Whether you love to drive or despise it, there’s no denying that driving can be stressful at times. That’s why I’m excited to share with you some ancient principles that can transform your car’s interior into an environment that is relaxing and enjoyable—and safe. The secret lies in feng shui, the Chinese art of positioning objects to create harmonious, peaceful surroundings.

Feng shui is commonly thought of as applying to the arrangement of furniture and other items in a home or office, but there’s no reason you can’t extend the concepts to your car, too. And there’s no need to buy a new vehicle—you can get the stress-easing benefits of feng shui in your current car, yet spend little or nothing, by making some simple changes.

To discuss the specifics, I contacted Catherine Hilker, a certified feng shui consultant and the Michigan director of the International Feng Shui Guild. She explained that feng shui involves the concept of yin and yang, the two complementary forces that make up all aspects of the universe. For instance, yin is earth, femaleness, darkness and passivity…yang is heaven, maleness, light and activity. Ideally, yin and yang are in harmony.

Ours tends to be a yang culture, however, Hilker noted. Many Americans are impatient, prone to cram schedules too full and drive too fast. Not only is this an extreme and out-of-balance expression of yang, but such behaviors can be very dangerous while driving. And even if you are not this way yourself, other drivers often are—so you’re still likely to be stressed on the road.

The way to adjust extreme yang in a car is to bring in yin elements, said Hilker. Here’s how…

Clear away clutter. “A disarrayed, dirty or cluttered environment produces si chi, or decaying energy, which depletes the body’s own chi, or vital energy, creating pressure or tension,” Hilker explained. So get rid of the empty water bottles, food wrappers, newspapers and other junk…organize a kit to neatly hold maps, flashlights, pens and other items…vacuum carpets and seats…keep windows clean and unobstructed.

Add touches of the right color to your car’s interior environment. Across the seat, spread a blanket or scarf of appropriate yin colors. Examples: Black or very dark colors help you slow down…earth tones keep you feeling grounded and stable…blue is soothing and calming. Avoid yang colors, such as red and very bright hues.

Carry a meaningful icon or symbol. You might choose an object that represents safety, tranquility, courtesy, groundedness or good fortune—for instance, a small medal or statue of St. Christopher (patron saint of travelers)…an object of nature, such as a stone, crystal or animal figurine…or a favorite good luck charm. If you find a spot where your icon can be seen without being distracting or looking like clutter, put it there…otherwise, tuck it away in the glove box and take it out when you need to destress.

Fill your ears with soothing sounds. “When you are in a car, avoid news reports and harsh music—these create a negative vibe in a vehicle, and negativity attracts more negativity,” Hilker said. Better: Listen to chi-enhancing soft music or nature sounds while you drive.

Be safe. Keep your car in top working condition…never text while driving…don’t get sucked into potentially upsetting phone calls or conversations with passengers when you’re behind the wheel. After all, feeling safe in your surroundings is an essential aspect of feng shui.

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