The energetic frequencies of clutter

sheepIt started with an innocent question: ‘Can you tell by looking at me what kind of clutter I have at home?’ she asked.

I had already mentioned in my talk that I can often do this with people, so the ears of everyone waiting in line to get their books signed immediately pricked up to listen to my reply.

‘Yes,’ I replied, after taking a few moments to tune into the woman’s energy. ‘You like soft things – fabrics, clothing, cuddly toys, that kind of thing. And you love stationery. Stationery shops are a magnet for you.’

Her adult son, standing next to her, was so impressed that he jumped in too. ‘What about me?’ he asked. I could see he had hardly any physical clutter, but going a little deeper, I realized he loved to collect apps, widgets, and so on, and spent a lot of his time trawling the internet for information data. His form of clutter was mostly virtual. The way his mother rolled her eyes was all the confirmation I needed.

So how do I do this, you may be wondering?

Well, I’m not psychic. Far from it. I will have nothing to do with mystic practices or the noxious babble of psychic realms. I use a particular type of vision that has resulted from the conscious cultivation of specific subtle body structures over several decades, combined with the hands-on experience of working in the homes of so many clients who have clutter.

And how does it work? The answer’s very simple. If a person has clutter at home then they also carry the frequency of it with them wherever they go. If I’ve met with that frequency before, then I can identify and name it on the spot.

I remember another occasion when I was being interviewed by a journalist. She asked me if I thought she had any clutter at home. I tuned in to her energy, and immediately discovered that she had a penchant for sexy underwear. Not just the odd item, but a whole drawer stuffed full of it!

‘Enough!’ she said. ‘That’s far too much detail!’

I should add, here, for those of you reading this who may one day meet me, that I don’t tune in to everyone I spend time with in this way. It’s a skill I can turn on or off as I choose, according to the requirements of the situation. It’s certainly not something I automatically do with everyone I encounter. There is far too much clutter in the world for that!

But when it comes to my professional work, it is such a useful ability to have. Combined with the hand sensing technique I use to read the energies imprinted in the walls, furniture and objects of a client’s home, it gives me deep levels of insights into why the clutter accumulated in the first place, how it is affecting them in their lives, and the best way to help them let it go. I use it at the beginning of most consultations I do.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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The best place to store ashes

‘I just brought home the ashes of my very recently deceased cat of almost 20 years, whom I miss very much,’ writes Teresa from Canada. ‘I bought your book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, some time ago and don’t recall anything in it about pets’ ashes.’

This type of question appears quite often in my inbox. Sometimes it’s about the ashes of a deceased pet, and sometimes it’s the cremated remains of a beloved partner or family member. The ashes are not clutter, of course, but if they are kept indefinitely because of frozen grief, they can become so.

Over the years I’ve had many opportunities to hand sense cremated remains stored in peoples’ homes. Hand sensing is an advanced technique that I  do at the beginning of a space clearing, clutter clearing or feng shui consultation to read the energies imprinted in walls and objects. It gives access to a much deeper level of information about a property and its occupants than can be seen with the naked eye. I’ve been doing this for over 35 years, and have developed it to the level of accuracy where reading imprints with my hands is now as tangible for me as reading a book with my eyes.

I have always found that cremated remains are completely energetically inert. In other words, the process of cremation leaves no trace of the deceased person or pet at all. The physical body is reduced to dust, the etheric and astral components that once made up the living being disintegrate, and the spirit returns to the higher realms from where it came.

So on an energetic level, there is no reason at all to keep cremated remains. Nothing of the essence of a loved one remains attached to them.

However, if ashes are kept too long, stagnant energy can accumulate around them. And if the grieving process is not complete, both the ashes and the container they are kept in can become imprinted with layers of sadness, which in turn can prolong the grieving. It’s not a happy state of affairs.

So what is the best thing to do?

In the case of a deceased person, it’s ideal if they have stipulated in their will the manner in which they want their body to be disposed of, and if cremation is their wish, what they want to have done with their ashes and how quickly they would like this to happen after their death. The person charged with this responsibility will then know exactly what to do and when it needs to be done by.

In the case of a pet or someone who has left no instructions, many people choose to scatter or bury the ashes in a place that would be meaningful to the pet or person in some way, such as a favorite place in Nature.

But all too often the real issue is not about how to dispose of the ashes at all. It’s about how to complete the grieving process in order to feel ready and able to do so. It’s this that can lead to them being stored in a home for months, years, or even decades. The key to moving through grief is to complete your relationship with the person or pet who has died, and letting go of their ashes follows on naturally from that.

I would not presume to offer a recipe for grief recovery in a short article such as this, but I can point you in the direction of an excellent book that is the best I have ever found on this topic. It’s called the Grief Recovery Handbook, and as the authors explain, it’s never too soon after the death of a loved one to address your grief. I’m sure that if the principles in this book were taught in schools, the world would be a very different place.

