Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Key Is In The Ch'i!

I'm covering for 2nd Chance today who is headed to Her Royal Majesty's Steampunk Symposium this weekend, being held on the Queen Mary. Does that sound awesome or what?? Well, in the true spirit of our woo-woo, metaphysical bartender, I decided to get a little ancient woo-woo on your pirate arses today.

Many years ago I read a novella by Vicki Lewis Thompson about an interior decorator heroine who uses Feng Shui to design the hero's home. The hero is a cowboy and the home is a ranch and a large, erupting fountain is involved. To this day, hardest I've ever laughed while reading a book.

But the point is, that was my first introduction to the ancient Chinese art of placement.

Though Feng Shui is still a mystery to many, most people have heard terms such as "Ch'i", "Yin & Yang", and "Tao". Today we're talking ch'i and how to get it flowing in our working area, with the positive result of the words flowing right along with it.

I have issues with clutter. My house is not spotless and will never be, but when the piles of clothes and paper and whatever else get to be too much, it's as if giant speed bumps have popped up in my brain. Until the clutter is abated, I can't concentrate and creativity is out the window. Every time I buckle down and clean my room (which is where I write) the speed bumps magically disappear.

Why? Because the Ch'i is flowing!

According to Skye Alexander in the book 10 Minute Feng Shui: Easy Tips For Any Room, "[t]he goal is to direct ch'i – a vital energy that animates all life – through your environment so that its movement resembles a gently flowing stream or a pleasant breeze." If something is blocking the ch'i from flowing freely through your home, then it's also blocking the ch'i in your life.

By using Feng Shui, we can arrange furniture, incorporate shapes and materials and even colors to balance our living space. Achieving balance in the space will help achieve balance in our lives and our minds.

What writer wouldn't like to have more balance and an abundance of flowing creativity? Now you see where I'm going.

For those skeptics out there, I'll give you an example of a Feng Shui issue in my home. Again, according to Ms. Alexander's book noted above, all the systems of your home are a reflection of the systems in your body. The electrical system is a mirror of your neurological system. (As writers, we kind of need this one to work at full capacity.)

I bought this house 15 months ago and the electrical system isn't exactly right. The light switch that turns on the stairway light cuts off all electricity to half of the living room, including the outside light, if switched down. Also, if the two switches that operate the living room ceiling fan are not in the correct positions, the fan does nothing. These positions are non-negotiable as far as I can tell.

Did I mention some outlets don't work at all? Yes, it is an understatement to say my home electrical system is out of whack. If that isn't the best way to describe my neurological system these days, I don't know what is.

I can't concentrate, get motivated, or stay focused long enough to get any real writing, or what I need these days – revision, done. My wires are crossed and for all I know all the good words are currently flowing into my pinky toe. Or out somewhere else but I really don't think we should go there.

At this time, I can't afford to hire an electrician to rewire my house. However, I can rearrange my room and apply Ms. Alexander's suggestions to my work area in order to get things moving again. I hope.

The condition and even positioning of your work area "describes your attitudes toward money, your ability to attract wealth, your career goals, and your overall work situation." It stands to reason that too much clutter on or around your desk could be holding you back. Here are three suggestions this author makes to help get that working ch'i flowing:

1. Face front!  – You need to feel relaxed and not as if anyone could wonder up behind you without being seen and startle you while you're working. I haven't figured out exactly how to make this work in my bedroom, but I plan to try it this weekend. I know when I've had my desk in an open space facing the entrance to whatever room I'm using, the words flow much better. (Wish I'd made that connection before.)

2. Bring up the lights! – The better the lighting, the better you can see. If you can see clearly, then your mind can also see clearly. The added bonus is that more light means more ch'i and ch'i is what we want. Time to start using that desk lamp again!

3. Cut the clutter! – Getting those piles of mail, receipts, story notes, and empty candy bar wrappers cleaned up and organized is going to, as Ms. Alexander says, "make room for money and opportunities to come into your life." Oh yeah, I'm on board with this one.

Now, if your desk is covered with clutter, you have books scatted around the floor, and your desk faces a corner but you're turning out the words and feeling good, by all means don’t change a thing. BUT, if you're struggling (as I am) to get the brain working in the "write" direction, what harm would it be to try this?

What do you think? Are you interested in learning more? Think it's bunk? Let's talk writing spaces and tell us what works for you.


Quantum said...

The ancients definitely knew a thing or to about our coupling to the cosmos.
Your summary is brilliant Bo'sun!

Whether you like Chakras or acupuncture centres, the idea of 'life energy' flowing through us is useful and helps to understand how remote 'energy healing' might work.

If a constriction of the energy flow exists in your head, as with writer's block, then I suspect the best way to free it is to think laterally.

