Question: I'm considering buying a one-bedroom condo next to a freeway. The price is good. But I'm not sure if it's worth buying because all the windows are about 3 feet from the freeway and there are no trees around the condo. What can you do in a condo that faces a busy freeway?
Answer: What can you do in a condo that faces a busy freeway? The suggestions that come to mind are: Keep the drapes closed, wear earplugs and try not to be home much. Not exactly the lifestyle most people dream about when they buy a new home.
There are several reasons why you should think twice about this purchase and bad feng shui is only one of them. Feng shui cures cannot counteract all the noise, fumes and dirt you'd be living with every day.
A brief feng shui analysis confirms what common sense tells you: There is a lot of negative energy (sha chi) at the building from the constant rush of cars and trucks; there are no trees nearby and therefore little opportunity to attract healthy and beneficial chi (or even raise your spirits by looking at something green). The noise, road surface and constant flow of metal make this a very unbalanced environment where harsh yang energy overpowers softer yin in a negative way.
You are clearly hesitant about buying this condo. I suggest that you trust your own instincts. Keep looking until you find a place with a "good" price that gives you a "good" feeling about living in it.
Bridging the Gap to Outside World
Question: I live in a wonderful old building built in the 1920s. Mine and several other units are four steps below the street on a somewhat subterranean level. The windows are higher up, not exactly affording a traditional view. How does this affect feng shui?
Answer: Living below street level is generally considered to be inauspicious because chi has a more difficult time flowing into and around the building. Chi can become trapped or stagnant, depriving you of its beneficial influence.
Luckily, there are a few reasonably good remedies for this situation. Because subterranean quarters can easily become dank or dark, I suggest that you keep the area around your home well-drained and well-lit. Plant bushes, trees, shrubs, flowers--as much greenery and color as possible--around your home. The vegetation will increase the chi and encourage its vigorous movement. It will also bridge the gap between your "lowly" house and the outside world.
Indoors, use scenic photographs and other artwork to improve your "view." It's important that you do all you can to uplift your vision as you live happily in your wonderful old building.
Time Proves House Has Good Feng Shui
Question: I am curious whether living in a house made of cinder block and having a power pole outside my back wall poses any special problems. Although I don't particularly like cinder block construction, I've been generally content here. I planted an herb and flower garden, which is now thriving in my backyard. I have friendly neighbors who also live in cinder block homes, so I really don't have anything to complain about. Anything special I should be doing? I am concerned about that power pole.
CURIOUS AND CONFUSED
Answer: Curiosity is healthy and concern can be good, where appropriate. In your case, I'd advise you to keep up the curiosity and ease up on the concern. If you've lived in this home for a few years and haven't suffered major problems with health, finances, relationships or career, then it's fairly safe to say your house has good feng shui.
The power pole that worries you may not be an issue since it is outside your back wall. But if you can see it clearly from the house, and if it's directly across from your bedroom or other frequently used room, try masking it from view with tall bushes or a tree. This will block "poison arrows" (negative energy) that could be shooting from the pole into your home.
The coal cinders mixed with concrete that form your home's building material, may be responsible for the good feng shui working in your life. Cinder blocks represent fire in its most benevolent form: harnessed for the use of humankind. You are probably getting some extra feng shui "bounce" from the inspiration and good fortune that fire symbolically bestows.
The fact that you have a flourishing herb and flower garden and good relationships with friendly neighbors demonstrates an abundance of healthy personal and ambient chi (energy). People who can say they've been generally content in their homes are truly blessed. And you seem to be one of them.
Understanding the Chinese Compass
Question: Why do books that I read all refer to the Chinese compass, thereby allocating the direction "north" at the bottom? When determining correct directions, should I use magnetic north at the top, or Chinese north?
Answer: This does cause confusion. I have another e-mail from Dave Jackson, one of many people trying to figure out why "the north direction faces south" in the compass method of feng shui. It sounds bewildering, but it's really simple.
South is always shown at the top on a Chinese compass (and feng shui chart) because the Chinese consider south the most auspicious and important direction--not because they locate south in a different place. Putting south at the top of a compass or feng shui chart (the eight-sided ba gua) is only done to place emphasis on its importance, not to reorder the Earth's magnetic poles. To find north, south or any direction, you'd still use a plain old compass and look for the arrow to point north toward magnetic north. The opposite direction will always be south, and the other directions fall in place accordingly. I hope this helps.
Mail your questions on feng shui to Kirsten Lagatree, Real Estate section, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax them to (213) 237-4712, or e-mail them to email@example.com or Real.Estate@LATimes.com. All questions will be considered for use but cannot be answered individually.