Several years ago, I was having tea with friends at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara when the conversation turned to feng shui, the Chinese art of placement. I knew nothing about it and decided to investigate. I made several attempts to learn more by reading about feng shui, but found the books complicated and hard to apply.

Sometime later, I noticed that two local feng shui practitioners were giving a talk at Border’s. My friend Jill and I decided to attend—a decision that seemed quite innocent at the time.

Little did I suspect that it was going to turn me into a madwoman. The lecturers gave us some simple tips about things we could do in our environments to improve the chi (energy flow), along with a description of the bagua (kind of a blueprint for placement). I spent an hour or so in bed that night mentally moving furniture. I decided that my office was completely backwards, feng shui-wise, so the next morning I began rearranging things. Six hours later, my office had taken on a new airiness and was more inviting than it had ever been.

The speakers told us in order to get things flowing ahead we should move 27 objects that hadn’t been moved for a year. I had no difficulty locating 27 things that were ready for relocation. I changed mirrors and hung crystals, I fretted over sharp corners and pondered ways to soften them.

That was only the beginning. Feng shui masters had, in fact, developed a list of principles for improving business. For instance, to get the new year off to a prosperous start, they recommend greeting a new stranger every day for 27 days. Here are some other ways to add good energy to your business:

* To invite opportunity to knock, fix your front door. To further your opportunities, unblock doorways and remove stored items from behind doors.

* To support your vision and commitment, sit at a desk that is spacious, allowing room for the expansion of your ideas.

* To call forth a clear vision, hang a brass chime just inside your office door.

* To think creatively, hang a mirror to the right and to the left of your desk.

What’s particularly interesting to me about this feng shui business is that it’s a wonderful way to become more clear about the metaphors in your life. For instance, after I moved my computer to the other side of my office, I needed a longer cord. The one I had was quite tangled and I was going to just move it when I realized it would be running through my partnership area. “I don’t want tangled partnerships,” I told myself and decided to take time to straighten out the cord. 

It can get more cosmic than this, but I will resist my urge to go on about the metaphysical insights gained from moving furniture around.

“Care for our actual houses,” writes Thomas Moore, “is also care of the soul. No matter where we live, we can cultivate this wider piece of earth as a place that is integrally bound to the conditions of our hearts.” But, then, the Chinese knew that all along.


Want to know more? I highly recommend Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter which is written with the Western reader in mind.