More than literally meets the eye at first glance. It is the color, the movement, the line…. the symbology and the subject matter……the size, the textures, brushstrokes, the technique, relevance to life, and more. Artwork can elicit strong feelings in the viewer……sometimes positive and sometimes negative, perhaps confusing or just plain interesting and evocative.
Artwork can be an expression of the soul and it can be a literal interpretation of our world. Art comes from within the creator, a co-creator with God. It is the expression of what just is, or just can be released. It is not a given. It is not a polarity. It may be a spectrum. What is here is a discovery from within the soul of the artist, the creator, the one who is letting the world share in his vision.
I remember seeing the connection with music while in school; it was a Kandinsky painting and I could hear the music when I saw the piece on a slide in an art history class. Friends have heard music in some of my artwork.
For the most part there are periods in history when a group of artists supported each other mentally, emotionally and economically. There have been patrons such as the Medicis for Michaelangelo. Who has the resources to put forth their soul’s imaginings and still deal with the vicissitudes of supporting oneself? Some do; some don’t.
For myself I began with an oil painting, with my siblings; our mother sat us down to create a still life with oil paints. While in design school I found a passion and it was my therapy, life classes. There was the connection, felt once, that I was drawing directly on the body of the model.
From the Feng Shui perspective, the gua relating to children and creativity and what I like to call Gifts from God, is where I began to find the connection of my passions…. Feng Shui and art and design…..all contribute to the beauty and functionality of built spaces. I still had no idea of the connection to God and to love that art could and would create for me.
There is the giving and receiving energy of the universe that is present in artwork. The artist first gives, all his/her energy, vision, knowledge and perhaps, feelings and emotions, and the viewer receives. What do you receive? This culture teaches literal interpretation and linear thinking. Most people will see images in abstract art that were never intended. The eye searches for a familiar connection. One can be open just to the feelings; is the art uplifting and joyous? Is it depressing? Is it confusing, or even overwhelming?? How do you feel in contemplation with a particular piece of artwork? I used to visit the Indianapolis Art Museum just to visit my favorite French Impressionist piece and never tired of it. Someone who is colorblind or totally sightless may simply feel the energy. Some will feel heat, cold, movement, or simply stillness.
I have portrayed specific guas of the Feng Shui Bagua (life map) to enhance that part of my life using that part of my house. These are little square four inch canvases and they encircle my home, placed in their appropriate area relating to life. The first day after doing so provided me an amazing experience. As I began my morning meditation what felt like an electric current shot through my body and in a split second encircled my home, providing me an instantaneous feeling of universal connection. The energy was amazing.
Does the artwork in your home portray the messages you want to receive each day? I had a client in Naples who was not doing very well with her live in boyfriend at that time. In her dining room was the portrayal of a man dragging a woman by her hair across the floor of his cave… not the energy she wanted in her home or her relationship. Out it went. In came some more appropriate relationship symbols and she remains happily married some fifteen years later.
Then there is the energy of the artist him/herself…….balanced, loving, passionate, or crazed and off balance. I recall going through a small furniture factory in Florida where products were made by hand and included beautiful designs carved in wood. In the warehouse, touching the armoires and other pieces made with loving attention to detail, I could feel the love that had gone into their creation and was moved to tears. Art is of course expressed in many modalities other than painting and the energy is always there.
We are co-creators. Relinquish expectations of what life is supposed to look like………just like art……..what will the finished product be. For me, I don’t know because right now I am in abstract but it truly is a reflection of my soul, my issues, releases, joy and love. After my accident in February 2015, falling down several stairs into the snow and breaking my right wrist, I was traumatized. But I still had to paint. So, I used my left hand. That worked, and led me more deeply inside than I had ever experienced while painting, into emotions and tears and dizziness, then incoherence and exhaustion. Certainly not anticipated, and now I use both hands……sometimes individually and sometimes simultaneously, with love.
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese teaching, both art and science, regarding the energies of space and land, beginning with Form School, and evolving through the years. There are many schools of Feng Shui, both of Chinese origin and known by other names in other countries. Indigenous peoples have their systems for honoring and connecting with the divine, with the energy they see in their worlds, with nature. All are valid. Feng Shui is based on the flow of energy, or chi, around and throughout an environment and we know that energy, in one form or another, is all there is.
