Dining the Feng Shui Way
Whether you eat to live or live to eat, you'll find the experience so much more enjoyable in a dining room that conforms to the principles of feng shui. When the energy flow is favorable, the flow of conversation improves, too, and you, your family, and your guests will have an appetizing and stimulating meal without even realizing how much the arrangement and décor of your dining room is contributing to your sense of satisfaction. But a dining room that does not have good chi is one in which guests eat quickly and depart early and neither the taste of the food nor the table talk lingers.
Be Mindful of Your Elements
In some homes, the tables are too large and the chairs too numerous for the space allotted. Guests sit elbow–to–elbow at a long, rectangular table that also is closer to the front door than to the kitchen. The poor host or hostess can barely squeeze into and out of the space to get to the kitchen. Guests begin to feel sorry for their hosts and start looking at their watches. Few stick around long after coffee and dessert.
Try placing the dining room table closer to the kitchen, and consider a round table. After all, it worked for King Arthur. Round tables make people feel more at ease, and no one has to take the “head” position, which can feel intimidating in someone else's home. Also, rounded, smooth lines and curves encourage smoother energy flow. Leave enough room for guests to easily get into and out of their chairs, as well as to turn to speak to other guests. The table should be of wood or metal, which offer good support, rather than more distant, less inviting marble or glass.
When arranging furniture in the dining room, be sure that chairs don't restrict anyone from moving easily through doorways. There should be ample space for guests to walk to and around the table.
Avoid having clocks in your dining room if you don't want your family and guests to feel rushed. Lighter colors are easier on your digestion, but some red can help inspire conversation. Abstract art is better placed in another room, unless you want your guests distracted by puzzling over what it represents. Disturbing or nightmarish images also are inappropriate for a dining room, and erotic art belongs in a bedroom. Still lifes of food or happy family gatherings–especially family photos of good times–are much more appropriate.
Applying the rules of feng shui, you can make your dining room a feast for the eye and a warm and relaxing place to nourish and entertain those you care about most.
The table should be the main area of focus in your dining room. Comfort is first and foremost, since comfort aids in the digestive process (and keeps your guests interested in the conversation rather than their sore backs!).
The shape of the dining room table greatly affects and influences chi in the room. It can be yin shaped (rectangle, oval, or round) or yang shaped (square)–or even octagonal, bringing in energy from all directions.
Square. For serious events such as business dinners, you'll want to use a square table top, preferably in a heavier, more grounding surface such as marble. A solid wood table can be grounding for business deals conducted over the dinner table as well.
Round. Romantic dinners require a small round table for maximum feng shui benefit. Glass tops are good for relationships needing introspection and quiet reflection, while a round tablecloth in a color like red or pink can be an intimate way to begin a romantic dinner for two.
Oval. Family meals are energized most by oval–shaped tables, and a good solid wood like oak can help symbolically strengthen the bond of the family. The more rustic the table, the better off you'll be. After all, you want your family life to be as strong as a solid, heavy tree, and a rustic table will symbolize such strength best of all.
Rectangle. Formal buffet–style dinners are best served on a rectangular table, since the yin energy of such a table creates a relaxing mood that encourages guests to graze and stay a while. The darker the wood, the more yin balance you have added, but do stay away from white or black tabletops (unless you and your guests are all actively trying to lose weight) since neither is very conducive to eating.
Who Sits Where?
Good feng shui dictates that your most important guest should sit facing the main entrance to the room–never with his or her back to the entrance, as this is the vulnerable position. You never want your most honored guest to feel vulnerable in your presence! Use the energy of direction to determine who should sit in which position–and then use placeholders with name cards so that each person knows they were intentionally placed at your table.
If you have a quiet, shy, or introverted person, position him or her in a southeast chair that faces northwest. The yang energy of this direction will encourage your guest to open up and join in the conversation.
East facing west is the traditional Chinese position of the eldest son, so it has an aura of ambition and power attached to it. It's also the romance position, with a little power and drama combined. An auspicious chair to find oneself in.
An even number of chairs around the table is best in feng shui, since it represents balanced energies and inclusiveness.
Younger children fare better in chairs that are located in the northeast corner of the table, and benefit from facing the encouraging energy of the southwest. This location is best for those who need a little encouragement or motivation in life.
Those who sit in the northern chair while facing south balance yin stillness with yang passion and excitement, making it a wonderful place for an attractive older person to sit.
Leaders should sit in chairs that are positioned northwest but that face southeast. In ancient (and often modern) China, this is where the father of the home traditionally sits. A strong position of power and leadership!
The mother in Chinese homes traditionally sits in the southwest corner of the table, facing northeast. This gentle energy is smooth going for family chi.
Remember that an even number of chairs is important–and seat the honored guest in a position that faces the doorway. Curved chairs are ideal in feng shui because this shape represents the “dragon embracing the tiger.”
The ingénue, or attractive young woman, fares best when seated opposite the eldest son position, or sitting west but facing east. Here, attraction is tempered by the playful, almost teasing, energy of the east. This is a great place to seat anyone who is looking to meet someone new–at your dining room table, of course.
Your most intriguing guest should probably sit south facing north, since this is the position of mystery and quiet ways. Traditionally associated with the middle daughter in Chinese families, this chair's position will bring out the most expressive and interesting conversation in the whole room. Save this chair for a person who is lively, fun, and interesting–and who will likely lead the conversation along as smoothly as a babbling brook over rocks.
Keep in mind that many times, people don't need to be strategically placed at your table. As an experiment, have a dinner party where there are no placeholders and everyone chooses his or her own chair. Note where each type of personality chooses to sit–it probably won't be too far off from the suggestions included in this chapter!