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New Hampshire Magazine
East Meets Nest: The Fine Art of Feng Shui|
New Hampshire Magazine, September 2000
One of the top New England experts in the art of feng shui is Susan Pildis. She is a director at the New England School of Feng Shui and a graduate of the Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design's program dedicated to feng shui. She was a consultant for this story and provided us with tips for a "feng shui makeover."
Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is the art of placing manmade objects in the natural world so that the energies of both will be in harmony. This practice began during the ninth century in Asia as a way to balance where and how people lived with the landscape and forces of nature. Similar to acupuncture (in fact it is sometimes referred to as "acupuncture in space"), it presupposes dynamic currents of life energy (chi) that can be manipulated and stimulated by skill.
Today many people who seek harmony inside their homes and offices look to the art of feng shui and its practitioners for answers. Feng Shui Made Simple by consultant William Spear notes that the roots of the practice relied upon such elements as nearby mountains and rivers to determine placement of objects, even within a home. Today, a more free-form "intuitive feng shui" is becoming popular for Westerners who often build homes nearer to Interstate highways than to mountain ranges. And many of the rules of the feng shui game are pretty intuitive, or at least the symbolism is fairly clear. But experts are eager to teach the finer tricks of the trade.
As you might guess, bad feng shui is everywhere in contemporary American homes. It may take shape in a thousand ways, but much can be cured using some pretty simple design techniques. Mirrors ("the aspirin of feng shui") can be used to reflect good chi and deflect bad, to correct for "misshapen" rooms. Make sure, however, that what is reflected is positive, and not the bathroom or garbage. Sliding mirrors on your medicine cabinet can be a problem, say experts, since the first image you obtain of yourself every morning is split, creating an imbalance that lingers throughout your day.
Wind chimes will also cure bad feng shui, dispersing bad chi and replacing it with good. Mobiles and weather vanes work the same way. Live plants and aquariums symbolize life; if plants and fish can thrive in a room, so can you. Some tips are less intuitive. Fake silk flowers are preferable to real dried ones because they don't suggest death.
Interested? Read on. The art of feng shui may not solve all your problems, but it's a way to bring order and beauty into your home with a sense of higher purpose and meaning.
"Get rid of clutter," is the first advice Susan Pildis gives to clients. Creating a feng shui friendly space requires that furniture and personal belongings can be arranged in the proper way. This means getting rid of old TV guides, sewing projects, and finally organizing all of those old tax returns stuffed into the bottom drawer of the desk. Clearing out these unwanted items creates new room for new opportunities and "energetically opens spaces for blessings to flow in," says Pildis.
The question then becomes what is clutter and what isn't? Denise Linn, an instructor at the New England School of Feng Shui, uses this simple guideline: "Use it, love it, or chuck it," she
Water is the source of life, and adding a small bubbling water fountain to a home makes a space more lively and energetic.
In addition, the sound has a cooling effect. Often placed in foyers, the water element is appropriate anywhere in the house except the northeast corner.
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Use this power grid, known as a bagua, to rearrange your work space in accordance with the ancient laws of harmonious placement.
SELF (Water) (Where you enter and going counter-clockwise) Bagua suggests: Place a favorite object in direct sight. Some place a clock on the wall across from the office door, subconsciously suggesting that any time is a good time to be in this space. Make sure you like what you see. First impressions give a bias toward either self-actualization or defeat. WISDOM (Mountain) Bagua suggests: Learning materials Put your books, computer manuals, magazines, or newspapers here. Before wisdom comes knowledge, so place those things you want to become expert at in this area.
COMMUNITY (Thunder) Bagua suggests: Pictures or items representing outside activities Hang your tennis racket here, a picture of your favorite athletic team, or some other reminder of the fun you have in the physical world. It's the acknowledgment of the broad context our lives need.
POWER (Wealth) Bagua suggests: Bright light or treasured objects This is the power corner, the farthest distance from the door. It resonates with our fight-or-flight response by allowing both a view of the door and maximum time to react when someone enters.
FUTURE (Fire) Bagua suggests: Symbols of victories Place symbols of success, charts, or visualization boards with goals displayed. Visualizing goals helps actualize them. Future is always positioned far away.
RELATIONSHIPS (Earth) Bagua suggests: Flowers, loved one's mementos or photos, or chair A good spot to place a vase of flowers, hang a family photo, or place a comfortable chair for contemplation. This area can subconsciously remind us to evaluate our relationship with Earth, with others, and with ourselves.
DESCENDANTS (Lake) Bagua suggests: File cabinets, storage units, bookshelves, or photo of progeny This is a good area for a storage compartment of some kind. If space doesn't permit that, hang a picture of your progeny, students, or the world. The accumulations of our whole lives are experienced by our descendants. What we wrought on this Earth is our legacy.
COMPASSION (Heaven) Bagua suggests: A table, pedestal, or shelf with a mineral, rock, or shell Because it is common to feel vulnerable when entering a space, and because 90 percent of the world is right-handed, providing something for others to lean on when they enter is a way of being compassionate. By placing an object from nature on the table, we remind those who enter of the association we all have with each other and with Earth.
HEALTH (Tai Chi or Center) Bagua suggests: Your computer, or an area rug To insure your computer's health, place it in the center of the room. If you can't, place an area rug, increase the wattage in an overhead light, or add a lamp and direct it to the room's center. Like a healthy heart in our bodies, the middle of the room is the epicenter from which all well-being springs.
When the desire to learn about feng shui exceeds what books can convey, there is a place to go and learn more. Susan Pildis and Amy Mims have started the New England School of Feng Shui located in Cheshire, Connecticut. The school boasts nine additional faculty members who come from diverse backgrounds and teach a variety of courses both about and related to feng shui. Topics include the basic fundamentals, scientific explanations, using intuition, and using feng shui in the business setting. Courses are held one weekend a month at the Sheraton Waterbury Hotel in Waterbury, Connecticut. For more information, visit the school's Web site at www.neschoolfengshui.com, or write to the school and request a brochure at: The New England School of Feng Shui; P.O. Box 1085; Cheshire, CT 06410.
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