By Kavita Daswani, Special to The LA Times
May 18, 2008
FENG SHUI was co-opted by the West at the same time that disco started to take hold, and some 35 years later, it's still rattling wind chimes. Now this quasi-mystical home improvement formula is getting a look from the world of rehab, where its unique blend of wishful thinking and Martha Stewart finickiness is seen as the promise of a more sustainable recovery.
This ancient Chinese philosophy is now being used to help modulate behavior, and feng shui advisors and consultants on both coasts have reported an increased interest in the services from individuals struggling with such addictions as narcotics, alcohol, sex, shopping and gambling. Consulting costs range from $300 an hour to $1,500 per 1,500 square feet.Ken Lauher, who bills himself as a celebrity feng shui consultant in New York, has noticed a spike in calls from recovering addicts during the last several months
, and Connie Spruill, director of education at the Feng Shui Institute of America near Columbus, Ohio, reports that 1 in 10 of her new clients is struggling with a predilection toward alcohol and drugs.
"I think it's the evolution of feng shui in America," said Sylvia Watson, co-manager of the Feng Shui Institute of America. "There has been a lot of success for people who need help with their career or a relationship, and it's only natural that people are starting to think about using feng shui in dealing with addictions."Channeling esoteric notions of Taoist cosmology, feng shui is more than just glorified clutter clearing. Lauher, for one, takes a multi-pronged approach.Using Chinese astrology and his clients' dates of birth as a guide, Lauher tries to determine if there is an imbalance that might be fueling the desire for liquor, painkillers or other substances. He works with clients using qi gong, a gentle exercise that can elevate a person's energy. He suggests morning and evening meditations -- and then he reconfigures the physical aspects of their home."I work with a lot of well-known people -- actors and actresses, singers and songwriters," he says without naming names. "But they are not coming to me to tell them how to position a couch or bed or to make their house look like a Chinese souvenir shop. They're coming to me to really change their energy in how they experience life."
Janice Sugita, a Palm Springs interior decorator and feng shui consultant, focuses on removing subconscious triggers in a person's home or work environment. Painting a bedroom a soft sea-foam green would be more appropriate than keeping Jimi Hendrix, Blind Melon or Sublime posters on the wall. Best too to remove any water feature: A fountain, a gleaming mirror, even a shiny granite counter top can trigger thirst in an alcoholic.
One client, Sugita said, came out of rehab and went straight back to an apartment where the bong still occupied a place of honor. Armed with a special compass and a ba gua, an octagonal diagram that orients life situations and body parts with the front door, Sugita assessed the apartment building, studied the history of the property and made recommendations to soften the environment for her client. These included adding dumbbells to a corner to bring in a metal element, and filling the space with live plants.
Control in a critical time
PSYCHOLOGISTS agree that addicts are at their most vulnerable in the immediate aftermath of rehab.
"When they come out of rehab, they're not really sure what direction to go in," said Dak Kopec, an environmental psychologist schooled in feng shui. "They're scared of failure. Feng shui brings in a sense that they have control of their lives, whether it's through some environmental modification or changing their clothing or hair, or looking at their relationships."
In her work, Connie Spruill looks at the five elements of feng shui -- water, metal, fire, earth and wood -- and balances them in space, "bringing in more of the earth for grounding, flashes of fire for motivation and wood to represent a new beginning."
Not surprisingly, the approach has its detractors. Keith Owens is the director of the Brookside Institute in Newport Beach, where patients spend up to six months recovering from substance abuse through a combination of therapy and medication. "In our view, addiction is a brain disease, and it's very difficult to talk in such a narrow spectrum about any one thing that works," Owens said.
Other physicians approach feng shui with an "all's fair" attitude, acknowledging that release from rehab is scary and it's impossible to know what will help a person stay on the wagon. "It all has to do with energy and the way we perceive things," said Chris Prentiss, co-founder and co-director of the Malibu treatment center Passages. "How we feel is largely a product of the conditions in which we live. And feng shui has the ability to change that in quite a dramatic way."
When Prentiss bought the Passages property in 2001, he used feng shui principles to determine where the furniture should go -- and did the same on the six houses he subsequently added to the enclave.
Still, he agrees that feng shui should be used only as part of a full complement of proven therapies.
"Feng shui by itself isn't going to do it," he said.
By Cheryl Janis
on October 20th, 2008
I was curious. One day as Ken Lauher — Feng Shui Consultant to the stars — was visiting Planet Pink n’ Green (thanks Ken), he stumbled across one of my posts (design q&a) on the subject of feng shui
and left an interesting and helpful comment on a question that a reader had sent in. There was something genuine in his voice that made me want to learn more about his work.
As a former Feng Shui Consultant and Interior Designer myself, I was curious about his practice, how he got there (he looks young doesn’t he?) and what (Feng Shui) advice he might give on how to manage stress in our current economy. One thing led to another and an interview with Ken popped out of my brain and onto these pages. Here it is:CJ: You are a Feng Shui Consultant in NYC, correct? How did you get involved in that field, who have you studied with and was it always your dream to work with the energy of spaces/land? KL:
Yes, I’m a Feng Shui consultant living in NYC but have clients across the nation and international.
