Jane Alexander is a journalist and author specialising in integrated health, natural wellbeing and spirituality. She is the author of over 20 books, including Spirit of the Home, The Energy Secret and The Holistic Therapy Bible.
Jane tweets as @exmoorjane and blogs at exmoorjane.blogspot.com
Whenever I move house, the first thing I look at is the floor plan. You can literally read a house by its layout – predicting whether it will be a home that will bring warmth and happiness or poverty and discord. It may sound dramatic but I’ve learned, over the years (and often the hard way) not to ignore the ancient art of feng shui.
Feng shui evolved around five thousand years ago in China. The ancient Chinese believed that invisible life energy (known as qi) flowed through everything in life. It’s the same philosophy that underlies acupuncture – if the energy in your body is moving freely and easily, you will stay fit and healthy. However if it becomes stagnant or blocked, you will most likely fall ill. In acupuncture needles are used to free any blockages and to regulate the smooth flowing of qi. The principle is much the same in houses and offices – with various “cures” used instead of needles.
The Chinese believed that the buildings we live and work in require quite as much attention as our bodies and so developed this complex science for “healing” our environment. Centuries of observation showed that different areas of the house attracted specific energies. Furthermore they discovered that certain configurations (the layout of rooms or even the position of furniture or features) could either help or hinder the free, smooth flowing of energy. If the energy were blocked or allowed to flow too swiftly it would cause corresponding blockages and problems in life.
However they also realised that very small but specific changes (“cures” such as hanging wind chimes or crystals in particular places or using certain colours) could correct such disharmony and put your life back on track. Boosting particular areas with auspicious colours and objects could even create more vibrant energy and better opportunities in life.
At its core feng shui teaches that by making small shifts to your home you can affect everything in your life – from your finances to your health, and even your marriage and sex life.
It may sound crazy but it is taken very seriously, not just in China, but all over the world – not necessarily by flaky Hollywood celebrities but by high-powered businesspeople and large corporations. People use feng shui because, quite simply, it seems to work. A hotel in Australia was virtually empty until an Oriental company bought it and called in a feng shui consultant who said the problem lay with the staircase: it directly faced the front doors and so the hotel’s qi was shooting outwards and being lost. The staircase was moved and the hotel’s luck changed almost overnight. On a more personal level, UK feng shui expert Sarah Shurety tells of a couple who were on the verge of divorce. They could hardly bear to talk to one another. Sarah tracked down the problem to a large beam above their bed which effectively divided their bed. In feng shui, beams are considered divisive, causing quarrels and even ill-health in the people who sleep under them. Sarah advised the couple to move their bed. ‘Now they are newly in love again,’ she reports. ‘The beam was cutting them in half, separating them.’
Amazing things happen when you use feng shui in your house,’ Sarah continues. ‘Some people find their whole lives change – literally overnight.’
I confess I was deeply sceptical when I first heard of feng shui. But, after a conversation with New York based feng shui expert William Spear, I decided to test it out by applying the ‘cures’ he recommended. My Victorian house in London was apparently lacking its ‘wealth’ corner, so William advised I place a large solid flower pot in the garden, with a vigorous healthy plant in it, to ‘square off’ the corner on a symbolic level. It sounded crazy but I did as he suggested (sniggering while I did it) but, to my total surprise I was almost immediately offered a new job out of the blue at four times my previous salary. Coincidence? I wasn’t about to take any chances and now I always follow feng shui guidelines in my home and office.
While it takes years of study to understand all the complexities of this ancient science, there are simple things we can all do to help the energy in our homes.
FENG SHUI RULES FOR A HAPPY HOUSE
All feng shui experts recommend the following basic ground-rules for a happy healthy house.
- Avoid clutter at all costs. The first thing you should do if you want good feng shui in your house is to have a big clear-out. Get rid of anything you no longer use or make sure it is neatly stored in cupboards. There should be no piles of papers or magazines on the floor; no heaps of clothes in corners; no bulging wardrobes or overstuffed drawers. Keep your home clean and tidy and qi will flow easily and freely.
- Qi enters through your front door. So make sure your front door is welcoming and opens if possible into a spacious and well-lit interior. The door should open inwards so the energy enters smoothly. Make sure all the lights are working and that the hallway is bright and welcoming.
- Avoid long corridors in a house. If a corridor ends with a blank wall put a mirror there. If you have a long run of doors in a row, place a crystal or a wind-chime in between to slow down the flow of qi.
- Qi should move slowly and smoothly but its flow can easily be blocked by too many obstacles in its path. So try to avoid protruding furniture in corridors and sharp corners. When qi is blocked the effect is usually felt in the residents’ marriages and financial affairs. Put up mirrors to smooth over tight corners. Move furniture which juts out.
- Qi stagnates in places or corners which are perpetually dark or unused. Rooms should all be well lit and used as much as possible. In parts of the home which are seldom used (ie store rooms and guest rooms) take particular care to keep them clean, aired and free from dust.
- Healthy qi is attracted by life and movement and sound. If you’re out at work all day, feng shui practitioners recommend hanging up wind chimes which tinkle in the breeze. Healthy green plants also enliven qi (avoid fake flowers which attract dust and spiky plants like cacti). Healthy fish in a bubbling aquarium are superb at energising qi – just make sure you keep the tank clean.
For more information on feng shui and how to apply it to your home see the Spirit of the Home series.