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Feng Shui 101

Ancient wisdom for the modern home.

Story by Barry Kaufman

Your home is a temple, a sacred space and a refuge from the stressors and hectic pace of the outside world. But how do you build that temple? How do you harness the sacred in a way that will help you enter your home and breathe deeply in the comforting energies of your own space?

The answer lies in Feng Shui, a 5,000-year-old Chinese philosophy that hovers somewhere in the gray area between art and science. While the deeply personal and endlessly interconnected philosophical underpinnings of Feng Shui make it nearly impossible to create a “how to” guide, there are a few guidelines you can follow that will make your home instantly more relaxing, energizing and in tune with the universe.

Daufuskie Island resident Joanne Loftus studied under several masters of Feng Shui as well as a Grand Master, Lin Yun, in her 20 years of training and consulting in the ancient Chinese practice. Her thorough consultations vary from home to home, based on a number of factors ranging from the birthdates of every resident to the structure’s history and past owners. Each plays an integral role in defining the home’s energy. While she cautions against any instruction being taken as an end-all, be-all guide to Feng Shui, she shared some of the basics with us.

And if these don’t work for your space or tastes, don’t worry. As Loftus said,“There are no mistakes. It’s just tweaking details to create a positive change.”

Invoke the Essence and Movement of Water in your Foyer

“The essence of water is movement,” said Loftus. “You want to move wonderful energy into your home.”

As such, she encourages invoking the shapes and colors of water as you enter the home. The foyer is one of the three most important areas in the home for Feng Shui, according to Loftus. It’s a prime place to utilize water energy. “Your foyer is the boundary between the home and rest of your world,” said Loftus. “It’s where public energy meets private energy.”

Begin with a half-circle doormat and a round rug inside. This shape invokes a tree, which Loftus reminds serves as physical connection between heaven and earth.

Inside, hang a mirror somewhere near the door to mimic the reflective surface of water. “But don’t place it so it’s the first thing you see, as that will push your reflection outside.”

Finally, she recommends one larger piece of art that invokes the water, either through color or through its subject. But avoid red. “You don’t want too much red in your home,” she said. “Red is the essence of fire, of burning.”

Seek Physical and Spiritual Nourishment in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the next of the three most important space in a home, and here Loftus recommends emphasizing cleanliness both in counter space and color schemes.

“Avoid red in the kitchen, particularly,” she said. “You want it to be basically light neutral colors. You want the essence of the food to take over.”

As such, she recommends keeping counters free of clutter (particularly knives when not in use). What does remain out in the open should be those items that nourish us the most – a simple bowl of fruits or vegetables. The table should convey welcoming energy, and the chairs should be comfy and support relaxation after the meal.

“The home has its own metabolism, and it wants to welcome you in,” said Loftus. “That’s why when you have people over, they never leave the kitchen. It’s a sense that they’re being taken care of.”

Find Tranquility and Build Spiritual Energy in the Bedroom

Finally, we come to the room considered in Feng Shui to be of utmost importance: The bedroom.

“You spend a third of your life sleeping,” said Loftus. The principles of Feng Shui dictate that as our physical bodies sleep, our spiritual bodies awaken. “The relationship is so powerful, it’s critical your bedroom be arranged and decorated with utmost care,” Loftus said. “This is a room you want very yin – very peaceful.”

To begin with, Loftus recommends a palette of softer earth colors, with no bright colors to distract you from your restfulness.

Next, your bed should be in what Loftus calls “the power position,” where you can see the door easily when you sit up at night. “The theory is, you have control and can see who comes in. If your headboard is on the same wall as the door, they can see you before you can see them.”

Finally, Loftus recommends you keep all the electronic gadgets and devices that dominate our daily lives as far away from your bedroom as possible. “Electricity is the essence of fire, and especially at night this current is very active and it’s right near your head,” she said. “You won’t necessarily feel it when you walk in the room, but when you’re sleeping, you are sensing that electric vibration.”

3 Principles of Feng Shui, from Joanne Loftus

1. Everything is alive with energy (chi): This is why it’s so important to clear clutter in your home and fill it with decor that affirms personal hopes and dreams.

2. Every person, place and thing is connected by chi: Everything you do has a ripple effect.

3. Chi is ever-changing: Each day we have a new chance to create positive. That’s why this new day is called “the present.”