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Master Aaron Lee Koch
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A Sampling from Past
"Feng Shui - Ask The Practitioner" Columns


Dear Practitioner,
I have been in a series of bad relationships, and I really want things to change.  What can I do to create a better love life for myself?
Howell, NJ
Dear Nancy,
While there are many factors that go into a good relationship, good feng shui can definitely help!  Take the following steps:
¨       remove distractions (TV, exercise machines, etc.) from the bedroom
¨       remove all mirrors from your bedroom, especially if they reflect the bed
¨       replace pictures of single persons or animals with pictures of happy couples
¨       ensure that both sides of your bed are easily accessible
¨       place a pair of manderin ducks or lovebirds, made of rose quartz, porcelain, or clay, in the southwest corner of your bedroom
¨       place a pair of red or pink scented candles in the southwest corner of your bedroom
¨       place a large round earthenware pot or jar in the southwest sector of your home

Dear Practitioner,
For financial reasons, I became interested in Feng Shui last summer when I lost my job. I bought a book about it, purchased a compass, tied a red ribbon around one of my plants, put some coins underneath it, and faced it southeast. Also, put crystals in the front windows of my house facing east. My front door is white with a small covered porch (with chimes) facing east. There is a straight wide walkway from the front porch to the sidewalk and a tree on the street side of the sidewalk. I cannot change the walkway from straight to curved.

How can I improve my chances of prosperity after being laid off from a job I liked a lot? What else could I do to improve the nature and flow of energy into my environment?

Binghamton, NY
Dear Barbara,
It sounds like there are problems with the energy coming through your front door. Since the main door of your house impacts the flow of "chi" throughout the house, these problems need attention.
Is the tree directly facing your front door? If it is a distance away, a metal wind chime between the door and the tree will deflect the "poison arrow". The wind chime should not be directly in front of the door, and its size and positioning should insure that nobody will walk or sit under it. However, if the tree is so close and imposing as to block the positive energy coming in, then it is advisable to place a small Pa Kua mirror over the door as a defensive measure. This is an octagon-shaped symbol with a small mirror in the center. It is available with flat, convex, or concave mirrors. In this case, a flat mirror should be used. Make sure, at the very least, that no branches are pointing right at your door. If so, those branches should be removed. Place a large black mat on the porch in front of the door.
Although you cannot reroute your walkway, you can still slow down the rushing energy aimed directly at your front door. Use bushes, flower beds, or lights located along both sides of the walkway but not opposite each other. This will produce a slower meandering flow of energy.
Ensure that your entryway is well lit, inside and out. The porch should have a bright light, and a crystal chandelier would be ideal for the entry hall. These can be purchased at most home centers and needn’t be expensive.
I am very sorry that you lost a job that you liked, however I take the attitude that when one door in life closes there is a better door waiting to be opened. Rather than feeling bad about what was lost, be open to the possibility that far better opportunities are waiting for you to snatch them up! Decide what you really want to do next, prepare yourself adequately, and let the world get out of your way!
Here are a couple of power tips to help you along:
Place a water feature in the north sector of your home (but not in your bedroom). This will help to activate your career prospects. A small fountain would be great. Or, if you like fish and can give them the care and attention they need, a small aquarium would be extremely auspicious. Fill it with 9 goldfish – 8 gold in color and 1 black.
Create a "wealth ship". Obtain a nice-sized wooden model of a merchant ship, such as a Chinese Junk. Place it on a table in your entry hall, facing in. Load up the deck with coins, jewelry, and imitation gold ingots. There are also large gold plastic ships imported from China which work very well. Your wealth ship will symbolize prosperity and career success coming into your life!
Dear Practitioner,
I have incorporated feng shui throughout my house and life and have great success with it and absolutely love it!

I was wondering if any particular color is more auspicious than others when purchasing a new car?  The car that we will be purchasing is primarily for my husband's every day use but of course I will be riding along with him on weekends.

My husband's birthday is December 24, 1958, and my birthday is November 13, 1959.

Also, would it be helpful for my husband to hang a crystal from his rearview mirror for protection. He has a daily, 180-mile round trip highway commute, and I would like him to have as much protection as possible!

Thanks so very, very much for your help! 
Blessings to you,
Wall, NJ

Dear Doris,

There are no automobile colors that are better across the board.  However, certain colors are better for you as an individual.

According to Feng Shui, everything in the universe is categorized under five
basic elements. Colors are associated with the elements as follows:

Earth - brown, yellow, beige, terra cotta, earth tones
Metal - white, gray, silver, gold
Water - blue, black
Wood - green
Fire - red, purple

Certain colors fall under more than one element, depending on the shade. For example, a vivid "hot" orange would be fire, while a duller "earthy" orange would represent earth.

The elements relate to each other in specific ways, and the most important of these is the "cycle of creation":

Earth creates Metal (metal is mined from the earth)
Metal creates Water (water condenses onto cool metal)
Water creates Wood (water nourishes trees)
Wood creates Fire (wood fuels fire)
Fire creates Earth (ashes return to the earth)

Each calendar year is also associated with one of the elements, and the element of your birth year is believed to influence your life. The most nourishing and supportive colors for you would be colors representing the element of the year of your birth, AND the colors associated with the
element that CREATES your birth year element.

