Interview – Inner Voice

THE ANCIENT ART OF PLACEMENT

an interview with Pam Tollefson by Nancy Frier for The Inner Voice

If there is harmony in the house, there is order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. – Old Chinese Proverb

To bring harmony and balance to your home or business life, you might consider calling in a Feng Shui (pronounced fung schway) practitioner. Feng Shui is the ancient art of creating balance and harmony with the forces of nature in our personal space. When these design principles are applied to the homes in which we live, remarkable differences like peace and joy can be felt in the lives of the inhabitants. In some cases, illnesses have disappeared, wealth and abundance have increased and improved mental and emotional attitudes have been obtained. Feng Shui gives time-tested guidelines to utilize the power of placement from the shape of a building to the location of your bed, desk, or stove.

Pamela Tollefson is an advanced student/practitioner of Professor Lin Yun’s Black Sect Feng Shui and has studied with him in China and elsewhere, exploring tangible and intangible ways of creating balance, harmony and abundance in environments.

Pamela’s background in interior design, metaphysics, astrology and energy (Reiki) work culminates in her profession. She has an innate sensitivity that has found positive expression in this refinement of environmental design and placement. With her home base in Milwaukee, she frequently travels to Chicago and elsewhere around the World.

Nancy: Will you define Feng Shui for our readers?
Pam: Well, Feng Shui literally means wind and water. Feng Shui began with Buddhism in India and came across Tibet, picking up folklore, Yin-Yang philosophy, Confucianism, and Taoism, of course. Feng Shui is very eclectic, based on thousands of years of Chinese observation by the ancient Feng Shui masters who saw certain things reappearing in everyday life. Those ideas and those theories are the foundation for Feng Shui.
Nancy: How far back does Feng Shui go?
Pam: Anywhere from three to five thousand years. It began so gradually, that there is no specific time frame. It’s only been within the last 30 or so years that we, in the west, have heard about Feng Shui. It was kept a pretty closely guarded secret by those that did it because it allowed them certain powers. Only when the old Feng Shui master was about to die did he pass on his secrets for assessing environments to the oldest living male relative.
Nancy: Is Feng Shui basically a Chinese art?
Pam: It’s Chinese and Asian in general, but actually began in India. Many cultures are aware of Feng Shui, but not the term. For example, when I describe what Feng Shui is, people from Korea definitely relate, but they do not use the Chinese words Feng Shui.
Nancy: Would you say it’s a study of energy patterns and how these patterns move through a given space?
Pam: The flow of chi, or energy, is what Feng Shui deals with. We’re dealing with energy, a certain flow of energy. We want an ideal, gentle curve of energy. Energy that is not going too fast or too slow. It should gently move through space. We don’t want dead corners. We’re looking to activate areas that have bad chi, or where the chi might be stuck. We are looking to slow down energy that may be moving too quickly, like through hospital corridors for example, or through a space where it races in one door and out another. We look to break it up and slow it down.
Nancy: I thought movement of energy was a good thing?
Pam: It is, but you want it to go at a certain pace. You don’t want to be walking into blockages. You don’t want to walk into blank walls or into a space where your body is forced to turn and contort in order to get through. You want the chi to be flowing evenly and gently, so that you feel good in your space.
Nancy: Is the typical American home, which is usually a square or rectangle, a good design for the chi to flow?
Pam: Actually, these are not bad shapes. In fact, there is a lot to be said for a the basic box, because it’s a regular shape. One of the major principles in Feng Shui is that we are looking for balance, harmony and regularity. Feng Shui is not anything bizarre or weird. It’s just good common design sense. We want things to be evenly balanced, and we want to incorporate nature in the elements. We want to make the space supportive of whatever you’re doing there.
Nancy: I had an Aunt and Uncle who built an octagon home. I’ve heard that the octagon shape has a lot of power.
Pam: The octagon shape is so powerful that to use it consistently in our homes is not too good a thing. An octagon is usually saved for sacred spaces. If you look at Pagodas, the places where ancestors are honored to put that shape in your home is a lot to deal with. It takes a very special person to live in an octagon shaped house.
Nancy: The Native Americans lived in teepees, and I believe the base of the teepees, was a circular shape. How would that shape be to live in ?
Pam: The circle is an ideal shape, unfortunately it’s not an easy thing to build. It would cut out the corners, as far as energy flow, but I can’t say it would be that much better than our squares and rectangles.
Nancy: Is the placement of the house on the property itself an important factor to consider?
Pam: Some people place the house according to directions, if they possibly can. The agricultural ideal, according to Feng Shui, was to have the house placed 3/4 of the way up a hill so that the hill is supporting and protecting it from a direct wind. You don’t want to be on the top of the hill because the chi would be too strong. Also to have a southern exposure, so that the crops would grow was also desirable. To have a pond of water in the front would be wonderful. This is the ideal, but you can’t always do this, even if I start with someone from the very beginning of the planning stage, it doesn’t always work because there are roads to subdivisions, rules that don’t allow certain things. But, having your front door facing south is ideal. There are Asian people moving to California who will not look at any real estate or houses unless it has a door that faces south.

