Originally published in Skin Deep, December/January 2005.
Copyright 2005. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
When it comes to creating a professional space that promotes well-being and relaxation, most practitioners have a pretty good idea of what it takes. Muted wall colors, gentle music, and gently scented oils, for example, all contribute to making a client feel calm and nurtured. But there are also a host of oft overlooked details, such as the precise layout of the waiting room or the angle at which one places the esthetician chair, that can have a great impact on a client's experience. According to feng shui -- the ancient art/science of placement and space planning -- these elements can also have a dramatic effect on a practitioner's own feelings, not to mention her reputation and monetary success.
For the last 3,500 years or so, the Chinese have used feng shui -- literally "wind and water" -- to harmonize environments by balancing the flow of universal life energy, known as chi. "Feng shui is a method for seeing life in a holistic way and trying to recreate that symbolically within your home or healing environment," says Anne Mansfield, executive director of International Feng Shui Guild based in Beaverton, Ore. To achieve this end, feng shui practitioners work to balance the opposing energies of yin and yang. Yin elements are receptive, cold, and soft, while yang is active, hot, and compact. Feng shui also draws on the five elements of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood in order to mindfully organize your environment so that it fully supports you in your life. Energy Tricks of the Trade
From the moment a client gets out of the car, you want her to realize she is entering a nurturing environment. To initiate this feeling, feng shui wisdom suggests you start by making sure your name and address are clearly visible, you have a plant outside your door, and the entry is unobstructed, warmly lit, and inviting. Next, if you have a long hallway leading to your office or perhaps to your practice rooms, it may create too much energy or "racing chi." In order to slow down that energy, consider adding rounded tables, plants, or pictures.
"In a [wellness] practice, you want to have soft edges, nothing sharp or pointed because you are dealing with people who are vulnerable and need to be treated gently," Mansfield says. This tip might translate into soft, fluffy waiting room chairs and gentle lighting. You'll want to keep the waiting room free from clutter, but be sure to adorn it with appealing artwork, a few healthy plants, and ideally the element of water, such as a bubbling fountain. In fact, if placed in the southeast or "money" corner of your space, water is thought to bring good luck in the area of finances.
The colors you choose for your walls can make a huge impact on how clients experience your space and that, too, may ultimately contribute to the financial success of your business. For both the waiting area and practice rooms, choose colors that are soft, such as skin tones or perhaps muted shades of green, since this color is associated with healing, growth, and new energy. Be sure to keep practice rooms a comfortable temperature, warmly lit, and well laid out. "Having a client's head right near the door does not impart her with a feeling of safety," Mansfield says. "You also don't want her in the 'death position' with her feet facing directly out the door. Oftentimes putting the table at an angle and using a screen near the door can give your client a very needed sense of comfort and power," she says.
Other suggestions: Add shiny, metal touches to your administrative area to increase precision, and use natural candles or sparkle lights to conjure up the notion of enlightenment associated with the element of fire.
While many of these recommendations may seem fairly intuitive, it is often difficult to see one's own environment with fresh eyes. Therefore, having the help of a feng shui practitioner can make all the difference. By using her heightened intuition along with either a special compass or an energetic map known as the ba gua, a practitioner can pinpoint the exact energies of your specific practice space. "A feng shui practitioner can see the things that you might be blind to," Mansfield says. These details will ultimately help you achieve the most enlightened intention you have for your practice -- a feat that will benefit both you and your clients. For more information on feng shui and the ba gua, visit www.fengshuipalace.com
. Linda Knittel is a health writer in Portland, Ore.