Sunday, June 1, 2008

Demystifying Feng Shui

I like to Google my name and see what the other Annie Paynes in the world are doing. That’s how I became interested in Feng Shui. I found an Annie Payne who lives back East that teaches classes on the philosophy of Feng Shui. I thought, “She can do it. Why can’t I?”

That was two years ago. Since then I have studied, practiced, and watered-down Feng Shui to make it useful and practical for me and my home.

Feng Shui, pronounced fung-shway, is an ancient Chinese practice of utilizing the Laws of heaven (astronomy) and earth (geography) to improve one’s life by receiving positive chi or energy. Having more positive chi (pronounced chee) in your life means having greater prosperity, peace, and well-being.

My first inclination was that Feng Shui was just a bunch of ancient Chinese mysticism. I couldn’t understand how changing the position of my bed, keeping a goldfish or putting a rooster in my office, could make the least bit of improvement in my life; even so, I was skeptically optimistic. In order to get the most out of Feng Shui for myself, I had to look beyond the “voodoo” and superstition to find the practicality and wisdom behind this 4000-year old-philosophy.

Things as simple as putting a wind chime near my front door, adding more live plants and re-arranging my furniture to be more conducive to the flow of energy through the house has made a difference, not just in the look of my home, but how I feel about my home as well.

What I have begun to understand through Feng Shui is how my environment effects how I feel everyday. I realized that pockets of disorganization here and there in my home, like my closet, the kitchen junk drawer, and the laundry room, were sucking the energy and desire out of my life. I realized those areas were contributing to a feeling of being stagnant and not being able to move on to other tasks.

I know I am not alone in this. It’s important to understand that a home needs to be a place that energizes, inspires, and creates peace for all who live there. Sometimes you need to step back and ask yourself, “Am I depressed because my house is a mess or is my house a mess because I am depressed?”

I’m not talking about clinical depression; I am talking about feeling un-motivated, un-inspired, and listless when it comes to your environment.

When I started practicing Feng Shui, I couldn’t tackle every area in my home that bothered me at once. I wanted to keep it simple and take small steps. I decided to start at the front door.

I learned that in order to attract peace and prosperity, you have to create an environment that attracts good chi, or good energy, to flow through your home. Look at your front door. Is it hanging off the hinges? Is the walkway to your door obstructed by tricycles and footballs. Are there cobwebs and dead leaves? All these things send a signal to “the universe” that you are not ready for good things to flow into your life. You must make a clear path to the front door in order for good chi to enter freely into your home.

Does this sound a little out there for you? How about this? Make sure the path to your door is clear so the UPS man doesn’t trip the next time he delivers a package or the only thing “Brown” will do for you is send you litigation papers.

The Feng Shui philosophy also suggests painting your front door an attractive color. I have yet to apply this principle to my current home.

I asked my husband, Secret Agent Man, to paint the front door of our last house. I picked a dark color of red, which, according to Feng Shui philosophy, is an auspicious color for south-facing homes. The cleaning, prepping, and follow-up coats took up the better part of a Saturday.

As much as he adores me, he won’t be painting another door for me. So instead of painting my now north-facing door blue, I have opted to place an urn with pink New Guinea Impatients, my favorite flowers, next to my front door. I hope the universe will recognize my effort and send me good chi, anyway.

Here are a few more Feng Shui basics from the book, 365 Feng Shui Tips, by Lillian Too, to get you started on a more “Zen-like” atmosphere in your home:

· "Keep your bathroom doors closed. Negative energies tend to accumulate in the bathroom. Make it a household habit to keep all doors going to the bathroom closed."

· "Pictures of women in bedrooms cause problems. Remove all pictures of females from the bedroom. This includes glamorous women, paintings of nudes, and so forth. Their presence makes a marriage crowded." Annie’s note: For all the husbands out there, trust me on this. To all the wives out there, you are welcome.

· "Sound therapy for your space. Sound therapy inside the home is created by the use of wind chimes, bells, bamboos, and other natural sounds. The sound of flowing water will also attract vibrant fresh chi into your home. Make an effort to never leave your home silent for too long. When you go on vacation, keep the radio turned on as this is the best way to keep the chi flowing." Annie’s note: This is just a suggestion. Don’t send me the electric bill.

