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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Decorating feng shui style

Reducing clutter, introducing positive energy key elements to ancient Chinese practice

Alissa Koenig had chi problems. The senior didn't go to the health center, didn't consult her friends and didn't seek professional help. Instead, she cleaned her room, painted her walls and hung silky pink imitation roses around her bedroom. Disaster averted, her chi was in good shape again and life was better than ever.\nFeng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of living harmoniously with the energy of the surrounding environment, is practiced worldwide, with many satisfied practitioners and consultants who swear by its results. With an open mind and a few simple (and cheap) feng shui techniques, even students living in a cramped residence hall room can experiment with the energy of their surroundings to find success in studies, fortune or love.\nFeng What?\nCitibank uses it. British Airways uses it. Donald Trump uses it. Many successful companies and people practice feng shui (pronounced as "fung shuay") in their homes and offices. With plants, chimes and fountains, they maximize positive energy in their environments, with pleasing results. Sounds simplistic, but feng shui is more than interior decorating. \n"It is a way of life, feng shui," said Guy Ferru, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine in Atlanta, Ga., and practitioner for more than 28 years.\nFeng shui translates from Chinese literally as "wind and water." When together, these elements of nature reflect balance. It centers around the idea that energy in the environment, called chi, directly affects a person's health, happiness and success. Stephen Bokenkamp, professor of East Asian languages and culture, described the many facets of feng shui.\n"Chi (also spelled Qi) is in everything. It is the early Chinese idea of the building block of everything in the universe," he said. "It can be stagnant, which is called yin energy, or moving, which is called yang energy." \n"To practice feng shui is to situate yourself in your environment in a harmonizing way to bring good fortune and catch moving energy. You want to get the moving chi, the yang."\nFeng shui practitioners use an octagonal map, called a bagua, to plot various types of energy throughout every room. Each sector of the room represents a different aspect of life, such as career, knowledge or romance, with different energies flowing through each. Adjusting the environment by moving furniture or adding accessories changes the corresponding energy flow.\nFerru said improvement can come easily. \n"You need a compass. You find north and then use the bagua to determine the sectors of the room. The southeast corner, for example, is for money. So to increase the money flow, you can buy a small fountain or you can have a picture of flowing water to create the vibration of that flowing energy," he said. "The water must move, as you want the energy to move. No tsunamis -- you will be overpowered by money problems. No still ponds -- your money will not move. But oceans or gently moving streams will increase your fortune."\nWhat feng shui can do for you\nKoenig learned of the powers of feng shui from her mother, who knew she was having trouble adjusting to school life. \n"I had a lot of problems studying," Koenig said. "I am so easily distracted, and I had no down time to recover after a killer day. My mom thought balancing my energy would help. She'd been into feng shui since I left for school."\nKoenig's mother, Sonya Koenig of Chicago, said in her experience with feng shui "the most important thing that happens is that one becomes conscious of their environment and looks to see where their issues lie in life at present and whether they would like to see some improvement."\nThe positive things in the room create a positive energy (yang), and adversely, negative items or events in the room affect the psyche of the inhabitant negatively. \n"I had to get rid of all the flowers -- maybe five dozen -- that my boyfriend had given me," Koenig said. She liked the boyfriend and the flowers. But the flowers were dried -- dead. And dead is negative. So she threw out the dry and faded red petals.\n"My boyfriend was mad," she said. "But he got over it, and I just had to get used to fake flowers." \nShe now resides in a room adorned with dusty pink and pale plum roses; faux, of course. Smooth yellow and periwinkle walls -- which Koenig said are both positive feng shui colors -- create a lively and cheerful background for her daily activities. \n"I feel more energy, feel more positive and can get out of bed more easily in the morning before class. With feng shui, there's just less (hassle) in your life," she said. "When I keep it going, I really do notice a difference."\nTo feng shui or not to feng shui\nThe skeptics out there are not alone. Koenig said she was not an immediate enthusiast. \n"I basically did it in the beginning to please my mom," she said. "She's always been into energies, zodiacs -- the whole works. So I did it because she thought it would work. It did."\nFeng shui, originating in the ninth century in China, has been more recently accepted in the West. \n"World awareness is a part of the growth in acceptance. There's much more contact with people in other cultures these days than there used to be," Bokenkamp said.\nTraditionally used in the Far East as a way to choose the best grave sites, it's now practiced worldwide. Feng shui teacher and consultant Carol Bridges of Nashville, Ind., has clients ranging in age from 13 to 80. \n"They're from all different walks of life," she said. "There's not really just one type of person who practices."\nJocelyn Chia, a senior from Singapore, said she does not practice, but is reluctant to write it off. \n"My mom believes in it, and thinks our present house has good feng shui and won't sell it. And I guess it's worth a try, as long as it's not expensive. They say it can affect your love life, your prosperity. There's no harm, and a chance for good."\nChia brings to mind an important point for cashless students. Feng shui need not cost much, if anything, Bridges said.\n"Every little thing helps, even if you just have a dorm room to work with. Arranging it according to feng shui -- getting rid of the stagnation in the room -- would help." \nYou might have to invest in a compass, but other than that, you don't need much funding.

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