For a person born, for example, in a wood year, green would be excellent since that is the color of wood. Blue or black, the colors of water, are also just as beneficial since water creates wood.

Since many of us spend a great deal of time in our vehicles, it is a good idea to drive a car in one of our most beneficial colors.

Based on your birthdates, earth is the element for both you and your husband.

The best car colors for you would be earth or metal colors, including brown, yellow, beige, terra cotta, earth tones, white, gray, silver, and gold.

Hanging a Mayan Music Ball by a red ribbon from the rear view mirror is believed to offer protection in a car. A Mayan Music Ball is a small silvery ball, hand made in Central America, about 3/4" in diameter, hollow and with a bell inside. These are popular in England but a bit tricky to find locally. I've noticed that several British companies on the internet will ship them over. Do a web search on "Mayan Music Balls". Of course, this must be used in conjunction with safe driving practices. Personally, I stick to a safe speed and try to make sure there is plenty of space all around my car at all times.

Dear Practitioner,
How are wind chimes used in Feng Shui?  Are all wind chimes equally effective?
Delhi, NY
Dear Windy,
In Feng Shui, windchimes are used both to cure certain types of problems, and to enhance positive energy.  Generally, the windchimes used in traditional Feng Shui are made of hollow metal rods.  If the windchime is the type that is topped by a metal pagoda, this is considered especially auspicious.  Windchimes made of glass, ceramic, shells, solid metal rods or other materials are mainly decorative and are generally not effective for the practice of Feng Shui.
Here are a few applications of windchimes in Feng Shui:
When the chi, or life energy, rushes through a room, as in a long narrow hallway, windchimes can be used to slow the energy down.
In a room where there is an excess of earth energy, or where the Flying Star Feng Shui formulas show detrimental energy caused by an earth element “star”, a 6-rod metal windchime can alleviate the problem.
When a jutting corner of a wall or piece of furniture creates a “poison arrow”, the sharp shooting energy can be dispersed by a windchime.
When a slanted ceiling or an exposed beam produces detrimental downward pressure, a windchime is one possible cure for this architectural feature.
Two or more doors in a row produce chi that is excessively sharp.  A windchime between the doors can improve this.
Windchimes help to counter negative or stagnant energy that may be present in certain rooms.
In the western sector of a home, a 6 or 7-rod windchime will enhance the luck and development of the children in the household.
In the northwest sector of a home, a 6 or 7-rod windchime will help insure that the occupants have the needed support of mentors and helpful people in their lives.
Windchimes are beautiful and their sound helps maintain a healthy flow of chi in the home.  However, in most situations, windchimes are effective even if they never make a sound.
Metal windchimes should not be hung in the southeast or east sectors of a home, as they will be destructive to the wood energy needed in those sectors.
Windchimes should be hung out of the way, where nobody will walk or sit under them.
Dear Practitioner,
Are house plants beneficial to the feng shui of a home? What about cut flowers?  Dried flowers?  Artificial flowers?
Jean D.
Syracuse, NY

Dear Jean,

House plants are excellent – they help circulate the good chi in your home, they help keep the air fresh, and can contribute to good luck and prosperity! 
Some house plants are considered more desirable than others.  Among the best are jade plants and philodendrons.
Certain types of plants should not be kept in the house.  For example:
Avoid cacti or any other plants with thorns.
Plants with pointed or spiky leaves, such as yucca and most palms, are best not kept in the house.
Bonsai trees, with their stunted energy, are to be avoided.
Cut or artificial flowers bring welcome color to the house.  Dried flowers should not be used.
Dear Practitioner,
I am trying to implement Feng Shui in my home and life.  I would absolutely LOVE to have a consultant, such as yourself, come to my home but money is a HUGE problem for us.  Here's the question - Can bad personal habits (smoking, eating sugar and fat) affect the feng shui that one tries to implement?
Thank you,
Endwell, NY
Dear DJ,
Feng Shui, properly applied, tends to make our environment more comfortable, less harsh, and generally healthier. When someone experiences an improvement in the Feng Shui of their home, they often become more sensitive to their surroundings and more aware of what is going on around them.
Smoking, poor diet, and other habits that we know to be unhealthy, are often about pushing down feelings, emotions and needs that we may not be ready to deal with directly. These habits tend to make us less sensitive to our environment and our surroundings, and this in turn makes it more difficult to recognize where bad Feng Shui may be causing us problems.
But don’t despair!  It's true that unhealthy habits may make it more difficult to be sensitive to your surroundings. However, it works both ways! Improving your Feng Shui can improve overall health!  Many people find that when they live and work in surroundings that support their health and their personal goals, it becomes easier and more natural to live in a healthier way, and easier to gradually put aside habits that are not helpful.
I feel that, in order to get the very best results from Feng Shui, some "inner Feng Shui" work is often called for! By "inner Feng Shui", I mean learning to really love ourselves, and to become more sensitive to our own needs. This may sound selfish at first glance, but it really is not. When you learn to really love, accept, and care for yourself and your feelings, you'll find that you have so much more to offer to others! For the very best in "inner Feng Shui", I recommend the work of Louise Hay. Consider reading "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise L. Hay. I was fortunate enough to discover this wonderful book when it first came out in the mid-1980's, and it really did change my life!
Dear Practitioner,
I work in package design for a major manufacturer of personal care products.  In recent years, there has been a trend toward herbal products.  I believe that a segment of that same market would like to see packaging designed with Feng Shui in mind.  Do you have any suggestions?
New York, NY
Dear Dave,
Use of Feng Shui in packaging is a good idea. However, when properly applied, you would never know that Feng Shui was used. Here is how authentic Feng Shui would be applicable to packaging a personal care product:

