Originally published in ASCP's Skin Deep, June/July 2007. Copyright 2007. Associated Skin Care Professionals. All rights reserved.
I'm what's known in consumer advertising as a home enthusiast. It may be a nesting instinct in overdrive, but I never stop trying to improve my living space. Recently, I went a step beyond my usual fussing about and brought in a feng shui consultant to check out my house chi (natural energy). What I learned is there are simple rules anyone can use.
It all starts with a bagua map, which divides a building into nine zones that affect different parts of your life, such as health, relationships, and travel (see a sample at www.ascpskincare.com
, Members section, Publications). The map is oriented from the front door of the building, and it's critical to do this correctly as it establishes the zones, and thus the recommendations, for the rest of the building. To my surprise, I learned the front door is whichever door you use most. For some folks, that's the back door or the one from the garage into the house.
Of course, no house or apartment is perfectly square, so parts of your bagua map will fall outside your home. Imagine my dismay when I discovered my prosperity zone was the dump site for a large pile of rocks I moved last summer. Note to self: remove rocks ASAP and replace them with something that grows.Fix or Toss
It's no surprise clutter, stagnation, and broken or damaged goods are bad things, chi-wise. Cracked dishes, frayed fabrics, and jammed locks need to be replaced or repaired. If you have a beautifully arranged china cabinet that is never opened, you should rearrange it or use the dishes periodically, just to keep things fresh.
Furniture arrangements can also be problematic. My husband had a tall, black bookcase packed to the gills behind his desk, looming over him like Frankenstein's monster. It was hardly conducive to paying bills. We purged many books and plan to move the bookcase. Reflections Count
Mirrors have an amazing effect on the way you feel. You never want to see yourself in a mirror with your head cut off or see body parts chopped up by cross bars or dividers. Mirrors shouldn't reflect each other. Be careful what mirrors do reflect--the file folders on my desk created the impression of twice as much work when reflected by my office mirror. These folders have been replaced by an inspiring picture of a woman in a perfectly balanced yoga pose.
Windows are important, too. One easy tip I loved: dark rooms can be improved simply by leaving window coverings open whether you are in the room or not. But anything that creates bars, such as mini-blinds or hanging slats, can make you feel like you're doing jail time.
There are other quick fixes. Most anything to do with nature is good. Animal and nature pictures, along with fresh flowers and plants, help your indoor chi. But take heed that dead or dying plants, even dried flowers or wreaths, can have a negative effect.
The feng shui consultation was fascinating and fun, and has definitely improved key areas of our home. It's had a contagious effect on family members, who are freshening up dated decorations and purging closets. Perhaps best of all was the little flash of recognition that problems my consultant identified had in fact been bothering me subconsciously. Knowing a few basics of feng shui and respecting your intuition can help you pinpoint that something just feels wrong ... or right Nora Brunner is editor of Skin Deep magazine.