The object is, you want to be balanced so you want the house to be centered on the lot. A regular lot is ideal. Many things can be said about the shape of the lot, whether is resembles a money bag, (collecting good Chi) or a dust bin (where your money is filtering through), the shape of the lot can impact the wealth-acquiring abilities. Frank Lloyd Wright said,

Find the best place on your lot and then build your house so you can see that spot.

Basically, we’re looking for it all to be balanced, well placed, not too far forward or backward, just use good design sense.

Nancy: What are your clients trying to achieve?
Pam: People are almost always looking for more success in every area of their life. By applying the Bagua to their house (see diagram above), we see what area is causing problems. If they’ve lived in their houses for some time, it’s usually quite obvious. It’s reflected by the environment, our environment is in turn affecting us.

If there is a flaw or problem within the structure, and we use this mystical bagua, we can see what area is affected in their lives. The clients will usually tell me. No one has ever said that they have more money than they can handle! The wealth area is often a very important area. The areas on the bagua begin at the front door (career); the back of the house is fame; on the left, in the center, is family and health; on the right is children and inspiration. Then we look at the upper left as wealth and the upper right as partnership or marriage. The lower right is helpful people and travel, and the lower left is knowledge and accumulated wisdom.

So you place it on the lot itself. You can even place it on the doors to individual rooms, but that get a little confusing. The bedroom is one the most powerful places to use the bagua, because that is where we are in our most receptive state (during the night when we are asleep) and open to the influences of the space around us.

Nancy: Is the spot of power wherever we spend the most time, whether it is in the kitchen or the bedroom?
Pam: Exactly. According to feng shui, it would be your bed, your desk or your stove. Your desk – whether you work at home or in an office, is a very important place because of the time you spend there. If you are a couch potato on the sofa all the time, that would be a very important place for you. Wherever you spend the most time, we want to see that you are at your optimum, that your surroundings are supporting you there. You want to be in a space where you have the most personal power. You want to be able to face the door so that you can see who’s coming in at you. We don’t want to expend a certain amount of energy preparing and we do this subconsciously, preparing ourselves to be interrupted from behind. People have noticed great changes in their work habits if they can see the door, either by being faced that way, or by utilizing a mirror. A powerful executive or professional person, for example, prefers to be situated along a wall at the rear of the room, facing into the center of the room so that people do have to make that trek back to them and they have ample time to see who is coming and can prepare for them.

There used to be a saying,

When the feng shui master comes, be prepared to move.

But that is not real practical. The feng shui that I practice through Professor Lin Yun is that we are not asking people to relocate. To achieve the same effect we can use mirrors to open up spaces. Many inexpensive cures can change the energy and give you that same feeling of facing the door allowing you to see who is coming in – without actually spending a lot of money.

Nancy: Would you explain some of these feng shui cures?
Pam: Well, if you are walking into a wall as you enter the front door, then it is good to hang a piece of art work with some depth to it so that you won’t feel as though you are running into a wall. You want to feel as if you could walk in further if you wanted to. Or you could possibly use a mirror. Mirrors are excellent cures; they help you see behind you. They double your space and expand your horizons. In general, mirrors are considered the aspirin cure of feng shui.

I also use multifaceted leaded crystal balls. Crystal is powerful. It runs computers. These crystal balls are man-made and when sunlight runs through them, they make beautiful rainbows and the colors become very important. We also use them as acupuncture needles. Feng shui is part acupuncture of the house. We can stimulate the corners by hanging a crystal ball on a cord in that area of the house. Whether it is in the attic or the basement, or just in a room where the chi gets stuck, you can stimulate that a get the energy moving.

You see, we are appealing to our senses – sound, sight and touch. We look for sound to elevate or life chi. If you hang a string of bells, or a wind chime, you know that sound will alert you as someone walks in. That is very effective in helping you feel calm. Every retail establishment, or any place dealing with walk-in traffic should have a bell, if not a security system to let you know when someone enters your space. Wind chimes lift your energy too. They should have a pleasant sound, a sound you enjoy. Bamboo flutes are also used in feng shui. Just hanging them represents the sound element and they are a good cure if you have oppressive beams hanging over you. Wind chimes or bells also serve as primitive burglar alarms. We need to know when someone is going to walk in. It is a way of freeing up our energy, of subconsciously listening for someone to come in.

