By Stephanie Kendrick
March 2, 2001
Many a gardener would be pleased if their work yielded some cut flowers and a basket of tomatoes. In Cynthia Chomos’ mind, the stakes are much higher. Follow the principles of feng shui, she said, and your garden can grow wealth and stronger relationships.
“Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement for enhancing the flow of positive energy in an environment,” said Chomos. “Everything you experience from the path you walk to your front door, to the placement of furniture, clutter, color, plant life, even the previous occupant’s experiences, creates an energy pattern that shapes your life. Using feng shui design principles, negative environmental influences can be corrected and positive energy enhanced for greater health, wealth, serenity and relationships,” she said.
Chomos will teach feng shui mapping techniques and the theories behind this discipline March 17 at the University of Hawaii.
Feng shui garden design must take into account the goals of the gardener, said Chomos. For example, if relationships have been problematic and the garbage cans are in that area of the garden, feng shui would suggest a redesign to place a bench for talking; or roses or other red, pink or white flowers, which symbolize love in that area.
Chomos is a feng shui and color consultant who works in Hawaii and Washington state. She has a background in corporate communications and film production. Six years ago, a friend suggested she study feng shui. The friend, an interior decorator, took what Chomos thought of as her perfectly beautiful house and rearranged it entirely to correspond to the principles of feng shui.
“Three days later I remember sitting in my living room and thinking how different, how much more supportive, my house felt,” she said. So she embarked on a nine-month internship and has been a feng shui proponent since.
“I’ve always, since I was a little girl, been very sensitive to space and to nature,” she said. “I believe that all things are alive, that the plants, the rocks, the trees are energy, just like we are energy. “I get information from nature and anybody can,” she said, pointing out the concept of mana stems from that kind of connectivity.
“What happens is people create the space, and then get used to it. They adjust to having obstacles in their path.”
“So much of feng shui is common sense but it’s also a way to create a meaningful environment, one that can really support an individual in their life,” said Chomos. “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us. “What happens is people create the space, and then get used to it. They adjust to having obstacles in their path.”
Feng shui clears those obstacles. From its origins in China, the discipline has evolved into different forms. Chomos combines traditional principles with a simplified Western approach designed to address any situation. Traditional feng shui would insist a house has to face south, but many don’t, said Chomos.
In the class, Chomos will offer an explanation of feng shui and the different approaches to it. She will discuss the theories of chi, ying yang, the five elements and mapping. She uses lots of slides, she said, and believes color is another key element in creating a harmonious interior or exterior space.
“If we’re wanting to lift our spirits, a lot of reds, oranges and yellows are uplifting colors,” she said. “If we have a sunny hot patio we may want to cool it down and bring it into balance using cooler colors,” such as blues and violets.
“There’s a need for a transition from the outer world to the inner space of our home,” said Chomos. And the garden provides a space for that transition. “If we live on a very busy street, our life may be more fast paced than we want,” she said. The earth elements of feng shui can be used to slow that energy down.
In contrast, a stagnant space may contribute to inertia. Movement can be introduced through water or wind features such as chimes or rustling bamboo. “Feng means wind. Shui means water. On a primary level, we need both for our survival,” said Chomos.
“What’s wonderful about feng shui is it shows us a way to really enhance our lives in a tangible way. It’s really about the person-place connection,” she said. “The garden is a place of sanctuary, a place to rejuvenate and see oneself reflected in nature.”