Start imagining outrageous situations or absurd actions by your characters. Possible examples:
a) The stuffy lawyer playing tennis in the nude.
b) The French chef struggling with her sauces going to a fish and chip emporium and covering the food with ketchup.

When you are stuck in a groove, your neural pathways have fixed on a certain pattern because you've been strengthening it by going over it again and again. Lateral thinking can break the pattern allowing new neural connections and pathways which may be more beneficial to your story.

I call this process the cosmic woo woo effect.

Try it. I think you might be surprised! :)

Marnee Bailey said...

I definitely don't work as well in clutter. Not a good thing since I have two preschoolers and my youngest can destroy a room faster than a category 4 hurricane. Little dude's like the Tazmanian devil.

This usually means that if I'm trying to jot down ideas or cram in an idea for a story that occurs while I'm showering or washing dishes, I have to block out the negative ch'i along with the sound of bickering, annoying Fisher Price music, and/or the sound of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I do work better when it's clutter free. If I'm settling in for a long bout of writing, I clean up first. I sit in my front living room with the wall at my back and that seems to make things work better. I don't like to write with the overhead light on though. I turn on the table lamps.

Great post, Bo'sun! I am interested in learning more. Sometimes I wonder if I set up a chair with an ottoman in my bedroom corner, if maybe I'd work better. I could close the door and stare at it, sit in the calming blue painted walls. Then I'd have to ignore the mountain of laundry though.... Not sure....

Bosun said...

Good morning! And how are we on this Friday the 13th?


Bosun said...

Q - That is GENIUS! I have such a practical mind I'll have to practice, but lateral thinking sounds like just what I need. I'm all for a cosmis woo-woo effect. Nice to see a scientist embracing this concept, though I think science has been on this energy thing longer than the rest of us.

Marn - I know how much laundry my one child creates, I'd hate to see it for 2 kids and a spouse. I just try not to look in kiddo's room and then keep my own basket in my closet. For me, out of sight/out of mind has to be enough.

I'd love to hear how it goes if you set up a space in your room. But if the living room is working, don't think you have to change. I'm not sure there's such a thing as negative ch'i. I think the ch'i flow just gets blocked. Open the curtains, organize the clutter into a few neat (looking) piles and I imagine you'll feel an instant lift. Sometimes it only takes a little change.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'd imagine if there's such a thing as negative ch'i, my duo have discovered it. I think it sounds like, "I WANT THAT CAR! MOM!! He has my CAR!" accompanied by a healthy dose of "IEEEIIIIEEE!!" on the little guy's part, then the pounding of running feet, two bodies hitting the floor, and the urgent scuffling and grunting of a serious MMA style smackdown.

It interrupts my thoughts, requires me to break out the referee shirt and whistle and wade in there all, "That's TWO MINUTES FOR ROUGHING!"


I am a huge proponent of out of sight/out of mind. When I think too hard what's under everyone's bed, that's a serious ch'i blocker.

I might try the open curtains and hope that I don't shrivel and start smoking in the light. "I'm meeelllttttinggg...."

Bosun said...

Once again reminded that I was not cut out to raise boys. Though your youngest is going to be a tough one if he's holding his own in the mini-MMA stuff. LOL!

Kiddo used to shove everything under her bed and I got tired of it. So now we keep the underbed area stuff free. Mostly. I store some stuff under mine but that helps in the "organization" area so that's a good thing.

Marnee Bailey said...

PS, it's cold here so we haven't been able to get outside and our playdates this week had to be canceled thanks to sicknesses. It's been a long week. Sorry for the strange mood. LOL!!

Marnee Bailey said...

Little guy's a scrapper. *I'm* even afraid of him.

I need to get some organization going under ours. I know that there's lots of paperwork: lessons from my teaching days, handouts from classes I've taken, stuff like that. I could probably file them and put them in storage. I'll have to think about tackling that this summer, maybe, when I organize the garage.

My older son pushes unsavory things under his bed. I've found all sorts of stuff under there. It's a scary place.

Bosun said...

LOL! Sounds like the oldest better step up his skills!

I'd be very afraid to look under that bed. I know if I do dishes and there seems to be less glasses than usual that I'll find a bunch in Kiddo's room.

Donna Cummings said...

I've read a lot about Feng Shui but I've never really implemented any of it. I think I get confused about where I'm supposed to start figuring things out -- my front door is always in a weird place and doesn't fit their wheel thingie.

I do think it's good to switch things up, which is why I liked going to Starbie's to write or revise. Right now I feel like I'm doing less writing and more "writing-related" stuff, so I need to do another changeup. LOL

Hellion said...

You know I'm interested as soon as you started emailing about it about a month ago. I got a few books from the library to do a quick and dirty version of feng shui in my house. ;) Of course reading a lot of it was confusing and required too much for me. But I do have more plants now, and I do think they help; and I do believe in less clutter. I have to declutter stuff every once in a while in order to be able to think again.

