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How to feng shui your living room
Samyukta Bhowmick
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April 08, 2006

By correct application of feng shui (pronounced "fung shway"), it is believed that you can achieve perfect harmony in your surroundings, and then by extension, your life. It is based on the concept of "chi", or life energy, and its goal is to promote a healthy flow of this energy.

Nowadays, when terms like pranayama and Pilates are all-pervasive, I probably haven't said anything you don't already know. But what about practically appyling these principles? How would you feng shui a personal space to ensure a healthy flow of positive energy? No, dehumidifiers do not enter into it.

First of all, corners and alcoves will deaden the flow of chi, and should be paid special attention to. Try to light up corners with lamps, or liven up the area by hanging a favourite painting - preferably one that is colourful.

Another trick is to put a potted plant (with round leaves, never straight or spiky) in this space. Try and create wide spaces also by strategically placing a mirror to make your living room look bigger.

However, mirrors if badly placed can create negative energy, so make sure that it is placed so that it reflects something you'd like to see more of, such as the view from a window.

By the same token of space, try to not clutter your living room up with too much furniture. Also, don't give your TV or sound system a place of importance; your TV's electromagnetic waves may interfere with the flow of chi.

Since feng shui is also about balancing masculine and feminine elements (yin and yang), try and incorporate soft cushions or flowers into a room to make it a little more feminine. Don't use dried flowers though; these are inauspicious according to Chinese tradition.

The layout of your room should encourage relaxation, so make sure that the furniture isn't pushed up against the walls, but in a more intimate, maybe circular formation, so that your guests feel comfortable. A guest should ideally sit facing the door.

If you're interested in the more technical aspects of feng shui, you can use what is known as a Ba-gua. You simply have to find out which direction your house is facing, and then superimpose a map that encompasses eight areas of your life (career, education, family, wealth, fame, relationships, children and travel).

You may find that certain things are clicking into place, for instance the reason you're not getting that coveted raise at work could be because you've very rashly placed a cactus in your home's wealth corner. Try putting a fish bowl or an aquarium into a corner you'd like to see more progress in; round-leaved plants, crystals or windchimes work just as well.

Finally, you can do some very basic things, such as keep your entryway clear of clutter. This is where chi will enter your home, so you need to do what you can to keep it light and open. Don't put a mirror right opposite your door, as this will deflect all this energy right out.

Don't get too bogged down; you don't want a living room to burs with goldfish or every corner shrieking with windchimes. Even if you don't believe in the concept of feng shui, these principles also relate to healthy living - clearing your living room of clutter and strategically placed mirrors, for instance, will probably also add to the aesthetic of your primary living space, and this can't be a bad thing.

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