Feng shui and youi

Proper arrangement of the home office can be critical to productivity, so many people who work at home turn to the ancient art of feng shui.

Feng shui (pronounced "fung shway," from the Chinese for "I tripped over my wastebasket") is based on the notion that proper arrangement of furniture, mirrors, fountains and other geegaws for sale at exorbitant prices can channel the life force, or "chi," that flows through us and our homes.

According to feng shui principles, improper arrangement can stifle creativity, impede productivity, dampen your chances of success and generally make you feel like a heel by surrounding you with negative energy. Good placement of furnishings can attract success to you, place your work life in its proper context and give you long, lustrous hair.

So, right away, even the uninitiated can see that feng shui offers unlimited potential for ripping off gullible consumers such as yourself by providing a pseudo-religious solution to your messy office. This principle is known as "hoo-ey."

Not all feng shui practitioners are full of "hoo-ey." Many are dedicated to improving the lives of others at a lucrative hourly rate. A feng shui consultant typically will examine your workspace and make suggestions for removing clutter and placing particular objects in ways that will bring the most cosmic benefit. By hiring a consultant and carefully following the recommendations, you can improve your own well-being while also contributing to the growing New Age economy, known as "ka-chiing."

Of course, not all of us have "moo-lah" lying around to invest in feng shui consultants. For those at-home workers on a budget, we recommend the following do-it-yourself approach:

--Clutter is the enemy of the smooth flow of "chi." Allowing clutter to proliferate in your office can result in confusion and misplaced invoices and poor self-esteem, a condition known as "moo goo gai pan." Your first step toward a balanced life should be to throw out all the papers that clutter your filing cabinets and to get rid of any toys, sports equipment, nail clippers, dishes and dirty socks that have found their way to your desk. Once all clutter is removed, you can go on to the second step, which is to dig through the trash in search of those really important papers you threw out. This step is known as "fung me."

--The next step is to determine your various compass points. For this, we recommend that you use, well, a compass. Different directions carry different forces. For example, northwest is your travel site and west is your creativity site and southeast governs wealth. Then, using an octagonal map called a "bagua chart," easily obtainable off the Internet, you can determine how to align elements (wood, water, fire, uranium) and colors to direct the flow of positive energy through your home office. Sure, this might require you to relocate everything in your office, but won't it be worth it if your "chi" is properly aligned? You'll feel better almost immediately, though you won't be able to find anything.

--You may need to add some decorator items to your home office. For instance, feng shui often uses round mirrors to deflect bad energy and direct good energy. Some items, such as bamboo flutes, crystals, seashells, goldfish bowls, indoor fountains (collectively known as "junk"), can be purchased from Internet feng shui sites for only twice what they'd cost at Wal-Mart.

--Desks should never face a wall, as mine does, because it blocks the flow of energy and makes you feel "lo mein." If space is too tight to set your desk facing out, then place a mirror above your computer so you can see anyone sneaking in the door behind you. That way, you can see them and clear erotic e-mail off the screen faster than they can say "bruce lee."

--The color red can stimulate you and your fame, while green, properly placed, signals health and growth. This is why many feng shui experts recommend leaving your Christmas tree up year-round.

These are just basics, of course. If you want to really improve your "chi," then you should seek expert assistance. Look in the Yellow Pages under "bilk me."

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