1. Use a color combo that is extremely visible and clear, such as red lettering on a yellow background.
2. Having said that, due to the nature of the product, focus on the water element – represented by blues & blacks, and wavy lines or shapes - or on the wood element - represented by greens & rectangular designs.
3. Use a logo that does not point destructively nor otherwise cause harm to the company or product names.
4. Print the company and product names in large and prominent lettering.
5. Use auspicious measurements when designing the package size – certain measurements promote good luck while other measurements may hinder it.  

Some market segments would probably like to see a Feng Shui design that is gimmicky but not authentic. For example, packaging based on the cycle of 5 elements, or featuring objects generally associated with Feng Shui such as windchimes, fountains, etc.  While such a gimmick may appeal to certain individuals, correct use of authentic Feng Shui will greatly promote the success of a product in the consumer marketplace.
Dear Practitioner,
I like to burn candles and have some really wonderful ones. Where, in my house, can I burn these either auspiciously or at least where they'll do no harm?
Thanks so much,
Laurie B.
Elmira, NY

Dear Laurie,
Candles are a great addition to a home as they tend to stimulate the flow of chi, or life energy. Of course, candles should be used with care and lit candles should not be left unattended.
Candles primarily add stimulating yang energy. In the living room, where the stimulation of yang energy is desired, candles can be used to add uplifting color and scent, and to help keep the positive energy flowing.
In the south sector of your home, candles enhance the fire energy that promotes a good reputation and getting your name or business known.
On the dining table, candlelight creates a soft romantic mood.
Do not overuse candles in a room used mainly for relaxation and sleep, in which the emphasis should be on quiet and calm yin energy. Having said that, a single pair of candles in the southwest sector of the bedroom is very positive for romantic relationships.  Red or pink scented candles are best for this purpose.
Dear Practitioner:
Our weekend house (photos enclosed) is bright, sunny, and uniquely beautiful, and our friends find it very impressive.  Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to relax there.  I actually find our Manhattan apartment more soothing.  Is it just me or could it actually be the house?  The house has a large family room with a cathedral ceiling and lots of windows.  Next to the family room is a kitchen and dining area over which there is a loft with two small bedrooms.  The house is built on a concrete slab and is natural wood inside and out.
Pete R.
Windham, NY
Dear Pete,
Yes, Pete, you have a beautiful house, but I feel stressed just looking at the pictures!  Your sun-drenched family room has an extreme excess of yang energy.  Let me explain.  Everything in the universe consists of yin and yang energy working together in harmony.  Yin energy tends to be quiet, dark and still, while yang energy tends to be lively, boisterous and bright.  A house should have the right balance, and yours is out of balance.  An easy first step in solving this is to install window treatments over the windows surrounding the upper part of your great room.  Yes, let the sunshine in, but in moderation!
Dear Practitioner,
I recently had a Feng Shui consultation on my home.  My sister, who lives in Binghamton, saw you on television discussing a flying star analysis of a house.  She told me that the flying stars are important because they determine how the unseen energies flow through a house.  Yet, when I asked my consultant about flying stars, she dismissed the idea and called it an “ancient Chinese practice”.  What is the truth?
Ursula B.
Livingston, NJ
Dear Ursula,
The truth is that flying star analysis is indeed an ancient Chinese practice.  It is also considered, in Asia today, the most sophisticated aspect of authentic traditional Feng Shui.  And, most importantly, it works!
Dear Practitioner,
I live in a studio apartment.  The relationship corner is cut off due to the layout.  What can I do to attract love (a man) into my life?  I can't seem to get anything going at all.
Thank you for your help.
New York, NY
Dear Anjusu,
The sector that carries the strongest relationship luck is generally the southwest sector of your home.  In your case, the southwest is missing from your apartment, and that may very well contribute to a romantic life that is not getting off the ground.  This is a tricky situation at first glance but the solution is not difficult.
Now it’s true that you cannot energize the relationship sector of your apartment since that sector is missing.  However, did you know that each sector can be energized at the individual room level as well?  In other words, if you can divide your apartment into two distinct rooms, you can locate and energize the southwest sector of the individual rooms.
Since a section of your apartment is cut off, then your studio is probably L-shaped and probably has a sleeping alcove.  If this is the case, you can effectively make a bedroom out of the alcove by separating it from the larger living area.  This can be done by actually erecting a wall, or by simulating a wall using bookcases, a folding screen, or another type of room divider.  Do as good a job as you can of separating the sleeping area.  To have the best Feng Shui, a bedroom should be an enclosed and quiet area. 
Once your apartment is divided into a bedroom and living room, we have something to work with.  To powerfully energize your romantic life, take the following steps:
1.       Remove any pictures of single people from your home.  Replace them with pictures of happy couples that you like or admire.  These can include friends, family, famous people, or total strangers who just give you a good feeling about relationships.
