There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the northern hemisphere, Winter is beginning to loosen its grip, and the coming of Spring may be inspiring us to spruce up our living spaces. Or, for our friends in the southern half of the world, Autumn approaches and with it, the nesting instincts may be stirring. In both cases, we may benefit from learning a little about feng shui. With records of its practice going back at least 3,000 years, the Chinese art of placement can used to bring harmony, grace, healing and good fortune into our lives.
Feng shui literally translates to “wind and water,” because it is about the flow of energy. To enhance this flow, called Qi, practitioners tell us that it should not flow in a hard, straight line. Harmonious Qi is somewhat wavy, like water flowing or a gentle breeze.
So, for example, if you look through your front door and can see straight out to the back door, it is believed that the Qi will flow straight through your home without circulating. This robs you of the benefits you would get if it was moving more gently and thoroughly throughout your house.
You can remedy this by breaking up the line. For instance, by placing a table with a beautiful potted plant, or by angling a screen in between the two, you can slow down the flow and break up the straight line.
Besides the actual front door, the entrance area or hall is most important for determining the quality of the Qi in your home. That’s because it is the first place you see upon entering your house or apartment, and will be the first place energized by the Qi flowing in. Entrance halls that have no windows or doors leading from them or are enclosed in some way can cause Qi to stagnate. But by strategically placing mirrors, or a ceiling fan or maybe a small water fountain near the front door, you can deflect the flow, allowing it to circulate to other areas of your home.
One of the most common, but unfortunate positions of stairs in many Western two-story homes, is to have them situated right in the entrance hallway, facing the front door. A stairway directly opposite the front door will allow most of the Qi to rush up and through to the next level, causing the ground floor to “starve.” The ideal Qi moves in a gentle, slow movement. You can overcome some of this, using mirrors, wind chimes, potted plants or screens. Place them in ways such that the flow from the front door will bounce from them, slowing down and circulating the energy.
By the way, if you have a stairway that uses open risers as opposed to one with enclosed, solid stair steps, it will not allow enough Qi to flow to the next floor. Feng shui experts suggest placing plants beneath the stairs to deflect Qi upwards, thus allowing the flow to continue. And a skylight over the stairs will also help improve the situation.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some simple feng shui tips for one of the most important rooms in your home, your living room.
Meantime, I loved Arie’s idea yesterday. If you would like to email me a photo of your front doorway, I will post them this weekend!