Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bridging Divides Using Feng Shui

Light snow is falling outside. Trying to make its presence last across a sea of green-brown grass. It feels peaceful – the slow, meandering pace of the flakes filling the air, slowing my breath and body, and almost my mind.

It’s been a tough few months. I’ve been caught up in the anger and frustration many people are feeling at the recent U.S. election, and even more so the actions being taken since President Trump took office less than two weeks ago. I went to D.C. for the Women’s March with my wife and two girls, meeting up with our closest friends, in the hopes of feeling a sense of unity with others of like mind, like emotions. We made signs. We got up at the crack of dawn. We listened to great speeches and then we marched.
My family and I (lower left corner) at the Women's March in D.C.
In one sense, I’m still processing the experience, but I’m also trying to transform the energy I felt there into actionable efforts back home – getting more involved in the local political scene and planning on attending various protests and rallies.

For many in the New Age (or whatever we’re called these days) community, getting embroiled in the issues and putting a focus on the negativity being driven by the new administration, staying atop of the resulting fallout – both peaceful and violent, isn’t the approach to take. It’s depleting. It’s overwhelming. It’s an empath’s greatest challenge to stay functional in the day to day world. I get it, and yes, I’ve had a couple days when I couldn’t look at the news; but for me I need to feel like I’m able to stay on top of what’s happening. There appears to be too much at stake here for me to turn my focus away from it.

I also know though that if change is going to happen, I’m going to have to do some uncomfortable things – like try to understand people who are so far away from my belief system that I can’t see through the fog of all the labels we have for one another to allow me to even find their hands to shake.

When I have a tough challenge like this, I look for a solution, or at least the start of one, using what I’ve learned through feng shui. So as I considered this, an idea started to form around the time of year we’re in, and specifically the holiday: Chinese New Year. In China, they follow a lunar calendar, which results in their new year starting in late January or early February. This year, it started Saturday, Jan. 28, and will be celebrated until Feb. 15th.

In Beijing, a dragon dance and red lanterns offer a glimpse
of the start of the Chinese New Year celebration. 
Considered the Spring Festival, this traditional holiday is used to honor our families, starting off with the most important meal of the year: a reunion dinner. It’s a time to connect with one another and look forward to a prosperous year together.

Seeing the images from around the world, people celebrating not only in China, but London, Sydney, San Francisco, the list goes on, makes it crystal clear that the idea of family can and perhaps should be expanded to include a more global family. From that perspective, I told myself, what’s to keep me from expanding my definition of family to people outside my home, my community, my state, even my belief system?

So, if I were to honor this much larger definition of family, considering the Chinese New Year as a guide, how could I do it? There are many traditional ways to celebrate, including sharing red envelopes for best wishes, setting off firecrackers and eating lucky food. In my feng shui and space clearing practice, I like to honor others intentions through altars.

And that’s what I have done – as you can see here. My altar’s base is a ceremonial wooden bowl and includes Epson salt for grounding, a bridge to symbolize the bridging of a gap of beliefs between me and my larger family, a red envelope under the bridge that includes the words unity, respect and love and two red candle holders (red is very auspicious in feng shui) with candles to initiate the action (fire) needed here. 

An altar with the intention of creating greater unity between
people of different beliefs and perspectives.
It’s simple but altars don’t have to be complex to be effective.

So now I have a focal point for my intention to bring my larger family together. And I’ve found a way to incorporate feng shui and space clearing practices into supporting me as I work through this latest of challenges. I suspect the road ahead will include more frustration, anger and outrage, but I also know that to get past those events to one of greater unity, I need to try to understand the ideas and perspectives of my larger family, even if I don’t agree with them.

I know this altar can help me, and perhaps it, or one you make, will help you as well.

With gratitude.