Feng Shui: Good Feng Shui

Dear Lynn,
I’ve been reading about feng shui and am interested in applying the bagua to my house. It says to align it from the door but there is more than one door to my house, and also to the living room and dining room. What should I do? I almost always enter my house from the back door. Is that where I line it up? — Sarah

Dear Sarah,

This system of feng shui doesn’t align with the cardinal directions, but rather, energetic entrances to what is being evaluated. It’s commonly referred to as Black Sect feng shui, a potent westernized application of classic feng shui.

To assess the footprint of your house, align the bagua from the perspective of your front door — the one the architect intended. This energetic blueprint existed before your house did. That said, the room of first impression through which you usually enter has an influence on you in a conditioned response sort of way (think Pavlov’s dog). It doesn’t, however, affect the bagua placement.

In interior rooms use the largest entrance as the orienting quadrant. If the doors are equal in size use the one nearest the main door. If they are similar the one most frequently used will govern.

Dear Lynn,
My family and I are running out of living space and want to turn part of our unfinished basement into a home office and guest suite. It will mostly serve as my office and I hate basement spaces — they always seem so tacky to me. Do I risk dampening my business by symbolically moving it underground? — Rachel

Dear Rachel,
Good for you for asking that last question! Opinion varies, but I think with conscientious feng shui you can use the situation to your advantage.

As you probably realize, basement spaces, although frequently plagued with water problems, are uncomfortable primarily because they are so earth dominant. In terms of five-element theory used by feng shui practitioners, this is an environment with severe imbalance at its very foundation. The other basement issue is frequently just poor quality materials. It seems that these “last chance” spaces are sufficiently down the food chain for occupants that they select fake — including plastic — building materials and furnishings.

Both of these challenges in this potential expansion for you are solved in one way: wood. In five-element theory, wood, fire, earth, metal and water interact in various ways — none good, none bad — just expressing different dynamics and behaving with their own elemental tendencies. Viewed creatively, wood feeds fire, fire burns, turns to ash and creates earth, earth gives birth to metal and metal, through the properties of condensation, its ability to be melted and to hold liquid as a container, produces water. Water, in turn, is the lifeblood of wood.

Now, think rock, paper, scissors. When one element is over-represented you can drain it or you can conquer it. So if earth has to use its energy to create metal, by introducing metal into your space, you deplete earth energy a bit. Pale, pastel, metallic colors, metal objects themselves, circular shapes — all these are possibilities for implementing metal.

But the strongest solution is bringing more wood into the environment. Think about how wood dominates earth. Picture the roots of a large tree up-ending a sidewalk (earth). Try floor to ceiling bookcases in actual wood. They introduce wood, and the floor to ceiling aspect is “column-like,” as are trees. The bookcases would primarily house books, which are extremely concentrated expressions of wood energy. If you put these bookcases in the wealth area of your basement office, you support yourself financially in both paying for the construction and generating income with your business.

Let’s take this wood concept further. I mentioned columns as being emblematic of wood (tree trunks). What about wainscoting? Think about all those little tree expressions joined together in a unified field of wood. And it adds a New England cottage feeling of charm to the room(s). If you paint the wainscoting white you blend wood and metal. Above the wainscoting, blue or green paint for the walls will further add to your representation of wood in the area. Flowers, trees, blues, greens, landscapes in your artwork are other possibilities. Next suggestion: furnish the area with wood. No plastic/composite desks. That’s fire and earth and just adds to the imbalance and uncomfortable feeling in the space.

Dear Lynn,
What’s the best place for the microwave? — Susan

Dear Susan,
In the garbage. Why irradiate, destabilize and deplete the nutrients your food wants to offer you when you could embellish and enhance it with the energy of fire? Convenience is an incomplete answer.

Dear Lynn,
I’ve heard that aquariums are good feng shui. I like fish and want good feng shui but it seems like a lot of work to maintain. Also, where should I put it? — Richard

feng-shui-aquarium-smallDear Richard,
Placed correctly an aquarium is beneficial in ways almost too numerous to mention. They are an expression of all the elements in balance. That said, I don’t often advocate them. Here are some situations when they could be helpful: to lower blood pressure; to help heal and comfort a person recovering from heart surgery; to calm pressured, waiting customers in an auto repair establishment.

Ever been to Direct Tire in Watertown, MA? In the middle of a waiting room consisting of four walls of tires is a huge aquarium. It sits under the counter where money is exchanged and people retrieve their keys en route to their fixed cars. Very, very effective on the impatience maintenance of those in the area. And because it was placed in a wood sector of the room (overlapping health and prosperity zones) it feeds cash flow. Water feeds wood. If, according to the bagua, which is what the above concept is based on, it had been placed in their “fame/ reputation” area, which is a fire expression, the water would have extinguished their public recognition.

If you are asking about an aquarium, your chi may benefit from the water element. We tend to desire what nourishes us or is a resonating expression of our signature element.

Dear Lynn,
How important is color? — Scott

Dear Scott,
If you’re asking you already know. It’s important. I’ll tell you some of the “rules” and then ways to take them into consideration.

Certain colors dramatically affect us and the environments around us. Some have a more subtle influence. Those priests in black, those judges in black, officers of the law in black or deep navy — we take them seriously. Those ladies in red, those splashy red sport cars — we notice them. They’re fiery. Gazing at the pale, but also bright new green growth in spring, that soft but then deepening greening of our garden’s rebirth every spring — it’s so inspiring hopeful and refreshing! That neutral off-white in a room asks nothing of your attention, doesn’t want it. Earth tones — all is right with the world and it’s a stable place. Pastels —nothing needs to be cleaned. Life is in order and it’s soft, gentle and fresh.

Read any feng shui book and you’ll learn what colors correspond to what element and what element corresponds to what aspect of life. But my advice to you — from your daily clothing selection to the colors you choose in your home — is to give yourself what you want. Select what gives you energy and excites you when you contemplate it above other options. This is what nourishes you and most positively boosts your chi. It is life affirming for you in a very specific way.

The late Lynn Taylor was a senior feng shui practitioner, teaching and consulting in the United States and Mexico for both business and home environments.