I had dabbled with feng shui, though it had been five years or more since I’d last tried it. At the time, I remember finding it helpful, if only because it helped me prioritise what was important in my life. As I decorated my room to lure in my dream job and dream man, taping notes and corresponding artwork to the spots in my room that represented different aspects of my life, I discovered what I was looking for. Before, I only knew that I wanted a boyfriend, or a satisfying job, but these were vague aspirations.
Feng shui helped me, but even at the time I knew it was more because it was a useful exercise in focusing my attentions than for any supernatural reasoning.
Years later, I’ve achieved many of my goals from then. I’m happy in my relationship and I love my job. I may not know what the future holds, but this fact doesn’t assault me the way it used to in my youth. I was curious what feng shui could do for me, now that I am no longer in such desperate need of direction. Furthermore, I wanted to see how consulting an actual feng shui master would be different to my earlier, solo, amateur attempts at the art.
I decided to pay a visit to Priya Khanna, a master consultant in feng shui. I met her at Elements Fengshui in the Al Khaleej Centre, one of her three feng shui stores across Dubai.
‘I have a holistic approach,’ she explained when I asked why we were meeting here, instead of my apartment. ‘There’s feng shui for the home, but just as important is your personal feng shui.’ Colour matching the walls and moving furniture around was just a small part of the practice. Balancing your personal energy also meant controlling what you put in and on your body.
I gave her the time, date and place of my birth, and after consulting a number of books, she wrote out my Chinese astrology chart. Chinese astrology assigns animal attributes depending on year of birth, but what isn’t commonly known is that each animal sign is divided into elements, as well. I was born in the year of the goat, but the time of year I was born makes me an earth goat – a particularly malleable beast. Khanna noted that, being in the Middle East, I was dealing with an excess of earth and fire elements, and that as a result there was a slight imbalance in my energy (this might not have been a problem were I, say, a water goat). She started to write me prescriptions.
‘View this as a diagnosis. But just because there’s an imbalance doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.’ I was to avoid excessively warm colours, like red, maroon, orange, beige and cream, and fiery foods, including my personal favourite: garlic. Sweets, natural and otherwise, were also to be removed from my diet. Anything associated with water or metal was given the OK (these could help downplay all my earthiness). I was told to eat lots of fish, take an Omega 3 supplement, and fill myself with greens, citrus and grapes. I was also to swathe my body and apartment in greens, greys, sliver and blues.
She then did something I didn’t anticipate: she gave me a forecast.
‘I see a lot of money,’ she told me, hardly a prediction I could find fault with, or at least not one I wanted to. ‘You’ll come into some money next year. Although later in life you’ll have lots of money, enough for you and everyone around you. If you change a couple of things, this could come to you sooner.’ With a prediction like that, I was all set to toss my favourite brown purse out the door and burn all my crimson underwear. She wrote me a list of a few other products that could help me balance my energies, products that she also happened to sell. Items included two amulets, energy balancing bath salts, evil eye powder, a citrine bracelet and a rose quartz bracelet. The total bill for everything combined? Dhs1,168. A paltry sum in light of my future wealth, but more than my current means could allow. I decided to stick to her dietary and wardrobe recommendations.
So how did I feel after a week of evading figs, honey, sugar and the colour red? Well, given that I had started to include more greens and supplements in my diet, not bad, and certainly more energised. But as was the case before, I’m not sure whether feng shui can really take credit for this. Once, it helped me focus my goals, and now it helped me focus my diet. But I wonder if a little common sense couldn’t have helped achieved both.
Elements Fengshui (04 352 7988), Al Khaleej Centre. Other locations: Deira City Centre (04 295 0988), Mall of the Emirates (04 341 7688). Dhs580 per session