5/21/1999

Summer guide

Controlling the elements through feng shui


Positive energy: Joy Sue-Priem is a master of the Chinese art of placement (photo: Doug Dukane)
By Dee Rivers

Thousands of years ago, in the latitude of dragons, a Chinese sage happened upon an extraordinary turtle whose shell displayed a perfect, magic square; from it evolved the oldest book in the world -- the "I Ching" and, among other mystical insights, the art of placement: feng shui.

Feng shui (pronounced "fung shaway") means "the way of wind and water," forces that impact all in the natural world, and, by extension, the lives of humans. It involves "chi" (pronounced "chee"), the same vital life energy manipulated by acupuncturists, except feng shui directs the flow of chi not with needles, but arrangement of the physical environment and five elements: fire, water, earth, metal, wood.

In Imperial China, palaces, cities, even graveyards were laid out according to feng shui, and, centuries later, the glittering financial towers of Hong Kong were raised on the blueprint of the bagua.

The bagua is an octagon, each side of which relates to eight areas of life: wealth (empowerment), career (self), fame (future), family (community), children (descendents), helpful people (compassion), knowledge (wisdom) and marriage (relationship). Its connecting center -- the tai chi -- represents health and well-being.

To audit for non-auspicious feng shui, a bagua is overlaid on a property, home, business or just one room. (Even desktops can be analyzed!) Always working from left to right, a thoughtful inventory of each area identifies problems and feng shui solutions. Take relationships.

"If relationships are out of balance, we must check all of our relationship corners in every room, main home relationship area and our whole property," says Joy Sue-Priem, of Winter Park, one of the few certified feng shui practitioners in Florida. "Do we have dead flowers or plants in that area? A cactus? A barren area of gravel in our yard? Clutter? If cluttered, we'll have a messy relationship.

"I have a client in Miami desperate for a relationship, but her relationship corner has only single things: a chair, a reading lamp, a picture of a single woman, a closet jammed with her clothes."

A feng-shui cure would arrange a cozy reading corner for two, replace that picture with a beautiful one of two people, embracing, clean out the closet to create space for another's clothes and add a bit of aromatherapy which, says Sue-Priem, "combines our intent with breath and anchors it in our subconscious with a scent."

Having trouble in a new relationship? Check to see if you're hanging onto objects from a former lover. Throw 'em out or give 'em away. Dead roses? Very bad!

One woman called Sue-Priem about a barrier with her lover. "I went over everything in the bedroom -- objects on the bedside table, lamp, books ... and a teddy bear. 'Tell me about the bear,'" I said. Turns out it belonged to an old boyfriend with whom she'd had a good relationship and painful breakup. I told her to ditch the bear. She did, and down went the barrier ..."

Joy Revell, a Pine Castle resident and co-owner of Revell Truck Repair, was also having relationship problems. In her relationship corner, Sue-Priem discovered a counter, designed to be a bar, blocking access to the laundry area. "I'd have to stoop under that thing several times every day to get to the washer and dryer. It was having a burdening effect on my relationship." Down came the counter, up went the quality of Revell's relationship.

Meanwhile, businesses are also turning to feng-shui fixes. Dr. Mark Halek, an Apopka dentist, called Sue-Priem at the suggestion of his interior decorator. "I wanted to achieve an atmosphere that was relaxing for the patient and uplifting for my staff. She gave us a long list of recommendations. One change was switching from industrial fluorescent lighting to a daylight-balance light. As a result, patients are more relaxed, my staff is more upbeat and more energetic. We're not drained at the end of the day." Halek also added a fountain in his treatment area and says that applying feng-shui philosophy to his practice has created a natural flow of energy throughout his office.

He's in powerful company: The Donald plans to build a feng-shui skyscraper; Robb & Stuckey's swear by it, and Chase Manhattan, Hong Kong, reversed falling fortune after a 911 call to a feng-shui expert. Even the Discovery Channel is a Sue-Priem client.

To get started, don yellow to clarify your mind, paint your front door black to acquire wealth and move open-mouthed frog vases outside. For the full monty, you might want to call in an expert.

Joy Sue-Priem, licensed feng-shui practitioner, can be reached at (407) 657-2154.