The ancient practice of feng shui unleashes positive energy that manifests harmony in your home and your singular life.
Step onto the verdant patio in the back of Katherine Ann Lewis’ Hancock Park home and you’ll find yourself ducking under the lush canopy of an old, gnarly pomegranate tree. A vine loaded with orange blossoms reaches up a pumpkin-hued wall, ceramic jars overflow with jade plants and stone Buddhas sit in pebbles next to a murmuring fountain.
To an unsuspecting visitor, the setting is a lovely tranquility garden. But as Lewis explains, the space occupies the “wealth corner” of her house, and was rigorously landscaped in accordance to feng shui principles.
The pomegranate tree? “It symbolizes wealth and longevity,” Lewis declares. That violet crystal hanging from its branch, and the butternut-squash paint slathered on the wall? “They’re both in keeping with the proper colors of wealth: purple and gold.”
Over tea and dainty sandwiches Lewis, a North Carolina native with the demeanor of a proper Southern lady, explains that her tiny outdoor lounge functions as an energy magnet meant to attract positive vibrations that will enhance her professional life and yield financial benefits. It must be working, because these days, the former tax accountant is one of L.A.’s most in-demand feng shui masters — a leading local authority in an ancient Chinese practice that has gained ground with Angelenos and Americans at large.
Since she launched her company Harmony & Balance over 15 years ago, Lewis has feng shui-ed the trailers of movie stars, consulted for uber real estate developer Rick Caruso, and contributed feng shui advice for the team of architects and designers that built Santa Monica’s HBO headquarters.
“Feng shui is an exacting science,” Lewis says. “These businessmen who hired me realized that what I do is very logical, and that I’m not some airhead who shows up and waves a wand.” Next time you take a stroll at The Grove, Caruso’s best-known L.A. open-air mall, notice the winding walkways and the placement of the principal fountain: the shape, form, and precise location of these elements — all negotiated with Lewis’ advice.
But What Is It Exactly?
Feng shui — which in Chinese means, “wind, water” — is a body of theories meant to promote spiritual harmony and worldly success through the manipulation of architectural elements, landscaping, and placement of furniture. Its historic roots go back 4,000 years when it was developed to benefit Chinese emperors.
In modern times, the practice has morphed into a methodology that promises to balance and harmonize the flow of natural energies to create wealth, better health and improved relationships.
If that sounds to you like new-age gobbledygook, you are not alone. While in countries like China, Taiwan and Japan, feng shui is a respected science, Western skeptics have scoffed, calling it grist for the gullible or a harmless concept at best. Nevertheless, feng shui has been steadily burrowing into our pop culture, especially over the past decade.
The Home and Garden Television cable network launched Fun Shui, a show about remodeling homes in accordance with feng shui principles. Karen Kingston’s tome Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui sold over 2 million copies stateside since its 1998 publication. Jennifer and Kitty O’Neil, two sisters from Orinda, CA, also authored a successful book called Decorating with Funky Shui: How To Lighten Up, Loosen Up, and Have Fun Decorating Your Home — a playful take on feng shui principles.
The crash of the real estate market even yielded a micro cottage industry devoted to advice on how you can employ feng shui to make your home more attractive to potential buyers, with books such as Christine Ayers’ Sell Your Home With Feng Shui, and a Feng Shui School For Real Estate. There’s even feng shui consultants who focus on pet welfare, like New York’s Stacy H. Fucino, dubbed by the media as the “East-meets-West Vet.”
As with martial arts or yoga, the doctrine of feng shui is traditionally expressed in several schools of learning, but cornerstone to the concept of feng shui is something called a “bagua map” — a diagram that dissects the layout of your living or work space into nine specific areas that correspond to “life areas” like relationships, wealth, fame or family.
Each area comes with its own corresponding element (fire, wood, earth, metal, water) and color (red/gold, green, black, blue.) In simplified terms, the trick is to determine which area in your space corresponds to which life sector, and refurbish it so the colors, shapes and elements placed there, agree with the recommendations of the traditional bagua map.
Say, you’re a single woman who wishes for a meaningful relationship. Not necessarily marriage, but a mutually satisfying, steady connection with a member of the opposite sex. What you have to do, Lewis advises, is map out the “relationship corner” in your home.
As you’re facing in towards your apartment at the front door, it’s the far right corner. Furnish it with auspicious elements: pink orchids, because pink is the proper color for relationships, and because the Chinese word for “orchid” is similar to the word for gentleman.
To further power up the feng shui quotient, you can also decorate that corner with candles — always in pairs of two; ideally in suggested colors like pink, red or orange — or put up a photograph of something that makes you laugh (“Because you want to laugh in your relationships, don’t you?” Lewis says).
Such principles are culled from the “Black Hat” Tibetan school of feng shui, one that, Lewis maintains, is one of the most popular among her clients for its flexible, readily adapted principles that suit modern life. Other schools rely on a complex Chinese compass called Luopan, which feng shui practitioners use to calibrate an optimal flow of energy in your home starting with your front door.
Whatever the method or consultant you employ, remember that, as Lewis is fond of proclaiming, “Everything is fixable.”
Where To Find It
L.A. feng shui authority Katherine Ann Lewis a web-based consultation program. Rather than pay $300/hour for an in-person consultation, you can submit data and photographs of your home via her website, and get personalized feng shui advice at a discounted rate. (888) 525-1629 or harmonyandbalance.com
Contact Pamela Edwards, of global feng shui network Alliance Feng Shui, for consultations at (323) 463-9780.
Consultations for “space clearing” and further feng shui advice are available within the greater L.A. area with Karen Kingston-trained specialists at Space Clearing, (877) 917 7223 or spaceclearing.com.
Katy Allgeyer, a former fashion executive who has been practicing feng shui for decades and counts Donald Trump as a client, is available for consultations, at 323.309.1164 or fengshuibyfishgirl.com.
Enroll in feng shui classes at the American Feng Shui Institute, 111 N. Atlantic Blvd # 352, Monterey Park, (626) 571-2757 or amfengshui.com.
Copyright © Sorina Diaconescu / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.