2.       Make sure your bed is comfortably accessible from both sides, representing symbolic openness to a relationship.
3.       Remove any mirrors from the bedroom, especially if they reflect the bed.    
4.       Remove distractions from the bedroom such as computers, exercise machines, or work-related materials.
5.       Do not use bright shades of red in the bedroom.
6.       Do not use a fountain or other water feature, or even pictures of water, in the bedroom.
7.       Place a pair of rose quartz crystals near the southwest corner of your bedroom.
8.       In the southwest sector of the bedroom, also place a pair of mandarin duck figures.  Mandarin ducks are native to East Asia.  They mate for life and have always been a symbol for marital happiness.  Lovebirds or geese work well also.  Do not use mallards or other American ducks!
9.       Place a large earthenware pot or vase in the southwest sector of the living room.
10.   Place a pair of red candles in the southwest corner of the living room.  It is not necessary to light these.
11.   Place a picture or statue of a dragon anywhere in the living room. (Single women should do this.  Single men should use a rooster, peacock or phoenix image.)
12.   Create a clear mental image of the kind of person you’d like to meet.  Write a detailed description specifying physical appearance, character qualities, personality qualities, etc.  Be as specific as you can.
Powerful forces will now be put to work on your behalf.  Help them along!  Be open and receptive, put yourself in situations where you may meet new people, relax, be friendly, and just have fun!
Dear Practitioner,
My house is situated at a bend in the road.  Cars travel west towards my house, until the road bends to the south.  Is the effect similar to being on a "T" intersection?  What can I do to avoid disaster and have positive chi, without it costing me a lot of money?
Thank you,
Bellport, NY
Dear Patricia,
A road aimed directly at the front of your house is very inauspicious, regardless of the type of intersection that lies in front of your property.  In any case, this situation can be cured and the correction needn’t be very costly.  The goal is to soften and dissipate the harsh rushing energy that is directed at the house.  A high evergreen hedge between the oncoming road and the house, further from the house being better than closer, can be very effective.  Alternatively a high wall or solid fence can serve this same purpose.  A third option is to place a Pa Kua mirror over the front door, aimed directly at the road.  A Pa Kua mirror is a small mirror surrounded by a series of symbols.  Correctly manufactured (most are not!), it powerfully deflects negative energy.  
Dear Practitioner,
My apartment is on the first floor and the bedroom is right above the elevator mechanism in the basement.  It is an old elevator and makes a terrible mechanical clunking noise, both when the door closes and whenever the elevator starts and stops which is often.  It is unbearable!  Between the noise and the vibration I cannot use the bedroom for sleeping so you can see my dilemma.  Is there anything I can do to neutralize the effects the noise and vibration have on my state of mind.  Please help!
Debrah P.
New York, NY
Dear Debrah,
There are steps you can take to reduce the noise pollution in your bedroom, but they will only result in a moderate improvement in the situation.  The steps include installation of heavy carpeting over a heavy vinyl underlay, and covering the walls and ceiling with “soundboard” or Homasote, or another heavy sound-absorbing material.  Unfortunately, the noise and vibration you are describing will be only partly reduced by these measures.  It is unlikely that you will ever be comfortable sleeping in that bedroom.  If you cannot use a different room as your bedroom, consider moving.  Your home should be a safe and tranquil place, free from external disturbances.  If high rents stand in your way, consider a smaller apartment or one that is located further out.  It is better to live in a more modest environment than in a home where sleeping is “unbearable”.
Dear Practitioner,
I feel very bad energy in my bedroom, which is also the location of my home office.  I know the room is set up badly, and I feel that I am struggling more than I should have to.  How can I improve the energy in my bedroom, and make my life and my career flow more easily?
Huntington Station, NY
Dear Bernice,
Having your home office in your bedroom is a common, but serious, problem.  The type of energy that is best for a bedroom is called “mountain” energy.  The “mountain” energy supports human health and harmony.  The type of energy that is best for a home office is called “water” energy.  The “water” energy supports success and prosperity.  These energies are basically incompatible and actually interfere with each other.  When office equipment and business activities are located in a bedroom, both energies are activated and work together, but the combination of energies is rarely beneficial and may be a major reason for the difficulties you are experiencing.
Is there any way to separate your office from your bedroom?  An office in the living room or dining room would be preferable to an office in the bedroom.  If you do not have another office space, can you distinctly separate the two activities within your bedroom?  A folding screen can be used for this, or even a roll top desk that is closed at night! 
In addition to the room energies, there are directional energies that can support you or make things harder for you.  Everyone has 4 good and 4 bad directions.  You should face one of your good directions when you conduct business, and have your head pointed in a good direction when you sleep.  In your case, I recommend that you sleep and sit in your “sheng chi”, which, of the 4 good directions, is the best for business success.  If you e-mail your birthday to me at FengShui@AmeriChi.com, I will be happy to send you your 4 “lucky” and 4 “unlucky” directions.