And where’s the best place to store ashes in a home? If you ask ten different feng shui consultants you are likely to get ten different answers, according to which school of feng shui they have been trained in. But if you ask me, ashes don’t belong in the home at all. Physical bodies are created from planetary substance and are designed to return to the planet after death. Keeping ashes in an urn or casket inside your home can temporarily delay this process, but there is no place you can put them that will enhance the energy of the space. In my view, they belong outside, either buried in the ground or scattered to the elements, so that the life cycle is complete.

Related articles
The Grief Recovery Method
After a bereavement
Moving on after the death of a pet

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Resolving recycling dilemmas

There are many things that can cause you to get stuck while clutter clearing, and one thing that comes up again and again is wanting the things you let go of to be re-used in some way rather than just thrown in the bin. One woman even wrote to me recently to say that she was having difficulty letting go of shoes with holes in the soles because she didn’t want to just put them in the trash.

We live in a time where it is now possible to recycle many things that a couple of decades ago would have ended up in landfill or a municipal incinerator. There is so much more awareness now of the finite resources our planet has, and a far greater sense of social responsibility to use them wisely.

But there are still gaping holes in this. Where I live, for example, all plastics from household waste can be recycled, except for bottle tops and anything made of black plastic. I was so mystified by these exclusions that I did some research into why this might be. It seems that most plastic bottles are made from PET#1 plastic, but their tops are made from polypropylene, which melts at a different temperature, so they cannot be recycled together. Leaving caps on can also cause them to fly off at high speed when put through the bottle crusher, which can injure recycling workers. As to black plastic, the scanners in many recycling centres apparently cannot detect it because black does not reflect light, so if it’s included with other plastic recycling it can pass straight through and end up contaminating other materials such as glass.

A few recycling centres are now developing equipment that can cope with all these problems, but the source of the issue really lies with manufacturers failing to invest in research to develop fully recyclable materials in the first place. And some responsibility also lies with us for continuing to buy these items, knowing they will have to be thrown in the trash.

So this is the main thing I point out to people who feel paralyzed to let things go unless they can be re-used in some way. Technology has made huge advances, and we can be thankful for that. More resources are also available these days to allow us to make more informed choices about the purchases we make. But for some of the things we’ve already bought, we have to accept that no method of recycling yet exists, or may ever exist. It may have to be thrown in the trash. By all means google for a solution (enter the name of your particular item + recycle in the search box), but if none is available, choose differently from now on and let the old item go. That’s all anyone can do.

Interestingly, this echoes a core principle of personal development work. We can’t change what we’ve done in the past, but we can change what we do from now on.

So I now use refillable recyclable glass water bottles rather than plastic disposable ones, and avoid black plastic food packaging whenever possible. The trick is to stop the problem at the point of acquisition rather than trying to rectify it at the point of disposal, when it may be too late.

For anyone prone to beating themselves up, some measure of forgiveness is called for here. Take photos, for example. People of a certain age have hundreds of printed photos innocently sitting in boxes or albums in their home, but now it turns out they have toxic coatings that cannot be recycled with normal paper waste. Who knew this years ago?

And there is a similar ignorance today about thermal paper receipts. A 2011 study found that 94% of receipts in the US contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which is an endocrine disruptor known to cause reproductive problems in humans and animals, and a host of other health disorders too. If thermal receipts are thrown into paper recycling, they end up contaminating recycled toilet paper, food packaging, paper napkins and other products we use. Who knows this? I certainly didn’t until I read about it last year.

These are just two of many examples to take into account when clutter clearing, and no doubt many more will surface in the coming years. But can you wait for that? My advice is to do the best you can based on what you know now and what resources are available, and then let the rest go. Perfection is the great paralyzer, and if it gangs up with guilt, there’s nowhere to go. Far better you let go of the past and put your time and energy into creating a better future, which is where it will count.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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How to dispose of old photos

PhotosSome people don’t like the idea of putting pictures of themselves or people they know in the bin. As one reader wrote to me to say, ‘Sending them off to moulder in a landfill doesn’t seem right.’

But that’s exactly what I do when I dispose of old photos. I simply rip them up and put them in the bin. Not in the recycling bin, though, because the toxic chemicals used in the printing process mean that old photos are classified as hazardous waste. They have to go in the regular trash that goes to landfill or incineration.

Some people are surprised to hear I do this because they have read somewhere that we are  energetically connected to images of ourselves, so photos must be ritually burned or at least disposed of more respectfully. From my experience of hand sensing photos, I certainly agree that there is an energy connection between a person and their image, but unless you are a master of the black arts, it does not do any harm to a person to throw their photo away. When you think about it, millions of photos of people in newspapers end up in recycling waste every day and there are no dire consequences of this. If there were, all celebrities would be in big, big trouble.

