Ep.58: Feng Shui with Amanda Gates
We have a really unique topic today that you may not have thought a lot about: feng shui. We are going to dive into how your energies are impacted by the space you live in.
To discuss Feng Shui I’ve brought Amanda Gates to the show. She is an interior designer that transforms the energy of your home. She is a Feng Shui Practitioner, podcaster and award-winning blogger. She has seamlessly married interior design and Feng Shui for almost 20 years to help clients achieve spaces that feel as beautiful as they look.
Amanda’s style is described as fresh, comfortable and relaxed and is well known for classic design with a modern, colorful twist. She is one of Nashville Home and Garden Magazine’s top designers to watch and in 2015, Amanda was awarded top recognition as the Toast Of Music City Best Interior Designer. Her designs and educational blog have been featured in numerous publications including The Huffington Post, The Global Design Post, People Magazine, Nashville Home and Garden, Williamson Source, At Home Tennessee, Greater Nashville House and Home, The Brentwood Home magazine, and recently Fox News Magazine.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Get your own free Home Energy Map HERE!
Ask Amanda questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn: Hey, everyone. It’s Robyn Openshaw, and welcome back to Your High Vibration Life. We have a really unique topic today that you may not have thought a lot about, and it is feng shui. You may have seen it. It looks like it’s pronounced feng shui, but it’s actually feng shui.
We are going to get into what that is, why it matters, and how your energies are impacted by the space that you live in. So, I’m bringing on to the show today Amanda Gates, and she is an interior designer and she works with the energy of your home. Welcome to the show, Amanda.
Amanda: Hey, everyone. It’s nice to be here.
Robyn: Yeah, so happy to have you. This is not a foreign concept to me, but I’ve never had anyone come in to my house. I know you can hire a professional to come in and take a look at the energies. First of all, where did feng shui even come from? Give us some backstory on this.
Amanda: Oh, goodness. It is many thousands of years old. It’s actually been practiced in India, China, and Tibet. The style of feng shui that I practice is actually BTB, which is both Tibetan and Chinese. And this style of feng shui, it’s a big word, it’s called transcendental.
So, a lot of what I do is on an energetic level. But its roots are in Buddhist teachings, and so a lot of it is based on energy practices within the home, and it’s thought that when you’re working more with the energy, that it’s 150% more effective in getting the vibe right in your house, so it’s really cool.
Robyn: What does it feel like, look like when you get the vibe right in your house?
Amanda: Oh my gosh. I mean, everything in your life starts to work in the right direction. One of my favorite … You’ve had Harry Massey on the show, and one of my favorite quotes that he has said is that, “Energy without information is just pure chaos.” That’s really what can go on in your home. Like if shit is just going wrong, it can show up in your career, it can show up in your finances, it can show up in your relationships, and things just aren’t vibing right, and you can feel it. You can feel it in your gut.
We’ve all gone into that house that it just kind of hits in your solar plexus and you’re like, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t like it here.” Something is not right, and that’s the vibe. I mean, you can feel it. And then we’ve all been in that home where we … I call this the Marabeth experience. My really dear friend Marabeth.
I can be so, so busy and have a gazillion things going on in my life, and I will stop by her house. She’s a painter and artist that I work with frequently, and I will go over to her home to pick up something for a client, and all I want to do is sit down, chill out with her, have a cup of tea. Her house, the only way I can describe it, is it feels like a warm, loving hug. It just feels rad and I love it. It’s totally the vibe of her house, and it has everything to do with her and her home’s energy.
Robyn: Well, everybody wants to have a house that other people want to be in, and that feels like a hug, and feels warm and makes you want to stay, so what are some of the elements that come together to make that so?
Amanda: It’s actually, it can be pretty easy. The first thing that you want to do is just … We live in this really crazy-ass, hectic lifestyle, and busy has become the new productive. It’s like the new currency in America, like you’re not productive or important if you’re not busy. A lot of us just don’t take the time to sit down and just feel how our homes feel.
That would be the first thing, just really paying attention to how your house makes you feel, and what’s going on in it, and just how you think things are showing up in your life. And then paying attention to the things that might be going wrong, like are you getting and achieving everything that you want in your career? Are you accumulating the kind of wealth and increasing your finances the way that you want to? Are you living the dream partnership and have companionship that you’ve always dreamed of?
