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Light and Love
Feng Shui Tips for Your Dining Room
by Stephanie Roberts
In ancient cultures, "breaking bread" together, whether as a family or with strangers, was a honored way to build community. More recently, potluck dinners, pancake breakfasts, and company picnics have continued this tradition. We haven't done so well at maintaining this important ritual in our homes, however.
Today, the dining room is often one of the most neglected rooms in the house; either it is a formal space that is rarely used, or it has been taken over for use as a home office or projects space. Busy schedules and multiple-careers can make it almost impossible for families to share dinner together on a regular basis. From a feng shui perspective, we are missing out on an important and once-sacred aspect of life. Paying attention to the feng shui of your dining space can help to remedy that.
A cramped dining room can create a feeling of pressure in family relationships and interfere with good digestion. Too much heavy, dark, old furniture - especially when it is squeezed into too small a space – also creates a heavy, dark feeling and blocks the flow of chi. Boxes and bags of clutter have a similar effect. The older the clutter, the more stuck the energy will feel. De-cluttering your dining room is an important first step in improving the feng shui of this space.
The dining room is an exception to the feng shui guideline of aiming to leave some open space in the center of every room. Here the dining table itself should occupy the center position, with equal space on all sides (if possible), and plenty of room for each person to sit down at and get up from the table.
The flow of energy through the dining room should be gentle but not stagnant. It's good to have two doors to the dining room to allow chi to circulate, but if doorways on opposite walls are directly in line with each other chi will move straight through the room too quickly. A faceted crystal ball or crystal chandelier over the center of the dining table will help to balance chi in the room, and also helps people with eating disorders embrace healthier habits.
A mirror is also helpful for improving chi flow in the dining room. Make sure that the mirror reflects something attractive: a nice piece of furniture, a view out a window, or painting or other artwork. A mirror that reflects what's on the table visually doubles your food, and symbolically doubles your money. Keep in mind, though, that if your dining table is covered with clutter or unfinished projects the mirror will doubling the mess and workload.
If your family is managing to dine together but the conversations tend to focus on the past rather than sharing current issues, try clearing all old objects from the dining room. Boxes of old papers and photographs especially will contribute to holding the energy of this room in the past. Getting rid of them will encourage your family to open up about what's happening in their lives right now. If you want to keep a few ancestral treasures or portraits in the dining room, place them together in the Family sector of the room rather than distributing them throughout the space.
EATING IN PEACE
The dining room should be a calm and peaceful place. Warm, soothing earth tones such as soft yellow, peach, and beige are good colors for this room. Curtains soften the cutting chi of mini-blinds, and a thick rug or carpet adds a soothing texture that helps to absorb sound and keeps the atmosphere of this room tranquil. If you don't have a formal dining room, do what you can to make the area where you have your meals as separate and quiet as possible.
Lighting is an important element in creating a good dining atmosphere. Use candles, lower wattage bulbs, or a dimmer switch to bring the energy level down a little, especially at the end of a hectic day.
If your evening meals often feel rushed or if time pressures from the day carry over into the dinner hour, try removing all clocks and calendars from the dining room and reposition those in other rooms so they can't be seen from the table. This will help you slow down and enjoy a calmer dining experience.
At least once a week turn off the TV and allow yourself to enjoy the process of physical nourishment without any distractions other than conversation with your family. Good manners dictate turning your cell phone off when you dine at a restaurant; why not apply this rule at home, too? Treating the dinner hour as a special time for relaxation and nurturing is a good feng shui practice, and will help both your mood and your digestion.
Your beautiful table linens and good silverware should be used from time to time, so you can enjoy them in the present instead of always waiting for some future date. Plan a special sit-down-together dinner with your partner or family one night a month (or more often, if you can). Making this a regular event reinforces how special your loved ones are to you. Using a tablecloth, rather than individual placemats, encourages closeness among family members.
Take a moment before beginning the meal to give thanks for the abundance on your table and for the family and friends who are sharing the meal with you. Saying grace before the meal - in whatever form you choose - fills the dining room with the energy of love and appreciation.
Excerpted from “The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Feng Shui” by Stephanie Roberts (Alpha Books, 2004)
Copyright © 2004 Stephanie Roberts