Now, a few ways to improve the energy in your bedroom:
Your bed should have a headboard – a plain, basic headboard is best.  No bookshelves, mirrors, or ornate designs in the headboard, either.  The headboard should be against a solid wall, not under a window or angled in a corner.  If sleeping in one of your good directions means you must place the bed under a window, then install interior shutters on that window, curtain it and do not use it.
Remove, from your bedroom, any mirrors that reflect the bed.  Lay on your bed.  Can you see any mirrors?  If so, move them or remove them!
What kind of artwork or decorative items do you have in your bedroom?  If anything is at all disturbing, upsetting, threatening or bizarre, remove it.  Surround yourself with objects that make you feel relaxed, safe and happy! 
It’s best to not have an air conditioner or fan in the bedroom.  I’m not suggesting that you suffer through the hot Long Island summer.  An air conditioner can be located in a nearby room or, better yet, have a window fan set to “exhaust” in another room and sleep with an open window – you’ll get a cool gentle breeze all night.
And, a few ways to improve your home office energy:
Make sure that no pointed objects, corners of furniture, or open shelves are aimed in your direction.  These are called “poison arrows” and can produce sharp harmful energy.
Keep your desk very neat and orderly (yes, you can!) 
Position your desk so that you are seated with your back to a solid wall.  On the wall behind you, hang a picture of a hill or small mountain.  Not the Matterhorn or anything that looks like it may tumble down on you, but a nice gently supportive hill.
Place a figurine of a carp on waves (you can find these in Chinatown in all sizes and colors), at the north corner of your desk.  The north brings powerful career luck and so does the carp.  The carp swims against the currents and still reaches its goals.  This ability to overcome obstacles will help you attain great success in your own career!
Purchase some old Chinese coin reproductions. These have square holes in the center, and one side has 4 Chinese characters - this is the "yang" side. Tie 3 of these coins together using a red thread or ribbon. Make several sets!  Place them anywhere that money flows through – or that you want it too!  Put a set in your wallet or purse, as well as your checkbook. Glue or tape a set, "yang" side up, on each of your sources of business.  If business comes through the phone, attach a set to each phone, same for the fax machine and computer monitor (if business comes through e-mail).  If opportunities or checks come through the mail, attach a set inside the mailbox.  You can purchase the coins in Chinatown.  Pre-tied sets of three coins are available from AmeriChi Feng Shui, Box 983, Vestal, NY  13851-0983.  Enclose a check or money order for $4.88 per set (NY residents, please add sales tax).
Dear Practitioner,
Our bed is directly below a very large wooden beam on a slanted ceiling.  How can I correct this?  We cannot move the bed due to the size of the room and the length of the beam.
The same beam continues into the den where the family watches television.  Is this a problem?
What should be done about a toilet near our front door?
I hope you can suggest some solutions. Both my wife and I have health problems.
Thanks in advance,
Dear Nasser,
A slanted ceiling can create a very uneven, off-balance feeling and can cause the chi, or life energy, in a room to stagnate.  Energy can get stuck at the low end of the ceiling and trapped at the high end.  This situation can have a negative impact on the energy of the occupant’s crown chakra.  The results can include stagnant thinking, limited spiritual development, or spiritual confusion.  In a bedroom, there could potentially be health ramifications as well.  It is important to note that Feng Shui affects each individual differently – some people are more sensitive to the energy in their environment than others.  A slanted ceiling can be corrected in a number of ways, one of which is through lighting.  Hanging downward-aimed fixtures near the high end of the slant, and placing upward-aimed lighting (such as upward torch lamps or electric wall sconces) near the low end, can help even out the flow of energy. 
Ceiling beams can cause the chi to be directed downward in a harsh and negative way.  In a bedroom, if a beam cuts across your body, there can be health implications.  If the beam runs lengthwise down the middle of the bed, it can be detrimental to relationships.  One way to mitigate a ceiling beam problem is to paint the beam so that it visually blends in with the rest of the ceiling, preferably in a light color.
In your situation, the combination of a slanted ceiling and a beam over the bed should be corrected.  A good solution, if possible, is to install a dropped ceiling.  A canopy bed, or a light colored cloth canopy hung over the bed, may be of some help.
A slanted ceiling or beams are features that can make a house appear architecturally interesting.  When buying or building a new home, keep in mind that interesting architectural features may or may not represent good Feng Shui – it pays to invest in a consultation before finalizing your plans.
A bathroom near your main door can cause some of the good chi entering your home to go right down the drain.  Keep the toilet seat down and the bathroom door closed (this goes for all bathrooms, wherever they are located).  Hang a full length mirror on the outside of the bathroom door, BUT ONLY IF THE MIRROR WILL NOT REFLECT YOUR MAIN DOOR!  The mirror will cause the bathroom to symbolically “disappear”, but if it reflects the main door it may deflect some of the good energy coming into the house.  As an extra precaution, you can place two large stones on either side of the toilet.  This will decrease the power of the water to drain away your luck.
Dear Practitioner,