For people who are still not convinced, or find themselves unable to rip up images of themselves or people they know, a kinder method is to immerse the photos in a basin of water until the images float off and dissolve, which usually takes 3-5 days. But then you are faced with the problem of what to do with the toxic water you are left with. To dispose of it responsibly you certainly can’t pour it down the toilet or the sink, or empty it in your back garden. Photo paper contains a cocktail of chemicals, including silver and mercury. If you choose this method you would need to contact your local hazardous waste disposal centre first and ask them what to do.

I have to say, though, that I do draw the line when it comes to putting photos of people through the shredder. I can happily do this with photos of places or things, but seeing those mechanical metal teeth tearing through the faces of people I know feels unnecessarily aggressive. There are gentler ways to do it.

For those who’ve grown up in the digital age, deleting a photo is only a click of a button away. But the sheer quantity of photos most people now have has brought with it a whole new set of problems. Taking a photo is easy and cheap, but the time it takes to store it in a way that allows you to find it again, and the energy it takes to decide which to keep and which to delete, can take up untold hours of a person’s life. As one woman observed when faced with this task, ‘My husband says that when you say “yes” to something you are always saying “no” to something else. So if I am spending all my time organizing memories, what am I am saying “no” to?’

Related article
The art of intercepting clutter before it even starts

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Space clearing for therapy rooms

TherapyNext time you have a massage, some kind of beauty therapy, or a dental or medical treatment, spare a thought for all the people who have been on that treatment couch before you. Why? Because mingling with your energy at that moment will be all the residues of the energy they have left behind them in that place. You may not want to know this, but it’s true.

Take the example of a massage, where the idea is for you to open your energy as much as possible to the therapist so they can work with you as deeply as they can. When you get up off their couch, if they have done their job well, you will feel lighter and freer.

And guess what has happened to all the stuff you were carrying that made you feel so tense? You’ve left it behind in the room, and especially in the couch. If the therapist doesn’t know how to handle these energies, you may also have left some of it in them. Then in comes the next client and lies down in your freshly excreted etheric debris, and the imprints of all the clients before you. It’s no wonder that so many massage therapists suffer periodic burn-outs, and no wonder you sometimes get off the couch feeling worse in some ways than when you went in.

Dentists’ chairs are a more extreme version of this because they also become imprinted with anxiety and fear. And the seats in a dentist’s waiting room have this too. If you weren’t afraid before you went in, it’s likely you soon will be after you sit down.

So what can you do about this? Well, it helps to learn to densify your energy, as explained in Chapter 20 of Samuel Sagan’s book, Awakening the Third Eye. But really it’s the therapist’s job to take care of their space, to create an environment that is energetically clear, that supports not only the healing process of their clients or patients but also helps the therapist themselves. Regular space clearing of a therapy room means that the room handles all the gunk so that the therapist and their clients or patients don’t have to.

So next time you go for a health or beauty treatment of some kind, ask the beautician or therapist, ‘When did you last space clear this room?’ The word needs to go out. Space clearing technology exists. We don’t have to put up with grungy massage couches or therapy rooms any more!

And by space clearing, do I mean waving smudge sticks around or visualizing pyramids of light, as someone suggested to me recently? In my experience, such techniques don’t make any difference to the energy of a space. What I mean by space clearing is the specific 21-step ceremony that I described in my 1996 book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, and that I will be explaining in much more detail in the new space clearing book I am writing that will be published later this year.

Therapists can learn to do the basic ceremony themselves by following the steps in the book, or by taking a space clearing workshop to get more in-depth knowledge (the only one I am teaching this year is in June). For spas and health centres that employ a number of therapists, it works best to call in one of the professional space clearers I’ve trained to give the whole place a thorough clearing a few times a year.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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The art of intercepting clutter before it even starts

FriendsThe thousands of choices we make each day may not seem important by themselves, but they all add up to create the path that we take in life.

In truth, every single decision is an opportunity to choose light or dark, to choose life affirming actions that have integrity or ones that will take us off track. From each mouthful of food we choose to eat to the bigger decisions in life that determine who we are, every single one counts. And if you hold this firmly in mind while clutter clearing, it will give you a very different level of motivation to get the job done.

An excellent example of this comes from a lovely woman who took one of my Fast Track Clutter Clearing online courses and kindly gave me permission to publish some of her insights here.

‘I think about all the time I have spent over the years organizing things from place to place or bin to bin,’ she commented, ‘when what I should have done was just released it at the time and spent more time with friends and family rather than organizing stuff.’

These are wise words indeed. With this realization firmly in mind, I encouraged her to tackle with renewed vigour the bins she had accumulated full of her children’s school work from kindergarten to university.

‘My youngest son is very good at throwing out all his school work at the end of the year,’ she observed. ‘I watched as he did it the last two years and knew that I could do the same to virtually all the school work, birthday cards, soccer schedules and mementos of his that I have saved over the years. He wouldn’t care. So I will keep that in mind when I get to those bins.’

