if you have the patience and know-how to do so. But in many cases, there is another factor that lies at the source of the indecision, and that is the guilt about throwing a living thing away.

It was this that caused my friend to be so shocked when I binned my weary old houseplant in such a matter-of-fact way, so I took a few minutes to explain.

Plants are alive in the sense that they have etheric life force, but they do not have an astral body so they are not conscious in the same way as animals and humans are. So just as no-one hesitates to throw an out-of-date lettuce in the bin or on the compost heap, I do not hesitate to throw houseplants in my compost bin if they become too unhealthy or unsightly. All plants come from the earth and return to the earth. The cycle of life continues, and I’m merely accelerating the process a little.

Spiky plants
There are other types of plants I would never bring into my home in the first place because they have undesirable effects from a feng shui perspective.

Spiky houseplantSpiky plants, such as the one pictured here, are in this category. This one is called a century plant, and even though it’s in perfect health and some may find it attractive, I definitely wouldn’t have it in my home, or any other type of plant that has sharp leaves for that matter.

The reason is that spiky plants tend to create a corresponding energetic sharpness that makes arguments more likely. The only place I would consider putting such a plant is in the home of a person whose mental faculties have become dulled, because they may benefit from the continual stimulus of sharpness in their space. Even so, I would put it in a corner, well away from where they usually sit or pass by, so that it is out of harm’s way (the tips of this particular plant are so sharp that they can pierce human flesh to the bone!).

Droopy plants
Droopy houseplantThese can be problematic because they tend to pull the energy of a space down. One of the worst offenders is the spider plant, which has spiky leaves and also hangs downwards. I’ve noticed that depressed people often have them in their homes, and I have often thought that this may be because of an unconscious affinity with the shape. There is also an uncanny similarity between the way spider plants sprout little babies and how a depressed person’s problems seem to endlessly multiply.

Hanging baskets of flowers outside in the garden are fine, by the way, providing they form a rounded shape with no long, downward-hanging tendrils. Their wonderful colours create a bountiful, cascading effect.

Plants that are too big for the space
Sometimes the problem is not the condition or shape of the plant but the sheer size. When a plant grows so big that it dominates a room, you have some choices to make. You can move to a home with taller ceilings (very expensive for the sake of a plant). You can prune it back to a more reasonable size. You can give it to someone who would love to have it. Or if it’s a truly splendid specimen, you may even be able to sell it and purchase a smaller plant with the proceeds. Throwing it in the bin (if you can find a bin big enough!) would be a last resort.

Having said this, I do know of one person who loved their gargantuan rubber plant so much that they removed the ceiling of their room and created a 2-storey space for it to continue to grow up into. They had a large house with large rooms, so it looked fine there, but rubber plants commonly grow up to 40 metres tall (131 feet) so the saga may well have continued.

Too many plants
Some people simply have far too many plants in their home. They keep bringing them home, week after week, and the collection grows and grows. Even if the plants are not spiky, droopy, too tall, or half-dead, they may still be cluttering the space because of the sheer quantity. My advice in this situation? As with many other forms of clutter, keep the best and dump the rest in whatever way works for you.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014


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Changing standpoint

Change‘Is it OK to throw the box away?’ she asked me, in a way that made it clear the thought had never occurred to her before. This lovely woman, drowning in clutter, had apparently been taught by her mother that you always have to keep the box an item comes in. And she didn’t just keep the boxes in her attic or basement. She kept each one near the item it came with, presumably so that she could quickly put it back in its box if ever the sudden need arose.

Telling her that it really was OK to throw the box away was like a huge revelation to her. ‘Is that what other people do?’ she asked, incredulously.

I urged her not to take my word for it but to inquire among her friends. Which prompted me to ask another question: ‘Do you have any friends who don’t have clutter?’

She thought for a minute and recalled someone she has known since childhood who, as she put it, ‘doesn’t mind slumming it to come and visit me sometimes.’ Her friend lives in a beautiful clean house and has no clutter at all.

‘Excellent,’ I said. ‘With her permission, I suggest you study her as a biologist would study a new species they have discovered. Find out what makes her tick? Go shopping with her and discover how she makes decisions about purchases. Visit her home and ask her about the things she keeps. See the world through her eyes instead of through your own.’

This conversation became the inspiration for the new Changing Standpoint chapter I included in the 2011 and 2013 editions of my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book. In a nutshell, this simple strategy can free a person from the limitations of their own standpoint, and save them many years of experimenting on their own.

When it comes down to it, the motivation for clutter clearing comes from making a change in standpoint, such as realizing you don’t really need to keep so many things “just in case” you might need them some day. And a fast-track way to learn this is to spend time with someone who already has a clutter-free standpoint and whose life is working better than your own.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2011 & updated 2014


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