What is Trauma-Informed Feng Shui?
Is this a program that I need?
Individual trauma work is available in-person or via zoom. Please contact me directly to discuss this program.
Our very first relationship is with our physical environment, it is our indicator of safety and connection. We physically react to a space before we have cognitively recognized it. The connection between our environment and our healing in interwoven and our spaces need to be continually evaluated for dysregulating patterns, adverse stimuli and healthy spacial fluidity. Our space is a critical part of our well-being and overall health. Trama-Informed Feng Shui design can modulate environmental stimuli and atmosphere to calm the dispatch response from our bodies. Feng Shui acts as a gateway for somatic processing, clearing physical boundaries, and inviting the natural rhythmic elements inside our homes. It helps create an ordered spacial complexity that isn’t the path of least resistance and allows the trauma survivor multiple choices for interaction and engagement.
Trauma-Informed Feng Shui recognizes and works to mitigate the triggers and patterns that may manifest in a space that lead to a feeling of threat. We can work together in Feng Shui and somatic healing to optimize your environment. This is a salutogenic approach to healing that is very individualized. I am a certified trauma support specialist and offer 1:1 trauma support and personalized breath therapy in addition to Feng Shui implementation.
Please contact me directly to discuss this program.
The 5 Feng Shui Elements and the Human Body
In traditional Chinese medicine, emotions and physical health are intimately connected. This integrated mind-body approach to health and healing operates in a dynamic loop where emotions impact the health of the body and the body reciprocates. Physical and emotional well-being are intrinsically linked and as a result our emotional state and chronic patterns can cause disease and make physical symptoms worse. This can and will affect the body’s life force, known as chi or Qi. In Feng Shui practice, everything is alive with chi. Feng Shui is a container which unites and opposes. “Those with trauma can find their way back to the fundamental natural rhythm of Yin and Yang and fluid movement or flow.” (Duncan, Tao of Trauma, 48) Over time we work to improve traumatic responses and the home space improves as well.
Feng Shui can be use to create a feeling of safety and optimize well-being. The 5 Feng Shui elements are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The 5 elements are interconnected with all aspects of our health and our relationship to the environment. We seek to balance these elements in our spaces and in the body. The 5 elements in Feng Shui theory are the same elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine and correspond directly to internal human organs and provides a blueprint for the body’s wellness. Organs give rise to emotions and using 5 element theory we can better examine chronic illness or patterns caused by them. The 5 elements are each associated with a pair of organs in the body. They are also associated with certain emotions and intuitive responses. This can help explain the body’s fight or flight, freeze, fawn response and can help restore balance. As well, our sympathetic nervous system encompasses Yang qualities of action and activity while the parasympathetic nervous system reflects the inhibiting and quiet Yin energy. If we are stuck in an aroused state (Yang), we have Yin energy to cool us; if we are in a freeze state (Yin) we have Yang energy to warm us. Proportioned tension of these two forces allows for stability and balance. (Duncan, Tao of Trauma)
When we Tend to our Wounds, we Heal our Spaces
Attuning to our spaces means we meet ourselves where we are at again and again. When we are intentional in our spaces, we are honoring the intentions we have set for our deepest desires. We recognize the seeds of possibility by arranging our spaces to offer the greatest support. Your well-being is not singular and includes your living space and to a wider degree your community. Feng Shui that is sensitive to trauma offers the creation of a connection-centered, mindful and salutogenic approach to the living environment.
Our spaces are not museums but containers of changing connection where we are meant to live, nourish, rest, dance, cry, hurt, and rest and love. Our spaces are an integral road map for the emotions we experience. We heal hurt in our spaces and we love in our spaces. When our spaces are out of alignment, we seek to find the natural rhythm they possess and sync that rhythm via our own bodies and the environment.
Sometimes, we have denied or not felt strong enough to uphold boundaries and have fallen into the fawn reaction of people pleasing or keeping the peace. This can send our spaces into unsupportive chaos. When we are dysregulated by trauma, so are our spaces. Threats in our daily environment bring changes to the body’s biochemistry. This leads to shifts in our responses and nervous system dysregulation. When Feng Shui and use of the 5-element theory are in place, we can help go beyond mitigating reactions and allow for sustained ability to regulate the threat-response system. Implementing Feng Shui assists in growing our emotional understanding of safety. Practicing Feng Shui in our space allows us to experience a regulated environment by modulating visual chaos and stimuli and eliminating unsupportive patterns or unhelpful energy.
Our own wellness and the well-being of our spaces requires supportive landmarks along the way. Building a safe environment means continually being able to see trauma response behavior patterns and deal with disruptions. When we have a balanced space, it allows us to participate in our own healing and nervous system regulation. Trauma is dynamic and often doesn’t look like we expect. Having a regulated space will help build resilience as we work with our dysregulation. This allows us to have highly connected relationship with the people in our space and gratitude for the things we possess. We gain a better ability to live with resilience and integrity.
