"Living Feng Shui" magazine
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Feng Shui - A Functional Art: Learn How Feng Shui Can Bring Harmony to Your Life and Home
A Functional Art -Decorate with Feng Shui (includes Elemental Personality Quiz)
by Emily Dolly
The warm earth rises to meet your bare feet as you approach a sparkling body of water. With a blossoming of crimson and violet, the Sun sinks behind rolling hills, and the scene is reflected in the delicately rippling lake that spreads out before you. A gentle breeze blows through majestic lakeside evergreens, producing a soft hum. With a deep breath, you embrace your surroundings, and your entire being sings out, “This is peace.”
It is also feng shui.
Literally translated “wind” and “water,” feng shui (pronounced fung shway) takes the natural world as its model for achieving harmony and balance. According to the principles of this ancient art, incorporating equal parts of the key elements Earth, Water, Fire, Metal and Wood into your home décor will serve the dual purpose of beautifying your surroundings and harmonizing your life.
Carol Olmstead, a certified feng shui practitioner in the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, brings these lofty concepts down to earth for her clients with her appropriately named practice, Feng Shui for Real Life.
She includes one very practical application of feng shui in every consultation: clearing away clutter — something present in nearly every household. To Carol, “Clutter represents postponed decisions and the inability to move forward.” But don’t just take her word for it. “Clear out a closet, and see what flows into your life.” When your house is full of clutter, Carol says, you end up in conflict with your home environment. And “fighting your environment can take up all of your energy” — energy which can be better spent in other areas of your life, including your health, wealth, love life and career.
Those who believe in feng shui don’t see it as superstition but as a practical art that succeeds because its principles are based on the flow of chi (pronounced chee), the life force energy that surrounds and inhabits all that exists. When the flow of chi is blocked — whether by physical objects or by an imbalance of energy — we experience some sort of stagnation in our lives. Certified feng shui specialist Jodi Spickler, owner of Hagerstown’s Feng Shui Serenity, calls a building’s front door its “mouth of chi.” She points out that this is the location where energy enters a residence or workplace. Red, a color that traditionally symbolizes prosperity, is a particularly appropriate color choice for entryways, says Jodi, because you want to welcome positive, prosperous energy into your home or business.
Feng shui practitioners use a simple chart called a bagua (pronounced bog-wah), often oriented according to the position of your front door, to map out certain aspects of life in conjunction with different areas of the home. If something seems to be missing in your existence, you too can use a bagua (See page HG41.) to determine what is lacking in the corresponding area of your home. If, for example, you are experiencing financial trouble, you could add a leafy plant or a gold statue (both symbolizing money) to your Wealth/Power/Prosperity area.
Some areas of your home, or even of your own personality (Take our Elemental Personality Quiz on page HG43.), might suffer from an excess of Earth, Water, Fire, Metal or Wood. You can control this surplus by adding other elements to detract from this overabundance of energy. Let’s say that you use a bagua in an effort to determine what’s going wrong with your love life, and you discover the Love/Relationships/Marriage region of your home is dominated by Water. It contains your bathroom (likely the room of your home where you use the most water); is painted blue (the color associated with water); and incorporates a decorating theme depicting sea life (water-loving creature