SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Feng shui is the Chinese geomantic art of arranging your surroundings -- your home, your business -- in a way that is balanced and harmonious.
According to this belief, everything in the universe has its own essential spirit, energy or chi'i, and when feng shui is practiced correctly at home, say, our lives and destinies will improve and flow naturally and at ease with the cosmos.
Feng shui literally means "wind and water" -- calm wind and still water.
In her book "Interior Design With Feng Shui" (E. P. Dutton, 1987), Sarah Rossbach says the art is widely practiced in the Orient by developers, decorators, restaurateurs and international corporations such as Chase Manhattan Bank, Citibank and Morgan Guaranty Trust. Singapore's former prime minister, Lee Kuan-yu, held monthly consultations with a feng shui expert, Ms. Rossbach says.
Much of the West's recent interest in feng shui can be traced to Lin Yun, founder of the Tibetan Tantric Buddhist Temple in Berkeley and a lecturer at the University of San Francisco. He came to the United States 11 years ago and has developed a loyal following for his legendary mystical powers.
Among his students is Katherine Metz of San Mateo, who has her own consulting business called the Art of Placement.
Not all the rules and traditions are based on metaphysical practices, says Ms. Metz. A lot is just common sense. "We all have a sense of placement. We practice it every day. Everybody is interested in it," she says.
Ms. Metz grew up in Michigan, and some of her happiest childhood memories consist of summers swimming in Lake Michigan. "I'd swim out on a wonderful summer afternoon to my favorite place, a dock in the middle of the water," she says.
"All my life the placement of things has been important to me. I even notice how I take things out of a grocery bag! I know that when things are in order for me, it means clarity, emotional healing, physical healing."
She obtained a degree in medical sociology at the University of Michigan, worked in interior design and increasingly was drawn to the metaphysical arts.