Saturday, December 3, 2011

Retirement Tips — Feng Shui for Retirees

Feng shui holds that our environment is filled with Chi, or energy. At its core, feng shui is about promoting balance to maximize positive energy. If there’s one thing that retirees can use help with, it’s balance. I’ve plumbed the Internet for feng shui guidance tailored to our needs, particularly getting rid of clutter and getting restful sleep. I see several of you nodding: “Sign me up now.”

Feng shui aside, we know it’s good to get rid of clutter. Having stuff heaped all over can be dangerous. I have enough trouble navigating from point A to point B without having to pick my way around objects with sharp protrusions. Let’s face it, when we trip over something, it’s rarely a soft pile of laundry. Feng shui adds the negative that clutter prevents the flow of positive energy.

Unfortunately, the feng shui “how-to” sites don’t offer much practical advice on how to get rid of clutter. Fortunately, the staging process for listing our house last summer provided some guidelines. There are two aspects to de-cluttering. The first is deciding which things are keepers and which are not. The second is figuring out what to do with the keepers. (We know we should donate or toss the rejects.)

One feng shui site recommends that you ask yourself if you really love or need the item. If yes, it’s a keeper. You should also assess if it’s a match with your current life vision or if it harks from times you remember fondly. Those are each signs of keepers, too. Unfortunately, this quasi-helpful site then advises you simply to “find a proper place to store” the keepers. Not to worry. I can help with that.

Buy some large, plastic storage bins with snap-on covers. Get at least a dozen, as you’ll be labeling them with the alphabet and should be able to double up on many of the letters. Take all your keeper items and assign them a label, and put each one in the bin with that letter. Stack the boxes in your basement, attic, garage or spare room. You have now disposed of all that nasty clutter and your Chi should be flowing beautifully.

Feng shui is also concerned with how the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal and water—influence our lives. The element associated with restfulness is earth. Earth shapes are either square or low rectangles.  In our search for more restful sleep, feng shui would have us replace a bed with a high headboard with a futon. If my husband and I did that, we’d take a half hour just to climb out of bed each morning. Besides, in winter, we drape an old comforter over that high headboard to reduce drafts.

Since the water element can help rejuvenate and renew Chi, that could be an option for restful bedroom décor. Don’t install a fountain in the corner, though. A background sound of running water is not a good idea for retirees. Still water is supposed to be rejuvenating, but a waterbed could be worse than a futon for aging knees. Hanging a crystal in the window is a safer way to recharge retirement Chi.

Some other feng shui bedroom advice seems useful. Place your bed where it has a clear view of the door to promote a sense of security for restful sleep. If you have a TV or exercise equipment in the bedroom, hide it by draping something over it at night to “lower the sense of activity.” I doubt I’ll be tempted to start riding at 3 am, but my husband usually drapes his clothes on the Health Rider anyway.

Finally, let’s talk about a good balance of yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) energy. Supposedly, seniors are prone to being overly yin, reflected in darker homes. You can yang it up by using lighter curtains (draperies slow down Chi) and opening up space. Replace yin furniture—cushiony and overstuffed—with yang—sleek and angular. (Sounds like a metaphor for me and my husband…) I’d rather trip over yin than yang, but maybe you’re not as clumsy as I am.

Yin colors are black, white and pastels, while yang are bright, (making my stager totally yin). To balance the two, you can alternate rooms—one yin-like, one yang-y. If that feels schizophrenic, you can have a predominantly yin color scheme, with yang accents (or vice versa). I’d go with the yang accents so I could hide them from my stager if he came to check up on me.

I realize this is a lot to digest in one sitting, but I’m confident you’re up to it. Especially if you fortify yourself with a nice glass of wine before you tackle this project. Just be sure you don’t spill it on your cushy, white, yin-perfect couch.