"Living Feng Shui" magazine
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Positive Energy - The ancient practice of Feng Shui promotes balance in the modern home
You can read the text below, or click here to see the digital issue. The article is on page 44 in the digital version, page 42 in the printed edition.
When was the last time you decorated a room by facing armchairs toward corners, backs to the room? Probably never. To do so would run counter to both common sense and the tenets of a complex practice that has helped put people in harmony with their surroundings for 5,000 years. Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”), which translates to “wind-water” in English, derives from the Taoist understanding of nature as a living entity filled with constant exchanges of energy or chi
“Our surroundings have a powerful effect on what we attract into our lives,” explains Carol Olmstead, owner of Santa Fe-based Feng Shui For Real Life and author of Feng Shui Quick Guide For Home and Office: Secrets For Attracting Wealth, Harmony, and Love. “When the energy around you is blocked, your prosperity, relationships, health, and well-being can be affected. Feng Shui adjustments unblock energy and assure that good things naturally flow into your life.”
After personally becoming convinced of the practice’s life-enhancing benefits more than 15 years ago, Olmstead studied extensively to become a certified Feng Shui practitioner and bid farewell to a career as a public affairs consultant in the Washington, DC, area. Ultimately, she moved to Santa Fe, putting her Feng Shui skills to good use selecting a home that scored honors for best layout and best kitchen in its category in the 2003 Haciendas – A Parade of Homes.
“These days there are as many approaches to Feng Shui as there are to architecture or interior design,” says Olmstead. “This gives the modern practitioner a wealth of tools to use to help clients rearrange spaces, shift the energy, and transform their lives.”
Elisa Macomber, a fellow certified Feng Shui practitioner and owner of Pink Dwelling, a Santa Fe-based placement design business, agrees, noting there are some universal rules to the practice. “Balance of the Five Elements of Feng Shui (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) and the use of the bagua map (an invisible grid superimposed over a house’s floor plan) is important to follow when applying Feng Shui to your home and life,” she explains. “When one or more Elements are excessively utilized or missing, the energy of a home can be affected. Feng Shui can help to bring that positive feeling back.”
For both Olmstead and Macomber, clutter is a common issue with many of their clients. “Holding onto unnecessary stuff can affect a person’s well-being and what they truly want to achieve, because transitions in our lives happen over the years,” Macomber says. “The things we hold onto are symbolic of our subconscious; our homes are truly a visual representation of our minds. A Band-Air cannot be applied to a wound that won’t heal. The wound must be cleaned out for healing to occur.”
Both Olmstead and Macomber practice a Western approach specifically adapted to the environs of the Southwest. For example, says Olmstead, “Vigas in the bedroom can represents a heavy weight overhead, which can have a negative effect on a marriage unless a few Feng Shui adjustments are made.” Similarly, she says, open kiva fireplaces could be letting vital energy escape, irregular=-shaped lots might make holding onto money difficult, and cacti and thorny plants near the front door may discourage friendships.
Fortunately, many professionals in the Southwest are attuned to the nuances of the ancient practice. “Good design is good Feng Shui,” says Olmstead, noting that she regularly works with building and design professionals in New Mexico who support the practice. “Interior designers can use Feng Shui to help clients select colors and finishes that activate the various areas of the bagua Architects can use Feng Shui principles in correcting for the shape of a plot, siting the house in the appropriate spot, and designing a home that allows for a smooth flow of energy around the house.”
Feng Shui as a general practice is a positive way to improve the energy flow of your current home, but according to Olmstead, it’s also very important to make Feng Shui adjustments “when moving into a new home, when there has been a major life change, or anytime it feels like the energy is stuck.”
It’s a good practice when selling a home, too. At little expense, Feng Shui can make a home on the market considerably more appealing, according to Mary Layne, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Trails West Realty and a veteran Feng Shui facilitator. “When a buyer enters a home that ‘feels right,’ the home has good Feng Shui for them, no matter if they call it that,” she says. The rules and tools of Feng Shui, without fail, make a home feel better, and often the changes made are subtle and not expensive.” Layne adds, “The place doesn’t have to be fancy. A sporting man cave has its own very potent and effective Feng Shui.”
Feng Shui Your Home: 5 Easy Tips
Carol Olmstead, owner of FengShuiForRealLife.com and author of the Feng Shui Quick Guide For Home and Office, offers the following trips for designers, architects, and homeowners:
1. Clear the clutter. Clutter is the biggest issue my clients face, and the solution is creating adequate storage options throughout the house. This is especially important in the bedroom, kitchen, and living and family rooms.
2. Face the door from the best angle. The most auspicious location for a bed is against a solid wall with a view out the door, but not directly facing the door. The power position for an office is sitting so you are facing the door on a diagonal.
3. Choose appropriate artwork. I often say that “you are what you see,” which means you need to choose artwork and décor that activates the areas of the Feng Shui bagua. No matter how expensive a piece of art, if it doesn’t send the right Feng Shui message for the room, it isn’t going to transform your life. For example, the room in the upper left hand corner of the home is the Wealth Area, and it should include at least some objects or works of art that are red, purple, or orange and that feel wealthy and abundant to the homeowner.
4. Avoid straight lines. In the natural world everything curves and flows, and nothing is angular, so good Feng Shui design involves avoiding harsh angles and points whenever possible. We’re lucky that our Southwestern décor favors rounded corners and smooth vigas instead of sharp beams.
5. Simulate wind and water. The translation of the words feng shui is “wind and water,” and it refers to the gentle, meandering flow of energy throughout a space. Good Feng Shui design supports the slow flow of chi from the front door, called the Mouth of Chi, throughout all the rooms.
Case Study: Feng Shui in Action
Elisa Macomber, www.PinkDwelling.com
The fireplace and candle in a client’s home created an excess of fire in the “Self-Knowledge Area,” and there was too much Metal Element because of a screen, tools, and wall décor. “In Feng Shui, Fire burns up Wood and Metal chops down wood, which means both Elements were harming this area,” says Elisa Macomber. She removed the extra candle and most of the metal, cleaned up the clutter, and added a healthy jade plant in a blue pot (the color symbolized Water), along with books, a smiling Buddha - all self-knowledge symbols - plus a basket with a hint of blue to soften the space.