“Feng shui is the channelling and blending of chi, the subtle energy that flows through everything in the universe,” explains Paul Darby author of The Feng Shui Doctor. Try his 8 tips to bring harmony to your dining room.
The basis of feng shui
The words feng shui literally mean “wind” and “water”. They refer to the flowing motion of chi, the energy that exists throughout the universe. Feng shui, pronounced “fung schway” (or “fong choy”), involves assessing and adjusting the energies in each part of your environment – landscape, light, colour, spaces, objects – in order to enhance the flow of chi around and within you. Everything in your world affects you. In turn, you act on the energies in your surroundings, and you can even change those energies consciously.
What feng shui is – and what it isn’t
Some people ask me if feng shui is just about moving furniture around, to which I reply flippantly, “No – that’s another ‘ancient mystical Chinese remedy’ called ‘the removal van’!” Feng shui is, however, very much about using well-thought-out arrangements of spaces and objects to produce a flow of natural energy that feels right.
How feng shui fits into your life
In traditional Chinese belief, feng shui was seen as one of five aspects of a good life. These aspects are usually given, in order of precedence, as: destiny, luck, feng shui, virtue and knowledge.
Destiny (or karma) is the fate that awaits you in this lifetime as a result of your good or bad deeds in previous lives. Luck, or merit, is the good or bad fortune that you attract with your actions in this life. Feng shui is the way in which you interact with your physical and spiritual environment. Virtue and knowledge are the personal qualities that you can use to bring about your own success.
In this way of thinking, you don’t have total control of your life, but you’re not a helpless pawn of fate either. You’re influenced by your inheritance and environment, but you can still build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses to improve your circumstances. By enabling you to understand and alter your surroundings, feng shui is one method that you can use to change your life for the better.
Feng shui is a subtle and complex art. A skilled practitioner giving a full consultation will create a blend of energies that is uniquely suited to the client, the energy of their surroundings and the ways in which the client wants to change their life. However, the fundamental ideas and techniques are easy for anyone to learn.
Just try the 8 steps below, and you’ll notice the positive change it has on one of the key living spaces in any home.
8 tips to feng shui your dining room
1. Choosing and positioning the table
Your dining table should be large but fit comfortably in the room. Oval or round shapes are best, but if your table is rectangular, you can balance it with rounded shapes such as rugs in the rest of the room. It’s best to place the table at the centre of the dining room and turn it at a slight angle in relation to the walls, so the chi will flow in a gentle, curving path around the room. If you put the table straight and parallel with the walls, the chi will be channelled in a straight line through the room or around the edges, and may get trapped in the corners.
2. Seating arrangements
In feng shui, it’s good practice to seat the oldest family member or an important guest in the “honoured guest” position at the table. This is the seat furthest from the door, with solid walls behind it and offering a good view of the door and windows. If possible, place all the seats so that no one has his or her back to a door or large window, because this “weak” position may leave that person feeling insecure. This problem is especially likely with round tables.
3. Setting your table
In general, plain colours and simple shapes are best to promote the calming energy you need around the table. If you prefer a pattern, opt for one based on just one or two main colours. Vertical stripes are ideal because they symbolize uplifting energy. However, busy patterns splinter the chi. To get the most benefit from your tableware, keep items in good condition and discard any chipped plates, bowls or glasses.
4. Table displays
A rounded bowl filled with rounded fruit, in the centre of the table, is excellent feng shui; the more food you show, the more “richness of life” you possess. Many fruits have special significance: you could choose apples to boost friendship, pears for energy, peaches for health and oranges for richness. You can include other favourite fruits as well. Flowers are also a lovely decoration. Yellow ones are ideal to enhance communication. Silk, paper or plastic flowers are also fine. However, don’t use dried flowers because they represent decay and stagnation.
5. Lucky energy
The table and the area around it need to be “loaded with luck” (chuang ho hsing yun). To nurture goodness in the chi, have a few large, soft-leaved plants near the table if they suit the pa kua location. Pictures that give you feelings of pleasure and abundance will also help; good subjects include bright flowers, rounded fruit and sunny landscapes.
Keep electrical items, including TVs and stereos, out of the dining room; their energy is too yang. In addition, remove any clocks, because they are unwelcome reminders of the passing of time. A dining room should be “eternal” (yung yuan te).
6. Calming colours
The chi in a dining room needs to be more yin than yang, to help create a pleasant, relaxing feel. To stimulate yin chi, base the decor on pastel or neutral colours. For large areas such as walls, single colours are best. You can always use ornaments and pictures, or a display area with items that suit the pa kua location, to add splashes of brighter colours. Try to avoid having highly patterned wallpaper, which can splinter the chi. If you already have this problem, remedy it by putting up abstract pictures in strong, plain colours appropriate for the pa kua location.
7. Lighting and mirrors
Lighting needs to be soft and calming. Wall-mounted lights equipped with dimmer switches are a good idea, because you can alter the lighting levels to suit your mood or a special occasion. A mirror will also soften the light. Choose one with a suitable frame for that sector, or with bevelled edges. A large mirror reflecting the dining table and showing food such as a bowl of fruit will double “life wealth”. However, a mirror should never reflect a kitchen or bathroom or it will double bad energy from these areas.
8. The water of life
Clean, flowing water symbolizes luck, energy, health and “richness of life”. A small water feature or aquarium will benefit most locations. Alternatively, you could have one or two water symbols, such as shells, or a picture of flowing water. However, don’t use water items in the northeast, south or southwest; they clash with the chi of these sectors.
Goldfish signify luck, and are ideal for an aquarium. Three or nine are the most beneficial numbers; include one black fish to represent protection. If you like tropical fish, have golden platys and a black mollie.