It may sound like hot air to those sceptical of the unseen and scientifically unproven, but feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of balancing energies to assure health and good fortune, has its share of devotees.
American tycoon Donald Trump, whose offices have been feng shuied, has said: “I don’t have to believe in feng shui. I do it because it makes me money.”
Bill Gates’ $150 million (R1.1 billion) home was reportedly built according to feng shui principles and is set in the perfect natural feng shui location. And many other celebrities are believed to have applied the principles to their homes and lives too.
But feng shui is not just for celebs, says local consultant Brian van den Berg. It is for anyone who wants harmony and prosperity.
An interior designer who studied at the Feng Shui Academy of South Africa in Johannesburg, Brian has successfully applied the principles in his own life and in the homes and workplaces of his clients.
Applying feng shui principles in a home could be as simple as placing a bowl of red apples on a coffee table or as complicated as reworking building plans according to feng shui principles, he says.
“It is about incorporating ancient and modern ideas to create the most suitable conditions for living and working,” explains Brian. “I have known of people in this country who fly in feng shui consultants from Malaysia or Singapore to give advice before opening a business. These are Eastern masters of the art who have had their knowledge passed down through generations. In business, accessibility, lighting and signage have an indirect effect on turnover.”
Feng shui can also be successfully applied to homes – empty or occupied – that are not selling on the property market.
“People form a lasting impression in the first three minutes so kerb appeal should be enhanced. Clear a path to the front door that is wide and inviting. Give the front door a coat of paint and place the For Sale sign in the front right corner of the lot. Do not have several agency boards displayed at once – rather rotate them.
“Inside, pick the best room that will sell the house. Lay down a path to the room with a runner rug and hang a single piece of art or a mirror on the wall in the direction you want the buyer to go.”
Brian says feng shui adjustments can be made within the client’s budget.
At the first consultation, he needs to know the birthdates of the people in the house. He looks at the directions of the doors, the land format and does an energy audit. After other assessments, he makes his recommendations.
So what simple steps can a homeowner take?
* Declutter. Unnecessary clutter prevents the flow of energy. Don’t hold on to something because it may come in handy one day. Everyone has items they are sentimental about – put them in a box and give yourself a deadline to make a decision about them.
* Water your plants and maintain your garden. A meandering garden is better than one with sharp lines.
* Bring the natural energy from outside into your home. Place a vase of fresh flowers or a potted plant in each major room in the home.
* Open windows every day to let in natural light and air. This will also keep negative energy away from your home. Turn on fans morning and night to get stale energy moving.
* As far as possible, use natural substances to clean your home. oils like lemon, cinnamon, geranium and lavender have disinfecting qualities. Mix one part water, one part vinegar and drops of essential oils to clean the home and give it a fresh smell.
* Windows represent the eyes allowing you to see the future. Keep them clean and attractive with the use of wooden blinds and soft curtains in natural fabrics.
* Get rid of TVs, exercise equipment and computers from the bedroom. Have the bed approachable from both sides. A solid headboard will encourage a solid relationship. If you have a slatted headboard, you don’t have to replace it – thread ribbon or fabric through to link the slats – and watch your love life improve.
Brian van den Berg will be speaking on finance and romance and how Feng Shui can improve them at The Big Ben Room, The Benjamin Hotel, 141 Florida Road, Morningside, Durban, on Saturday, March 31, from 10am to 1pm. Tickets are R250 and include ice tea on arrival, sandwiches and sparkling wine. Proceeds will go to the Durban Children’s Home. To book, call The Benjamin at 031 303 4233.