The COVID-19 pandemic forced Lindsey Foose out of her child care job, but the Manheim Township woman didn’t let it sap her positive energy.
Instead, she used her time to pursue a new interest, one that would help her — and her home — feel balanced in an uncertain time.
This spring, Foose graduated from the California-based American Feng Shui Institute. She is now offering appraisals to homeowners and businesses in and around Lancaster County, helping others better understand how designing around natural elements can provide an aesthetic and emotional boost.
“Feng shui is an ancient Chinese metaphysical practice of harmonizing the energies in a space,” Foose says. “When you come home, the energies in that space should be supporting you, not undermining you.”
At its most basic, feng shui incorporates water, fire, wood, earth and metal with design strategies intended to balance conflicting energies that have traditionally been viewed as undermining relationships, health or wealth.
From there, it might seem intimidating or just too eccentric for the average homeowner.
Not so, says Foose, who offered insights to dispel four common myths about feng shui.
Myth 1: I’ll need Asian-inspired decor.
Not so, Foose says. Many homeowners won’t need to buy anything, and the key tenets of feng shui can be applied while working within any individual’s design style.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the New Age schools play to that with Chinese statuettes or Chinese coins,” Foose says. “With traditional feng shui, it should not be obvious to me or anyone else that there are feng shui remedies at work. It may just be taking things out of one area and moving them to another.”
For instance, Foose might suggest moving a needed element — a water feature, such as an open-topped fish tank or small fountain — into a family room. Or she could suggest a new layout to make a space more welcoming or new lamps or window fixtures to balance light and dark elements.
Myth 2: I have to be spiritual — or meditate! — to experience the benefits.
Foose starts an appraisal by assessing a client’s “good” and “bad” directions, according to a traditional system of trigrams derived from the “I-Ching,” an ancient philosophical book.
There are eight trigrams, each linked to a direction, body part, colors and an element. It’s those directions that will dictate ideal placement of furniture and the need for additional elements in a space.
But there’s no requirement that someone fully believe in the Chinese concepts to improve the function and warmth of their home.
“I ask that people have an open mind to it,” Foose says. “Some people have described it as reiki for the house, and a certain kind of person might be attracted to that. But if it works for someone, they’d want to use it. It can benefit anybody.”
Many of the outcomes will feel appealing intuitively.
One key concept is reducing clutter to reduce stress. Though a consultation will provide ways to cull too many items in a certain space — such as meaningless trinkets crowding a bookshelf or mantle — truly reducing clutter requires an ongoing commitment to the process.
“Not merely items or belongings, clutter is also a state of mind,” Gill Hale wrote in “The Feng Shui Home.” “Clutter represents stagnant energy and isn’t just made up of unstored belongings. The list is endless — blown light bulbs we keep forgetting to replace, dead wasps and dropped leaves.”
Any home will feel more comfortable and supportive if unneeded items are neatly tucked away in closets or a garage, two spaces where Foose says feng shui principles don’t apply (unless that garage is under a bedroom or used as a regular entrance to the home).
Myth 3: Only formal spaces need a feng shui fix.
Bedrooms are a major area of focus.
When Foose first began incorporating feng shui in her own home, she moved her bed so that the crown of her head would be facing her ideal position when she rests. She says she has been sleeping better since then.
In “The New Bohemians Handbook,” interior designer and feng shui practitioner Rafi Kalichstein offers a few simple tips to improve sleep and bonding between partners. In addition to placing the bed in the command position as Foose did, he suggests removing the TV, limiting mirrors because they “amplify energy,” and grouping a pair of items on a nightstand to boost your love life.
Children’s bedrooms can also become more functional with a few changes, such as bed positioning, color choices or design elements that help differentiate spaces for sleep and play.
Myth 4: Feng shui principles stop at the back door.
Feng shui can be applied anywhere, from a garden to an office park.
Outside, add items tied to the core elements — a trickling fountain, a metal sculpture, wind chimes — and place them according to your trigrams. If there’s a path, feng shui calls for a gentle curve because nature rarely deals in straight lines.
Directional flow is also important in commercial areas. Adjustments must take into account the energy needs of the owners or employees and the energy of those coming into the business.
“In retail, we make sure the cash register is in a good space, or we really pay attention to the waiting room of a doctor’s office to make that a calming area,” Foose says. “For a restaurant, a kitchen is really important. For a home office, make sure it’s in a good sector and place your back to your good direction to make sure you’re supported.”
A consultation with Foose requires a floor plan with dimensions, furniture placement, windows and doors. Appraisals are typically conducted on-site, but Foose is taking precautions due to COVID-19. For more information, visit zententional-living.space.