Everybody Feng Shui tonight

Joey Garcia

My wife has become convinced that our “life would radically improve” if we had our house Feng Shui’d. I love her, but in the last few years she has flitted from one bizarre concept to another, trying to improve herself. She’s great, as is. We read your column together and know you’ll tell us the truth about Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is a fairly complex architectural theory that has guided the location and design of buildings in Asia for centuries. C. Thomas Mitchell and Jiangmei Wu, authors of Living Design, believe Americans have reduced Feng Shui to “the art of placement, the placement being crystals and mirrors. As a result, Feng Shui books can usually be found between Tarot and numerology rather than architecture or design.”

Architects in China freely admit that they hire Feng Shui practitioners out of respect for tradition, but don’t follow all suggestions because it compromises their art. U.S. practitioners credit Asia’s economic strength solely to Feng Shui and promise wealth and peace for anyone who hires them to rearrange a room’s contents. The American naiveté about the reality of life elsewhere in the world and our lack of education about the impact of culture and religion on economics work in favor of Feng Shui promoters. So does our attraction to exotica.

“What certainly seems wrong is the idea that Westerners who import the forms and artifacts of another culture, without adopting its belief and value system, will experience the same results that are found in its original context. The ‘magical’ results of Feng Shui application probably have less to do with design per se than with faith in what the design represents,” write Mitchell and Wu.

Sara Rossbach, Feng Shui practitioner and author, writes: “For all the mystery that surrounds it, Feng Shui evolved from the simple observation that people are affected, for good and ill, by surroundings: the layout and orientation of workplaces and homes.” Designs we can live with must come from inside (knowing what we want) not the outside (someone else’s ideal). In Living in Style Without Losing Your Mind, Marco Passanella writes that Feng Shui “… seems to be favored by the same people who seek spiritual enlightenment through aromatherapy and Yanni CDs. Besides, ever notice how ugly Feng Shui-guided rooms are? So don’t rely on your furniture placement for enlightenment. Aim for contentment instead.”

Your wife may simply be playing with theories. If so, why not join in the fun? Engage in the process and forget the promised outcome. If she is really searching for self-esteem, spiritual counseling can support her in realizing her own inner riches and peace.

My husband had a spiritual awakening at a meditation retreat last fall. Now he meditates daily after work until dinner and sometimes returns until bedtime. I know it’s important, but I feel like a single parent. Please help me deal with this.

You haven’t been abandoned, just presented with an opportunity to heal your experiences and beliefs about abandonment. Do this before talking to your husband. Otherwise you might project it on him and then feel guilty because he is engaged in a “spiritual” activity. If you’re jealous, commit to some personal time for yourself. You might also try a weekly evening of family meditation.

Meditation of the week
“Don’t be ashamed of your possessions,” writes interior designer Marco Passanella. Well, I’m not ashamed of the stuffed donkey the priests gave me one Easter when I was three years old or my old 45s or even my ratty post-divorce furniture, but I do possess a few beliefs like “I’m not enough” or “I’m fatally flawed” that I hide from myself at times. And you?

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