Our new house has 3 bathrooms.  The children's bathroom, surrounded by a hallway, the living room, our master bedroom, and a closet, does not have any outside walls. The guest bathroom does not share an outside wall either as my husband's workshop separates it from the outside. I have read that you should never have a bathroom surrounded by rooms.
Our fireplace is designed to be in, almost, the center of the house. Upon entering the house and walking straight ahead you enter the foyer, then into the dining room which is only distinguished by arches (no walls) the fireplace then separates the dining area from the living area at the back of the house (2-way fireplace). I don't want the chi to flow into the house and directly up the fireplace.
Can you offer any advice?
Dear Laura,
It is preferable for a bathroom to have outside walls and windows.  In the case of your interior bathrooms, there are several things that you can do to minimize any negativity.  Make sure that the bathrooms have an efficient ventilating fan that turns on automatically (i.e. when the light is switched on), and that vents to the outdoors.  In some older homes, the vent terminates in the attic, which is not a good thing.  Hang a large mirror in each bathroom – this will assist the flow of energy.  Where the bedroom shares a wall with the bathroom, do not locate your headboard against that wall.  And, of course, keep the toilet seat down and the bathroom door closed.
A fireplace in the exact center of the house would not be desirable, but that does not seem to be the case here.  A mirror over the mantle will help keep the chi from escaping up the chimney.  Locate the mirror on the side of the fireplace that is toward the main door.  However, the mirror should not reflect the door.  If the mirror does reflect the door, obstruct the view with a folding screen, tall plants, or in some other way.
Dear Practitioner,
In a recent column, you said that there should be no mirrors in a bedroom. Why? I have been studying Feng Shui for the past year and a half with some masters and they never mentioned it.
Thank You,
Dear Cathy,
A mirror in the bedroom is undesirable for a number of reasons. 
If the first thing you see in the morning is your sleepy face reflected in the mirror, that image can get your day off to a very bad start.
If you awaken during the night, seeing yourself as a ghost-like reflection in a mirror can be frightening and can make your bedroom a scary and uncomfortable place.
A mirror symbolically brings an additional person into a room, and can be detrimental to relationships.
Mirrors produce a stimulating yang energy that is not conducive to restfulness.
It is believed that the soul travels during the night and needs to do so.  A mirror in the room can confuse the soul and can interrupt its normal healthy travels.  This can contribute to a general feeling of disorientation and can promote anxiety.
If you have a large bedroom and have a mirror that cannot be seen from the bed, then the mirror is probably not a serious problem.  However, I generally take a cautious approach and suggest that there be no mirrors anywhere in the bedroom. 
I do not know why your teachers never mentioned this issue.  A number of non-traditional forms of Feng Shui are taught in the United States, so it is possible that your teachers take a different approach.  Ask them!  The Feng Shui that I practice, and that I teach through The American School of Classical Feng Shui, is the “classical” or “traditional” form of “compass school” Feng Shui.  The techniques and principles that I use, many of which date back thousands of years, are the same practices followed by countless successful people in Asia.  Here in America, most of my clients report real improvement in their lives and, as we all know, the proof is in the bottom line!
Dear Practitioner,
I have been reading your column for quite a while now, and I enjoy it a lot.  I have even followed some of your recommendations and my life has changed in incredible ways!  However, with all this, I feel I am missing the “big picture.”  Can you explain, in simple terms, what Feng Shui is, how it originated, and how it works?
Thanks so much!
An Amazed Novice
Chenango Bridge, NY
Dear Amazed,
Feng Shui, which literally means "wind and water", is the ancient Chinese science and art of living in harmony with the environment.  Feng Shui has roots in Taoism and other ancient philosophies, but the exact origins of its complex formulas are a mystery.  There is even a theory that this ancient wisdom was imparted by an extraterrestrial source.  The principles of Feng Shui have been used for thousands of years, as a method of selecting the best site for a home, business or gravesite.  The main goal of Feng Shui is to create buildings that are aligned with earth energies such that the occupants will be most comfortable and will experience good “luck” in every area of their lives.
There are powerful flows of energy around and through our physical environment.  This energy, or chi, can be hostile and destructive, or it can be channeled in a positive and helpful way.  When properly harnessed, the flow of chi can bring harmony and tangible benefits.  Improvements in the Feng Shui of a space will often result in improved circumstances in the lives of the occupants.  Similar to the use of acupuncture to correct imbalances in the flow of chi through the human body, Feng Shui can optimize the flow of chi through the home or workplace.  In recent years, Feng Shui has gained popularity outside of Asia and various "schools" or methodologies have developed.  The traditional, or classical, form of Feng Shui uses the same techniques and formulas as practiced in Asia.  This approach makes it possible for a skilled practitioner to analyze the energies flowing through a building at two different levels.  There are principles related to the aspects of a building and its interior that are visible to the naked eye.  There are also complex formulas that determine the flow of the “unseen” energies that a strong influence on the lives of those who live or work in the building.
