Our living environment could play a bigger role in our lives than we think.
According to the laws of Chinese feng shui, it plays a significant role, directing the flow of energy in and through our surroundings.
Feng shui, known as the ancient Chinese art of placement, can connect us to our homes in a way that affects our mood and overall well-being. It’s said that when done correctly, the over 3,500-year practice can create harmony and financial stability; improve sleep, relationships and health; and boost energy and motivation.
“There are different kinds of energies in the environment,” said Grand Master Raymond Lo, a feng shui and destiny consultant, author and teacher. “Some are beneficial, bringing good fortune, health, harmony and prosperity.”
But there are also bad energies that can cause misfortune, sickness and conflict.
“The purpose of feng shui is to identify these energies in the environment,” he continued, “so we can maximize the benefits and play down and reduce the bad influences.”
The ancient Chinese art takes years of practice and instruction from a feng shui master to fully understand and to implement successfully. But there are many simple key concepts that can be applied in a home that can make a difference.
Three experts have agreed to provide insight into the practice: Grand Master Lo of Hong Kong; Doc Phineas Kastle, leading expert of antiquities on History Channel, appearing on “Pawn Stars” and guest professor of archaeology, feng shui and occidental philosophy at UNLV; and Rochiel Wallers, CEO and founder of Feng Shui Las Vegas and Feng Shui Design Solutions. All three professionals recommend seeking the help of a feng shui consultant to fully implement it into the home’s interior design.
“The authentic feng shui practice is not spiritual,” said Grand Master Lo, who practices and teaches the Flying Star or Xuan Kong school of feng shui in Hong Kong. “It is like science requiring logic and accurate measurement and calculations based on principle and theories.”
Grand Master Lo said good feng shui can be achieved by placing people in the right location to sleep and work. The energy, or what the Chinese call chi or qi, can be enhanced using color and decorative objects.
“Normal interior design concentrates on beauty and comfort,” Grand Master Lo said. “Feng shui also incorporates the factor of luck and well-being into the design.”
Kastle states that feng shui is a lifestyle.
“Feng shui is about waking up,” Kastle said. “It makes a big difference if you set your mind and intentions to what you’re doing. Become conscious. The difference is huge.”
The traditional, or classical, school of feng shui practiced by Kastle incorporates the feng shui Bagua map. The Bagua map identifies specific areas of the home relating to wealth/prosperity, fame/reputation, love/marriage, family, health, creativity/children, knowledge/self-cultivation, career and helpful people/travel.
“I can’t explain why it works,” Kastle said. “As someone who’s looked at it for the last 60 years, I can only explain that it does work.”
Wallers, who hass studied several schools of feng shui as well as holistic interior design, works with clients worldwide.
“Feng shui is just one aspect,” Wallers said. “In my professional opinion, it’s not going to be 100 percent of anything, because feng shui is a combination of influences, including the human influence. If a person doesn’t motivate themselves to follow through and make the necessary changes, they’re not going to optimize the home.”
When developing a design, she refers to the Bagua map as well as the feng shui natal chart. The natal chart looks at when the home was built, when the occupants moved in and the home’s compass facing direction. She further considers psychoneuroimmunology, or how people respond to their environment, when working with a client.
“I think people make the mistake thinking feng shui is about putting one trinket in a corner,” Wallers said. “And thinking everything is going to be perfect after that. In my professional opinion, I think feng shui only works when it’s very personalized.”
Balancing the five elements of earth, wood, fire, water and metal in the home and understanding the interplay of these elements as outlined by the Bagua map or natal chart are important. These elements can be present physically or symbolically. For example, a way to introduce the water element in the career area is to place a small water feature or have a picture depicting water hanging in the area.
“I choose the elements to balance the uniqueness of the space in a way that is meaningful to the client,” Wallers said, who believes the elements don’t have to include Chinese symbolism to promote good feng shui. “For wood, you can have a beautiful teak statue that is extremely meaningful to the family.”
Color is another way to introduce an element. As an example, the color red can represent the fire element, whereas blue can represent water.
“Red is part of the fire element that is considered a catalyst element,” Wallers warned. “In the classical school of feng shui, you have to be very careful where you put catalyst elements.”
Plants are another way to introduce an element as they add energy to the space as well as remove toxins and purify the air. Common plants with positive vibes include lucky bamboo, jade or Chinese money plant.
“I think getting a real plant is more powerful than a green pillow,” Wallers said about introducing the color green, which means several things, including tranquility and renewal. “It’s something you’re nurturing. It’s connected to the energy of your space.”
Before moving things around, Wallers advises evaluating what you want to achieve in the home, assessing each room and determining a goal for the space. Do you want to feel energized? Or do you need a place to relax and decompress?
“We want a home that resonates on a positive level that is compelling in accordance to a specific goal in a personal, meaningful way,” Wallers said. “And different things will be compelling for one person and not another.
“Some clients who are corporate leaders need to come home to balance their own internal energy,” Wallers continued. “So a relaxed home is essential for them, whereas another client who has no energy at the end of the day needs an area in the home to inspire and energize them.”
Wallers recommends beginning with the exterior entry, as it’s considered the portal through which the energy enters.
“Your door should be clearly visible,” Wallers said. “There shouldn’t be any blockages because it blocks the energy entering into the home. Make it light, bright and welcoming.”
According to Kastle, the optimal entry location is facing east to correlate with the rising sun. Kastle recommends adding a water fountain and wind chime at the entry to keep the energy flowing.
“Always have a water feature,” Kastle said. “Water is money, and it will attract wealth and send it through the house.”
As you enter the home, Wallers said, the energy should flow in a graceful, undulating way that holds the energy in the room.
“We look at humans and how they flow through a dwelling,” Wallers said. “There is a certain flow or pattern they would walk.”
When there is a direct line of sight between the front door and the back door, Walters noted, it allows the energy (chi) to move through the house too fast. Furniture placement is one way to slow down the energy.
“Energy goes where the eye goes,” Wallers said. “We position furniture in between the front door and the back door. That could be a large sofa with a table behind it and a beautiful floral arrangement with some height. Now you’ve created soft, meandering lines.”
Evaluating the symbolism in the home is important to achieving a positive result. For example, if someone is looking for a significant partner, evaluate the symbolism in the love/marriage area, which traditionally is in the southwest corner.
“You want two of something in that corner,” Kastle said. “The best thing to use in China is two ducks. Ducks are amazing. They swim together, and the male duck watches over the female.”
Clearing clutter is critical to positive energy flow throughout the home. Excessive clutter can be visually displeasing, preventing mental clarity and weighing us down emotionally.
“Clutter will stop the magic,” Kastle said. “So you want to declutter as much as you can.”
Feng shui cures are various ways to work with the home’s energy to achieve a desired result. What’s happening in a person’s life determines what to address using cures.
For example, if someone is struggling financially, focus on the home’s wealth area, traditionally located in the southeast corner.
Kastle recommends placing specific wealth-attracting elements, including plants such as the Chinese money plant, a money jar or crystals like citrene, to enhance the flow of wealth into the home.
“Crystals amplify the energy,” Kastle said. “It’s an easy cure people can do.”
Cures also compensate for poor design. If a bathroom is in the wealth corner of the home, Kastle recommends using a mirror to deflect the energy from being “flushed down the toilet.”
But he warns that the mirror must reflect something positive.
“One thing about feng shui is, no matter how bad your situation is or how bad the architecture is,” Kastle said. “there’s always a cure.”