Going With the Flow

kung fu

Fu-ey.

During our initial consultation, Laura explained that feng shui, which translates as “wind-water,” is a 5,000-year-old Chinese art (and science) that aims to align you in a balanced and harmonious way with the energies of where you live and work. I paid close attention. Oh, did I happen to mention that Laura is young and beautiful?

I told her about my life, my kids, my girlfriend, my job and my cynicism about most things, including what she does for a living. I told her that I feel stuck and can’t seem to make any real change.

“Once you put some simple feng shui methods to work and infuse the changes you make with intention,” she said calmly, not unlike David Carradine in Kung Fu, “you will let go and feng shui will take off with a synchronicity of its own.”

As we toured my apartment, Laura noted that it had an interesting flow of energy. She took photos of each room and commented on how neat it was, which apparently plays right in to the discipline’s emphasis on de-cluttering and detoxing.

Then we sat down to discuss the bagua, a sort of treasure map for your life that addresses eight key areas such as relationships, health, wealth and career. Laura told me feng shui’s five elements — fire, earth, metal, water, wood — were manifestations of chi or “universal energy.” Each element is associated with a particular accent color, and it’s important to have a balance of all five in your home.

I smiled politely and nodded along.

For the next three hours, Laura schooled me in the methods of feng shui, and made countless suggestions — called “cures” — for every nook and cranny in my apartment. She recommended hanging bells from my front door to “ring in the money” and crystals in my bathroom to deflect “miscommunication of energy.” Apparently, the bathroom is a major drain on wealth and health, and it’s important to always keep the door closed, to say nothing of the seat down.

She made a few observations, however, that meant a lot to me. For instance, I have photographs of my two sons hanging all over my place, and Laura noticed how they’re not smiling in any of them. I had always thought they were beautiful shots and a little arty.

“These photos are for your own peace of mind and for when your sons come to visit,” she said. “If you change them, they’ll see themselves not looking sad, and this will help you all reconnect with happy moments.”

She then pointed to an antique schoolhouse clock hanging on my living room wall. “Feng shui isn’t too keen on clocks,” she noted. “Especially ones that don’t work.” She saw mine as a symbol of my feeling stuck, and I have to admit that gave me chills.

Laura urged me to pay attention to the smallest things and to be aware of the energy that they carry. She picked up a tiny curio with my wedding picture that was tucked away in a corner on a miniature shelf in the living room.

“How does it make you feel? Does it bother you to see it every time you walk through the front door? Has your girlfriend said anything about it?” she asked. “If you’ve ended or are in the process of ending a relationship, it’s important to let go of objects associated with the past.”

Before Laura split, she said we needed to perform a “space clearing” or “house blessing.” This meant combining my personal intentions (the stuff in the red envelopes) with her intentions for the consultation. She reminded me once more that nothing would change if I didn’t take physical actions. She took the first one, burning a stick of sage, which is used to clear out negative emotions and energy.

“Space clearings always bring the truth to the surface,” she said, quoting her mom. “While at the same time, when the sage burns, the smoke carries your true intentions to the universe.”

She then chanted what she called “the six true words” as she walked around my apartment. Every time she finished a blessing, it was my job to make a chime with two small steel bells, to enhance the blessing and send intentions to the universe. By now the universe, I thought, must be sick to death of hearing from me.

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