Change your home and change your life

(Using the home as an agent of change)

by Vivi Benreytan  



My Home Therapy practice, which is the use of the house and its objects in a therapeutic encounter, has emerged from applying Feng Shui in my own house and in the houses of several other people. The premise of Feng Shui is that your house reflects who you truly are including your inner life, and a change you make in your house therefore must change your life. Feng Shui uses the Bagua, which is a map overlaid on the plan of your home that shows how the house symbolically represents the nine different parts of your life. By mapping the house to the nine aspects a Feng Shui practitioner works towards bringing harmony to the desired area of the home’s occupants. The practitioner after assessing the problems proposes remedies such as changing the wall colours, cleaning the clutter in an area, or hanging crystals in appropriate places.

In my experience of Feng Shui, as my clients and I engaged in a conversation about changing the house in order to affect their lives, I observed that the communication would shift to a deep level. The conversation would transform to an intimate and genuine dialogue, and feelings and emotions would be evoked as we talked about some aspect of their house. I concluded that the Feng Shui that I was doing incorporated a therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic process not only prevailed between my clients and I, it also emerged in their relationships with the houses and the objects within them. So I decided to develop my practice by researching and integrating various models of psychology into this work.  

I have reached the conclusion that psychological therapy consists of creating a space so that a person may be in touch with her inner realm so that the innate tendency within all organisms to seek life and to heal themselves would be potent for the people with whom I work. The Tao or the Underlying Unitive Consciousness reveals itself when a person can be in touch with, and at the same time flow with her inner reality. As an individual is immersed in this flow, the wisdom or healing needed arises, either as an inner revelation or as the innate tendency of the organism to heal itself.  


A comparison of Feng Shui and Home Therapy

The main premise of Home Therapy is based on the wisdom of Feng Shui, the house reflects the Self and a change in the house is reflected back as a change of Self. The philosophy of Taoism, which prevails in both practices claims that environment and the human being are interconnected. The same underlying Unitive Life Force, Ch’i, affects environment and individual alike. Both practices regard the house as symbolic of an invisible world, which may be understood as an underlying Unitive Force or Psyche. Though Feng Shui interprets the home’s symbolism for the client, Home Therapy considers the client the authority for interpreting the symbols surrounding and within a house. For example a Feng Shui consultant who comes across the case of the entrance door opening onto the wall interprets this symbol for the client and proposes the cure. However as a Home Therapist, I direct the attention of the client to the entrance door and ask my client the feelings and sensations that are evoked. In this way I lead my client to be ‘the knower’ of her inner world as she explores her sensations that are evoked by my questions. If in the process my client decides to make a physical change for the entrance, I encourage them to create their own solution. I then might also inform them about the traditional Feng Shui cures.  

The main difference between Feng Shui and Home Therapy is the relationship that is established between the consultant and the client. In Feng Shui the consultant is the authority on the psychological effects of the placement of the house and its objects. However in Home Therapy, the consultant is the facilitator for the clients in their process of discovering the effects of the house, its objects and surrounding.


Process Oriented Psychology: A Model for Home Therapy

One of the psychological models I have integrated to Home Therapy is Arnold Mindell’s Process Oriented Psychology.  This explores the dynamics that moves a person and the system of familially and societally conditioned norms, values and perceptions to a higher level of consciousness, and to construct other ‘realities’ than the one that is ordinarily manifested. Mindell uses the term ‘reality’ by making a distinction between consensus reality (CR), which I have just defined, and Nonconsensus Reality (NCR), which is subjective. CR constitutes ‘‘the reality of everyday life in which terms such as space, time, size, age, particle, and, even person have fairly well defined and collectively consented-upon meanings’’ (Mindell, p.269). NCR is subjective and constitutes the feelings, sensations and thoughts that arise in the person. Any object we perceive has CR characteristics like weight, colour, shape and also evokes in us NCR sensations like loving it, being repelled by it, or having it remind us of some other object, person, place or experience. Process Oriented Psychology aims to integrate the experience of subjective NCR with CR, and hence enable the person to lead a fulfilling life and achieve personal growth (Mindell, 2000).