In our modern Western world Feng Shui has been united with concepts of architecture, interior design, psychology, ecology, aromatherapy, sound, intuition and common sense because it is about the totality of our environments. All people intuitively or subconsciously react to their environments and depending on their awareness, may or may not make changes to those places they can control – their homes and to varying extents their work places, to positively affect their feelings, emotions, or behavior.
When our life is in balance, our thoughts, activities and relationships flow smoothly. We are connected to the universal energy. When something destroys that balance we don’t feel right and life can be a struggle. A large part of that balance depends on the spaces where we live and where we work, any place we spend a significant portion of our time. Some spaces feel better than others; they may be more inviting, more peaceful, more energized and uplifting. Feng Shui is a process by which the elements within an environment, which can be as small as a desktop or as large as a building site, are analyzed and balanced to enhance the flow of energy.
Feng Shui reflects your life and is about looking at our lives, recognizing the beauty and strengths therein, and being grateful for all that we have. Feng Shui is then about looking at what we want to bring into our lives, and how we can share our gifts with the rest of the world. The objective is to achieve a harmonious balance within any home or work space that enhances the well being of all the occupants of that particular space. It is the marriage of people and places to the intention in their lives. I like to think of Feng Shui as Environmental Energy Healing.
As a consultant, my role is first to bring to you awareness of areas of strength, imbalance, omission or other potential challenges in your home, business or office and property. It is then to suggest ways of correcting undesirable situations to change and enhance your life in areas of your choice. Your role is to take responsibility for your life and bring to the Feng Shui process a clear vision of what you wish to achieve. The results of this process depend upon the intention and sincerity of the individual invoking change in their life.
As a teacher, my goal is to bring you knowledge that will empower you to competently and confidently work with your issues and your desires within your individual space. You will be able to analyze your home and your office in terms of the five elements and the yin and yang balance. You will be more sensitive to clutter, what it means, how many kinds there are, and how it can affect your life. You will be able to relate areas of your residence or workplace to all aspects of your life experience and know how to enhance or change the energy so that it more clearly reflects the intentions you hold for your life.
Life Is A Journey – Do You Know Where You’re Going?
Do you ever wish that you had been given a map for your life? There is one, if you choose to use it. The art and science of Feng Shui offers us the Bagua which unites all aspects of life in the ever-changing flow of “ch’i” or universal energy.
In ancient times, and in many of our former lives, we were connected with the earth, with heaven, with the seasons, and all of nature, with the universe and God. All people were, and many indigenous people are still. However, in our developed societies many of us have lost that intimate connection with God, along with our connection to each other.
The universal energy upon which the work of Feng Shui is based is that of the Divine. We are all, consciously or unconsciously, in the process of opening ourselves to our optimum lives. We are trying to the very best of our abilities to create joyful, peaceful, productive and meaningful lives for ourselves. We are using every means at our disposal to bring the very best and highest elements of life into our existence, that which is for our personal highest good as well as the highest good of our friends, family, all those around us we know……and when we expand our vision, for all humanity.
We will not have a more peaceful world until we have greater peace in our homes and hearts. Quoting H. H. the Dalai Lama in the foreword to Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Peace Is Every Step, “Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way.”
Life is Relationships
Considering this statement from a Feng Shui viewpoint, thinking of the energy surrounding us, there is a way of being in the world that speaks eloquently to me. It is viewing every aspect of life as a relationship – relationship with self, relationship with our past, our ancestors, our prior lives, our karma and our destiny. Our life and our peace is about the relationships that are mundane, for this life plane -our relationships with money, fame and reputation, with our children, siblings and parents, with friends and co-workers, bosses, the beggar on the street. It is about our relationships with our abilities to work and earn a living, with our bodies and our health, our ideas, attitudes and thoughts. Our life and inner peace is also about our spiritual relationships.
A relationship to be enjoyed is an awareness of the smallest components of our universe. We have the flowers and trees, the bees, the wind as it gently caresses our body – birds joyfully chirping at dawn, the full moon and its majestic light, soft grass under our feet, and for me the beaches I have enjoyed for the past thirty years living on the Gulf Coast of Florida and now in Virginia Beach – all of the many elements of nature.
