Drowning in summer’s chaos? Reclaim your space with a few feng shui tricks to charge your home’s good energy
After a long, scorching summer you’re probably ready to embrace autumn – but is your home? There may be more to welcoming a new season than putting away the electric fans and bringing out the blankets. Each season, our homes gather the clutter generated by our activities. By summer’s end, straw sun hats, damp-smelling beach shoes and drifts of gritty sand clog our interiors, while out in the garden rusting barbecues and withered blooms call out for attention. But as cathartic as a good clear-out may be, it’s the wider opportunities that excite feng shui consultant and holistic healer Sue Holmes (firehorse.uk.com). “Feng shui is the art of creating harmony in a living space,” she explains. “From the traditional Chinese perspective, it’s about balancing yin and yang to create a balance between areas of movement and stillness, light and dark, hard and soft.”
According to Sue, our seasonal sort out should extend beyond small irritations to consider bigger issues at play in our homes. “Everything has an effect on the energy in a room, so a big cumbersome electric fan, for example, may well be an obstacle. But in terms of making a big difference to your space, those things are a bit of a red herring.” Instead, Sue suggests it’s the factors affecting our flow of ‘chi’ (or ‘qi’) energy – the relationship between our homes and nearby roads, the alignment of interior doors, or the placing of furniture – that deserve our attention. “Most people have heard that spiky plants give out ‘sha chi’, or negative energy,” she suggests, “or that they should keep the toilet lid down. But they’re very unlikely to be the most important considerations for the feng shui of someone’s house.”
For Sue, improving the feng shui of our environments to bring a comfy and harmonious feel is more instinctive than we might think. “Imagine your bed’s position in your bedroom. You’d never arrange things so that your head is pointing into the middle of the room, you just wouldn’t do it. It’s most common to have the head against a solid wall. Placing your bed between a door and a window is also less than ideal, as the flow of chi across the bed isn’t very restful. And similarly, you’ll most likely have your sofa pushed up against a solid wall where chi can gather. It’s all about creating a nice balance, harmony, beauty, and connecting to the subtle energies of the place to bring it to life.”
The classical five elements of Chinese culture – wood, fire, metal, earth and water – must also be balanced. Feng shui consultants believe that invoking or activating these energies in significant locations can bring positive change to one’s prospects for health, wealth and happiness. “It’s not taken literally,” explains Sue, “so water energy means something flowing; wood energy gives a sense of growth; earth energy is nurturing. It’s about bringing out the best potential of the building to make the most of whatever you’ve got, and down-playing any of the negative points.”
Addressing specific intentions or concerns with feng shui will require the help of a professional. But whilst some styles of feng shui – ‘flying stars’, for example – give detailed guidance on how to arrange your living space, many consultants agree that a more pragmatic approach is just as powerful. “I primarily practise BTB feng shui [‘Black Sect Tantric Buddhist’ – a form introduced to the USA in the 80s],” says New York architect and feng shui consultant Anjie Cho. “I find it’s more relevant for me and my clients because it focuses on the intention to empower the adjustments and the flow of chi, rather than a compass direction.”
For Anjie, feng shui is a truly holistic approach to the lived environment that integrates mindfulness and ecological awareness to create spaces that nourish and support their inhabitants. The upshot is a series of practical suggestions – fiery red bedding to stimulate passion in the bedroom; large stones or stone sculptures to ‘earth’ anyone a little self-centred; a fish tank or mirror to support connectedness with others.
Like Sue, Anjie believes we should all reassess how well our home supports us. “As a holistic interior architect, I encounter many people who want to integrate feng shui and eco-friendly design into their homes and businesses, but they want to wait until the space is clean, or until they have more time, or until they move. These are, of course, appropriate times to renovate or redecorate, but what most people don’t know is that you can incorporate feng shui and greenliving principles at any time. It may be even more helpful at a challenging time. It’s about more than just moving furniture around; it’s about shifting your environment physically and energetically to support your life. Even if you aren’t ready to renovate or redesign your home, you can still incorporate holistic principles into your space.”
Anjie’s suggestions for this autumn are a simple start to a more empowering relationship with our home environment, which in turn can be a springboard for exciting change. “Feng shui can be simple and straightforward,” concludes Anjie.
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