plant here, a wind chime there, can work wonders with your life, claim
feng shui practitioners.
When he found
the blade of a kitchen knife pointing upwards, he knew he had reached
the heart of the problem. With a dexterous flick of his wrist, he saved
the Kapadias' marriage.
For Anuradha Kale,
it was the portrait of a sinking ship that bore ill for a business
family. Three months later, rid of the portrait, business began to
look up again.
overhanging beams, bedroom mirrors, desks and beds with their backs
to the door, wind chimes, crystals, clocks… such minutiae can make
or break our lives, says feng shui.
shway', this Chinese science of correcting the energy of a building
is gradually gaining ground over its Indian counterpart, vaastu shastra.
Where vaastu advocates
expensive measures, such as breaking down walls or relocating rooms,
feng shui is content with symbolic 'cures'.
Is the toilet
wall adjoining the bedroom giving you restless sleep? Place the picture
of a mountain on the wall to block the toilet's energies. Is your career
graph on a downward swing? Place a metallic leaping frog on your desk.
Correct wrong directions by placing mirrors, transform inauspicious
zones. In short, buy happiness for the price of a potted plant, a crystal
bowl and the color red.
No wonder feng
shui is skyrocketing into an international trend. Real estate developer
Donald Trump used it to design a skyscraper. Hollywood actor Johnny
Depp hires a feng shui pro "to purify my living space". Body Shop owner
Anita Roddick is another happy convert.
The Midland Bank,
one of the most successful banks in the world, designed its head office
after feng shui consultation. In the 1990s, the Credit Lyonnais bank
produced a feng shui stock market index that accurately predicted Hong
Kong stock market's moves.
There is even
a magazine called Feng Shui for Modern Living published from London.
In India, feng shui is still new, having entered the country courtesy
London-based practitioner Kajal Sheth. But the awareness is picking
up. India Book Distributors (IBD), based in Mumbai, India, have designed
their new bookshop, Fountainhead, according to feng shui specifications.
Says IBD's marketing manager Melroy Dickson: "We were inspired by the
US-based Chain Borders, a bookstore that recently opened a feng shui-correct
store in Singapore."
enjoyed by vaastu has increased people's receptivity to feng shui.
But does it work? Says Bhavesh Vadia, who had earlier worked with pyramids
and vaastu, "I arranged my work desk according to feng shui and placed
my portrait in the fame area. Soon, The Week (a newsmagazine brought
out from India) interviewed me."
Lizia Batla, who
practices Flying Star, a variation of feng shui, was drawn to it by
her concern for her physically challenged son. Through it, she discovered
her earlier home was potentially injurious. Now, in a new harmonized
home, she claims her son is 70 per cent better.
a practitioner based in Delhi, India, however, feels that feng shui
is not just about the correct placement of objects. "It is a way of
life. And, like all other disciplines, your lifestyle has to be in
harmony with feng shui principles for it to be truly effective." Chadha,
who was initiated by his guru R. Ranganathan, does both consultancy
and workshops. "I recommend workshops," says Chadha, "since if you
understand the principles, you can harmonies your house."
Says Jenny Liu,
architect: "Your house is an extension of yourself, just like a shirt
that you can wear. If you were to wear the shirt so that your neck
sticks out through the sleeve, you would not function well."
Feng shui means
wind (feng) and water (shui). It was originally used to locate auspicious
sites for graveyards. Gradually though, feng shui began to be used
for dwellings as well.
The system enables
the harmonious flow of ch'i—Indian equivalent of prana or life force.
Feng shui maximizes positive energy (sheng ch'i) and eliminates malign
energy (sha ch'i). The emerging grid, pa kua, includes the four principal
directions—east, west, north, south—as well as the ancillary directions—southeast,
southwest, northeast and northwest.
Unlike the standard
compass, the lo pan (Chinese compass) has the south facing upward.
