Heart-Minded Feng Shui
If your heart doesn't lift when you return home each night, you need feng shui.
BY: Nola Day
A psychotherapist moved into her new office, a large room with two over-size windows and three doors (one too many). Key pieces of furniture--sofa for the clients, chair for the therapist, and a desk chair--had their backs to the room's entrance. This is a no-no in feng shui because you should have an unimpeded view of the door so you can see who comes into the room.
What I suggested was for the furniture to be re-positioned for unobstructed views of the entry. Two tapestries in natural colors were hung from large brass rods over doors that were not in use (the ratio of one door to three windows in a room is considered auspicious in feng shui). A large leafy fern was placed on a pedestal table in a corner behind the diagonally placed sofa. The room was transformed.
On entering the room now, a healing serenity welcomed therapist and client. Sheer linen curtains were hung to diffuse the strong window light. (Excess ch'i from harsh light rushes out the windows, carrying money and opportunities.) Nine green plants were placed under the windows to strengthen the healing atmosphere. The therapist smiled and said, "I feel so energized--this is wonderful!"
Along with correct placement of key furniture to control ch'i is the use of feng shui's natural color palette, sensual textures, sound, even fragrance. For example, Chinese feng shui masters believe every room should have a touch of true Chinese red, because red is considered the color of luck, power, and energy. But remember, less is generally more.
Emperor yellow, the second most auspicious color in feng shui, is excellent for a narrow wall with a gentle glaze of raw umber and a flick of Venetian red. A dreary dining alcove can be transformed with a sunny Provencal yellow print tablecloth, tempered with a border of red, blue, and green; spirits are lifted instantly. If you like blue, be advised indigo is preferred in classical feng shui, coming as it does from the seven colors of the rainbow and the refractions from cut crystal.
Symbolism is potent in its effect on emotions and states of mind, so be attentive to what is on your walls. Two different art-collecting families had dismal images facing people entering their homes--one was a painting of a dead fish; the other, an exhausted woman hanging laundry. Both were by well-known artists, but this hardly altered the negative energies projected. Happily, the paintings were replaced by others with positive ch'i.
Interior doorways are dramatized in Asian and European houses to control the flow of ch'i. In a London apartment, moving from one space to another is marked by floor-length door curtains of heavy bronze velvet tied back with tasseled ropes (tassels are considered lucky and suggest ch'i energy). Japanese indigo-dye cotton curtains veil the upper third of doorways to control over-strong ch'i movement; their designs of flowing water and fish are reflections of nature. Carved wood panels mounted on lintels subtly suggest the character of the room beyond.
In many cultures, there is the belief that empty corners harbor spirit mischief. Thus, flower arrangements, sculpture, screens, corner cabinets, and ferns are placed to great effect in corners, adding a gentle softness to a room. Curiously, appropriate treatment of corners, especially the placement of ferns and flowers, subtly raises the energy of a room.
For those considering a move, be aware that in feng shui, residential moves are believed to affect us up to 15 years. The rigors of displacement of objects and people, and the mixed energies of the property itself, collectively impact us. We can all remember friends who date a string of lucky--or unlucky--events in their life from a move. For these reasons, feng shui advises the following: Do not buy or rent a property without researching its history and previous occupants. Be wary of bargains; they may well conceal something very disagreeable. If you discover a history of break-ins, violence, bankruptcy, long illness, death, and divorce, look elsewhere, preferably to an address with an "8" in it for extra luck.
Once you've moved in, you can use these instant "remedies" to cultivate good ch'i. At the office, place your desk facing the door so you have an unimpeded view and are not surprised by someone coming up behind as you work; keep a green plant and a crystal paper weight on your desk to attract positive energies as you work; hang wind chimes at either end of a long corridor with too many doors to control the flow of too-fast-moving ch'i; suspend an Austrian-facetted crystal ball on a red thread (nine or 18 inches long for luck) inside an entrance if it leads abruptly to stairs going up or down. There are not always 21st-century answers as to why these "remedies" work--but they do. Lastly, burn a stick of fine orange incense to cleanse your space.
And may you have good ch'i.