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Alternative Health: Feng Shui

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Perhaps you wake up every morning, get out of bed and immediately kick over a dirty cereal bowl. Or maybe certain areas of your life constantly feel like the intersection between the 101 and the 405; a permanent clusterfuck. Whatever the reason, feng shui (fung shway) can give you the kick you need to start making changes.

Skeptics may balk at the idea, envisioning new-age mysticism or another year of magical thinking. But the ancient Chinese art relies on neither. "Feng shui is a way of organizing and arranging your surroundings so you feel empowered," says best-selling author of "Feng Shui Your Life," Jayme Barrett. "It allows you to have a space that's supporting your vision for your life, so that you feel happy, healthy and motivated."

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Sounds like those ancient Chinese may have been on to something! But how does the beginner here in the Western world know where to start?

"In feng shui, there are two things that come into play," says Barrett. "There's the energy flow of the space, and then there's the psychology or the symbolism of the space."

After flowing through the front door, she says, energy should be able to move around your apartment or house freely. Having too much crap lying around your apartment stops up energy like a banana in a tailpipe, and when energy isn't moving naturally, it can result in your feeling stuck.

Knowing what to get rid of is a matter of taking stock of how your possessions make you feel. "You want to look at items in your home and say, 'Is this helping my energy or is it depleting my energy?'" says Berrett. "If you have enough things in your home that are bringing your energy down, you're going to feel bad."

For example: let's say that Grandma gave you a porcelain chatchke for Hanukkah - again. You love her, you do not love the chatchke. Every time you look at the chatchke, you wish it would send itself back to Florida. This toxic mixture of hate for the item and guilt over wanting to throw it away is - wait for it - actually bad for you. Feng shui instructs you to get rid of the chatchke, and know that grandma (probably) wouldn't want you to have something in your home that made you feel bad, anyway.

With these principles in mind, it might be tempting to think that simply filling a garbage bag with crappy gifts and tossing it in the dumpster will help redirect your life. But feng shui doesn't let you off the hook that easily. "It's about bringing positive energy and positive choices into the way you think and into your relationships," Barrett says, "as well as in decorating your surroundings."

That means that changes should be conscientious, deliberate and sometimes difficult. To help you in your journey, Ms. Barrett helped us put together a list of the top five things you can do to get started in your feng shui, right here, right now.

Start Feng Shui Today

1. Clean Clutter and Organize.
Clutter gets in your way both literally and figuratively. By clearing it out, not only do you allow energy to flow more easily, but you open up space for something new to come into your life. "If you're looking for a job, for example, maybe you'll need a suit, and your closet is filled with jeans," says Barrett. "Create actual space for a suit."

2. Bring Nature Indoors: Natural Sunlight, Live Plants and Moving Water.
You don't have to have a stream running through your studio, but here's some enticement: "In feng shui," says Barrett, "water represents money. If you have moving water in your space, that means money is circulating." A small table fountain will do the trick. As for sunlight, open those blinds. And for plants, Barrett suggests anything with rounded edges: Jade, pothos, peace lilies or lucky bamboo.

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3. Color Therapy.
Every color brings a different energy. And you don't have to paint the whole wall; get a pillow, a throw, a vase, or a picture frame.
CALMING: Light blue, light green, lavender.
MOTIVATION: Red, orange, yellow.
GROUNDING: Deep brown, beige, neutrals.
And finally, says Barrett, "Pink is one of my favorite colors, because pink is the color of opening the heart."

4. Toilet Seats Down, Bathroom Door Closed.
Water represents money and wealth, and the one place where water drains out is in the bathroom. By keeping the seat down (ahem, gentlemen) and the door closed, the energy of wealth circulating in the rest of your house doesn't, literally, go down the drain. It may also behoove to put a nightlight or small plant in the old WC to keep energy moving around.

5. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary for Love and Rest.
"Your bedroom is a place where you need to protect yourself," says Barrett. "Make a statement that this place is for my rest, my relaxation, and to de-stress." So, get that clutter out. Put up a piece of art that you like, that will be the first thing you see in the morning. Barrett also suggests placing your bed against a solid wall, not one that has a window behind it, and removing pictures of people that you love but that occasionally make you a little insane, like your parents or children.


Manifestation Board. Put up a board in a prominent spot with images and words that reflect what you hope to accomplish. The name of the TV show you want to be cast in, the image of someone buying your screenplay, or a picture of that girl in marketing with a quote of her saying that she's in love with you.

Feng shui might seem daunting, but in the end, it's a process of getting in touch with yourself a little more. Says Barrett, "You know your home and you know yourself. You need to create the best environment for yourself to thrive."

For a personal consultation with Jayme Barrett, call 310-452-9737.

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