It’s really just taking the time to get clear about the things that you really want, and then looking at your home as a possible solution. I think a lot of people really look to external things like health and fitness, eating right, self-help books, possibly therapy, possibly drugs. Really, there’s few people that consider their home as a possible solution, and I always say that’s where you should start.
Robyn: Okay, so I think of feng shui as arranging furniture and art in a specific way in a room. I think about using metal and wood, maybe water, light and shadow. Can you talk a little about those things?
Amanda: Yeah. I mean, it’s … If I had a million dollars for every time somebody said to me, “Oh, you move furniture.” Well, I would be told that once and retire. Furniture has a small part in it. The elements absolutely have a part in it. But it’s really about the whole picture, so it has a lot to do, we were discussing a little bit earlier on before the show, about your floor plan, as far as the layout of your home. I rarely touch furniture and I rarely touch the items in a home, because I’m working on an energetic level.
What may be alarming to me, three of the most important items in your home are your bed, desk, and stove. So, those are things that I want to make sure are that positioned right in your home, because that can have great effect on you. It could create … Let’s say, for example, your desk. Everybody does this.
Everybody wants their desk facing out a window so that they can look at birds and trees and all that, but if you’ve got your back to the door, then that is basically firing off your fight-or-flight. It’s evolution. It’s instinct. That can really affect your health. It can cause mood swings. It can really eliminate creativity, you’ll notice that it’ll start to drop, and it can really create loss of opportunity in your life.
In that instance, I might look at your desk and want you to turn it around. But it’s usually looking at the interior elements of your home where things are laid out, like your bathroom, where your kitchen is located, how the hallways are, because everything in your home is, it basically shows up in your life. Your home is a third skin.
So, let’s say, for example, you’ve got plumbing that’s not working right. That means it’s going to show up in your life. It’s a direct reflection of what’s showing up for you, and the elements will play a role in that, because that’s what’s going to create harmony.
It’s usually more of a … Let’s say, in your kitchen you’ve got wood floors, and then you’ve got a real pretty painted cabinet, and then beautiful counters. What that would create is a … what’s called a constructive cycle, or a destructive cycle, and you only need three of those to create the elements. But that can get pretty complicated for people, and that’s not necessary to get the vibe right. It’s helpful, but it’s not necessary.
Robyn: It’s interesting that you’re telling me this, I almost laughed out loud, because I’m sitting at my desk with my back to the door, and so … I have a home in Park City that, when my son graduates high school, I’ll move up to Park City, Utah, and I’ll do it right there. I’ll definitely do it right there.
Okay, so that’s a little bit about the desk. Talk about the bed and the stove. Why are those so important?
Amanda: So, the bedroom is one of the most important spaces, especially when we’re talking about energy and feng shui, and EMF is a huge part of my practice. Your bedroom is your incubator. That is your personal charging station. If you’ve got a ton of electronics in there, it’s definitely going to affect your personal energy system. Many people are starting to come out with sensitivities to that and being affected by it.
So, you’ve already got that ding, and a lot of people want their phones on their nightstand, their iPads, their computers. Then, if you’ve got your desk at a command, which means that your bed is on the door wall or it cannot see the door, that can be a huge effect on your health, because, again, it creates danger. It puts your energy system on … It’s evolution. So, while you’re sleeping, your subconscious is literally going, “Danger, danger, danger.”
When we were in caveman era, we would always go into a cave, and we would always put our feet towards the end of the cave, so that we would have a chance if a tiger, lion, or bear came in. We would have the ability to fight. And so, it’s just pure evolution.
Having your bed out of command can cause severe mood swings. It can cause illness along the midline, like heart issues, throat issues, respiratory issues. It can cause severe headaches. If you’re prone to migraines, it can do that. So, it can really have a huge effect on your health.
Then if you combine that with things like EMF, if you’ve got electrical plugs by your bed, really cheap-ass lamps can emit a lot of EMF. A lot of nightstands are coming out as quote, unquote, “smart” and they’ve got extension cords running through them. And so, you just have the trifecta of ruining any chance you possibly can to get any real restful sleep. There’s been so much information coming out about how important our sleep is. This idea that we can really function on four hours is just nonexistent, so it’s really important.
And then the stove in feng shui, according to traditional feng shui folklore, the stove represents finances. And the reason it represents finances is because that is, in old China, when you would cook your rice, this is … A man who could feed himself well was considered wealthy. But there’s more to it than that.
