Making Your Home a Healing Haven
My home is a wreck! When I come home after a hard day’s work, my house doesn’t feel like the healing haven I want it to be. I can’t afford to move, and am not sure if I want to if I could. What should I do?
Congested in Cambridge
There is no need to live this way, and probably no need to move. Let’s face it: we don’t live in a particularly healthy society, and that mirrors itself in how we tend to establish our homes with little conscious purpose besides the accumulation of stuff. Everyone deserves to have their home be a healing haven, where they can feel restored, where visitors can feel at peace, and where people can just be. Here are some simple ways to make your home the healing haven it deserves to be:
First, start with decluttering. If you’re like most of us, you have too much stuff, and that clutter can take a toll on your vitality and peace of mind. Think of how good you will feel to purge your living and storage spaces of clutter—the clothes you never wear anymore, the ghosts of Christmas gifts past, the “helpful” gadgets you never actually use. For inspiration, I recommend reading Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston (and when you’re done with the book, let it go!). Her no-nonsense approach will have you hauling bags of your stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army in no time.
Next, detoxify your home. Make sure your home is not making you sick. If you have a furnace, get a carbon monoxide detector. If you live on a commercial street or are exposed to unpleasant fumes or dust, practice leaving your shoes at the door, minimize your use of carpeting, and invest in a vacuum cleaner or air purifier with a HEPA filter (or open your windows and doors when using a standard vacuum cleaner). Empty your kitchen sink cabinet of toxic cleaners and switch them with eco-friendly cleaners; or keep it simple but effective and use old-fashioned baking soda, vinegar, and basic liquid soap. Filter your tap water for drinking purposes, and filter your TV by only watching what you truly enjoy. Fill your fridge with locally grown, organic food that is free of pesticides.
When that is done, improve your home’s energy flow through Feng Shui. Get familiar with Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement in and around the home. Basic study of Feng Shui can help you detect blocked or stagnated chi, or life energy, that, it is said, can lead to illness, misfortune and disharmony. Feng Shui principles can help you design a home office that invites prosperity, a living room that welcomes guests, a bedroom that is romantic and peaceful, and children’s rooms that are harmonious and loving. To find a Feng Shui consultant who can identify for you your home’s trouble spots and what do about them, I recommend contacting the International Feng Shui Guild at www.internationalfengshuiguild.org or at 1-888-881-4374. Be sure to interview consultants beforehand to make sure their qualifications suit your particular needs.
Then keep building positive energy by creating a sacred space in your home. Every home should have a sacred space, reserved for healing, contemplation, sharing, meditation, or prayer. It doesn’t have to be an entire room, nor do you have to go out and buy any more stuff to create this space. It can be as simple as a place to light a candle for someone you care about; a spot where the houseplants grow particularly well; a wall of photos of loved ones past and present; or a comfortable chair in the quietest part of the house. Treat this space with extra care, keep it in good nick and honor it, and it will return the favor.
Next, head outdoors and create a simple healing garden. Why take herbal supplement pills when you get the real deal at home? Many hardy healing herbs such as garlic, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, sage, and St. John’s Wort can grow at least as far north as Massachusetts. Always get the soil tested for lead if you’re planting in an urban area, or add a layer of fresh soil on top of what’s there. If you don’t have a yard in which to garden, no problem—the herbs I’ve listed above will grow well when properly cared for in a sunny indoors spot or flowerbox. For professional guidance, I recommend you contact the American Herbalists Guild at www.americanherbalistsguild.com.
Take a step back and envision your home’s healing purpose. There are many ways we heal, and our homes can go a long way towards satisfying those needs if we just let them. Make your kitchen be about preparing healthy meals, not about microwave-zapping prepackaged meals. Make your bedroom be about lovemaking and a good night’s sleep, not about late-night reading or TV watching. Make your living room comfortable to live in, and make your bathroom suitable for bathing in all its glories. Your rooms want to be put to good use—let them sing!
Take another step back and envision your own healing purpose. Now that your home is singing, it’s time you learned some new songs too. Everyone has the ability to be a healer, including you. Your locality’s community or adult education programs may offer opportunities to learn basic massage, shiatsu, or herbal healing, as may your area’s bodywork and herbal training programs. Reiki energy healing is simple to learn—to find a teacher near you, try the Reiki Alliance at www.reikialliance.org or the International Association of Reiki Professionals at www.iarp.org. Make sure you have basic first aid supplies on hand at home; if you haven’t learned basic First Aid and CPR, you can by taking a course with Red Cross at www.redcross.org or at 1-800-564-1234. Be sure that your home has a practical yet comfortable spot where you can help those who could benefit from your care.
Finally: A true healing home does not stop at the doorstep. A true healing home cannot help but extend its transformative powers into the community and the wider world. Give it some help! Get together with a few other neighbors and hold a multi-home garage sale to help get rid of everyone’s clutter. Reach out to the folks next door and let them know you’re willing to help them in the ways that you are prepared to. See if any local children you know would like to help you garden, and make sure they have safe spaces to play. Help your environment and your own health by driving less, walking more, and taking other steps to reduce your energy consumption and household waste.
As you can see, the more you intend your home to be a healing one, the harder it is not to heal yourself, others, and the planet. Let it happen!
First published in Boston Natural Awakenings magazine's July 2005 "Ask Karlo" column.
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