When clients hire feng shui consultant Mira Brower to clear their clutter, diplomacy becomes as crucial as geomancy, Chinese philosophy, or yin-yang polarity.
"Clutter — especially chronic, overwhelming clutter — is a symptom of a bigger issue," says Brower, who is teaching a feng shui workshop at Pearl River Consignment (366 Grand Ave., Oakland) on Saturday, September 19. "It is up to me to find out why someone feels it is not safe to let things go, even when they want to. People who collect clutter do it for many different reasons, but all of them are issues that need to be handled with care. I like to approach the situation with understanding, without judging them and letting them know that clutter is something that so many people are struggling with in our society of consumption, and that they are not alone." Brower also likes to start small. "By choosing one room, one drawer, one closet or area to focus on, the project becomes much more manageable." Once the client sees that neatened-up drawer or closet, "the feeling of having a clear space can become contagious and can spread to the rest of their home."
Based on the Chinese words for wind and water, feng shui is an ancient system based on the premise that the physical components of any environment can be arranged so as to improve the flow of life-energy, or qi.
Although she has worked in this field professionally for only four years, Brower remembers having "always been interested in what makes a room feel good. As a kid, I would move my bed around until I felt like it was in the 'best' place, without really knowing that was what I was doing." It was as if she was already unwittingly sensitive to the Taoist concept of five "elements" — wood, fire, earth, metal, and water — interacting to produce either good or bad effects. A teenager when she first learned of this, Brower later studied it formally at San Diego's Western School of Feng Shui. Now she writes a home-decorating column for Examiner.com and does consultations — even over the phone and via e-mail.
And she savors the transformations that sometimes happen in the wake of her work. One client hired her because "she was having issues with people thinking that she had a 'cold' personality at work. When I got to her living room, I noticed a beautiful wood carving." The carving was in the region of the Bagua — an eight-sectioned feng-shui "map" bearing trigrams from the I Ching — that pertains to fame and personal reputation. Crucially, the carving belonged not to the client but to a friend with whom she was on bad terms.
"We took it down right away and replaced it with a much softer, natural scene," at which point the client's work relationships improved significantly, according to Brower.
Yet another client, Brower remembers, "was a close friend that was looking for a relationship, so we worked on her space, adding lots of romantic imagery and soft, sensual decorations. Separately, I was working with a male client that was looking for a relationship as well. We activated the romance area of his home as well. Soon after, the two met through mutual friends and started dating." Two years later, they're still together. 10 a.m., free. Advance registration required. PearlRiverConsignment.com
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