Sometimes, we have forgotten our own self-worth and the gratitude of loving our space. Perhaps we are disconnected from our own worth because of trauma response and not recognizing unmet needs. There we are suppressing, instead of expressing. In an attempt to fill the void, we buy and we purchase, we acquire things to take the place of connecting to our emotions and experiences. We attempt to abate stress or emotional response with more stuff. This pattern keeps us environmentally stuck in place. We unintentionally move beyond excess in our space: the clutter we have in our space is usually a barrier that keeps emotions at bay. It provides a survival mechanism. Clutter becomes a mitigating pain relief instead of a long-term view with positive expectations. Clutter and hypervigilant perfectionism (over cleanliness) are both unregulated symptoms of avoiding intimacy with our spaces. As a practitioner, I never suggest intense clutter sweeps unless there is a safety concern. Together we will address your space as a whole and how our relationship to our possessions can be strengthened.
The relief we feel from adding “stuff” to our spaces is temporary. We quickly lose connection with items we’ve bought or added and are right back in unhelpful behaviors. Once we lose that connection, the stuff becomes an obstacle. We are not shameful, we are not misaligned; we are holding back a primal YES to living joyfully in our spaces because we want to feel safe and have our needs met. (Duncan, 2018)
Trauma-Sensitive Feng Shui
Feng Shui is a connective energy system just like our bodies. A commonly used tool in Feng Shui is the bagua energy map. This map, placed over the footprint of the space is divided into 9 quadrants or guas. While examining energy of a space we see that one gua shares energy with the other 8 guas to create an alchemy of living. We seek balance in each of these energy centers and work with Feng Shui to create elemental harmony. We look for repeated energy patterns that disrupt the balance in a particular area.
There are many ways that we get energetically stuck. Feng Shui has scientific and historical roots that help us identify the ways we get environmentally held in a pattern. Working with the bagua energy map and noticing the areas of our space that keep us stuck can lead to change and healing. If we have trauma, it can sometimes manifest itself in our homes. Being sensitive to our response to our past experiences and understanding the desire to stay in our safe patterns helps identify the areas of our homes which could be healed. If you are doing the hard work of healing, you may still be experiencing dysregulation in your home. Trauma-sensitive Feng Shui takes into account trapped cycles of dysregulation and how to align the home so it is supportive of the deepest emotional safety and healing. You are the energy that makes your space more than just a container for your stuff. It is a poignant and powerful reciprocal relationship. When we work with behavior, we also work with the space.
In a former life, I lived in a cluttered space where you could barely walk through hallways. The clutter had formed as a response to a difficult and hurtful relationship I was in. Clutter lined the perimeter of my space and protected me from feeling my truthful, upsetting life-situation. Through mindful practice and recognizing the shame I felt about my sadness, I was able to clear my space and work with the actual emotions that were keeping me in a self-sabotaging pattern. It allowed me to ask, “what do I truly need?” Unmet needs are at the heart of our dysregulation and the misalignment of our spaces.
Sensation is the language of the nervous system. In trauma-sensitive Feng Shui we call upon the work of Dr. Stephen Porges and his explanation of the importance of Polyvagal Theory. Our nervous systems are programmed to protect us from threat. We perceive, mobilize and respond depending on that threat. The problem arises when we continue to respond to a threat that is in the past. We continue to protect ourselves in order to feel safe. The unconscious “sensing” continues to send us a danger message. This impacts our physical response and may in turn impact our living space. Understanding the role of our Vagus nerve and using Feng Shui and somatic techniques for healing, the relationship between perceived threat and our safety can be better managed and regulated. With this partnership we can interrupt patterns of dysregulation and welcome ourselves instead into the embrace of Feng Shui and the rhythm of the 5 elements. Although it is not a cause and effect reaction, the relationship between polyvagal theory and Feng Shui allows us to be a part of an environment where we can address continued resilience to stress or reactive behavior.
We collaborate in our own healing when we can look beyond our behaviors to our unmet needs. Energy, or “chi” is essential for well-being and related directly to organ function in the body. Each of the organs in the body are represented through one of the Feng Shui 5 elements (wood, water, fire, metal, earth). Through this understanding we can manage the balance of each element in a space to directly impact the body. In The Tao of Trauma, Alaine Duncan discusses the “resonant relationship between body organs and the 5 elements.” We can unwind the imprint of trauma by integrating and understanding our body’s cues.” Through trauma-sensitive Feng Shui we can work to recognize present sensations from the space as we manage sensations from traumatic patterns. We can use Feng Shui practice to lessen visual and energetic threat and increase interoception (being in your body and feeling it) and body-based awareness.