A memory I cherish is that of three ants I encountered during a lovely retreat called Awakening Grace, held near Blowing Rock in the North Carolina mountains. As I was out in a forest, seated on the grass and journaling about my day, a small black ant had the audacity to walk across my leg and I flicked it off. Then I thought, whoops – that was an unconscious pattern of reaction. Not kind at all. A little later another ant walked across my lap and I simply, easily, watched her come and go in peace. Next one of the little guys walked across my journal and this time I watched attentively. She raised her right front leg and waved at me. I was filled with a sense of elation and feeling of connection to all life at that moment.
There is a way of being in the continuum of our relationships that flows from a mindful place of unity and balance. How do we discover this balance? Feng Shui provides a literal guide to the way our life is unfolding. It brings to our attention which paths or relationships are working and which are not as they are reflected in our environments and in our lives.
There is a term “Feng Shui eyes” that describes a way of looking at our energetic world. It is a kind of clear vision that allows us to see both visible and invisible elements – the seen and the unseen aspects of life.
The Bagua is always used for guidance in life analysis, both in Compass School Feng Shui and the Black Sect Tantric Buddhist School of Feng Shui. It is an octagon shape that contains nine areas, eight guas and the center (or Ming Tang) that are directly related to nine aspects of life. These articles are written from the Black Sect School perspective. This school uses relative positioning based on the front entry to a business or residence to determine the positioning of the Bagua. That positioning will determine what part of the home relates to what aspect of your life. A home is considered auspiciously shaped when it is balanced, like a square or rectangle. A balanced and regularly shaped home will be energetically complete in terms of the Bagua. Also, the front door as designed by the architect IS the front door, regardless of what door is primarily used.
To use the Bagua, working from a floor plan, overlay it on the shape of the building so that the bottom of the Bagua, called the water line, is placed on the side of the building containing the front entrance. Thus, looking at the Bagua, the entry to your home will be in the Helpful People Gua, the Career Gua, or the Knowledge Gua. As your home is probably not octagonally shaped, square off the Bagua so that you have nine equal spaces. You might think of this as a tic-tac-toe grid. Also, your home is probably not square, so elongate or widen the Bagua or whatever you have to do to capture the majority of your home in this squared off shape. The occasional exception to this alignment process is usually caused by an angled entry, foyer or blocking wall. Feng Shui is traditionally taught via the oral method and there are nuances of placement that cannot be explained satisfactorily in writing. BTB Feng Shui is also intuitive.
Due to the shape of your home, you may have omissions (missing parts) and extensions (extra parts) of the Bagua within your home’s footprint. These would affect the energy of the gua, or area, related to that aspect of your life. A lanai or porch may be one of these, or not; it just depends. A garage is frequently a huge extension. There are many variations in the way homes are built and there is some really bad architecture out there, speaking from a feng shui energy perspective.
You may also use the Bagua on any room in your home; your bedroom is of the greatest importance. This is useful when you are placing object cures with an intention for your desired life enhancements. With experience and attention to nuances, you may also wish use it on your desk top or your car as well as in other ways such as your building lot or condo building.
If you live in a single family home, use this same technique to place the Bagua on your lot. Typically, the side of the lot where the driveway enters your property will determine the front of the lot and thus the placement of the Bagua. If you live in a condominium or an apartment, your unit will be situated in one (or more) of the guas of the entire building. Use the entry to the building for that Bagua and use the entry to your condo or apartment for your personal Bagua.
The Bagua has its own color wheel and each gua is represented by a primary color; sometimes secondary colors. Each gua of the Bagua relates to one of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Each element will be symbolized by its color (sometimes the same as that of the Gua, sometimes not) and its shape. These actual elements, their colors and shapes, may be used with intention to change the energy of your environment.
As without, so within. What is our home trying to tell us that we don’t hear? Our homes are a mirror of our lives. We express ourselves in many ways in our homes (and to a lesser extent for many of us in corporate and individual offices) through our choice of furnishings in shape, style, period, color and texture, wall color, window treatments, accessories, artwork and clutter. The shape of our homes and offices, the adjacencies of different rooms, the use of rooms and placement of furniture all have an energetic effect on those living or working in the space. Pets, plants, family members who live with us as well as visitors of any kind all contribute their individual energy to our environments. The energy of those living in the space will, of course, be more long lasting than that of visitors.
Feng Shui gives us a common vocabulary, a common denominator to use in viewing our world and in evaluating our life. That is the vocabulary of energy or “chi”. Each of us has our own personal energy. We recognize when we feel really “up” and when we feel “down”. This is a reflection of our personal chi in action. When we meet someone for the first time there can be an immediate connection upon finding someone with whom we feel quite comfortable. Sometimes there is an electric-like shock upon meeting a very special person. Those are energetic connections we have all experienced and enjoyed and another example of our personal chi in action.