A thorough Feng shui analysis considers landscape features, the positioning of a structure, the usage of each room, the placement of furniture, the directions in which each individual sleeps or works, usage of color, shapes, materials, the nature and flow of the “unseen” energies, and much more.  Feng Shui changes must be applied with precision to get the best results.  Careless or incorrect Feng Shui can cause as much harm as good. 
Dear Practitioner,
Where can I find a husband?
New York, NY
Dear Eve,
You are a person who gets right to the point, and I like that!  Finding a husband (or wife, or same-sex partner) can seem daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be.  The desire to love and be loved is a wonderful gift that we’ve been given.  Real closeness to another human being can help us move along the road of personal spiritual growth, which is the reason we are on this earth. 
The short answer to your question is “anywhere” – you could meet your husband absolutely anywhere at all.  I do have a few suggestions to help you meet the kind of person that will be right for you:
1.  Focus on feeling good about yourself.  Instead of concentrating on the search for a partner, direct your energies to feeling terrific about yourself and knowing that you have so much to offer some lucky person.  If you do not happen to feel all that great about yourself, then work on your own self-esteem.  Learn to really love yourself!  An excellent starting point is Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life.”
2.  Let people know who you really are.  Be open about what you need and want.  Do you let people know you for who you are, or do you act like the person you think they would prefer?  You will never be everyone’s cup of tea so stop trying.  You are looking for just one person, and it should be someone who appreciates you for who you really are.  You are the only person like you that has ever existed – you are special and unique, and that is wonderful!  Be yourself!
3.  Have a crystal clear picture of the kind of spouse you want.  Write a detailed description of the person you would like to meet.  Be very specific!  Include physical attributes, personality qualities, and anything and everything else that matters to you! 
4.  Think positively!  There are many people out there who would love to meet someone like you, no matter who you are!  And, because you feel great about yourself (see step 1), you know that you deserve to attract someone wonderful, and very loving, into your life!  Tell yourself, silently or out loud, how wonderful you are – remind yourself all day long!  If your mind brings up doubts, redouble your efforts until your consciousness starts to change!
5.  Find places where there are plenty of people you’d like to meet.  Put yourself in situations where there are good possibilities of meeting compatible people.  While many relationships have had their start in bars, those are not usually the best meeting places for relationship-ready singles.  Many cities have dining and activities clubs for singles.  If you belong to a house of worship, does it have a singles group?  Might you consider starting one?  Consider placing a personal ad in a local paper or on the internet.  Make sure that you take precautions when meeting someone this way – be careful when giving out personal information and meet at first in busy public places, such as at a diner or coffee shop.
6.  Have fun while being sociable.  Take a relaxed attitude to meeting people.  Take time to get to know people even if they are not exactly what you pictured.  You may be very surprised (in a good way!)
7.  Be prepared to meet many people before you find Mr. Right (or Ms. Right).  Don’t try to change someone who is clearly wrong for you into what you want.  Move on and know that your wonderful partner is out there looking for you!
Dear Practitioner,
I read all Feng Shui books and I am very interested in learning about Feng Shui.  I have the lucky bamboo in my home.  Can you tell me what the lucky bamboo does?
Thank you for your help.
South Ozone Park, NY
Dear Babita,
Bamboo has always had great positive significance to the Chinese!
The hardiness of the bamboo, green in winter and summer, has made it a symbol of longevity.
Bamboo stands upright in all seasons and in all weather, therefore it represents trust and stability.
The bamboo is viewed as a symbol of youthfulness, and, because of its drooping leaves, it is considered a symbol of modesty, an important virtue to the Chinese.
The Chinese words for “bamboo” and for “prayer” are similar, and a bamboo plant is believed to strengthen the effectiveness of prayer.
The ancient Chinese would burn bamboo, especially at New Year’s, and the crackling sound it produced was believed to scare off evil spirits.  Bamboo is still thought of as a repellant to demons.
Dear Practitioner,
You often recommend a laughing Buddha.  Why is the Buddha laughing?  What does the laughing Buddha mean?  Why is the Buddha sometimes depicted as slender and serious and other times as fat and jolly?  Since I am not a Buddhist, is it disloyal to my own faith to have a Buddha in my home?
Vestal, NY
Dear Celia,
The Buddha, which means “enlightened one”, and the “Laughing Buddha” or “Fat-Belly Buddha”, are quite different from each other.  The non-laughing variety is a depiction of Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism, or of one of several other humans believed to have attained “nirvana” (enlightenment), or of other beings in various stages of enlightenment.  A traditional statue of a Buddha is a symbol of the Buddhist faith and of self-awareness and enlightenment.