Each principal direction has an animal attached to it. The auspicious
dragon is in the east, the white tiger in the west, the phoenix in
the south and the tortoise in the north.
are symbolized by mountains and their uniting place is said to be the
zone of maximum ch'i. However, the dragon range of mountains (or buildings)
should be taller than the tiger, for the dragon stands for the expansive,
positive, yang energy, while the tiger stands for the nurturing, negative,
yin energy. Each direction also has its own element, associated with
a specific season and color.
The five elements
are wood, fire, water, metal and earth. South is the home of fire,
summer and the color red. East gets the element of wood, spring and
the color green. North, the winter zone, draws water and the colors
blue or black. West contains metal, associated with autumn and the
colors white, gold or silver. The center of the pa kua contains the
fifth element, earth, whose colors are brown and yellow.
is also associated with a specific aspiration. South equates with fame,
southwest with relationships, west with children, northwest with new
beginnings, north with career prospects, northeast with education,
east with family and health, and southeast with prosperity.
So, how do you
use this pa kua? Assume that you wish to enhance your wealth area.
This is the southeast corner, ruled by wood and associated with green.
So, you can put plants or the color green in that particular corner.
However, only plants with gently rounded leaves, such as the money
plant, will make the grade.
Feng shui also
uses the production and destruction cycles whereby each element produces
and destroys the other. Since water produces wood, you could put a
fountain or an aquarium. Wind chimes, chiming clocks, mirrors and crystals
will further enhance the area concerned. Since metal destroys wood,
avoid metal implements in your southeast corner.
the flow of chi, practitioners prescribe clearing clutter. Clutter
could mean old paper, old clothes, shoes, things you haven't used for
the last two years. "Eliminate clutter and 80 per cent of your work
is done," says feng shui practitioner Anuradha Kale. In many ways,
all feng shui requires from you is good housekeeping. Don't let your
tablecloth be smeared with yesterday's curry stains, don't let your
calendar reflect last month's date, don't let cobwebs accumulate.
Feng shui also
advises you to guard against anything that is straight and pointed.
Straight roads, sharp angles, dead trees, electric towers are all killing
arrows. Protect yourself creating a screen—a wall or a row of trees—between
you and the offending object.
HARMONY AT HOME
Wind chimes, plants,
screens, drapes, mirrors and lights help enhance ch'i.
Metal wind chimes
are good in the west and northwest corners of the house.
Sharp edges of
furniture, protruding corners, square pillars and overhead beams create
unhealthy ch'i. Soften them with plants and mirrors.
The main door
should never open into a cramped hall or a staircase. Place a screen
in-between or curve the bottom of the stairs.
not be located in the north as this flushes away career opportunities.
In case of odd-shaped
rooms, expand the missing area with mirrors. Never arrange living room
furniture in an L-shape. Prefer a hexagonal pattern.
sharp objects such as swords, knives, firearms or hunting trophies
on the wall. They generate negative energy and cause disharmony.
Place potted plants
or flowers in the east (artificial flowers are inauspicious).
with beauty and keep such objects above eye-level to have an aspirational
orientation to life.
Never sit with
your back to the door or directly in front of it.
Always keep the
toilet seat down and the doors of toilet and bathroom closed.
Remove all clutter
and keep your dustbin covered.
water taps. A leaking tap means loss of wealth.
electrical items and non-working clocks.
make sure that your body is not reflected in any mirror.
Feng shui's more
accessible tenor is winning new converts everyday. At the same time,
the field is so unregulated that it encourages fly-by-night operators.
The reiki phenomenon is evidently repeating itself here.
Kajal is quite
vocal about the Pandora's box she has helped open. "Practicing feng
shui on others' houses is a grave responsibility," she says. She maintains
that the courses she has taught only equip the participants to practice
in their own homes. But how do you choose a good practitioner? "Check
out their credentials," suggests Lizia. "They should be able to use
the lo pan," adds Kajal.
warns against taking feng shui too seriously. "It can only minimize
ill effects during a bad period and uplift a good period. The second
crucial factor is your own attitude. It's no use correcting the kitchen
if you are going to eat in front of the TV."
There you have
it. Feng shui works, but in degrees. It won't lead your life for you,
but it can help you take some measure of control over it. And it can
enhance your level of harmony. What more do you want?