Feature article Fall 2020
This year, we are all spending considerably more time with our families and in our homes. Spending so much time in confined spaces with the same people has been a welcome change for some people, and difficult for others. Creating harmony in the home is vital right now for everyone’s health and peace of mind, and the Taoist practice of feng shui can help nurture harmony within the family and the home. By taking a careful look at the arrangement of objects or furniture in the home, blocks in the home’s qi, or energy flow, can be assessed and fixed. With a few modifications, the qi of a home can become a more nurturing environment while helping to reducing stress and anxiety.
Anything broken in or around the house gets first priority for repair. Aside from the frustration of dealing with nonfunctional items, and the potential safety hazards, it also symbolizes a broken part of one’s life.
The front door of the house, or mouth of qi, should be able to fully and easily open. Having to fight to get in the door puts you on the wrong foot before you even you sit down. Trim back bushes and plants that overhang the walkway and make sure there’s nothing to slip on as people approach the front door. Reduce or eliminate any spiky or thorny plants near the walkway and front door. Place things that bring you the greatest joy near the front door, and refrain from hanging mirrors in the foyer, especially if it would face the front door.
Water features are soothing, and work well inside or out. Aquariums are excellent for reducing anxiety, and have been shown to help reduce blood pressure. Water fountains with water that flows to the house also brings wealth and opportunities. Ditto for fish tanks, although both should be kept out of the bedroom. The best types of fish are orange carp, koi or arrowana for wealth. Beta are fighting fish and not as appropriate.
All rooms should be free of clutter, which represents an untidy mind, and can also be a symbol of unresolved issues that have either been ignored or weigh heavily on the mind. Clutter prevents the flow of qi in a room, and creates stagnation. These days it’s also a health concern, as clutter also accumulates dust and sometimes mold, if you’re in a damp environment, as well as being a possible landing spot for virus particles. The quick fix is to have several decorative baskets or boxes in each room to dump the clutter in temporarily. The long-term goal should be to go through one pile of clutter each day. People who collect clutter typically have a hard time deciding what to do with the items, and that translates into other areas of life as well. Creating processes and spaces for storage and learning to deal with the clutter helps train people to tackle larger issues as well. Cleaning clutter is one of the most practical cultivation and meditation practices you can do. Do not overlook the practical in pursuit of the esoteric. That is just as imbalanced as being focused too much in the world and not in spirit.
Decorations in each room should be carefully considered. Pictures can play a big part in the subconscious mind, and pictures of disturbing events can predispose you to look at events in a negative light. Display family pictures, photographs of happy people or calming scenery. Each piece of art should be carefully curated to either bring a sense of joy, a happy memory, or a personal quality you want to cultivate. Avoid pictures of lonely people, predatory animals or violent events, such as storms or battles. For instance, animal art can either be neutral, protective, or attacking. Look at the individual symbology of the piece to determine whether it’s right for you and something you want to cultivate.
Displays of swords, knives and guns should be kept to a minimum. Keep them out of sight if possible. If knives and swords are displayed, place them with the points up, which is a protective or defensive position. Placing them with the points down symbolizes an attacking position. Self-critical people should avoid these types of decorations altogether. Knives in the kitchen should be hidden as well.
Mirrors should be used sparingly. Do not place mirrors behind chairs, because the mirror could expose the back of a person’s head when seated, making them symbolically vulnerable. Eliminate mirrors in the foyer, the bedroom, and mirrors that are “broken” in pieces or reflect back to one another. A good place for a mirror is diagonally opposite to the front door.
There’s a special type of feng shui mirror called a bagua, or pakua, mirror, that should only be used with the help of a knowledgeable expert. The bagua mirror is quite aggressive, and should only be used outside of buildings and only if there is a serious affliction on the house.
Furniture in the home should have round or soft edges. It’s easier (especially for small children or seniors) to be hurt after bumping into a sharp edge of a table. Many people have a "problem piece" like a coffee table that seems to attract accidents. The problem piece can either be moved to an area of less traffic, replaced, covered with a soft fabric, or rehomed. Furniture that is substantially taller than the occupants can also be symbolically overpowering. There should be a balance between short and tall pieces. Tall furniture should be kept to a minimum, especially in small rooms. Of course, a piece of furniture that is dominating to someone of short stature could be small to someone who is 6 foot 5 inches tall. Also consider the amount of furniture in a room. Is there enough space for people to walk around safely without bumping into furniture? Is it time to rehome non-essential pieces?
Clearing the air is just as essential as moving or eliminating physical items. Air filters are important on a physical level, but aromatics can also address the physical air quality, as well as emotional or spiritual needs. Studies on sage have found that smudging can reduce the bacterial and viral load in the air by about 85 percent. Essential oils can also work; for instance, citrus is uplifting, lavender is calming, peppermint and rosemary can help focus and many oils have antibacterial properties.
No matter what is going on, inside or outside you house, the practice of feng shui can help you shift into a place of harmony, with yourself, with other people, and with the world.
Nicole Noles Collins is an acupuncture physician and owner of Vitalichi Acupuncture, and licensed Realtor with Exit Compass Realty in Port Charlotte, Florida. She has practiced Black Hat feng shui since 1995, and has also studied Flying Star and other classical forms of feng shui.