A Case Study of Home Therapy

I would like to use my work with a woman named Türkan, to provide an example of how the relationship is established through the process of exploring the significant object in the house. Türkan is a brunette in her early thirties. She is a lean woman with a sturdy outlook. When I walked into Türkan’s home I felt the absence of a greeting. As I looked into her eyes there was a lack of ‘shine’. The living room that I was taken into was just beyond the main door. It was an entrance hall with openings into other rooms but no doors separating them. I felt an absence of a holding environment. As I looked at the woman I felt as if all of her electric wires were out in the open, anyone who might touch them would be at risk of being injured by the electric current.  

I witnessed my sensation and proceeded with my work trusting that the underlying pure consciousness, Tao or dreaming, would reveal whatever was needed from moment to moment. I trusted that by maintaining a balance of attention between the outer world (CR) and my inner world of sensation (NCR), and by containing whatever aroused inside me, the wisdom of the Unitive Consciousness would unfold. In other words, if the Tao allowed it I would be a participant in the cosmic creation by simply attending and observing. Hence I directed attention to the inner dynamics of my feelings and NCR as well as observing the outside environment, which included Türkan’s body language and gestures.  

I started by asking Türkan if she was willing to do an experiment to explore the meaning of a significant object in the house. She agreed and she said that the precious piece for her was an alarm clock because of its sentimental significance (NCR). We went to her bedroom to see the alarm clock, which was a digital radio and alarm clock in one of a modern technical design.  

I asked her to give it a voice so that she might, as it were, tell its story from the clock’s perspective. Though she could not commit to talking as the clock, she told its story. Her uncle gave it to her when her father was ill. It reminded her of the care and concern of her uncle during her father’s illness and also of the reunion of the family due to her father’s illness. Her eyes softened as she was telling the story. She went on to tell me that this reminded her of her youthful days. Now tears were in her eyes. I felt the urge to ask her another question to lead her through the process otherwise I felt we could be lost in the vastness of the inner emotions (NCR) we were immersed in.  

I asked her what the youthful Türkan would say to this present day Türkan. The young Türkan said that she wanted to have a profession. She asked the older Türkan to work hard to develop herself. I asked her to respond as the present Türkan. The present Türkan said that in order to achieve this she would need to work a lot, not only with the children and home but also to work so that she could do something for herself. When the dialogue came to completion, I asked her to look at the alarm clock again. She said it gained more meaning than before. As I looked at her I was aware that the irritating electric charge I perceived at the beginning had transformed. I perceived her softness and I was aware of her shining eyes. It was as if the tears washed away a desensitised layer and the next layer was living and laughing tissue. 

When I evaluate this session, I conclude that Türkan and I experienced a different consciousness from everyday consciousness. She moved outside the realm of the thinking mind and experienced a direct insight into what was inhibited but attempting to unfold in her life.  

The session ended and she thanked me for having supplied a pleasant moment to her. I felt fulfilled to see her transformation. The processes of life organized themselves to bring about new experiences so that growth and change were manifested. Hence my trust in the underlying Unitive Consciousness that provides the wisdom the person needs, has been reinforced.


Evaluation of Home Therapy

As an implication of Quantum Physics, matter may be regarded as precipitated from consciousness since consciousness is the basic substance of the universe. In this new paradigm, the significant object therefore has the capacity to ‘quantum flirt.’ 

A quantum flirt may be understood in this way. You and your beloved are walking toward each other at a distance. Suddenly you recognize your loved one and raise your arm in greeting. As you do so your beloved waves at you. A question arises, did you wave as a result of your beloved’s signal, or did your beloved wave to you as a result of yours? You both conclude that the signals were mutually created. Similarly, in a universe where subject and object are unified, your attraction to an object may also be considered as the object’s attraction of you to witness it, (Bray - forthcoming). 

