When Joel Curry and his wife Joy purchased the Pathways to Health Massage Therapy Center in Auburn, California in early 1993, it had a few problems. “The community had a general misconception about our center and massage in general. To put it mildly, massage was not looked upon as a viable health care alternative. Also the center had never made much of a profit since its establishment nine years ago,” Joel recalls.
Utilizing his background in marketing, Joel set about to educate the public and generate more business for his center. “The marketing started paying off with increased clientele, but it was still a bit sluggish.” He says. That’s when he tried something different. A friend had mentioned an ancient Chinese method for enhancing the energies in an environment called Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) and Joel decided to give it a try. On an intuitive level it made sense, he was already working to enhance the energy of his clients and this seemed like a logical extension of his work.
Joel called in a pair of Feng Shui experts who analyzed the center. They suggested things like re-arranging the furniture, putting flags on the roof, placing a mirror on the bathroom door, and hanging wind chimes and cut glass crystals in strategic places.
Although the suggestions seemed a bit obscure, the results were astounding. “Immediately, our clients noticed a difference, they began asking what we’d done because the place felt so much better. The increase in our revenue has been amazing. In fact, we’re doing well over double the business we did last year. And as for our community acceptance–the Mayor of Auburn came to our center last week to give a talk to our local massage association!”
Joel’s story is by no means an isolated case. People all over the world are turning to this time-tested philosophy to solve a multitude of personal and business problems.
Feng Shui has been called the Chinese “Art of Placement” that balances the life-energies or “chi” in a living space. Using simple “cures,” it increases the flow of positive chi and subdues the negative. And according to Feng Shui, harmonizing our personal chi with the chi in our environment puts us in harmony with the natural forces of nature and in turn, results in a healthy, happy and prosperous life.
The basic tenets of this philosophy are quite simple. If positive energy can flow through an environment, then the people residing there will benefit. Just as an acupuncturist charts the energy flow within a person’s body and either stimulates points of stagnation or subdues over-active channels, the Feng Shui expert maps the flow through our surroundings and makes adjustments with often startling results. When the chi circulates properly we experience a feeling of well being while good health and prosperity are increased in our lives.
Using cut-glass crystals, mirrors, colors, furniture arrangement, bamboo flutes, wind chimes, fragrances and many other items, the flow of chi can be altered. For example, if a heavy beam lies directly across a bed or chair it can put unseen pressure on the person laying or sitting beneath it. Properly hung bamboo flutes can lift the sense of oppression and remedy the situation. On the other hand, if one faces a wall upon entering a building or office, a well placed mirror can expand the area and at the same time give a sense of hope and broadened horizons to everyone who enters. These and other “cures” are prescribed by the Feng Shui expert to create balance and harmony in the environment.
We’ve all had the experience of entering a place and feeling instantly comfortable, whether it be a large expensive home or just a humble apartment. At the same time we’ve experienced the feeling of oppression and gloom given off by other locations. This “feeling” is created by a location’s Feng Shui.
According to Feng Shui, each and every building can be divided into distinct areas that represent a different aspect of life (see diagram). Each area is a subtle balance between Yin (all that is still, heavy, receptive and cool in the environment) and Yang (all that is active, light, hot and outgoing in character). As laid out in the I-Ching or Book of Changes there are eight basic ways in which these energies interact. Thus we have eight different positions in any location corresponding to the eight configurations of Yin and Yang.
This concept is made clear by use of the Ba-Gua, an octagonal shape that becomes a sort of “energy map” to be super-imposed over the layout of any home, office, building, individual room or property. This “map” charts the locations within a space that correspond to the different areas of our life-experience: wealth, fame, relationships, children/creativity, helpful people/travel, career, knowledge and family. The center of the Ba-Gua represents the unifying force of Tai Chi-which balances all the other areas and also represents our health.
By adjusting any one area in the physical space we can affect a change in the corresponding area of our life. For example, Joel and Joy Curry’s bathroom was in the “wealth” area of their massage center. A mirror on the outside of the door and a cut glass crystal in the bathroom now deflect chi –and hence profits — from going down the drain. Says Joel “Since working on the wealth area in our building, the flow of income has increased over 115 percent and continues to grow every month!”
Doing something as simple as putting a healthy plant in the relationship area, for example, can enhance the relationships in one’s life, be they romantic, business or otherwise. By the same token, a student may apply a certain color to the knowledge area to help with final exams.
Although much of this seems to smack of metaphysical hocus-pocus, there is sound, common-sense reasoning behind it and adherents swear by its effectiveness. For instance, if your home is at the top of a “T” intersection, your life will feel unbalanced by the negative energy given off by automobiles that approach your home day in and day out. Not only does the road bring negative chi to your front door, there is always the possibility that someone won’t make the turn and their car will end up in your living room. Years in this location can cause untold health problems due to stress. A thoughtfully placed fountain, tree or hedge will cut down the negative effects of such a site.
Modern Feng Shui experts may also employ a Gauss meter to measure any electro-magnetic pollution that could be generated by nearby power lines, faulty building wiring, or appliances. Although the scientific community continues to debate the subject, there has been an enormous amount of anecdotal as well as hard empirical evidence that associate health problems with high electromagnetic fields. If found, suggestions are made to eliminate or avoid areas of high concentrations thereby creating a more relaxed and healthy living space.
Feng Shui is an eclectic mix of good design sense, esoteric wisdom and physics that, when used properly, can offer people new methods of dealing with daily stresses and struggles. It’s a way to enhance your environment and increase its ability to nurture and empower your life.
We in the West have lost touch with most of our ancient shamanic and mystical traditions and seem to be at the mercy of our environments. Or worse yet, we have lost respect for our surroundings all together as evidenced by the widespread degradation of our precious ecosystems. Our planet and our lives are in danger on many levels. According to an ancient Chinese proverb, “If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
Perhaps Feng Shui, with its simple message of harmony and peace, can not only bring to us the comfort and happiness we each seek in our own lives, but in turn lead to a more healthy and harmonious world-family.
Helen and James Jay are feng shui practitioners and teachers. They own the Feng Shui Designs’ Learning Center in Nevada City, California, established in 1993. They have studied traditional feng shui and Taoist arts with masters Raymond and Violet Lee and Professor Lin Yun. The Jays are contributing authors to “Contemporary Earth Design, A Feng Shui Anthology” and are authors of the critically acclaimed video production, “Feng Shui: The Chinese Art of Design and Placement.” Helen and James have been featured in Intuition, Mountain Living, The Los Angeles Times, Magical Blend, Amaluz (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Massage Magazine.
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