If you are, again, if you’ve got your back to the room and you’re cooking, your system, your energetic field … We have three, four, five, six layers in our energy field that we can’t see, that’s essentially like our Wi-Fi. And then this bioenergetic field, it’s basically our subconscious that has all this information that’s flying out out there, and when your back is to the door, your back is to the room, within your energetic field is danger. And so, what you don’t realize is that while you’re cooking that food, you’re putting that energy into your food system, you’re then feeding it to your family, and then that danger spreads throughout the house.
So, these are all things that we look at, and in my school of feng shui, is just how we’re treating the energy and how we’re nurturing the energy in a way to really live an optimal life that allows you to thrive.
Robyn: I love it. That’s what we’re all about here at this show. How did you, backing up just a little bit, did you go get classically trained as a designer, and then develop sort of holistic tendencies, and go back and get more training in feng shui, or … How did this even happen for you? Where’d you get your training and what is the background on that?
Amanda: So, it’s a really funny story. I was actually pre-med, and I have a degree in biology. I was on my way to med school, and I met a boy, dropped med school, and didn’t know what the hell to do with my life. And so, said boy and I, we bought a house, we were living in California at the time, and it was disgusting. But it was the best house in the worst neighborhood, and it was so gross, oh my God, it was so gross.
There’s this loophole in California that … Well, this was in the early … late ’90s, early 2000s, but the loophole was, is that as long as you had people living in your home, the bank couldn’t take your home away from you. And so, this guy owned this very nice home, and his wife had passed away of cancer, and so he got into financial distress, and was about to lose the house. And so, he moved homeless people into this house.
Amanda: And it was disgusting. It was so gross. If you could imagine the worst case scenario … Urination was everywhere, the floors were destroyed, some of the floors had massive holes in them. They had cut a hole in the ceiling so that they could light fires in what we presumed was the kitchen. Toilets had been ripped out, cabinets had been ripped out, there was no kitchen.
I mean, we’re talking, this was a really nice neighborhood. And so my then-fiancé and I were like, “Oh my God, this is amazing, we’re going to get in the most exclusive neighborhood in California, and we actually afford this house.” We were stupid and had stars in our eyes, and we were like, “We can totally do this.” And so, we completely gutted this house, took it down to the studs, and we made it beautiful. I mean, absolutely beautiful. Everything was brand new. Brand new kitchen, brand new light fixtures, beautiful carpet, [inaudible 00:14:35], the whole nine yards.
And when it was all said and done, I hated it. It just did not feel right. So, imagine putting … We put over $150,000 into this house to get it pretty, and it just didn’t feel right. I could feel it in my gut, the vibe was not right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know what was wrong with it. I thought there was something wrong with me, because I was like, “How can we be in this beautiful neighborhood, in this beautiful area, and this amazing home, and I still feel bad?”
And so, I went down to a Borders bookstore. Remember those?
Amanda: So, I went down to a Borders bookstore, and I was standing in front of what seemed like a gazillion decorating books, and I was so overwhelmed because I didn’t know … They were all pretty books, but I was like, “But what’s going to fix the vibe? What’s going to fix the energy? That’s the book that I need.” And I couldn’t find anything.
And this woman walked up, and her name was Marlene, and she said, “Darling, you don’t need those books. You need this book.” And she handed me this ominous book with an F word on it, and it soon became my favorite F word-
Robyn: “Feng shui,” F word?
Amanda: Yes, “feng shui.” And I had no idea what the hell this book was, I had no idea. I knew nothing. I was like, “Frou-frou, how do you pronounce this?” I had no idea, but … So, I ended up, I sat down, because Borders allowed you to read books in the store, and I sat down, and I literally read this book cover-to-cover. It was by Terah Collins, and I was like, “Oh my holy God, this is it. This is it.”
I later found out that Marlene had a PHD in metaphysics, which I didn’t even know was a thing, and she taught at the local college. I later found out that she was an intuitive, and she knew all kinds of things about feng shui, and she said to me, “You’re going down the wrong path.”
And so, I was like, “Well, what did that mean? What am I supposed to do?” Feng shui really got me, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole, and it was very surreal because I ended up going to one of the most prestigious design schools in California, and my space planning instructor turned out to be a feng shui grandmaster.
