While in a desperate attempt to “clean house” before Chinese New Year, an old book purchased decades ago revealed itself. It was as if it the gods were telling me that perhaps the house needs more than a mere “cleaning.” However, since remodeling is not in my stars at the moment, I figured leafing through an encyclopedia of feng shui wouldn’t hurt!
Nope, my house will not be transformed into “house beautiful” any time soon, but following are some tips that might help in planning for it.
For the uninitiated, feng shui is the age-old Chinese system for arranging one’s surroundings to achieve harmony and balance. “Feng” is “wind,” and “shui” is “water.” The practice of feng shui is based on three principles: chi (life force of all animate objects), Tao (the way to order our lives to live in harmony with nature) and the yin and yang (the positive and negative forces that are in constant motion to gain dominance).
A basic tool used by feng shui practitioners is the bagua, the octagon chart that maps out the areas of the house to determine optimal placement of furniture and the use of colors. Incorrect placement will have a negative impact on the nine areas of the residents’ lives: power and wealth, reputation, relationships, creativity, compassion, career, knowledge, family and balance.
To complicate matters,there is more than one bagua. A novice asked the following question on a feng shui forum: I am totally confused about the bagua. If I apply the Western bagua, my career is at the main door. If I apply the classical Chinese bagua, my career is in the bathroom! Which bagua works better?
The Western bagua does not take into consideration the compass direction of the front door whereas the Chinese bagua is always defined by the direction the front door faces. Neither one is superior to the other, though the accepted view is the Western bagua is a simplified version. Most feng shu consultants do not use the classical version as it takes intensive study to understand it, so it is assumed most “practitioners” go by the Western version. !
Ready to start? With the help of a few basic “tools,” you can get to work unblocking energy and bring harmony into your home.
Color adds emotional, physiological and cultural content. We associate certain things and events with certain colors. In Feng Shui, color is primarily used to represent and balance the five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood).
Sound connects us to our environment. Music is a powerful way to uplift the chi in any environment, and can de-escalate stress in the home.
Lighting can bring more chi into your environment, especially by using light bulbs that simulate natural light. Fireplaces are also an excellent source of light.
Art can enhance the chi, be it a painting, sculpture, or textile. The selection and placement of art, which should always reflect positive images and feelings, depend on the area of the bagua you are using.
Live plants and flowers connect us with the natural world. They should be chosen for their shape and color to correspond to a particular element and area of the bagua. Silk plants can be used where light is too limited to grow live, healthy plants.
Water features such as fountains and aquariums stimulate the movement of chi around your home.
Wind-sensitive objects such as wind chimes, mobiles, whirligigs, banners, flags, and weather vanes attract the chi into your home.
Mirrors and crystals are used to combat structural flaws or where there is no space to accommodate any other "cure."
Of course, there are elements that we cannot change in our existing houses, but even with less-than-perfect structural details, we can still try to maximize the potential of our interior spaces. Typical problem areas include:
Pillars and columns often disrupt the flow of chi, especially if the pillars and columns have four knife-like edges. Use plants to soften these edges, wherever possible.
Dark corners accumulate stagnant chi, so put something like a lava lamp or water feature there to circulate the chi. Uplights or round tables with a table lamp also would work for dark corners.
Slanting walls in attic spaces “depress personal chi,” not to mention giving off an imbalanced visual. Solution? Use mirrors and lights to create the illusion of “lifting” the slope. Or … better yet, wall off the sloped ceiling areas to create storage and hide the clutter.
Exposed beams may be all the rave, but they suppress the chi and upset the flow of chi of those living underneath. Beams that run above a bed is believed to cause marital split-ups. Those that are situated above the stove and dining rooms are thought to “hamper the fortunes” of the residents. To deflect the negative impact, paint beams the same colour as the ceiling or hang small, light-coloured items such as bamboo flute with red ribbons (the old traditional way) on them.
Doors, which represent freedom and access to the outside world, can also be barriers to the same. Ideally, doors should not open to restricted views of rooms. Position mirrors to correct this.
Doors located opposite each other also are not ideal, especially if the front and back door are a straight line through the house (implies chi or wealth will flow right through the house). To reduce the negativity, place a table or other object between the doors to slow down the flow.
Windows that only open halfway (as in double-hung) restrict the amount of chi that can enter. Solution? Change your windows!
Alright, this last “solution” is not very helpful. So, following are some tips conducive to attracting wealth:
Keep the front entry clean and uncluttered to encourage the entry and flow of good chi. Put out a welcome mat that is bright and fresh.
Keep the “money corner(s)” clean. Money corners are usually the southeastern corner or the back-left corner of the room facing the entrance. Remove unnecessary clutter in those areas.
Display symbols of wealth, especially in the money corner(s). Place piggy banks, jewelry box, jars of coins, pictures of your dream car, etc. in the money corners.
Add water elements to your house since water is the symbol of abundance. Be it an elaborate fountain, aquarium or a simple goldfish in a glass bowl, in the money corner and it will attract wealth to your home (or so the book says!). But do NOT place a water element in your bedroom as this has a negative impact on your finances. By the way, the golden yellow arowana fish is the epitome for bringing good fortune and generating new sources of income.
Plants with round leaves in the money corners also attract wealth. Bamboo, because it is a strong plant, represents strong growth. Pick a bamboo plant with eight stalks for maximum abundance.
Blooming flowers represent a flourishing fortune, so buy yourself a bunch of cut flowers to add beauty and wealth to your home.
Mirrors, besides the cure-all for most feng shui issues, are also “wealth magnets.” A square or rectangular mirror in a (preferably gold) frame placed in the dining room so it reflects the dining table is a good move to double the abundance and happiness. Convex mirrors placed outside the house also are used to deflect negative influences from the house; but they should be placed such that they do not reflect people.
Have a well-maintained kitchen since it is the center for nourishment. Make it bright and add mirrors to make it appear bigger. Use all the burners on your stove and keep them clean. And be sure to keep your supplies containers (pasta, candy, lentils, etc.) more than half full at all times to provide the look of abundance.
Whether you buy into the practice of feng shui or not, a well-organized and comfortable home is what we all desire. Now that you’re armed with the simplistic feng shui “rules,” go forth, move furniture around and prosper.