There is a book out called 100 Things or something to that effect--and it's a guy who only has 100 Things. I thought, "Oh, 100 Things would be cool" but then realized that wouldn't even cover all the movies I'd want to keep. Let alone books...or music. BUT I thought I might be able to cull some things to a 100 if I gave it some real effort. *LOL* But I'd have to have more than 100 things total...there was just no way.

I used to hide all manner of crap under my bed when I lived at home, up until I moved away at a shamefully old age. Much of it had to be shoveled away. Now fortunately I have a Captain's Bed, which doesn't allow you to put anything under the bed, let alone old food or the like. Of course I find myself far more unable to live with clutter now that I have my own place. Sometimes it's a matter of needing MORE SPACE as well as getting rid of clutter.

Hellion said...

BTW, I think my public library must have decent feng shui because I can almost always write there. I think it's being surrounded by books. I think they whisper good thoughts for accomplishment.

Bosun said...

Donna - The book I used for this blog makes it incredibly clear. Simplest I've ever seen it. And it's really about using common sense. If you can't walk through your space then neither can the energy. And though I have to write with silence at home, I can write at a Starbucks or B&N with no problem. No idea why that is.

But you have to admit Starbucks are generally minimal in furnishings and whatever mess is there is not "your" mess. LOL! So you're sort of using this concept in a "remote area" way.

Bosun said...

Hellie - I figure if I'm making any effort at all to incorporate some of these concepts and I'm feeling a difference, that's all I need. I'm never going to be a Feng Shui master.

And my house is also facing an odd direction so I get what you mean about the directional stuff, Donna. But I've figured out enough to realize my house is pretty good except I'm short on Fire. So I'm going to repaint my living room (and it really does need a makeover) to have a red accent wall. I'm very excited about this.

Bosun said...

Hellie - The book/writing ch'i in libraries must be overflowing. I still haven't visted the library by my house, but the big main library is very open and I can see the ch'i would have little obstacles to its flow.

I couldn't do the 100 thing, but only because of books. However, I am slowly culling the stacks. Took 2 grocery bags full to the UBS last weekend. One 3' shelf and 2 shelves on the taller case already look better.

Scapegoat said...

Very interesting blog Bo'sun!

My hubby works in an office that has been Fung Shui'd by an expert (his boss' sister) and I have to say I do always feel at peace there.

On the other hand - my writing desk has my back to the door, but that's becuase I have it looking out a window to the backyard. Hmmm...I thought I was doing good with having myself open to the ourdoors. Should I instead be facing my doorway?

I would sure miss the view, but maybe that's my whole writing issue! :) (I wish it was that simple!)

Bosun said...

And I have no plants in my house because I'm afraid the cats will eat them and then die. Technically, I never had plants before the cats either because I've never been able to keep a plant alive.

Anyone know what plants would be safe for the cats that I couldn't kill? A cactus??

Bosun said...

Scape - I have the exact same setup. My bedroom has sliding glass doors (that lead to nowhere?!) so my desk is in front of them. Unfortunately the view consists of the townhouse across the alley, but it's still very bright and open.

I've also heard the old adage (and it is likely part of Feng Shui) that your bed should always run north to south. Right now my bed is facing south to north so the plan is to move that around this weekend. But if I do that, then there's no way I can figure to make my desk face the door. *sigh*

Still, I think cleaning and rearranging the room could be enough to get the ch'i pumping in the right direction.

Hellion said...

I don't know which ones don't poison cats so I can't help. I have a African Violet that has survived well and I've given its babies away to friends. And I'm currently growing a Christmas Cactus in my office to great success too.

At home, I have mixed success. I have a Jade plant (that I didn't know was a Jade plant and didn't know it was a Feng Shui lucky plant either until after I had it), and it's thriving pretty good. I also have a African Violet (a baby of the office plant, doing well); and a number of plants I got after Eldon's funeral. Some are doing well, some are not doing as well. I'm doing what I can.

I bought a dragon tree for my bedroom and managed to kill the poor thing, even though it was supposed to be an 'easy' plant. Horrible. Never again.

Oh, and I've killed a cactus before.

Don't ask me why I have a plant (the African Violet) which is supposed to be difficult to grow and it grows like a weed and does well with me, and then I have a number of plants that are supposed to thrive no matter what you do to them--and they just die off. It's stupid. The plants are stupid.

Hellion said...

I'm missing several of the elements too, but fire seems to be the big one I'm missing too. Need some red...or some dragons. :) I wouldn't mind both.

I want to find something that has a dragon and a phoenix in it. Supposed to be good for relationships--and I thought if it belong in my writing space, it would help me work out the relationships of my characters. That and I've liked phoenixes for a long time--they're eternal and always rise from their defeats and emerge victorious. I think that's a great motto. Fall six times, rise seven...

