Good Vibes

Illustration by James Steinberg

Are you looking for love in all the right spaces? Feng shui master and Orinda resident Michele Duffy—who developed feng shui sessions for the world-famous Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona—offers tips on setting a wedding date and creating a home environment that supports harmonious relationships.


Good Vibes

Lily Dong Photography

Q: How did you learn about feng shui?

A: I was living in New York City, working in software, executive development, and sales, and I felt like there was more to life than making six figures. When two of my sisters were diagnosed with cancer, I became interested in Tibetan Buddhism, which led me to feng shui.


Q: How does feng shui help relationships?

A: Feng shui is based on the philosophy of the Tao, that everything is connected. In practicing feng shui, we feel more aligned with the natural world. Everything has chi—or energy—and feng shui is all about creating, maintaining, and keeping the positive chi moving, while avoiding getting stuck on things that aren’t serving you. The art of feng shui is about bringing people back home to themselves and to each other, literally and figuratively.


Q: How would you use it to help a new relationship?

A: Feng shui is [about] space clearings and blessings. Chi energy can hang around for hundreds of years. Perhaps there was once a lot of fighting in the environment—splitting of chi—or financially draining chi; all those energies have to be cleared. I offer indoor citrus-water blessings created specifically for the client and perform a rain of external rice blessings with very specific hand motions. Rice is a grain of nourishment that clears predecessor chi, pacifies obstacles, and replaces those with abundance and nourishment. It’s an act of generosity.


Q: Can feng shui be used to pick a wedding date?

A: Yes, you should pick an auspicious date using your birthday. The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on a 60-year cycle with 12 animals and five elements. I recently worked with a woman who was a rabbit—a sign that harmonizes with monkey and dog—so she chose an October wedding, which corresponded to the year of the monkey and the month of the dog.


Q: How did you work with her to create positive energy in her home?

A: Feng shui is about recognizing the subliminal messages in your environment. What we surround ourselves with is very influential. For relationships, the goal is to create a sanctuary for rest and romance. The master bedroom should be Zen: calm, sensual, and luxurious. We bought red pillows and a gold bedspread. The floors were bare so we put down a big rug. Now, when [the couple] get out of bed, they are touching cozy surroundings. Pairs reinforce harmony, so we picked matching bedside tables and two strong lights. And, of course, we wanted low-light options. Anthropologie sells eco soy candles that smell incredible.


Q: What about the bed and its placement?

A: It’s always best to start with a queen bed if possible. Split box springs make king beds a recipe for disaster. Make it one bed, not a divorce bed. And try to have a solid wall behind the headboard; it’s like having a mountain at your back.


Good Vibes

Illustration by James Steinberg

Q: What should couples avoid in their bedrooms?

A: TVs are very yang. I recommend [my clients] take the TV out of their bedroom. [I] don’t like fireplaces; they’re too active and create conflict. Never paint the walls red—too yang. You would begin to "see red" and cultivate anger. [I] generally want soft, romantic wall colors. [I] encourage couples to not have pictures of their kids or images of solitary figures.


Q: What about the rest of the house?

A: The feng shui bagua [or energy] map locates relationship energy in the far-right corner of the house, as well as in any given room or space. It could be your dining room, your kitchen, your office or cube at work, your garage—even your car. Just go to the main entrance, point your arm to the far-right corner, and get to work! Why not put up a beautiful portrait of you and your partner?


The Right Stuff

The far-right room of the house and far-right corner of every room represent love relationships. So it’s important to clear negative chi from these areas. Here are 10 de-cluttering tips from Michele Duffy to empower romance in your life.


•     Any representations of people who are alone or single.

•    Any item that is symbolic of an old relationship. Make sure any ties to relationships of yesteryear are nowhere near this corner.

•    Anything in threes.

•   Dead or unwelcoming plants (such as cacti), sharp objects, or art or photos of anything not clearly beautiful and loving.

•    Games—you don’t want your relationship to have games. Make sure there aren’t any in your relationship corner.

•    Clutter—do not let this be your area for storage (aka "baggage").

•    Anything you do not use regularly, do not like, or consider unnecessary.

•    Dirt and dust. (Make this area sparkle!)

•    Garbage cans or bags.

•    Anything broken or needing repair.