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Conversation with Feng Shui Master Melani Lewandowski
I have known Feng Shui master Melani Lewandowski for about fifteen years. One of the memorable events we did together was a "Feng Shui Restaurant Walking Tour," where we barhopped down Philadelphia's "restaurant row" of Walnut Street, and Melani analyzed each space, noting how the color, shapes, layout, materials created different kinds of energy.
One place was great for stimulating conversation and new ideas, another was better for closing business deals. One was better for secrets, another for romance, another for celebrations. We all have an inner sense of what feels right for the occasion, but Melani could explain why. To no surprise, she even predicted that a certain space would have difficulty staying in business; regrettably it did close, but fortunately the new owner has made some major changes in the layout. Melani’s remarkable prescience then made me curious as to her thoughts about the changes going on around us now.
KB: So what is Feng Shui? How could you be so exacting about the feeling in each space?
ML: Classical Feng Shui is an earth art-science that harmonizes you with the subtle forces of nature. It is a method of conscious spatial design that employs time-proven methods for the productive movement of the earth's energies. It supports a productive and satisfying life, especially during changing times.
As individuals and organizations live balanced lives in balanced environments, they naturally contribute to creating a healthy and productive society. The effect ripples out.
A wise sailor charts a course to travel swiftly to a destination. He analyzes the elements of nature to catch the most favorable winds. A Feng Shui Master assists in creating a favorable flow to support and inspire a rewarding life.
KB: In the western paradigm, there is space planning and color psychology and studies about how the environment influences your life. Some of this sounds very logical.
ML: Feng Shui is several thousand years old in practice. It is an eastern discipline, and in the western mind, is considered more art than science. However you categorize it, it works!
In China, every major building has not only an architect but also a Feng Shui master involved in the design. As you study the principles, you begin to see how practical the philosophy is in application.
There is a growing awareness and application of Feng Shui in the US, notably by companies like Coca-Cola, Virgin Atlantic and The Body Shop, who are using it to support employee and business success. Donald Trump has even applied Feng Shui principles in recent projects.
KB: Does Feng Shui offer any practical insights into the economic crisis and the changing times we find ourselves in right now?
ML: Absolutely. We are in a 20 year cylce of re-organizing, which started February 2004. The full force of each cycle is strongly felt four years into it, which would be 2008, or last year, when our financial systems collapsed. Anything not built solidly or without integrity would have been and quite obviously was indeed shaken.
It is important to remember though that re-organization is a part of the natural life cycle. This time period is a great opportunity to examine and create basic foundations for balanced growth. It is also a period which is about people being truthful, living their purpose.
KB: What does that mean for our daily lives?
We were too overly expanded, expansion creates distractions, distractions in turn dilute our focus and weaken our ability to make good choices. We were caught in a snowball effect. Our credit was overextended, our inboxes deluged, our appetites voracious.
Now the focus is on integration, balance without extremes, practicality and sustainability, being grounded, being real.
KB: It is refreshing to see the change. I was happily surprised when I read that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in his University of Pennsylvania commencement address, said to close the laptops, there's more to life than your computer, "Life is about the people around you...not in your BlackBerry or iPhone." People are questioning what they value the most, and seem to be appreciating simple things more. Is that part of this shift?
ML: Yes. This is a time cycle that stresses getting your home in order. You can aruge that people are home now more because they can't afford to travel or dine out as much. Even if you can afford it though, there is a greater desire to be home. The collective unconscious is moving us all in that direction together.
KB: So what does Feng Shui advise to make the most of this cycle? How do we adjust our homes and offices?
ML: If you can afford to do so, change your color palette in your home and office. Shift into earth tones, yellow, golds, butter, terra cotta, neutral brown, mocha, creams, off white.
For the office, cream and off white are best as to create a blank canvas, supporting clarity and new possibilities.
In a dining room, consider deep orange or soft red like a Williamsburg, not a bright Chinese red. These colors stimulate digestion and the exchange of ideas.
In a living room, use cream, butter colors and sand tones, and place square shapes that give a sense of stability. Some green tones can work, as can the uplifting blues.
In your bedroom, for calm and unity and trust, it is especially important to use earth tones, yellow, terra cotta, neutral brown. Pink and rose are traditionally colors that support romance, but now they should be balanced with earth accents.
If you do plan on painting, I suggest using non toxic low VOC paint like Benjamin Moore Aura line. They have a great template of 144 affinity colors designed to work together; it takes the guesswork out of design.
KB: What if you can't afford to re-decorate and re-paint the whole house right now, what do you suggest?
ML: One of the key principles of Feng Shui is using what you have, and making small changes, with intention. Get a favorable color or item, and place it in an eye-catching area. Move your artwork around. Get a throw, or new bed linens, or place a piece of pottery on the dining room table. Place these things so you will see them as you enter a room, and they will help you focus your attention on the changes you want to manifest.
KB: So have all the Feng Shui rules changed with this cycle? Don't some design principles hold true, no matter what the cycle? Can you give some examples?
ML: Feng Shui is about raising your awareness and enhancing your life. That is the unifying concept no matter what cycle we are in. There are certain basic ideas that you should always indeed consider:
In a bedroom, you always want art that is peaceful and calming over the bed (no water or storms or people alone here please!). You want to be conscious of the last thing you look at before you go to bed, and the first thing you see when you wake up; make that thing beautiful, something you cherish.
In your place of work, make sure your desk is large and stable, and there is a chair opposite you, even if no one ever really visits there. It is a powerful symbol. And make sure you have a wall behind your chair; you want support literally and figuratively.
Connect the outside of the house with the inside. If the flowers you have planted outside the front door are yellow, bring some yellow into the entrance hallway.
If you have a front door, make sure you use it, if even sometimes. If you usually enter the house yourself through the garage or mud room, make sure that area is clear and attractive. On the one hand, this is a time that is less outer-focused and more inner-focused, but you don't want to collapse inwardly either and become a Howard Hughes shut-in.
KB: Is there any scientific evidence that this stuff works?
ML: Research at leading medical institutions such as Duke, Harvard and MIT shows measurable results with mindfulness and awareness methods for stress reduction and personal wellness.
I believe we become walking message of what we have in the house. Our bodies are 80% water. The Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto showed that water molecules are totally changed by the words and sounds and colors to which they are exposed. Click here to order " The Hidden Messages in Water" by Masaru Emoto.
For me, the question is simple: Who do you want to be in the world? Create your environment to express that self, and it will manifest more easily, with grace.
To learn more and contact Melani Lewandowski for a consultation for your home or office.