Nancy: Are electrical appliances or electrical lights good cures?
Pam: Yes, but you have to watch out for electromagnetic fields. It is true that our electrical appliances have a lot of energy but sometimes they can be over-stimulating. For instance, we don’t want too many electric appliances on at night when we are sleeping.
Nancy: I heard that another cure is a fish bowl.
Pam: Yes, fish and animals, in fact, all our pets and anything that is alive, including plants are very good because they have energy and stimulate the chi. Fish are also considered lucky because of the water. Water is equated with wealth. Fish can bring in money. That is why you will often see fish ponds at the front of Chinese restaurants. There is a large aquarium at a Chinese laundry I go to when I am in New York. In addition, many times there will be eight red fish and one black fish. Nine is the ultimate yang number. Odd numbers are yang, even numbers are yin. Nine is a lucky number. Also, red is lucky.
Nancy: Speaking of color, according to the bagua, certain colors should be used in certain areas. Can you comment on this?
Pam: Yes, every area on the bagua has a color related to it. Color is very important to all of us. For example, wealth is represented by the color purple, partnership is pink, helpful people is gray. We can use those colors to help support those areas. For example, having pink in the bedroom is helpful. We want to have adequate color to bring in support and balance. However, that is another area of feng shui.
Nancy: So, basically, everything in our space means something. We want the chi to move in a balanced way so it benefits us. If we have a closet, for instance, that is jam-packed full, some area of our life is also in disorder? Then, if we clean out the closet and permit the chi to flow, our lives will also be in balance?
Pam: Yes, I often suggest to clients to move 27 objects that haven’t been moved in a year and you can expect a big change in your life. Cleaning out the closet is an ideal thing to do. Remember, in order to support us, our house needs to be orderly. It has to have some way of helping us, not hindering us. Many times people are walking through the back door, through the garage, and entering the utility room first and stumble on the laundry baskets. My clients are trying to find ways of simplifying and clearing out. Our lives are so busy and full, people say to me that they just want simplicity. They want their life and surroundings to be simple and uncluttered. Our environment impacts us at every level. The best thing we can do sometimes is let go and get rid of stuff, but people get very passionate about this. Our lives have reached such hectic levels, we re living in chaos, and we need to simplify.

Using the bagua, I can see what area is cluttered. If the knowledge area has the garbage cans in it, this is a good sign that the client needs to simplify and get back to the basics of what is important. We always look to see what has been placed in the wealth area, especially in retail businesses. If there is a toilet in the money area, wealth might be literally flushed away and we need to change that energy so money will stay with them. On the other hand, a library in the knowledge area is a good thing. So you see, we actually use the house to support the goals of the people who live in them.

Nancy: Do you have some examples of feng shui treatments you’ve done and the results?
Pam:

I get a lot of feedback. There have been good results from changing the position of the bed, or changing the room, or fixing the door so the doors align between the rooms. In moving children’s rooms around unruly children often became much calmer, by simply changing their bed so they can see the door, they feel they have more control of their lives.

There are many stories of people that get money just after they have added a crystal to their wealth area. They get a check or promotion they’ve been wanting for a long time. You can say it is coincidence, but it happens so often that I feel it has to be attributed to some of the changes that we have made.

People will call when they are looking for a job, and we will do some things to energize the career area and then they get the job! In another case someone took down a crystal someone else in the house had put up because they felt it was in the way. Well, she lost her job! So, we can see things work both ways.

Some people ask if these cures will work even if someone in the family doesn’t go along with feng shui. Well, one time we were working on a kitchen area and the man left the house when I arrived. He didn’t believe in feng shui at all. His wife put up mirrors in the partnership area of the kitchen. She called me later to tell me that he was changing dramatically. that he was more helpful – especially in the kitchen! So even though her husband didn’t go along with what we were doing, he still responded to the cure. In fact, she said, the whole family was more helpful and were congregating more in the area that we worked on.

I am always working on trying to make people more comfortable in their space and they do respond. That is my goal as a feng shui specialist.

Nancy: So you can achieve some wonderful benefits by simply rearranging your furnishings without having to redesign the house?
Pam: Yes, and sometimes we dig a little deeper. I’ll ask them how long they have lived in the house, what is the history of the house, who did they buy it from and why did those people move? That is because energies tend to linger and similar patterns repeat themselves. We also might want to do a cleansing to get the energy of the past people out, and make it new and fresh again. We have a number of ceremonies and rituals that we can do, according to the Black Hat Sect of Tantric Buddhism.

We are dealing with houses and space on all levels and people always feel so much better about their space after we have done some of these cures. When we’ve adjusted things on the wall of health, for instance, we have seen people’s health improve.

The helpful people area is very important. If a client has only one crystal, this is the area where it should go, because when you have the help and support of the people around you. Everything else just clicks.

Nancy: Are these results immediate?
Pam: Sometimes. It depends on the client and what actions they take immediately and what they wait on. Sometimes they need to process the information. Sometimes they may not recognize the results are due to feng shui. I had someone who was involved with some litigation, and they hadn’t heard anything of it for six months. We hung wind chimes, and the next day she got the phone call she was waiting for.
Nancy: So basically, whatever area may be lacking in a person’s life, whether it be wealth or helpful people, or whatever, you energize that area and they should see changes in their life?
Pam: Yes, even when people are basically successful, after we have worked with them, they can become even more successful! And who doesn’t need a little more success and money?
Nancy: Thank you for your time and all this great information.
Pam: You are welcome. Good luck!