Regarding how I got involved with Feng Shui; I have always had an interest in how a space can work for you or against you.
At the age of 6 I started moving my large bedroom furniture around to make it work better for me. And I’ve always had an interest in the Asian arts but thought I may be involved with landscaping Japanese gardens or something along those lines.
In college I started getting interested in Feng Shui and started meditating. I then moved to NYC for a job on Wall Street that gave me a new understanding of working long hours and stress. One day I started paying attention to the number of hours I was working and the toll it was taking on my health. So I decided to say goodbye to Wall Street and gain balance back in my life.
I started a networking organization and did some traveling. During that time, I had a near death experience where I saw the movie of my life. It was like watching an 8 hour movie of yourself where you see grade school teachers, all kinds of different scenes that I had forgotten about. Then I just kept repeating in my mind, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, then I snapped out of it. In real-time it all happened in a nano-second but watching the movie felt like a full day. I then began to realize that there was no such thing as time in that space and the possibility of other realms and influences.
Then I was mugged at gun point. That really put me into a tail spin. I became a hermit and didn’t even want to go outside. I made a decision at that point that again, I needed to introduce balance and harmony into my space and life. I started reading books and articles on Feng Shui. Each time I did, I would adjust my space. I soon became so frustrated with the contradictions and misunderstanding that I was ready to seek expert advice. Next thing I know, I enrolled in a 3 year Feng Shui Master’s training program to with Barry Gordon, Edgar Sung, Steven Post, and His Holiness Lin Yun Rinpoche.
It all seemed so natural to me and loved the idea of working with energy to help others. I then realized that this is my calling and now has become a life long journey for me.CJ: You mentioned on your website and in your marketing materials that you are a feng shui consultant to the stars. Can you be a little more specific? Are your clients actors, screen writers, directors, producers, etc.? Can you drop a name? (I’m from Los Angles and have worked with a few in the entertainment industry also.) KL:
Many of my clients are very well known actors, actresses, TV Hosts, singers, songwriters, and CEO’s. Of course I also have construction workers, small business owners, stay-at-home mom’s and even a Rabbi that I’m privileged to have as clients. I would love to share names, photos and experiences of those that I work with but I provide a confidentiality agreement with my clients. This does not allow me to share who I work with or the reason for the consultation without their advanced permission. I think that is one reason why so many do work with me compared with others.CJ: What is your biggest victory? Example, Did you work with a client and see a major shift? Or was it something in your personal life? KL:
Feng Shui consulting is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Nothing provides me greater joy than to hear back from a client who has experienced a shift, a change or had their goals come true. Some of the biggest victories are working with those in deep depression. Right away the notice a shift of energy in their body, mind and space. And to be witness to that and to see them enjoy life is just amazing.
The top 5 reasons that people come to me for Feng Shui are:
1. Increase wealth/ income
2. Find love
3. Improve career
4. Experience peace and harmony
5. Help with an existing relationshipCJ: There are so many Feng Shui Consultants out there to choose from. How do people go about selecting one that is right for them? KL:
First off, you have to find someone that you are drawn to; a feeling like this person has entered my life for a reason. I recommend talking with them on the phone and asking them what they do and how they do it. Right away you’ll get a sense of the type of individual they are and notice how you feel or what you experience when talking with them.
I do like to tell people to beware of the milkmen consultants. Meaning, consultants that may deliver milk but have not actually been to the farm, touched a cow or even milked a cow. There are so many consultants that have taken a 4 day class or read a book or two and are now providing consultations.
A big aspect of my Feng Shui practice is intuitive. Intuition may share things with you about a space that you might not know otherwise. As a result, I do daily practices of meditation, tai chi, chi kung and other methods to enhance my intuition and energy abilities.CJ: What suggestions would you give to others who are feeling a fear-based collective energy emanating from the current economic climate? In others words, what can people do (from a feng shui perspective) that can bring some ease to their heightened stress levels? KL:
For me, Feng Shui is one of many methods to help a person return to their true self. When you are in touch with your true self, stress is reduced, you worry less and life seems to become easier.
So first of all, I would Feng Shui your living space and introduce life energy into the space such as plants, flowers, and flowing water. Pets are a great way to raise the chi (life energy) of a space as well.
I also recommend reconnecting with nature. During stressful times, many people have lost their connection with nature, so I recommend that you start scheduling some time to talk a walk around the neighborhood or in a park.
Exercise is important, proper nutrition and a daily practice of quiet (me) time or meditation. I provide many of my clients with daily breathing exercises and they notice a difference right away.
A quick tip for those that feel stuck, make sure the area under your desk is clean and clear. So women, stop storing all of your shoes under your desk and men, remove the paper shredder or box of files from under your desk.
For your free Feng Shui Guide
with quick, easy and powerful tips, visit www.KenLauher.com