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April 1999 Issue
by Jenny Wojcik
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As we travel headlong into the millenium, there’s a lot of talk about a lot of things that might happen and plenty of speculation about what will happen. Here’s one of my own thoughts on the subject. That is quite simply that we are turning inward, upward, above and beyond to try and determine the path called our future. We’re looking for guidance and direction and listening to inner voices that even computers cannot stop, regardless of their Y2K aptitude. And as a result, we’re decorating and accessorizing our homes with a more soulful bent.

I’d almost bet that anyone who is interested in interior decorating has heard of Feng Shui (pronounced fung-shway). It’s a millennia-old body of knowledge -- an integrated philosophy and system of thought -- that is believed to create the energy or chi (chee) that nourishes our lives and ourselves. It is applicable to any human environment, from skyscraping buildings to a simple tabletop, and Feng Shui principles bring the things that we surround ourselves with into a more harmonious alignment and balance.

While it may seem mystical to some, employing the use of Feng Shui has been proven to change the way our homes look and feel and thereby alter and nourish our futures. Feng Shui’s goal is to create an environment that nurtures us in every way. Many interior designers and architects have started to use the principals of Feng Shui in planning room layouts, while decorators select lighting fixtures, wall colors and position furniture to enhance the ambiance and increase the energy level (chi) of the home. In short, we’re creating soulful environments.

Having a soulful environment doesn’t necessarily mean religion per se; it is more of an awareness of those things that are spiritual or meaningful in our lives. The soulful look may involve bits of old, paired with new, and almost always involves a cluster of candles, and some incense or some form of Aromatherapy.

As we search for inner peace, we can begin in our homes. Let’s look for order rather than chaos, clean as opposed to clutter and serene rather than bizarre. Let’s purchase items for our homes that bring us pleasure, and surround ourselves with friends and loved ones, rather than settling for something we don’t really like and cluttering up our lives with those people and things that bring us down. While this is not by definition Feng Shui, they are things that promote happiness and harmony -- a goal of Feng Shui.

We have spirituality in our lives that require expression, and spaces for that expression are taking their rightful place in our homes. We may simply need a quiet place to write, to think, to meditate or pray. We crave quiet, private and natural places to escape -- to hang crystals or read the tarot, the Koran, the catechism, a prayer book or a bible. We may require space for yoga, or tai chi. The point is that all of us need a peaceful place within our houses or apartments to regularly nourish our souls.

Creating soulful spaces within our homes does not mean building altars or shrines. It simply means having a space that one can retreat to for solace, or relief. It can be anywhere you are comfortable, and can be any size, from a hallway to a quiet corner of a room. Once you’ve chosen the location, create it by surrounding yourself with the things you love the most, omitting everything that brings you down or distracts you from your peaceful experience. Perhaps having nothing around you brings you the most comfort. If that is the case, then surround yourself in minimalist style.

If you are at your most serene comfort level in candlelight, light candles. If morning’s first light is your energy source, then pick a spot that faces east. If your heart sings when you hear wind chimes, then hang them near a vent, a door, or a fan. If flickering firelight enlivens you, migrate to the fireplace. If meditation for you means sitting cross-legged in total darkness or bathed in light, do it.

Feng Shui is one philosophy -- you may have another. Just remember that it isn’t a religion or a doctrine that you follow. There are no Feng Shui cults that I’m aware of.

There are many excellent sources for additional information on Feng Shui, as well as books on the subject of creating peaceful spaces in our homes. Chris Casson Madden, a decorator, author and HGTV host recently wrote a book titled: A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces (Clarkson Potter). In this work, she chronicles the private spaces of 37 women -- some more famous than others. The book evolved out of a personal need for a "soulful" space, and Ms. Madden turned her 10 year old son’s former bedroom into her own retreat, complete with a comfortable chaise lounge, prayer cards, photos and family momentos.

Perhaps a soulful room is just what you’re looking for -- that you have to decide for yourself. In Feng Shui we learn that the things in our environment do one of two things; they either nurture us or they deplete our life-sustaining energy. So why not try surrounding yourself with things that make your heart sing? Nirvana it may not be, but it can be your place of refuge and peace.



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