Bosun said...

Oh, and I have a gargoyle and a Budhist statuette on my desk. Though most of the time they're knocked over. Yes, cats again.

Bosun said...

Your plants are just contrary, like their owner.

I'll look up African Violet to see how it might work with cats. Would be fine if there was a location the cats can't reach. Unfortunately, Bumbles was a mountain climber in a former life. I must google Jade plant and dragon tree too. Now I'm curious.

P. Kirby said...

Well, the clutter is a constant. It's goin' nowhere.

I always claim that my fish aquarium is good feng shui. (Of course, it's filthy, and I can't see the fish.) And there are dragons EVERYWHERE. Some gargoyles too. And there are plants in nearly all the rooms.

But the clutter stays.

Hmmm. I think I'll go deal with the aquarium. Poor fishies.

Bosun said...

If you like your clutter, then definitely keep it, Pat. But now I feel bad for those fishies. LOL!

P. Kirby said...

I have a pleco (catfish), which is supposed to eat the algae. Except like all other critters in the household, it's spoiled, and will only eat expensive algae wafers and zucchini. So the aquarium is always plagued with algae. When I clean it, the fish are kind of freaked out afterward; I think they feel safer in the murk.

Bosun said...

Sounds like your house needs to stay just the way it is. Do you feel better writing with a lot of stuff around you? Do you keep research books close at hand? For this last MS, I had a map of Ocracoke (story setting) and a Boating For Dummies book because my hero was a charter boat captain.

Hellion said...

I have a pleco (catfish), which is supposed to eat the algae. Except like all other critters in the household, it’s spoiled, and will only eat expensive algae wafers and zucchini.

This makes me laugh hysterically. *LOL* I can totally see this.

Melissa said...

Thanks for motivating me! I read this and realized how often I've been startled by having my back to the patio doors (usually when that happens I just move MYSELF and laptop to another room), but now I moved my desk to the other wall...which meant moving other stuff, which actuallly made me clean...whew! LOL I'm happy and the cats have found all their lost toys. :)

Bosun said...

LOL! Happy to help, Melissa! This weekend is all about cleaning, organizing and moving furniture around. I know by Monday I'm going to feel renewed!

And thank heaven for a 3-day weekend that doesn't require me to take a roadtrip!!

Scapegoat said...

I'm so excited for a 3-Day weekend Cleaning Spree. I'd already had the office on that plan so now I'm going to really think about moving things around too.

I'm thinking of adding a small little water feature thing too - going all new age on my writing room apparently!

Irisheyes said...

I'm all over cleaning out the clutter!!! I'm with Scape - 3 days to clean. I'm not so sure the family is going to be as excited as I am. I'm finding more and more that the crap is really getting me down. I keep catching snippets of commercials with those horders on it and it's really freaking me out. I feel like God is trying to send me a message or something. LOL

The African Violet is pretty impressive, Hellie! I know those are really hard to keep alive and healthy. I've already killed one and am too chicken to try another one. My sister (who has the green thumb in the family) has had one alive and healthy for years. It took me about 2 months to kill mine. I feel bad too cause it was a gift to the DH (his favorite color is purple). So, I essentially gave him a great gift and then killed it.

On the side - Ter, I saw in one of the comments this week you're walking a puppy!!! When did you get a puppy? What kind? Very exciting! I LOVE puppies!

Bosun said...

Hey there, Irish. Join the cleaning club. Last night I vacuumed then cleaned the vacuum. LOL! (It's a disease.) Today I mopped the floors, am about to get some laundry going, and attacking the mess in my room.

Yes, I got a puppy! Just this week. In fact, little Macie went for her shots today. She's a Yorkie-Poo, 3 months old, and weighs a whopping 6lbs. She's underweight, likely due to having to fight her chunkier siblings for the food, but we'll fatten her up in no time.

She's currently in my lap, which is where she stays most of the time. The cats aren't happy, but they're coming around.

Irisheyes said...

Yorkie-Poo!! That's awesome. They kind of look like little teddy bears, don't they? We were looking at something like that before we got our Maltese mix. I think our Maltese has a little Cocker Spaniel in him cause he's about 16 lbs. and has the Cocker Spaniel eyes.

Well, enjoy her. She's small enough that you can just about take her anywhere and crate training should be easy!

Didn't get as far on the cleaning today as I would like but was promised that tomorrow would be better! I'll believe that when I see it. LOL

2nd Chance said...

Well, I missed a blog right up my alley! The metaphysical store I once worked in was owned by a Feng Shui expert! We had all the stuff, hexagon mirrors, windchimes, fountains, name it!

Ah, so clutter is mucking up my chi? No wonder I do most of my writing at Starbucks... I should have known this... ;-)