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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."

NH Magazine 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.


14 Feng Shui Tips to Harmonize Your Environment

New Hampshire Magazine had Susan Pildis, from the New England School of Feng Shui in Connecticut, do a feng shui consultation with a local homeowner. The consultation included a lengthy personal interview to reveal the satisfaction level of the homeowners on several different planes. Job satisfaction, friendships, family relations, creativity, spirituality, stress levels, general health, relationships, and future goals were all discussed. Susan then toured the home and looked for placement problems in their outer world that could be affecting their inner world. Susan helped them establish priorities for change and suggested some improvements that could have a profound effect on their lives.

"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 says.


1. Correct the Master Bedroom First

Analysis: Wide double doors lead directly to the bed. It is not restful to have your bed in line with the door. These doors were an extreme case of "yang" energy. Not only were there two doors but lots of light and stimulation was still coming into the room even when they were closed. Indeed the homeowner did not sleep well. This was exacerbated by having a stimulating color on the walls and windows that were also in line with the door. The bedroom needed to be more "yin" -- cozier, darker, more restful and more conducive for sleeping. Heavier curtain materials were suggested for the windows and the television was to be removed. A king-sized bed is not desirable either. Pildis recommended removing photos of parents and adding candles.

Cure: The homeowner placed the bed to the right side, repainted the light yellow walls a soft taupe tone, and added matching wall sconces with red candles. Heavier curtain materials were installed and the television was (sadly) removed by the husband.


2. Watch Placement of Mirrors

Analysis: Mirrors across from each other can produce a distorted feeling . The mirrors create a back and forth energy field that makes it very difficult to relax. Mirrors can, however, be used to bring outside natural features into your home. Always look to see what the mirror is reflecting.

Cure: Replace one mirror with artwork.


3. Stove Should be Reflective

Analysis: The stove in this home was too black. The stove represents your abundance in feng shui.

Cure: A mirror or reflective surface can be put behind the stove. This symbolically doubles your burners. It is also useful to warn the cook of anyone coming in so they will not be startled. In this case simply moving a shiny toaster closer to the stove helped.


4. Reflect Beauty

Analysis: The kitchen office was in a beautiful space but the desk faced a dull wall.

Cure: A mirror will reflect the energy created in the room and be a more pleasant place to work.


5. Create a Pleasant Entry

Analysis: This home has a very nice entryway, with a foyer area. The transition into the home sets the tone for the rest of the space. This table and mirror further serve to welcome one in. All of the feng shui elements -- water, earth, wood, fire, and metal are represented in a lovely uncluttered fashion which gives a sense of balance and welcome to residents and guests alike.


6. Create a Mountain in Your Backyard

Analysis: This backyard is surrounded by tall trees that wrap around to the sides. This replicates the traditional "mountain" to your back, which gives a sense of security.


7. Choose Oval or Round

Analysis: Furniture is arranged to enhance gathering and conversation in the family room. The metal element has the quality of contracting or bringing people together. The metal element can be represented by the round or oval shape. The oval coffee table helps bring people together.


8. Remove Clutter and Confusion

Analysis: Much work needed to be done in the study. Neither homeowner was being productive in this space. Clutter needed to be removed from the walls. It was too distracting to concentrate. The desk needed to be turned into a more powerful position. The sloping wall had to be addressed to alleviate a feeling of oppression.

Cure: The desk was moved to face the entry and the photos and memorabilia were minimized. The walls were painted a soothing green.


9. Avoid Sharp Projections into Living Space

Analysis: Sharp edges on the shelves in the office were acting as "poison arrows." When points like these are directed at you there is a vague uncomfortable feeling. You may not realize what is causing it but over time it will translate into your life or into your biology, says Pildis.

Cure: Use rounded corners or soften corners with plants or draping materials.


10. Consider Your Address

Analysis: The number of your home is also significant. All digits are added together to come to a single digit. This home is a five, which makes it a hub for social activity.


11. Avoid Droopy Plants

Analysis: Downward droopy plants such as this spider plant can leave one with a depressed rather than uplifted feeling.

Cure: Find a more uplifting but not sharp-leaved plant, especially for the bedroom.


12. Cover the Bedroom Television

Analysis: Televisions in the bedroom can be very stimulating. They are emitting electromagnetic radiation even when they are turned off. If a TV is in the bedroom, it is best to place it behind closed doors. It can also be unplugged and covered at night.


13. Finish Projects

Analysis: All areas of your home have an effect on you, even the garage. This garage happened to fall in the homeowner's Mountain area, which relates to their sense of self, divine connection and self knowledge. Their garage was never completed.

Cure: Finish sheetrocking garage or at least get started to find more focus in spiritual connections and personal goals.


14. Don't Sleep Under Slopes

Analysis: Avoid putting the head of your bed under a sloping ceiling. It can give you headaches and psychologically give you the feeling of the world coming down on it. The homeowners stated that is exactly what happened when they had a guest stay for an extended time period who had put his bed in that position.

Cure: If repositioning is not possible, try using "up" lights or painting the slope to look like the sky.


The Water Cure

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.


Natural Elements Fountain

For more information: Naomi Lindenfeld Colored Porcelain 532 Putney Road
Brattleboro, VT 05301
www.brattleboroclayworks.com



Rainforest Fountain

Liz Fletcher of Mason has created a rainforest in microcosm (Stoneware clay, 18"h x 16"w x 18"d). Water falls from the pool above and makes a lovely gentle sound like rain. The rainforest fountain is a special order. A smaller version is available (15" wide x 15" high) to fit the proportions of smaller rooms.

For more information contact:
Liz Fletcher Fletcher Pottery Works
288 Marcel Road
Mason, NH 03048
(603) 878-2539



Applying Feng Shui Principles at the Office

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.


New England School of Feng Shui

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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