There are homes, public buildings, offices and hotels that are welcoming at first glance and that feel really good to us when we enter them. The use of the space is pleasing and functions well or perhaps the colors or the style appeals to us. There may be fountains and beautiful plants which will enhance the appearance of any environment. Then, of course there are people and there are environments that have just the opposite affect – a person with whom we do not have a positive rapport or a place where we do not feel comfortable. There may be no discernable reason for our reaction and in all of these instances, it is simply chi at work.
Knowledge of Feng Shui principles enables us to analyze our personal spaces and determine why they feel good or why they do not. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy, science and art, the use of which is intended to create balance and harmony within our personal spaces and thus bring greater balance, harmony, joy and peace into our lives. For anyone, creating a more harmonious balance within our home and work place will increase our personal energy. That energetic increase results in our having an enhanced ability to experience increased joy, benefit, productiveness and harmony in our lives and therefore bring an increase to the lives of every individual with whom we come into contact
Attention is the partner of intention. There are many ways to initiate a feng shui approach to our home or office space. Bear in mind that this will not be an overnight accomplishment. It is an ongoing process during which our awareness grows, we pay more attention to our environment and we formulate new intentions. First, ask yourself which areas of your home feel and look really good to you. This is where you like to spend your time. Then, ask yourself what areas are not so pleasing to you. These will be spaces that you avoid and you may or may not know why. Some of the answers will be:
- Colors that you like or dislike. This can be color on the walls or the furniture, artwork or accessories. Color is very important in Feng Shui analysis.
- Patterns in fabrics or in wall coverings that resonate and lift your spirits or that conflict with your aesthetic sensibilities.
- Size, shape and condition of furniture. Is it comfortable and in good repair or dilapidated? Is the scale appropriate to the size of the room?
- The function and layout of the furniture. Does it work in the best way possible for you and other members of your family and guests? For example, are there chairs where there should be places to sit and lights where you need to see?
- An overabundance of one element in one room (or the entire space), such as all wood furniture on a wood floor in a room painted green.
- Ceiling heights and space. Are there too many angles, either in the ceiling design or room designs? Is a room too open or too confining for you? We have different needs for different activities.
- Are rooms where they should to be to serve your needs? Are the bathrooms adequate – is the laundry room convenient?
- Physically this can be messy spaces, old outgrown clothes, things you “may need” someday, unwanted gifts or abandoned projects, and more.
- An unappealing or beautiful view from your windows.
These are all considerations that can contribute to the good chi or negative “sha” energy of your home/office and ways that you can begin to analyze your space. These are not all things that would necessarily be considered by a feng shui consultant – some are more from the interior design perspective – but awareness on all these levels will contribute to enhancing the pleasure you experience in your home and office, thereby increasing your personal chi, the energy you have for your life.
The more time you spend in a particular environment, the greater the impact on your life in terms of emotions, attitudes and behavior. When there is, for example, a disagreeable paint color on your walls, an uncomfortable bathroom, an awkward arrangement of furniture, a lack of natural light, a broken window, a loose door handle, a dysfunctional kitchen, doorways that are too narrow….every time you encounter that “thing” you don’t like – all of these lower your energy because of the frustration factor.
A friend of mine said, “I’ve gotten along without feng shui in my life so far” but he really hadn’t. Feng Shui is with us whether or not we are aware of its existence. It is a fact of life because it is simply the energy around us. Actually I anticipate that some day it will be as commonly acknowledged as gravity. The choice is ours. We can ignore our environments regardless of how well, or poorly, they serve us and continue our lives without creating change. Or, we can pay attention to our homes and offices and intentionally improve them.
When we make changes to improve the feeling and function of the spaces in which we live and work our lives come into better balance, our emotions harmonize, our opportunities expand and we enjoy an ever increasing connection with the universal flow of energy, joy and abundance. Change and growth is up to us. It is a choice that we make within the parameters of our comfort (or discomfort) levels and our awareness of universal laws. As it is within, so it is without.
William Morris, a philosopher/designer the early 20th Century, said “Have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be functional or believe to be beautiful.”
Copyright Peggy Cross 7/07/17