You’ve Marie Kondo-ed your closet, vacuumed your air vents and replaced the batteries in all your smoke detectors. But could your home’s energy use a bit of spring cleaning, too?
Sara Gaines, owner of Red Bird Reiki (1309 N. Ashland Ave.), is a shamanic practitioner and master teacher of Reiki, an ancient energy healing technique that originated in Japan. She also performs space clearing ceremonies designed to transform and release dense, negative energy that can accumulate in homes and offices.
While everyone may not be familiar with the practice of space clearing, Gaines, who will be leading a demo at the Logan Square Wellness + Self-Care Fest on March 16, said that just about all of us have experienced the different energies that various places can give off.
“Think about when you walk into a space and how it feels,” said Gaines. For example, “walking into a Jewel Osco feels different from a Whole Foods, different from a Walgreens.”
To help you make a fresh start this spring, here are some insider tips from Gaines on how to clear out the old energy that may be cluttering up your home.
1. Think About How Your Home Feels Right Now
Gaines typically begins her space clearing sessions by asking her clients to write out a list of adjectives that they feel describe their home in its current state. Does it feel messy or orderly? Lively or worn out? Then she has her clients go back through the list and replace the word “home” with their name. It’s often an “aha” moment.
“Everything in our lives is really a mirror reflection of ourselves and our inner state,” said Gaines. “That goes for our homes, too. It’s really about you.”
She said a space clearing is especially helpful when undergoing a major transition in your life, or if you are feeling stuck. It’s also beneficial when moving into a new home or office, which Gaines says can sometimes carry energy imprints from previous owners.
“Especially in Chicago, a lot of these buildings are so old. Think about all the people there and all the energy that’s there,” said Gaines. “Some spaces used to be something else. A firehouse, a business. Or maybe something intense happened, someone passed away. It’s like, ‘Oh wow, what does that mean?’ That energy can kind of hang around.”
She was once clearing a new home for an acquaintance—an old two-flat in Logan Square that had a disused “widow’s unit” on the second floor—when they got trapped in a bathroom after the door slammed shut and locked unexpectedly.
Another home Gaines cleared had a lot of masks and artifacts from all over the world and was filled with what she called a kind of “trickster energy.” Things would move around inexplicably or go missing, and the owners would often hear voices when no one else was home.
2. Walk Through Your Home and Assess Its Flow
After the written assessment Gaines will usually take a tour of the home with the client, taking note of how furniture and objects are arranged and asking questions when certain things catch her attention. In one client’s home, she was struck by the dark, heavy furniture that seemed to loom over everything. It turned out it was all her ex-husband’s.
“It was his energy still in house,” Gaines said. “She got rid of it and felt better.
Sometimes adding things can help, too. Gaines recommends that every home has a space where that you feel is uniquely yours, a safe space where you can retreat to read, meditate or relax.
She also recommends paying close attention to any art or decorations you choose to hang above your bed, which can have an especially potent effect on the energy in your life.
3. Smudge Out Old Energy
Gaines uses a three-pronged approach—sound, smoke and fire—to clear a space. She walks through the home’s rooms with a smokeless fire in a stockpot, created using Epsom salt and rubbing alcohol, to flush out old energy. She uses the same amount of alcohol each time but says the fire can burn differently depending on the density of the room’s energy.
“Some look like lighting, some like roaring fires,” she said. “The more energy, the bigger the fire.”
She then beats a drum to further break up energy, followed by a “smudge” with incense. While many people use sage, Gaines prefers Palo Santo wood, which is believed to have medicinal and therapeutic healing powers. Pro tip: crack the windows to give that old energy a path of escape
4. Close the Ceremony with Good Intentions
After a space clearing, Gaines closes out with a blessing ceremony. She asks her clients to dip their fingers in a mixture of Florida water and sea salt and flick it into the air, blessing each room with their new intentions.
“The action is really a physical manifestation of your intention,” she said. “You’ve just created this empty space, now what are you going to fill it with? The more your heart is in it, the more shift and change you are going to see in your life.”
Gaines will be presenting a Space Clearing Demo at the Logan Square Wellness + Self-Care Fest on Mach 16 at Logan Square Pilates + Core Studio (2771 N. Milwaukee Ave.). Admission is free. More information about Gaines and her services is available on Red Bird Reiki’s website.