Feng Shui: Energy Versus Placebos

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In Dan Ariely's best seller book, Predictably Irrational he sited a number of experiments that have been done in the medical field to observe the power of placebos, even comparing the recovery of patients who had fake surgeries against those who had real surgeries for their illness or injuries. Until I read this book I did not even know that fake surgeries were legally allowed as a control group in modern U.S. medical practices.

It seems that in many cases the fake surgeries allowed patients to heal as well as those who had really had the actual procedures performed on them. As a Feng Shui practitioner for many years, I have been asked the question countless times as to whether or not Feng Shui remedies are just placebos and to that I can answer both "yes" and "no."

I will elaborate on both of these answers. There are many, far too many, people in the Feng Shui industry who have been trained to only administer remedies which I would whole-heartedly categorize as placebos. These inferior consultants have been sold a bill of goods by an equally misguided lineage before them: that Feng Shui is all about "intentions" and having a positive mind and relating to everything around them symbolically. Some popular Feng Shui myths include the nonsense that a person shouldn't have books in their bedroom because it will appear too much like a library and not be good for romance. Another bizarre, but popular Black Hat superstition is that pictures of family members on the fireplace mantel will be "burned up" by their proximity to the fireplace and that this can bring real harm to individuals. I like to call this the "low budget" version of Feng Shui, which requires little or no training.

For two solid decades, Americans have been administering countless placebos to their home and work environments, innocently believing that they are in fact "Feng shui-ing" their space and making it more balanced. Before I continue I would like to state that I do in fact believe that some Feng Shui placebos work (and even have a purpose) and I do in fact believe that it is always preferable to have a hopeful, open mind over a pessimistic, closed mind. But Feng Shui is not about placebos or wishful thinking, or magic.

Real Feng Shui remedies are not placebos. They are solutions for transforming the magnetic field of a room, whether a person is conscious of it or not. The benefit will be there in the same way that if you purify the air in a room, a person with asthma will breathe better and it will have nothing to do with believing it to make it so.

Real Feng Shui remedies fall into three major categories. One is changing the magnetic field using real, organic elements (water, earth, metal, wood, and fire.) These elements should be used strategically, with an understanding that where an element is placed is unique to each location based on year of construction, orientation, and the uniqueness of the floor plan.

Another way to change the energy in a space is to alter the interior design and décor. In the same way that your own body will feel a quick draft of air pass from a door to window that are aligned, placing beds and desks and other furnishings in certain positions in relation to doors and windows will also alter or buffer the direct flow of air currents in a room. Centuries of keen observation have documented what predictably happens to people in certain architectural arrangements.

The third category of real Feng Shui remedies is no less authentic, although it is admittedly subjective. Based on our birth year and other personal pieces of data, we have a tendency to favor certain environments or directions over others. We can excel in certain areas where others would do poorly. And as the saying goes, "One Man's Ceiling is Another Man's Floor." This transcends culture, economic status and education and is part of our make up as human beings. We are a part of nature even though we try to escape it all too often.

Studies have even shown that people with psychological disorders are more likely born in the winter or spring compared to those born in the summer or fall. Highly intelligent and creative people are more likely to suffer from mental illness than un-creative people and writers are more likely to have mental illness over artists or musicians. In fact, some studies have shown that those who write fiction or poetry are even more susceptible to mental health problems than those who write non-fiction! Without the doctors and universities of research to back up these findings, it might be easy to say these findings are superstitions, in the same way that left-handed people were considered very odd and to have something wrong with them until relatively recently.

If you are in conflict with something personally, and it bothers you on a chronic basis, that thing or circumstance can in fact undermine your immune system and eventually make you sick. As an example, in the realm of Feng Shui remedies, we should never insist that a person have a certain color around them if the person finds the color irritating, even if it is "good for the room" in theory. So the subjective part of Feng Shui, such as one who prefers to live in the desert versus by the ocean, can be factored in as a variable, but it should not be construed as a placebo precisely because it is so personal.

People usually confirm having been influenced by predictable Feng Shui environments before they became aware of the correlation. For instance, I might evaluate a bedroom where the occupant is prone to headaches and they will wonder how I knew that without them telling me. Obviously, the occupant wasn't willing themselves to have headaches because of a Feng Shui flaw they knew nothing about. When a client then administers a remedy or change to their space, they often approach it with the same mixture of skepticism and curiosity that they might have if a doctor handed them a new prescription, with a willingness to follow through only because they've already shelled out the money.

For more information on traditional feng shui and Kartar Diamond’s services, go www.FengShuiSolutions.net    Her latest book, The Feng Shui Matrix: Another Way to Inherit the Earth includes many techniques for increasing your personal wealth and creativity.