Design for the Soul: Feng Shui

by Cindy Garreton

People have always called bamboo "lucky." Most can still relish in the sparkling sound of hanging chimes on summer days as the wind dances. These simplicities can be appreciated based solely on aesthetics, but can actually hit a chord much deeper in our souls.

It is no wonder then, that in feng shui, they are called remedies.

Feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is an ancient art of placement that was created by the Chinese 5,000 years ago by studying the use of energy and space in relation to humans and their environments. It has also been used throughout history by cultures all over the world. It was brought to the west in 1972 by Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun and is now used by builders, designers, realtors, artists, business owners, homeowners... the list is countless. Regardless of occupation, interests, age or status, anyone can benefit from this amazing tradition.

The fundamental theory behind feng shui is the idea of chi, or life energy. Just as a person can realize negative or positive energies based on a loved one's mood, chi can be felt in any environment based on its surroundings. By placing certain objects and colors in different areas of the home or office, one can raise the chi in an area and therefore, enhance the aspect of his or her life that the area of the home relates to. The goal is to keep chi from being stagnate and therefore, keeping it moving and healthy so the occupant is also healthy and prosperous.

The map used to apply feng shui to your space is called the Bagua Map. The entry into a space orients the entry to the bagua map. In a house, the entry would be the front door. There are nine equal areas. (See illustration on page 16.) There are the basic areas of our life as reflected in our environment. By balancing and enhancing each section we call in energy to that part of our lives. The Bagua can be applied to a plot of land, floor plan, the surface of a desk, or even creating a piece an art masterpiece.

In feng shui, by familiarizing oneself with the nine sectors involved, one can become more conscious of the essential life aspects that they relate to: Prosperity, Fame, Relationship and Marriage, Children and Creativity, Helpful People and Travel, Career, Wisdom and Self-knowledge and Health and Family. By doing simple things to improve these areas, one becomes aware of specific and goals and more intent on their pursuit, therefore making life changes.

Another aspect is the use of elements wood, fire, earth, metal, or water in feng shui. The Chinese believed that man had to be balanced with nature to achieve harmony within himself. Certain shapes and colors can represent the elements.

The color green and the column shape represent Wood. Earth's colors are "earth tones"of terra cotta and yellows and the shape is a square. White is metal's color and is represented by the circle. Fire, is, yes, you guessed it, red. Triangles represent fire. Last but not least is water, being represented by black and the shape is a watery asymmetrical shape. Open your feng shui eyes and study your environment, desk, or painting you are working on.... is it balanced with the elements?

An easy way to study the "chi" in your space, whether it be your office or your home is to shut your eyes and visualize yourself walking throughout the space. Tell yourself how you feel about each piece of furniture and art and how different parts of the room feel. Does it make you feel happy? Does it make you feel stressed? Sad? Drained? If there are things in your environment that you don't need or that don't "raise" your chi, send them on their way and watch how your energy accelerates.

The art of feng shui is to make your environment celebrate you and nurture your life's goals by making you aware of what's around you. Feng shui is a trend you say? It's only the beginning of a long lasting relationship in the western hemisphere.

Cindy Garreton is an interior designer and feng shui consultant in Charlotte, North Carolina, area and has clientele all over the world. She is a graduate of Iowa State University College of Design. She can be reached for private consultation at 704-365-5109 and is also available for seminars, lectures, and classes in feng shui. You can email her at