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Clean up your life

Chinese feng shui design may enhance your psyche

Chinese feng shui design may enhance your psyche

May 06, 2003|by JULIA COPLEY

Feng shui: It's a bizarre name for an arcane art. Pronounced "fung shway," it's an ancient Chinese practice of ... well, of putting stuff in specific places to improve your life. It's one of those weird things, like cooking, that is not wholly art nor science. Does it sound better to say it's a science of positioning energy, colors and "vibes"? Or an art consisting of sticking certain things in certain areas of your house to enhance a specific area of your life?

Feng shui isn't entirely an airy, hippie-esque practice that requires all that much "harmonizing of the elements." Really.

Some things do make sense. Like having a clean, uncluttered room is better. It opens up the space and makes the room feel more accessible. And there's also a certain amount of logic to the idea of chi (pronounced "chee"), the mystical energy that is everywhere, and organizing one's room in such a way that the chi moves freely.

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Too much chi is a bad thing, though - down a hallway for example. Chi flows strongest in a straight line, so if your door is at the end of the hallway, that's a whole lot of energy. If it's your bedroom door, that can disrupt your sleep. If it's an office door, though, that's good ... attention naturally will focus at the end of the hallway, bringing prosperity. What doesn't make so much sense is the idea of, if your door is in this position, to paint it red or paint a red line in front of it to slow down the chi. Does chi recognize stop signs?

Feng shui isn't just a house thing. It can be applied to anything: one room, three separate floors, a garden, a desk, even a town.

Say you want to redesign your bedroom using feng shui. To begin, draw a blueprint or a rough outline of your bedroom. Then superimpose a nine-block diagram, three blocks by three blocks, onto your room's blueprint, using the bottom edge to correspond with the wall your bedroom door is in. To draw a grid, put prosperity, fame and relationships from left on the top line. From left in the middle line, put family, health and creativity. The bottome line goes, from left, wisdom, career and helpful people. It's all right if your room isn't perfectly square, or even symmetrical - the areas on the diagram blend easily into one another.

Which brings me to another thing: the areas. They have a name, of course - bagua (bah-gwah). They are nine little sections in specific relation to each other, and apparently that's how energy naturally manifests. Family energy, for example, is strongest and most open to influence in the middle of the west wall. I don't know how it was originally determined - by a bunch of little old bearded Chinese guys, just sitting around smoking pipes or something.

A teen's bedroom, as her more or less entire living space, has to serve as both a restive and active area, an escape from siblings and a place to have friends hang out. That means it must be balanced in both yin and yang energies, incorporating both outward, bold and bright stuff and quiet, relaxing things. You can accomplish this in several ways, fairly simply.

Your room should be painted a fairly bright color, but still not too intense, perhaps yellow, soft white or cream. Pale blue is calming and enhances wisdom. Pink is friendly and sweet, but you probably don't want a room full of pinkness. That could be overwhelming.

However you color it, when the lights go out, it needs to be a restful place. You need to recharge and be ready for tomorrow's onslaught of stress. So no neon glow-in-the-dark lava lamps. Turn off the TV. Don't have lights shining into your windows from outside, either. If you do, put up curtains.

Your bed should be in a secure space. It's your refuge. Have the head of the bed against a wall, but not in a corner. And make sure you can see the entrance to your room when you're in the bed. If it's around a corner, set up a mirror to be able to look around it. This is important: If you can't see who's coming into your room, it makes you feel kind of vulnerable - subconsciously open to attack.

Feng shui may have enough logical suggestions to make it worth trying, even if it's just putting a jar of coins in your prosperity corner. It can't hurt. And if that little jar of coins can make the vibrations harmonize and chi flow smoothly, who's going to complain?

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