· "Throw out chipped glasses and cups. Chinese matriarchs are strict about this. Eating and drinking from chipped plates and cups not only is bad luck for you, but shows disrespect for your guests, also."

· "Removing negative chi from neighbors. For petty annoyances place a large urn of water with a wide mouth and a narrow base between your home and the neighbor’s house. For a stronger measure to deflect bitterness and hate, use a round mirror circled by trigrams arranged like a yin pa kua symbol. This powerful tool bounces back a thousand-fold whatever energy is being sent your way." Annie’s note: Or how about making your neighbors brownies and letting bygones by bygones?

For as much mysticism and superstition that is found in the philosophy of Feng Shui there are also practical and pertinent applications that can be used to enhance the home of even the most skeptical Feng Shui practitioner.

Now that I have created a little more peace and well-being in my home through Feng Shui, I am ready to see what else I can learn from the other Annie Paynes of the world.

Google me this, Google me that, is there another Annie Payne that can show me how to knit a yoga mat?

The preceeding was my latest article for the Home and Garden section of The Daily Sentinel, Western Colorado's Largest Newspaper.


  1. Well, I must say I've always been anti-feng shui, but I kind of like the Annie Payne approach. Consider me a convert. Now would you like to come over and tackle my junk drawer?

  2. Excellent Post!!
    I felt like you were writing directly to me!

  3. I love these suggestions - especially about clutter sucking the life right out of a place. Unfortunately, the only plant I've managed to keep alive indoors is a teeny, tiny bamboo.

  4. Loved this post! I love when people promote good design!!! Your front door is absolutely lovely..and so are you!

  5. i love the idea of feng shui! i don't know too much about it and loved this informative post/article. you are lovely in your picture!

  6. A knitted yoga mat might hurt:( I wondered why that water filled urn was by the neighbors fence:)

  7. You are tooo cute!
    "Since then I have studied, practiced, and watered-down Feng Shui to make it useful and practical for me and my home."
    three fave words: watered-down; practical; and useful.
    Perfect for me!

  8. I'm not supersticious either, but I do think my front walk could use a sweeping off. After I read your article, I realized it had been awhile since I had paid attention to the entry of my house.

    Thanks Annie!

    MJ in GJ

  9. uh-oh, my front door is need of paint and it faces south AND I had planned on red..... hummmmm entry way, ( making list of all those great ideas)

    great column!

  10. What about a big poster of George Clooney above the bed? In red speedoes. That would totally help me ignore the big pile of laundry.
    Love from SF

  11. Too....many...words...all I got was blah, blah, fengi shui voodoo.

    I keed because I love you.

  12. I cannot focus on feng shui until I can figure out if we have the same entry way carpet in our homes. I will take a picture of mine and post some point. Then once I discern if we are entry rug twins, I will focus more on feng shui. At least, I might.

  13. Ok, first: You look beautiful. Why, of course I'll come inside! :)

    Second: I used to make fun (a little bit, not really bad) of Feng Shui. But since I started getting Anniemaducated I have gained respect for it.

    Third: You are the bestest!

  14. Annie! Thank you so much for the post card. You're the best!!!!

  15. that was all very interesting-
    i do have beautiful painting of a woman in my room....i'll have to think about removing her-it's so pretty and matches so well- i don't know.
    i like the idea of keeping the bathroom doors closed- and am glad to now have reason to do.
    i will plan to buy a wind chime this week for my front door- i like these suggestions, thanks

  16. the negative energy flow from the bathroom?...and here i always thought it was just a negative smell...

  17. Now, about the position of my bed. You forgot to address that part. I really stink at Feng Shui, but I like the idea. Maybe if I just go buy some water fountains and place them every where. What do you think, Annie?

    Truly I need some help.

  18. This is a great article that will finally help people use Feng Shui in their lives - instead of being scared by it. If this doesn't get people excited that they too can finally make their home balanced and healthy. Thanks!

  19. I am intrigued by Feng Shui and appreciate the practical advice. I'm also thrilled to know I was practicing it without even realizing it. A few years ago I painted my south facing front door red as well. It's faded to pink now, so time to throw on another coat, but it makes me really happy.

    Great post!


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