Her husband turned out to be an even more stalwart role model when it came to sorting through and organizing the thousands of pictures she had on her computer.

‘My husband has 12 pictures of his childhood, while my children have hundreds!’ she exclaimed. ‘That is one of the reasons why I am here now, taking this course. It’s time to let go and concentrate on people rather than things.’

She added, ‘My husband says that when you say “yes” to something you are always saying “no” to something else. So if I am spending all my time organizing memories, what am I am saying “no” to?’

You may like to ponder on this as you sort through your own stuff. Or better still, as you make your original choices about what to keep in your life and what to let go. As you become more experienced at this, you learn to spot more easily the things that will turn out to need clutter clearing in years to come. It’s called the art of intercepting clutter before it even starts, and it’s a vital skill to have in order to own your own life rather than feeling constantly overwhelmed by all the things you have set yourself up to do.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Moving on after the death of a pet

hamsterHow we deal with loss as a child forms the way we deal with it as adults, and according to John W. James and Russell Friedman of the Grief Recovery Institute, children have a natural ability to deal with this unless taught otherwise.

In their book, When Children Grieve, the authors give a wonderful example of a friend’s four year old son whose hamster died. The friend called to ask them for help, and they told her that she probably wouldn’t have to do much because he was only four – he would probably get it right all by himself.

Sure enough, when she watched to see what he did, she was amazed at what she saw.

‘He stood in front of the cage, looking in at the dead hamster, and with tears in his eyes he said, in four-year-old fashion: “Mr Hamster, you were a good hamster. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t clean your cage. I was mad the time you bit me, but that’s okay. I wish that you didn’t have to get sick and die. I wanted to play with you more. I loved you, and I know that you loved me. Goodbye, Mr Hamster.” And off he went.’

If you’re familiar with the Grief Recovery Method explained in detail in the authors’ books, what is so fascinating about this story is that this little boy’s final words to his hamster cover in just seven short sentences all the primary elements of apologies, forgiveness, significant emotional statements, and fond memories that form the cornerstones of moving through a loss or bereavement. Most children know how to do this naturally if they are allowed to tell the truth about their feelings, but by the time we grow up most of us have developed so many survival techniques for coping with loss that we need to relearn what this four year old knew intuitively how to do all by himself.

It didn’t end there, of course. The hamster was buried in the garden, and for a few weeks the boy visited the spot from time to time and continued to talk to his hamster whenever feelings about its death arose. He ended each conversation with ‘Goodbye, Mr Hamster’, which is so important to the process of completion, and after a couple of months, when his grieving had run its course, he announced to his mother that he would really like to have a new hamster.

The story concludes: ‘The very first thing the little boy did when he got his new pet hamster was to tell the new hamster all about Mr Hamster, who had died, and to say that he hoped they could become good friends too, just as he’d been with Mr Hamster.’

In other words, he hadn’t been emotionally scarred by the experience. With the support of his parents, he’d completed his grieving and was ready to move on. He was able and willing to open his heart to the new hamster just as much as he had opened to the old one.

I love the simplicity, wisdom, and heart-warming outcome of this tale, and for anyone reading this who has experienced the death of a pet, a person, a relationship break-up, or any other kind of loss, I sincerely recommend one of the following books:

Grief Recovery BooksThe Grief Recovery Handbook
The action program for moving beyond death, divorce, and other losses

Moving On
For anyone who has experienced the end of a romantic relationship, whether recent or long ago

When Children Grieve
For adults to help children deal with death, divorce, pet loss, moving, and other losses

Related article
Losing a pet: Grieving the loss of a friend

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Does it matter where you keep your shoes?

In most Asian cultures it is common practice to remove your shoes before entering a home. This is because it is well understood that low level energies tend to sink to ground level, and some of these inevitably get stuck to our shoes as we walk around.

Their thinking is: Why on earth would we want to trample a whole mish-mash of physical grime and unwholesome energies through our home when we can simply remove our shoes at the door and leave the dirt and energies outside where they belong? They do no harm there. The problems only start if you bring them inside.

Somehow this innate wisdom about shoes has not passed from East to West. The current fashion for cream or beige carpets means that some western households do have a shoes-off policy when entering the home these days, but this is more to avoid marking the carpets than because of any energetic awareness.

Of course, leaving your shoes outside your front door is not the most sensible option anywhere in the world. They tend to get stolen, rained on, heat-baked, chewed by dogs, or worse. So is there a better solution?

My personal favourite is to have a shoe cupboard somewhere just inside the main entrance so you can take your shoes off as soon as you enter and store them hidden from view. Why hidden from view? Because arriving home to see a jumble of shoes on the floor or on an open rack does not uplift your spirits or create the most welcoming sight for you or your guests.