The Laughing Buddha is not an actual Buddha, but rather a representation of the Chinese Zen Buddhist Master, Poe-Tai Ho-Shang.  Master Ho-Shang lived sometime during China’s “golden age” of zen.  He would wander around China, perfectly happy, often surrounded by children, spreading joy and happiness wherever he went.  Although he did not attain “nirvana”, he was said to have carried the spirit of Buddha within himself.  After his death, he was worshipped as a folk-god of good fortune and a symbol of the happiness that comes from self-knowledge.  The Laughing Buddha is not so much a religious symbol as a symbol of a positive attitude and of the joy that life offers.
I personally do not feel that any symbols of spirituality or religion conflict with any others.  I see every type of faith and spirituality as different paths to the same goals of increased self knowledge and greater alignment with spirit.   Having said this, I would encourage you to display only those symbols that make you happy and comfortable, and that you find inspiring.
Dear Practitioner,
I'm asking this question for a friend.  She believes that negative energy and/or feelings from her neighbor across the street are influencing the financial condition of herself and her family.  How can she block this negative energy from entering her home?
Dear Lucille,
I do not know why your friend feels that her neighbors are having such a great influence over her and her family’s lives and financial circumstances.  I say this because it is extremely difficult for an outsider to exercise control over your household unless you are, on some level, allowing it.
If there really is a negative outside influence, a device called a pa kua (pronounced “bagua”) mirror may be able to repel the undesirable external energy.
A pa kua mirror is a small mirror surrounded by an octagon frame on which there are symbols (“trigrams”) in a specific arrangement. 
Pa kua mirrors are available in many Chinese shops.  However, be very careful.  In order to be effective, the pa kua mirror must be made to precise standards and, unfortunately, most of those found in stores are not.  I do not know why but those which are manufactured with yellow frames are usually correct, and those which have red and green frames are usually not.
The reflective center (the mirror itself) of the pa kua mirror comes in three different types – flat, convex and concave.  The flat variety reflects back negative energy and the convex variety does this even more forcefully.  The concave variety absorbs the negativity rather than reflecting it back.  This is preferable on a karmic level because it harms no one.  The downside of the concave mirror is that it must periodically have its own energy cleared or it loses its effectiveness.
The pa kua mirror should only be used outdoors as a last resort, and it must NEVER EVER be displayed indoors.  It can totally throw off the energy of an indoor space.
Having said the above, there are other steps your friend can take to eliminate the influence of her neighbors.
If she has any objects of theirs or gifts given by them, have her totally remove them from the house. 
She should place a nice piece of lapis lazuli at the approximate center of her home.  This blue stone is available in most crystal or metaphysical stores and has long been known for its protective qualities on the psychic level.  She should then, several times a day, envision a bright blue light emanating from the stone and surrounding her home with a protective blue aura.  
Dear Practitioner,
I have a question which may sound silly to you, but we appear to have an unwanted visitor in our home!
We have had a "ghost" since we bought our home, the only trouble we have is the occasional sounds of walking up the stairs late at night (we have hardwood floors). We now have a dog and he totally avoids the laundry room in the basement or the west side of our yard and he will bark during those "visits" at night.  We had intended on selling our home this year, but it seems we prefer to wait & build our own which may take a few more years.  So, in the meantime, what can I do to get rid of this visitor? I have a 6 rod metal windchime in the SE (inside the home), and one outside placed in the center of the yard.
Toronto, Canada
Dear Cynthia,
Let me assure you that your question does not sound “silly” – the existence of non-physical entities is a very real occurrence in our world.  I have encountered “haunted” buildings on a number of occasions.
Entities such as your “ghost” are sometimes “stuck” in the building or on the land under it.  Other times they are attached to an individual and follow the person from place to place.  They may be humans who have passed on, and they may even be unaware that they are dead.
The first step that I recommend is a thorough “space clearing” in your home.  This is a method of clearing out old lingering energy from your space.  Part of the space clearing is an offering during which you can speak to the presence in your home, tell it of your concerns, and request that it move on.  Occasionally, this is enough to end the phenomenon.  For my space clearing instructions, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to AmeriChi Feng Shui, PO Box 983, Vestal, NY  13851-0983.  Mark the outside envelope “Space Clearing Article”. 
If the entity persists, you must decide whether or not you can live with it.  Rarely are such entities malevolent or harmful in any way.  Most often, they are “lost souls” who cannot find their way to their next phase of existence, or are afraid to move on.  The type of entities that repeatedly go through the same patterns (i.e. walking on the stairs) are usually totally unaware of the presence of others in the space.
If you cannot, or choose not, to coexist with your uninvited guest, you must involve the services of people who specialize in dealing with such entities.  I do not mean an exorcist, but rather an organization specializing in “hauntings”.  They are sometimes able to intervene and persuade the entity to move on.  Search the internet for “ghost hunters”, “ghost Investigators” and “ghost researchers” in your area.  You will find a variety of different organizations, some of which may be willing to try to help you out at no charge.