January 20, 2013

By VICKY MORRISON - Bulletin Accent Writer

Feng Shui, pronounced “fung shway,” is an ancient art and science about finding balance in one’s daily life. This 5,000-year-old tradition still has value today, according to Lisa Watts. She gave the program “Chase Away the Winter Blues with Feng Shui” Wednesday at the New College Institute.

Watts gave the presentation in place of her sister, a feng shui expert who lives in California. Her sister, the originally scheduled speaker, couldn’t make it, so Watts used her notes for the program.

When it was first created by the Chinese, feng shui was used to help plan crop planting. Since then, feng shui has evolved to apply to personal life, Watts said.

“Feng” means “wind,” and “shui” means “water.” This is representational of the philosophy’s fundamental emphasis on the energy of the environment. It focuses on the effect of the earth’s energy flow on a person. Feng shui seeks a balance and flow with the energy.

The balance is depicted by the yin and yang symbol. The yin represents the moon and the female. It is characterized by low, wet and small things. The yang is the opposite to yin and is represented by the sun. It has more aggressive qualities such as boldness; it lacks many details; and it is dry.
According to Watts, humans crave yang in the wintertime because we are surrounded by a drearier environment with shorter, darker days. Feng shui can alleviate this want by creating better energy flow at work or home.

Another element to feng shui is chi. Chi means energy. Chi can be either personal or natural. Personal chi is the energy a human is born with and decreases in amounts as we grow. Natural chi is the energy found in natural mediums, such as soil or in the woods.

This is applicable to one’s home or office space. Watts presented three basic steps to improve energy flow. The first and most crucial among them was the need to get clutter out of the work space. That means keeping areas such as your desk and closets clean. This will alleviate the “stuck” feeling that cramped spaces can provoke.

If it is too challenging to take on the task of clearing up a whole home or desk, start with smaller goals, Watt said. That could be cleaning one drawer in a desk or one shelf in a closet. Just recycle, donate or throw away things you won’t need.

Another way to aid energy flow is to arrange a room’s layout. Orient furniture towards a front door so that a person when sitting in a desk can see whomever is approaching. This also can apply to the the direction beds face. Watts advised though that if the bed directly faces the door, energy can escape easily and not spend enough time circulating through the space.

Energy, said Watts, can get stuck in tight spaces easily. It helps to imagine that energy is like water. The energy, or water, needs to flow through the rooms of one’s home or office and not get stuck in a corner or in between filing cabinets and desks.

Placing a plant in the corner of the room can help with trickier instances of stuck energy. The living, breathing quality of the plant assists the energy with moving on and keeps it from getting caught. Another tool for encouraging energy flow is to hang up original art. The energy that went into creating the art can contribute to good energy flow.

The third step for energy flow is to enhance energy with accessories. Plants and paintings can double for this task as well. Things that generate wind flow, such as fans, or create white noise can enhance energy. A fan can do both tasks of wind flow and white noise. Watts also said things light-reflecting items help, too. This could be a hanging crystal or a mirror.

Items that have water help by making soothing noises and looking appealing to the eye. A small desktop fountain can accomplish that. The final element that helps is to bring a personal souvenir into the equation. Placing a small item from a vacation or special event that is personal to you can have a huge impact on energy flow. Personal souvenirs on one’s desktop are probably the most impacting. These souvenirs should be smaller and hold particular meaning, enough to evoke memories or emotions.

Watts provided a few general points of the practice after outlining the main steps. One point was the use of color. The Chinese particularly appreciate the color red in regards to feng shui because it attracts energy. Many feng shui experts recommend a red front door to attract energy into one’s home. Another element is having natural light from windows instead of harsher overhead lighting. Changing from overhead lighting to at least using lamps can soften the light in a space and help the energy flow as well.

Watts is the executive director of the Coalition for Health and Wellness and lives in Greensboro, N.C.