Originally published in The Taos News
Originated around 4000 years ago, Feng Shui is a Chinese method that deals with the balancing of energies through the right placement of objects. Its goals are to harness positive energy and improve the health and general wellness of people.
According to practitioners, a flow of energy, or Chi, permeates the environment and surrounds us. The way this flow is handled, by the location of rooms and the position of furniture, can affect every aspect of people’s life, from relationships to finances. Therefore, a divorce, an illness or career problems may be related to structural imbalances inside a home.
“Loosely translated, Feng Shui means ‘wind and water’ and indicates the flow of those elements,” says Feng Shui practitioner Lynne Robinson. The most important advice she can offer to anybody interested in applying Feng Shui principles at home is to clear the clutter.
“Clutter has a negative effect on our well being,” said Robinson. “Keep entries clear and make sure doors open freely. Also, open your windows every day (no matter the weather) to allow good, fresh Chi to circulate.”
De-cluttering is indeed a key concept in the Feng Shui philosophy. “Clean out the inside of your closets and drawers,” said artist Kristine McCallister, a formerTaosresident who has studied Feng Shui for many years. “Rearrange your closets for the new season. Go through your desk. Get things out from under your bed. Have a garage sale. Doing this is like losing weight or having your teeth cleaned—you are getting rid of build up that takes away your energy.”
In the Feng Shui theory, each area of the house corresponds to a particular situation in life.
In a Bagua diagram (often called “the map of Feng Shui”) there are eight areas, or “guas,” around the center. These nine zones are linked to nine areas of life: prosperity, fame and reputation, relationships, family, health, creativity and children, skills and knowledge, career, and helpful people.
There are Feng Shui tips for every room and part of the house.
The South East area is the one that influences prosperity. It should be kept clean and lighted, either by the sun or by a lamp. Water is a symbol of wealth, so a water fountain or an aquarium will work well in that particular space.
“For prosperity, it is helpful to have a healthy plant with rounded leaves in the South East corner,” said Robinson. “Growth in the South East promotes growth in our bank accounts!”
The kitchen is another space that needs to be as clean and functional as possible. Shiny utensils and properly working burners are supposed to attract wealth and harmony so anything that is chipped or broken should be fixed, replaced or thrown away.
As for bathrooms, it is a good idea to keep the toilet seat down so money won’t get “flushed out.” Defective plumbing is associated with drained finances while a tidy bathroom supports a positive, well directed flow of Chi.
A general rule for arranging furniture in the living room is to have an unobstructed, clear flow of energy so the Chi circulates freely among the furniture and in the corners. Couches and chairs should face the door.
In the dining room, the dining table should be the focal point. Since this area is also connected to wealth, it is a good idea to display beautiful china and gleaming silver. Mirrors, that can “double” the food, are very auspicious here.
There are tips for the bedroom, too. “InTaospeople often deal with beams and vigas and the energy can be heavy,” said McCallister. “It does not feel comfortable to have heavy vigas cutting across your body overhead when you are sleeping. If you can align your bed to the direction of the beams, do so. If not, consider a canopy for over your head to shield the energy.”
But does that mean we have to go around the house with a Feng Shui checklist, buying new stuff, tearing down walls and changing everything?
“When people speak of Feng Shui, they often want to apply its laws and rules over the existing floor plan or residence and this can be very expensive,” said McCallister. “You can work with what you have, pulling in traits from different customs, and applying common sense coupled with beauty. Feng Shui was not meant to be an interior decorating tool.”
A practical, tip-filled book on this subject is Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui: Learn the Art of Space Clearing and Bring New Energy into Your Life, by Karen Kingston (Three Rivers Press, 1997).
Lynne Robinson studied with a Cantonese Feng Shui Master in NYC and practices the compass form (directional) of Feng Shui, which is related to the Taoist philosophy of the I Ching. She is currently teaching a six-week Feng Shui Workshop at Shree Yoga, on Saturdays from 5 to 7 pm.
To learn more about Kristine McCallister, visit the artist’s website,
To contact Lynne Robinson, call her at (575) 751-4293.