As any feng shui consultant will tell you, when it comes to entrances, first impressions count, and your main entrance is one of the key areas of your home to get right. Whatever your senses are greeted with when you first enter sets the tone for everything that happens there, and shoe clutter does not create the best visual, olfactory, or energetic effect to benefit you or anyone you live with.

However, in many homes there’s simply no space to have a shoe cupboard close to the main entrance. So what can you do about that? The next best solution is to take your shoes off when you enter and carry them to where your shoe cupboard is, which can be just about anywhere except your meditation room (if you have one) or your bedroom.

‘Oh no!’ some of you reading this may be saying at this point. ‘I always keep my shoes in my bedroom. There’s nowhere else to put them.’

This would be an absolute no-no in most Asian countries, but it’s all too common in the West. There may be little you can do about this in your current home, but if ever you move you can certainly put a shoe cupboard near the front door firmly on your wish list. In the meantime, here are some tips to help mitigate the effects of storing shoes in the bedroom:

  • Keep them inside a closed cupboard rather than out in the open
  • Don’t keep them under your bed or close to the head of your bed
  • Create an organized storage system rather than throwing them into a heap
  • Have regular clear-outs to get rid of any shoes you never wear

If you’ve always worn shoes inside your home, there will be a gunky layer of energy at floor level that probably feels normal to you, and it won’t make a heck of a lot of difference if you stop wearing shoes now or not. But if you make a fresh start by cleaning your carpets and washing your floors, and especially if you space clear your home too, then a no-shoe rule will make a difference that is tangible. You’ll wonder why you never thought of it before.

Interestingly, while writing this article, a telephone engineer turned up to repair our line, and all I had to do was look at his shoes and he instantly got the message and took them off. I thought perhaps this might mean this behaviour has become more commonplace than I  thought, but it turned out to be a simple case of beige carpet syndrome that had conditioned his response. Ah well, every bit helps.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course

I’ve been so intrigued by the results that the people taking my Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course are getting that I decided to do some deeper research into why this may be.

It turns out that a number of studies have been conducted in recent years by educational bodies to find out how online courses compare to face-to-face tuition, and increasingly online courses are being found to be comparable or more effective. There are some topics and skills that online learning doesn’t work so well for, of course, but when it comes to clutter clearing, my experience is that it most certainly does.

One reason for this is that while taking the course, the person is surrounded by their clutter rather than sitting in a workshop making well-intentioned plans for what they will do when they get home. This means they can action each step right then and there, which makes it much more likely they will actually do it.

Another reason is that the Fast Track Clutter Clearing course I teach is spread over a 21-day period, so each person knows that if they can just commit to putting in some extra effort in for that defined period of time, it will pay dividends. The course consists of seven steps, spaced three days apart, which means that even if someone gets too busy on one or two of the days to do anything at all, it’s usually possible to squeeze in some clutter clearing time on the third day of the step to make it possible to keep up.

Then there is the camaraderie that develops within the group, with participants rallying to support and inspire each other. This makes the whole clutter clearing process so much easier and more enjoyable. The courses are not run with the intention of making people accountable to other group members, but somehow most people naturally feel this way, which spurs them to keep up with the steps and report back on their successes. By the end of course they feel like old friends, and many have commented how lovely it is to meet up again online if they take other courses with me.

Many a well-intentioned clutter clearing project stalls as a result of not knowing how to tackle some unforeseen aspect that arises, and this is another way that the online course format has proved to be so effective. Questions can be posted to the message board and help obtained within a short period of time, enabling each person to move on instead of giving up.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, modern technology means that this online course is accessible to everyone, no matter where in the world they live. People from 25 countries around the world have so far taken part, from all walks of life and all manner of cultural backgrounds. What they all have in common is clutter, and a desire to free themselves from the effect it has on their lives.

The next Fast Track Clutter Clearing courses are in March and June 2014, and if you’re interested to know more, you can find information about them here:

Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course – June 1-21, 2014 (£69)
Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course – October 7-27, 2014 (£72)
About online courses
What previous course participants have said

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Does it make a difference if you make your bed in the morning?

I once did a consultation for a family who asked me to do a healthy home survey for a property they were thinking of buying. We met at the family’s current home and drove from there to the proposed new home.

What was so interesting about the day was how messy and cluttered the current home was, with clothes and children’s toys strewn all over the floors of just about every room and passageway, and how neat and ordered the new house was. Both were occupied by families of two adults and two small children, and both mothers were full-time mums, but the way they ran their homes and brought up their children was so different.

‘Ah, yes,’ said the mother of the beautifully tidy home, when I commented on how well organized it was. ‘Even when my children were too small to make their own beds, I taught them to at least try to pull the covers up even the tiniest bit.’ She mimed a toddler attempting with all their might to pull their bed cover just a few inches up the bed. ‘It begins with something as simple as that.’

