As part of her job, Feng shui consultant Jennifer Reyneri rearranges furniture, consults ancient charts, and asks pointed questions about people's personal lives. Moving stealthily from room to room in a home or office, she strives to uncover the origins of weight gain, financial disaster, and depression by consulting ancient charts and text. She places objects in different positions and changes color schemes within the home in an effort to tweak the flow of energy and create a haven where mind, body, and spirit can relax and combat stress and disharmony. Although the spiritual principles behind the practice are not for everyone, adherents say feng shui is simply "4,000 years of common sense."
Using Ancient Teachings as a Modern Guide
Feng shui (pronounced "fung shway") is the Chinese practice of object orientation, placement, and arrangement. The phrase literally means "wind water." Followers take into consideration the energy flow throughout a structure, arranging furniture and decorations to enhance the spiritual wellness of a home or office.
According to the philosophy, energy (chi in Chinese) enters a home or office through the front door, which is deemed "the mouth of chi." That energy is then dispersed throughout the dwelling, helped or hindered by objects placed within certain sectors. People who practice feng shui use an ancient map called the Ba'Gua to determine the relationship among a number of "elements," including fame, creativity, travel, and romance. Living plants, small fishtanks, and water fountains are placed strategically throughout a structure, as signs of life and movement generally are believed to enhance energy flow and provide balance. However, laying down the correct path for chi flow takes skill and patience, and many are unable to grasp the underlying context. That's where Reyneri comes in.
As a certified feng shui consultant and proprietor of Spacelifts Feng Shui Dimensions, Reyneri works with families, individuals, and business owners to improve different sectors of their lives. She trained with Chinese feng shui masters, received her beginning certificate from Feng Shui Design in California, and earned her advanced certification in China, all in the school of Westernized feng shui, also called Black Sect Tantric Buddhism (BSTB).
Walking the Path in the Client's Home
Prior to an on-site consultation, Reyneri asks clients to fill out a detailed personal questionnaire, delving into everything from physical health to career fulfillment. The questionnaire helps her focus on what the client hopes to accomplish by adopting the practices of feng shui.
After she reviews the questionnaire, Reyneri usually visits the home or views videotape of the space. "I try to get into the right frame of mind when I enter a space, and it helps if I do a little homework before I go," Reyneri said. She walks through the space with the inhabitants, feeling the energy (or lack thereof) and trying to discover ways to divert and retain chi to benefit the area. However, working to enhance the whole structure's chi is necessary and important, as harmony and balance are important tenets of feng shui.
Feng Shui Tip: Banish Clutter
While some disruptions in chi can be remedied by furniture placement according to the tenets of feng shui, general energy dampening is caused by the most infamous decor: clutter. "The accumulation of clutter is a big problem," said Reyneri. "People are so conditioned by society that more is better, but unfortunately, if your house is full, then so is your life, and there's no room for growth."
She helps clients combat clutter in various ways, including informal ceremonies of "holding and honoring" objects before throwing them away, so owners can thank the object for the place it held in their life and then let go of it, guilt-free. Clutter can also symbolize a person's lack of trust in the future. One of Reyneri's pamphlets reads, "Keeping your home filled with things you no longer use or love, or because 'you may need it someday' indicates your lack of trust in the universe for it to provide for you."
Bet you never thought about that unruly pile of magazines on the coffee table in quite that way – or heard anyone claim its negative energy was so powerful. According to Reyneri, the negative chi created by clutter can cause fatigue; depression; disharmony; and health, financial, and relationship problems.
Belief System, Not Just Design Philosophy
The spirituality surrounding the practice of feng shui does not appeal to everyone. "It's hard when I'm working with a couple, and one is a believer and the other thinks it's hocus-pocus," said Reyneri. "The most important part of feng shui is the intention and belief behind it."
Moving objects around doesn't automatically revitalize a person's love life. "There's a psychological aspect – it taps into your subconscious because you're surrounded by it," said Reyneri. "Making a decision to adopt the principles of feng shui is a solid, physical affirmation."
"If you're making your house a haven, then you really love your place and you have given your home a soul, then you live in that affirmation," she said.
Besides, in the words of Professor Lin Yun, founder of BSTB, "It doesn't matter if you believe in feng shui or not, it just is."
So if you want to cut the clutter and release positive energy, study your ancient maps, focus on wind and water...and dream on!