Story by Allison Lind
Photos by Oona Copperhill
The Peninsula Gateway
April 21, 2004

Feeling a little stressed? Not sleeping very well? It could be a problem with an improper balance of chi. Nothing that a little dose of a centuries old science couldn’t cure. It’s called Feng Shui — pronounced fung shway — and it’s the ancient Chinese art of placement for enhancing the flow of positive energy, or “chi,” in a person’s surroundings. It’s been around for centuries, but only recently did its popularity start to pick up in the western world.

An ancient earth-based science, Feng Shui has deep roots in nature and is based on time-tested principles that show how both the seen and unseen energy in our surroundings — whether home or business — effects our daily lifestyles. Increasingly popular in larger cities, Feng Shui is slowing breaking through the skepticism of the smaller towns.

Recently, Kimberly Gartland, a real estate agent with John L. Scott, brought Seattle-based Feng Shui consultant Cynthia Chomos to her home in Gig Harbor. Gartland wanted to learn more about the science and how it can improve not only her home, but also the homes she sells. “It’s all the rage right now to help get people’s homes sold,” Gartland said.

Chomos, a firm believer in the powers of Feng Shui, said it’s necessary to have a positive energy flow in order for a potential homebuyer to feel comfortable and relaxed. Negative environmental influences — things as simple as furniture placement or incorrect color — can drastically immobilize the chi.

Because people were greeted with the back of the couch upon entering the living room, the chi was blocked.

Feng Shui aficionados believe that by propitiously moving furnishings to redirect the energy flow, those negative influences are corrected and positive energy is enhanced, which can then improve areas like wealth, relationships, career and health.

Gartland’s living room furnishings, for example, were placed in what most people would feel to be an appropriate layout. Chomos felt otherwise. The couch faced toward the fireplace and window for a beautiful view, but its back was facing the entryway. This placement is like walking toward a person with his or her arms crossed, Chomos said. It’s not welcoming or inviting. It also prevents the chi from freely flowing into the room.

Chomos quickly got to work and busily moved every piece of furniture and room accents to a new location. The result was an inviting room that beckoned the occupants to take a seat, kick their feet up and relax.

“Wow.” Gartland obviously felt a difference. “Wow. It’s just amazing how it feels now.”

The finished result after Chomos changes the furniture to draw a person into the room and create a more free-flowing chi.

Feng Shui goes far beyond the aesthetics of home redecoration. It’s almost a spiritual cure for emotional ailments that plague a home, sometimes even with tiny adjustments in décor and placement.

“Once people have experienced the Feng Shui, there’s more movement, energy and focus. Their lives shift,” Chomos said.

To perpetuate positive energy, the chi must be able to freely flow throughout the home, but oftentimes there are simple ailments in the way. Chomos said windows or doors are often problems of chi-flow prevention. The energy wants to shoot right out of them, she said. The solution: place a plant in front to redirect the energy back into the home.

There is another important block to free-flowing chi that needs to be removed, one that many homes fall victim to — clutter.

Because Feng Shui is so deeply rooted in earth science — in Chinese “Feng” means wind or air and “Shui” means water — there are five elements that are particularly important to the process of positive chi. Fire, earth, metal, water and wood should all be reflected in our environments, Chomos said, such as with candles for fire or a fountain for water.

“These items are very soothing on a primal need level, as well as energizing the space,” she said. “We need an environment that nurtures our essence.” Unfortunately when we come into some spaces, we lose touch with sensory nutrition. We need our senses to be alive.”

Feng Shui is a precise science, so each element has a specific place in the home in relation to what is called a Bagua Map. The Bagua Map is a tool used in Feng Shui to identify the nine key areas in a person’s life: wealth, fame, relationships/marriage, family, health, creativity/children, knowledge/spirituality, career and helpful people/travel. The Bagua Map is placed over a sketched map of a home to identify where these key areas are.

“It’s important to have all these areas active and balanced in our lives,” Chomos said. The elements help with that balance — water should be placed in the career area to promote energy and flow, for example.

It’s also important to have a lot of plant life, color and water elements in the home. These things resemble life, Chomos said, and encourages a positive flow of chi and a healthier surrounding.

“Everything creates an energy pattern that shapes our life for better or for worse,” Chomos said. “We want to find those negative elements and correct them.”

Often something as simple as a long, straight hallway can have a negative impact, according to Chomos. Nothing in nature is straight, she said, so if a hallway is void of anything to slow the chi, it will shoot quickly through the area. The solution: place a runner on the floor and a piece of artwork on the walls of the hallway.

Feng Shui practitioners believe that the entire space of the home influences the home’s energy field — that every room is energetically playing into the complete whole. To positively impact the complete home, Chomos said, there must be a balance of Yin and Yang.

Yang, the active or masculine energy should encompass 60 percent of the house. Lighter furnishings or tiled floor would be considered Yang. Yin, the passive or feminine energy, should only be found in 40 percent of the home. Darker furnishings or carpeted floors are examples.

Energy obviously plays an important role in Feng Shui, and many times a negative residual energy is left in the home from previous occupants, Chomos said. “Our homes are like a sponge,” she said. “It’s just simply a matter of clearing that energy.”

In order to cleanse that negativity, Chomos uses a dousing rod and a pendulum to locate where that energy is held and to cleanse it. The straight rod directs Chomos to the spot by pointing toward the area, when it locates the spot it begins to turn quickly in circles. Chomos then holds the pendulum to cleanse the negativity, it moves in a clockwise circle. When the area is cleansed, the pendulum then moves back and forth.

This technique isn’t always used in Feng Shui, but Chomos finds it incredibly useful — and effective. “We are constantly being imprinted by our environment,” Chomos said. “Our environment shapes us, it is giving us messages all the time.”

Feng Shui is an intuitive, in-depth science — a holistic approach to improving a person’s environment. There are many elements for an effective completion of Feng Shui healing, but there are a few simple adjustments that can be made.

  • Clear your clutter.
  • Add real or silk plants to bring “new growth” into your life.
  • Improve your lighting and expand your “vision” (replace burned out light bulbs).
  • Paint your walls an uplifting color to energize and motivate you.
  • Add an indoor water fountain to create more “flow” and “money” energy.
  • Buy new artwork that symbolically represents your desired life experiences.
  • Keep your bathroom doors and toilet lids closed to keep your money energy from “going down the drain” (water relates to finances).
  • Place all key pieces of furniture — desk, bed, favorite sofa or chair — in the “command position” based on the following: out of the direct path entering the room, solid wall of support behind you, facing and with a view of the entrance, key function is the focal point of the room.
  • Hang a wind chime near your front door to draw more energy into your home.

For a more in-depth analysis, invite a Feng Shui consultant into your home. Most consultations include a personal interview to determine life priorities, a floor plan review, furniture placement, color design, energy adjustments and practical and inexpensive recommendations to enhance the vitality of each space.