I recall another occasion when I was discussing teaching a residential space clearing course at the most elite hotel chain in Bali. I met with the Regional General Manager in person (it was he who had sought me out to lead an event there), and together we viewed the possible meeting rooms and residential suites. One of the suites he wanted to show me had only recently been vacated by hotel guests and had not yet received Housekeeping’s magic touch to restore it to a state of cleanliness and order. I remember to this day the look in his eyes as he surveyed the array of carelessly scattered towels and bedding.

‘You see, I was not brought up this way…’ was all he said, but it revealed so much about how structured his life was, and how he had been able to transpose that into his career and rise so rapidly to the top of his profession at such a young age. He was the warmest, most caring, and most hospitable hotel manager I have ever met, who took immense pleasure in catering for his guests’ every need and whim, but this did not mean he condoned slovenly behaviour. We became firm friends, and I led two very successful courses at one of his hotels before I left Bali to move back to the UK.

These two examples highlight not so much the value of making your bed each morning, but what it can lead to. When you begin your day in this way, it sets a certain structure in place for everything you subsequently do, and creates a clear and welcoming space for you to return to each night. When you leave your bedding in a messy heap, you will tend to muddle through the day until it’s time to fall back in to bed again. It’s good to peel back the covers to air your bedding for a few minutes each morning before making your bed, but leaving it that way all day doesn’t air it much more!

Taking this to an even deeper level, it is an undeniable fact that people with structure get things done. They are able to navigate life’s challenges, find solutions, and achieve great things. They are people of will. Conversely, people who lack structure are buffeted about by the winds of change, and tend to lead less satisfying lives, always wondering how to find more fulfillment.

And how do you build will, I hear you ask? In my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book, I explain that this is one of those million dollar questions, with no single or simple answer. Will has to be deliberately cultivated, a thousand times a day in every little way. Begin small and work your way up to great acts of will, which are sure to have a resounding effect in every aspect of your life.

So can making your bed really make a difference? When you do it with the express intention of creating a more structured start and end to your day, it most certainly can. Try it yourself for a few weeks and see.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Clear out the old to make room for the new

New life, old lifeOne of the primary reasons clutter clearing makes such a difference is that clearing out the old makes room for the new.

If you are happy with your life as it is and content to remain in the same old groove, read no further. Just leave everything in your home as it is.

But if there are aspects of your life you would like to change or improve, the fast-track route to achieving this is to begin by clearing out everything that no longer fits with who you are. After all, when you buy a new sofa, you don’t try to place it on top of the old one. You move the old one out first, and then bring in the new one. This creates the space you need, and also does something more. By letting go of the old sofa, you also release any associations you have with it and any stagnant energy that has accumulated around it.

This is easy to see with something as large as a sofa, but the same principle applies to each and every item you own, big and small. Your home is a mirror of yourself, and you are connected to everything in it. The process of releasing the things you no longer love or use creates room for something new, both in your home and also in your life. When your space is filled with too much stuff or too many things from the past, the energy stagnates, and there will be a correspondingly stagnation in some aspect of your life.

Most people think that all the things they keep are an asset, or at least a potential asset that will come in useful some day. But in the 35+ years I’ve been conducting space clearing, clutter clearing, and feng shui consultations around the world, what I’ve seen again and again is that the effect of the stagnant energy that surrounds clutter usually far outweighs any benefits of keeping it.

Here’s a simple test you can take to discover how rooted in the past you are. Take a stroll around your home and estimate the percentage of things you own that evoke strong memories from bygone times. If this applies to more than 50% of your belongings, then you are living more in the past than in the present, and are not so available to engage the new and embrace the future. Keeping a few sentimental items around you is fine but when they take over your home, they also take over your life, and no amount of fond memories from the past are a substitute for living life to the full now.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014


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Haunted houses

Haunted houseReal estate agents euphemistically call them “psychologically impacted” or “stigmatized” homes. To you and I, this means a property that is rumoured to be haunted, or a place where something traumatic has happened, such as a murder, suicide, or violent crime. Events of this type leave a deep imprint that is not easily remedied, and a death of any kind in a property – even a peaceful one – can make many buyers reluctant to purchase.

A study conducted by Wright State University professors, James E. Larsen and Joseph W. Coleman, that was published in the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education in 2001, revealed that psychological impacted houses in Ohio take 45% longer to sell and sell for around 3% less than their market value.

My researches have yielded only two US states (Alaska and South Dakota) that currently require real estate agents to disclose to prospective buyers if there have been any homicides or suicides in it in the previous 12 months. In California, the period is 3 years, and this is only required for murders. In Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Oklahoma, disclosure is required if the buyer directly asks for information. I haven’t been able to find details of requirements in other countries, and would be very interested to hear from anyone who has information about this.