So when my client in CR chooses a significant object, from the perspective of NCR, I consider that both tried to ‘catch’ each other’s attention to create reality. This reality comes about from the relationship between the observed and the observer; in other words from the ‘flash-like’ signal pertaining to a higher dreamlike realm where more things are possible than may be agreed in CR. Hence the choice of the significant object on the part of Türkan was a consequence of a quantum flirt.  

In Home Therapy my aim is to enable my client to track down the quantum flirt with the significant object. Mindell calls this process of following a quantum flirt using our awareness, or using second attention, and as we interact with the object a ‘quantum physical experiment’. ‘‘You can use this experiment any time if you run into a problem and want an answer. …You don’t have to go deeply into altered states of dreaming to reduce your uncertainty in life’’ (Mindell, 2000, p.228-229).  Mindell claims that the wisdom that is attained or ‘seen’ as a result of applying quantum physical experiment depends on the skill of the observer in using second attention, which is the ability to monitor their NCR. The flexibility of the observer in this way, with regards to shifting identities and momentary monitoring of CR by the observer, is the key to his approach. Hence in Home Therapy I accompany clients in their quantum physical experiments with significant objects so that they can practice their awareness skills, and experience being lucid witnesses to their processes. I believe that this leads them to cultivate sensitivity to quantum flirts, which in turn enables them to connect to the wisdom of the Tao and more smoothly experience life.

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Bibliography and References:

Bray, S. (forthcoming). Therapy and Quantum Psychology. Istanbul: QuietQuality.

Capra, F. (1982). The Turning Point. Toronto. Bantam Books.

Capra, F. (1975). The Tao of Physics. Toronto. Bantam Books.

Goswami, A. ; Reed, R.E. ; and Goswami, M. (1993).  The Self-Aware Universe: How

Consciousness Creates the Material World. New York: Penguin Putnam.

Kingston, K. (1996). Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui. London: Judy Piatkus

 (Publishers) Ltd.

Mindell, A.(2000). Quantum Mind: The Edge between Physics and Psychology. Portland,

 Oregon: Lao Tse Press.

Rama, S. ; Ballentine, R. ; Ajaya, S. (1976). Yoga and Psychotherapy: The Evolution of

Consciousness. Glenview, Illinois: Himalayan Institute

Rossbach, S.(1987). Interior Design with Feng Shui. London: Rider.

Rossbach, S. & Yun, L. (1994). Living Colour. New York: Kodansha International Ltd.

Spear, W. (1995). Feng Shui Made Easy. London: Thorsons.

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Vivi Benreytan is a graduate in Business Administration and holds a Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, for her expertise in Home Therapy. After graduation from business school she created a firm that produced clothing for women of large sizes. As the firm evolved into the leading fashion firm for large size ladies in Istanbul, Vivi experienced the process of managing a team. One of the motives of exploring psychology as a discipline was her goal to create a unified and harmonious organization. The obstruction people manifested in the pursuit of achieving a goal perplexed her. The resistance was usually ‘irrational’, from her point of view and she was looking for a way to accomplish the goals of the firm with least resistance. 

In the meantime Vivi also explored spirituality, meditation practices, healing practices and Eastern disciplines like Yoga and Feng Shui. These practices have reinforced her connection with her intuitive self and have enabled her to experience altered states of consciousness and healing. As she has cultivated faith in her own innate capacity as a human being to heal herself, she also was aware that she was in touch with the underlying unitive creative force, the Tao. She sold her firm and decided to pursue the aspect of her personality that emerged while practicing Feng Shui. 

She attended Gestalt Therapy training, Expressive Art Therapy training and the Lesley College Interdisciplinary Master’s degree course. The journey, which started as a Feng Shui session has evolved into to what has come to be called Home Therapy. Vivi is still not sure if the term ‘Home Therapy’ defines what has been unfolding since this practice may be indulged in shops or offices as well as homes.