Interview with Hoffman UK Founder Tim Laurence
Gina Lazenby, who took part in the first Process organised by the UK Hoffman Institute in September 1995, is best known as the founder of the Feng Shui Society, the original place to publicise Feng Shui in this country. She is the author of the Simple Feng Shui, which proved hugely popular and sold 225,000 copies.
Gina moved from London in 1996 to renovate a cottage and barn in Yorkshire. Her bestselling book, The Healthy House, is a result of that experience. Gina also founded the Personal Development Centre in London and considers her purpose to ‘get information out so that people can make informed choices about their lifestyles’.
Tim: As one of the first graduates in the UK, did the Hoffman Process have any far-reaching effects on your life?
Gina: After the course, I went home to visit my family in Yorkshire for a weekend. At that time, I was considering moving to San Diego. I wanted sunshine and a healthier life. However, thanks to the Process, I saw my family in a completely new light. It was a homecoming in its true sense; everything fell into place and after many years, Yorkshire started looking really attractive again! I then decided to pack things up in London and go back to my roots.
Tim: Didn’t Mother Theresa say something about returning home?
Gina: Yes, she was asked the question, ‘How can we create world peace?’ Her simple reply was, ‘go home and love your family.’ When I arrived in Yorkshire, I felt very stressed and tired from my life in London. I needed to create a healthy environment for myself, so I researched all the ways to reduce stress levels in the home, especially around electromagnetic fields. I know that if you want to change the world, first you have to change your own world. If I was going to show people how to live in a healthy home, I had to do it myself first. My book The Healthy House, was the result of that experience.
That’s how I continue to act now. When I do something as basic as cleaning out a cupboard, I change my energy and the energy around me. So there is real value that I put on creating a harmonious home. Solutions to problems are often easier to find in the home, rather than the external world. Imagine if we all cleared up our home life and felt peaceful; that would really change how we were at work and in all our relationships.
Tim: What started you on the path of personal development?
Gina: In 1992 my life stopped working. I’d been so busy that I hadn’t noticed my health deteriorating. I ended up in a hospital bed and that’s when I started looking around for help. A year later, when various teachers had started to help me, I wanted to be able to share their teachings with others. So I then opened the Personal Development Centre in London.
I soon found out that the most popular course was on Feng Shui. People were more comfortable talking about what was wrong with their home than what was wrong with their lives. I saw their home as an extension of them and Feng Shui as a gateway to access it, so I opened the first Feng Shui centre.
Tim: The first, really? Do you consider yourself a pioneer?
Gina: Looking back on it, the answer is yes. I may have started things off, but then it really snowballed. I think what might have helped me was that I used to run a marketing company before I ever did anything on the path of personal development. After one article in the Daily Mail we received 900 phone calls in one week. It was so successful that I had to back off to regain a sense of freedom in my life.
Tim: Helping people to change, what’s the first piece of advice you would give someone?
Gina: Clear your clutter. Go around your house with fresh eyes. Look at your house as if it were you. Where have things piled up? Where feels ‘stuck’? Now see the house as a metaphor for your own energy. Do you feel that you have let things pile up? What clutter do you need to clear out of your own head?
Tim: So in a way it’s like the Process dealing with people’s patterns?
Gina: In the same way that people have patterns in their life, they repeat them in their homes. Say the person who invites me to do a Feng Shui consultation tells me they feel stuck. They may be missing something very obvious. As soon as I enter their house, I notice that their front door is sticking. Of course it’s hard for them to move ahead if it’s hard for them to even open the door!
That’s why I love the Process; it’s such a great ‘clutter-bluster’. The stuff that we inherit becomes our ‘stuck’ patterns of behaviour, but we may be missing what is very obvious to everyone around us. The Process acts as a psychological spring clean to create a healthier personal environment.
Tim: What new perspectives do you have in your book, The Healthy House?
Gina: In our busy lives we need more than ever a place of retreat. If our home does not provide that, the additional stress will soon show up in our lives. Did you know that sleeping close to a radio alarm can disturb your sleep? The same is true, if not more so, for electric blankets; to both of them just say ‘no’! Hot water bottles might not be that sexy, but they are better for your sex life than electric blankets.
Your general health is bound to be tied up with how healthy your home is. It’s not just the stress that you experience at work; it’s all the stress factors in your environment. Most of them are invisible but we are all affected by the chemicals in paint, cleaning materials and carpets, not to mention the radiation from computers and mobile phones.
Tim: So how can we reduce the stress in our environment?
Gina: The first thing you can do is the cheapest. Simply don’t buy chemicals. I use a magnetic washball instead of soap. If you have to sit in front of a computer, use a radiation protection box; if you are using a mobile phone, use a hands-free headset. Look for what may magnify the radiation around you, so underwired bras, for example, may not be good news.
Tim: So what have you done in your home that is different?
Gina: We have an electrically silent home. We turn everything off at night; it means we have a wonderful night’s sleep. When we were building it, everything was done to ensure that the electromagnetic radiation was as low as possible. We have lots of plants throughout the home and I begin each day with a bowl of miso soup to clear out any toxins that may have built up in my body.
I feel that I will always be involved in Personal Development. I enjoy getting information to people so that they can make a more informed choice. One day I would like to work with The World Health Organisation or United Nations, to educate people regarding a healthier life in the way they eat, sleep and use, or rather don’t use, their mobile phones.
Tim: I notice that your first book on Feng Shui has a lot of case studies – ‘before and afters’ – in a sense you are asking people to change their perspectives quite dramatically.
Gina: Yes, I feel that I have never left Personal Development; it’s just that now I do it in the context of the home. Our work is quite similar; we can let more light and energy move freely through the home, in the same way that we can allow it to flow unhindered through our personality.
Gina travels regularly as a speaker on topics such as leadership and caring economics. Enjoy her blog Woman At Large where she shares her experiences of meeting with leaders at the forefront of social, economic and spiritual change.