If knowledge of whatever took place is widespread among residents of the surrounding area, then the stigma will remain for as long as it is remembered, and this could be years in some cases, and decades or even centuries in others.

Many of the space clearers I have trained are also experienced entity clearers, and they would be able to go into such a home and clear all energetic traces of past events. This could help to mitigate any concerns of prospective buyers, but the new owner(s) would still have to be strong-minded enough to contend with any lingering local gossip, or be prepared to publicize the clearing so extensively and credibly that it would change public opinion about the place. This has been found to be generally easier to do in a town location than a rural community.

To be frank, the best solution when there has been a serious atrocity is to raze the building to the ground, as was done with the house of renowned serial rapists and murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, who buried their victims in the garden and cellar of their home in Gloucester, England. After they were convicted, their house and adjoining property were demolished, and every scrap of building material was ground to dust or burned, partly to remove every trace of it physically and energetically, and partly to thwart any ghoulish souvenir hunters. The former site is now an unremarkable-looking and unremarkable-feeling landscaped footpath between two roads, where nature and the passage of time are working their healing wonders.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2013


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Lights out

Our local council has recently announced that between midnight and 6.00am each night, they will soon be switching off half of all street lights in our area except those on main roads. They calculate this will save around £500,000 each year.

This follows a pilot scheme in a UK town where they turned off two out of every three street lights between midnight and 6.00am for 10 months to monitor whether this resulted in increased crime or complaints of any kind. Satisfied that it did not, they now feel confident enough to roll it out across the county where my husband and I live.

A number of studies in fact substantiate that there is little correlation between reduced street lighting and increased crime. Some have even found that better lighting makes some crimes such as burglary easier.

But the reason I’m delighted by this news actually has nothing to do with crime statistics and everything to do with quality of sleep and health. ‘Sleeping in a dark room is one of our top recommendations for a good night’s sleep,’ says David Cloud, CEO of the US National Sleep Foundation, and I have certainly found this to be true. My test for whether a room is dark enough to sleep in is not being able to see my hand if I hold it up in front of my face.

Darkness during sleep is also a healthier option. Scientists have also known for years that rats raised in cages where lights are left on for much of the night have higher cancer rates than those allowed to sleep in darkness. In humans, many studies have found a correlation between exposure to light at night and increased breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Epidemiological studies of nurses, flight attendants, and others who work at night have found breast cancer rates 60% above normal, even when other factors such as differences in diet are accounted for.

The most significant research to date on the health effects of night-time lighting was a 10-year study conducted at the University of Haifa in Israel, in which satellite data obtained from NASA showed in great detail how much light was emitted from various neighbourhoods in Israel. They then overlaid that map with local statistics for breast cancer cases, and to act as a control, lung cancer cases. They corrected for other factors that can affect cancer rates, such as poverty, ethnicity, and the average number of children in families.

They found no link at all with lung cancer but were astonished to discover that in areas with normal levels of outdoor lighting at night, breast cancer rates were 37% higher than average, and in areas where outdoor lighting was very bright and intruded into bedrooms, the breast cancer rate was 64% higher than average. It was already known that women with breast cancer have lower levels of melatonin than normal, and this study established the link between breast cancer rates and the way that night-time lighting suppresses the production of this hormone.

Since then it has been discovered that even a small amount of light can suppress your melatonin production for an entire night, so here’s what the breastcancer.org website advises:

  • Install blackout shades on your bedroom windows
  • Don’t turn on lights if you wake up at night
  • Use low-wattage or red bulbs in night-lights
  • Install a low-wattage or red-bulb nightlight in your bathroom

The reason red lights are recommended is that red light does not have the same melatonin-suppressing effects as white light. So if you ever need to use the bathroom during the night, use a flashlight with a red light bulb to get you safely there and back.

If you live in a place where street lighting streams into your bedroom throughout the night, invest in some blackout curtains or blinds. Or better still, petition your local street lighting authority to save themselves some money and you some expense by turning the darn lights off at night. The International Dark-Sky Association’s website provides a host of other good reasons for reducing night-time lighting, ranging from the devastating effect it has on the cycles of nocturnal creatures, to the way urban lighting means most people can no longer see the inspiring beauty of the stars.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2013


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How space clearing bells came to be in the world

Balinese Space Clearing bellsThese days, anyone can buy a space clearing bell at the click of a button on the spaceclearing online store, but it wasn’t always so.

When I first began space clearing back in 1978, I lived in England. I amassed a large collection of bells from all over the world, and experimented with using them in a variety of situations. I would use perhaps four or five different bells in any building, using smaller and smaller bells with each circuit I did. I used the best equipment I could find at the time, and it did have some effect, but it was very far from what I now know to be possible.

I continued to develop space clearing for the next 12 years. Then in 1990, I travelled to Bali and discovered Balinese bells, which radically changed everything. It took me two years and several visits to Bali to acquire a bell for myself (I was the first non-Balinese person ever to do so), and when I went back to England in 1992 and started using it, I was astonished at the difference it made. It took space clearing to an entirely new level that I had not even thought was possible before, and now I never use anything except Balinese bells. I have found nothing anywhere in the world to compare with them.

In 1993, I started teaching space clearing workshops, and the level of interest turned out to be so great that I was inundated by requests for bells. The best I could suggest at that time was to search antique shops for some kind of bell or use Tibetan tingsha cymbals instead, neither of which did very much in terms of space clearing but were better than nothing at all.

On my next visit to Bali, I presented the problem to the family of bell-makers I had come to know, and asked them if it would be possible to create a more affordable bell specifically designed for space clearing, with a wooden handle instead of a the traditional hand-crafted brass one but the same glorious purity of sound Balinese bells are so famous for. After many months of deliberating, they finally agreed, and by the time my Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui book was published in 1996, I had some space clearing bells available to sell to people who wanted one.

In the 20 years I lived in Bali, I continued to seek out the the most skilled Balinese craftspeople on the island to create all the other types of equipment that are so easily available today on the spaceclearing.com online store, including bell stands, harmony balls, altar cloths & colourizers. Truth to tell, it has always been more a labour of love than a viable business, but I see it as an essential service for the people who read my books and attend my workshops. There really is no point in teaching such high level space clearing without being able to provide people with the tools to do it properly.

Since moving from Bali back to the UK in 2010, the online store is now based in England and run by my husband, Richard, who is also a professional space clearer. He rigorously checks the quality of each item sent out, with the result that in all the years we have been doing this, we can count the number of products returned for refund or exchange on the fingers of one hand, and most of those are from people who simply changed their mind.

Around 50% of our customers are based in the US, and the rest are in 30+ countries around the globe, particularly the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan. For my part, I continue to stay in touch with all the talented craftspeople in Bali, most of whom have now been with me for 15 years or more. They all work in their own homes, surrounded by their families, and with great camaraderie between them.

So that’s the story of how and why space clearing bells came into being, and why bells are so much a part of my life.

Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2013

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What to do with unwanted gifts

Unwanted giftChristmas is over, or rather, it’s just another year until the next one!

But please don’t take this long to figure out what to do with any unwanted gifts you’ve received this year. Studies show that most people receive at least one Christmas gift they have no use for, and at least half of them keep it in the misguided hope they will find a use for it one day.

This correlates with surveys I’ve done in Clear Your Clutter workshops I’ve taught around the world. The Number One reason people keep stuff they don’t use is because they hope it will come in useful someday. Yet when they reflect on the actual wisdom of this, most freely admit it never does. And what they fail to take into account is the stagnating effect keeping such items has on the energy of their home, and the corresponding stagnating effect this has on their life.

Some people keep unwanted gifts out of loyalty to the person who gave it to them, to which I say, if it’s a genuine friendship, then keeping the gift can get in the way of it. Every time you look at the object or think about it, you remember your disappointment and your energy drops. As the old saying goes, it truly is the thought that counts. It’s far better to accept the love that was given with the gift and let the physical item go.

Which brings us to re-gifting, a clutter-busting method many people now practice. It can be a risky business, I know, and I will never forget the smile on my mother’s face when I gave her a lead crystal fruit bowl I’d rarely used, only to discover she had given it to me many years before. Fortunately she’d read my books and took it in good humour.

In case your own relatives or friends aren’t so understanding, a safer and wiser choice may be to go online to sell unwanted gifts, or give them away to someone who would like them and can use them. Depending on where in the world you live, eBay and community websites such as Freecycle, Craigslist, Kijiji, Gumtree and Marktplaats can help with this, and all report massive increases in listings, starting from Christmas lunchtime and continuing for the remaining days of December each year. Charity shops also report a flood of extra donations of items in the first weeks of January.

If you are brave (or brazen) enough to ask whoever gave you the gift for the receipt, you can return a gift and get a refund or exchange it for something you do want, which is probably the happiest solution of all.

Another option is repurposing. That ugly mug you received may be the last thing you want to drink your tea out of each morning, but could make a handy pot for some small tools in your garden shed. Or you can break something down into its component parts and find a use for some of them, such as keeping the inside part of a ghastly-looking cushion and using it to re-stuff something else.

Of course, if you take up any of these options, you also have to change your own attitude about the gifts you give. It would be hypocritical not to. My own attitude is that if I give a gift to someone and it amounts to instant or eventual clutter in their life then I certainly don’t want them to keep it. I would much prefer they sell it, re-gift it or throw it away if necessary. I give the gift and let it go. It’s entirely up to them what they do with it. I know how the stuck energies that collect around such objects can stagnate a person’s life and don’t ever want to be responsible for contributing to that!

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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2013


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