I was just like, “Oh my God, I’m in love with this F word, and now I have you.” And so, that kind of started the whole thing. I’m now working under my third grandmaster, Catherine, who I still work with today, and it’s been like a lifelong practice. There’s so much to feng shui. A lot of people will read a couple of books about it or go to a couple of workshops, but I have been studying and working under someone for the last 20 years. There is a lot to it. But it’s cool.
Robyn: So, what was it about that house that you spent so much money? What do you think was so wrong?
Amanda: Well, I later found out that a lot of what was off about that house was, one, there’s something that I call the top five disruptors, and those top five disruptors are the things that most commonly screw up the energy in a home. And the first disruptor is your front door. So, in this instance, the reason why this house did not feel right is my front door was boarded up.
Your front door represents your Mouth of Chi. This is where all energy enters your home and nourishes every life center of your life. So, with mine being boarded up, that’s a loss of opportunity. That means that my voice is not heard. That means that I’m not seen. And it’s interesting because both … By now, we were married. My fiancé and I were married and we had both lost our jobs.
So, it just started to, we started to connect the dots, like, “Oh my God, this means so much.” That’s what, in that house, that’s what the big thing was. And as soon as we were able to get the front door fixed, and get the stairs repaired, which is why it was boarded up, because the stairs going up to the front door were not to code, once we got all that fixed, everything was fine.
Robyn: Okay, so the front door is one of the five disruptors. Can you tell us the other ones?
Amanda: Yeah, so the second one is what I call a missing piece. Essentially, each area of your home represents an energy area that is reflective of a certain area in your life. So, it could be career, relationship, wealth, that sort of thing. And so, if you have an odd shaped home, like it’s an L shape, or you’ve had an architect create this crazy-ass house design, you likely have a missing piece.
That could mean that if you’re struggling in finding a really great partnership, or you’re struggling with your finances, maybe you can’t find supportive people in your life, it’s likely that there’s an area that could be missing, and showing up as indicative of, “Oh, that’s why I can’t find a partner.” Or, “That’s why money keeps coming in and going out.”
The third one is bathrooms, which we all have them, so it’s a modern day convenience that we all want. But a bathroom, if you think about it, the average bathroom has four drains in it, so that’s a huge suck on your energy. If you want water to go down, your energy goes down, too. So, you have to pay attention to where your bathrooms are landing in your house, because they are sitting on one of those life energy areas that are important.
The fourth one is knife-edges, which are often created by hallways when they turn corners, or any sharp object. It could be a sculpture. It could be a chair. It could be a cocktail table. Anything that creates a sharp corner will then create what’s called “sharp chi.” That means energy’s just going at a high rate of speed and hitting you.
And then the fifth one is that command position, with your bed, desk, or stove. Those are what I consider the top five things to always be paying attention to, because those are a great place to start, to really start shifting the energy in your home.
Robyn: So, I made a video this week of my 17 year old son’s four pairs of shoes, strewn from the front door to the garage door. What is that doing to energy in my house?
Amanda: Does he like it? Do you like it? How does that [crosstalk 00:21:31]
Robyn: I do not like it. I do not particularly like it. I took the video to tell him that eight shoes between the front door and the garage door are … I was trying to be, like have a sense of humor about it, it’s not my favorite thing. What is that doing to the energy of my house? I’m half-kidding.
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, in our school, we’re really taught that you can have anything, anywhere, unless it’s placed as an adjustment. If you’ve put that there for some reason … Now, if it is causing you to trip, or if it’s allowing the door not to open all the way, or if it’s causing some kind of problem.
Let’s say, for example, the shoes are in the way, so the door doesn’t open properly, or you trip on them. Depending on the energy center that that falls in, that might show up in your life. It’s not highly likely, but it could. But for the most part, it’s probably not doing anything other than irritating you.
Robyn: Yeah, I’m mostly kidding. That doesn’t help my energies, does it? Tell us where people can learn more about how to take their existing space, most of us aren’t necessarily going to go and design our own homes. But let’s say we just have the house that we have, we’re not going to be going anywhere. I think that you have an ebook that they can get, right?
Amanda: Yeah. I’ve got a really great ebook that you can find on gatesinteriordesign.com/energymap. I’ve been talking about these energy centers in your home and what you can do is you can take this map and lay it over your home. You can just draw up a quick sketch. You don’t have to get fancy. You don’t have to have blueprints.
But it just allows you to see the certain major life areas that are important to most Americans. You can see where those energy centers are, and then you can start to have some ahas, as to why things might be showing up in your life and why things might be difficult or tripping you up, based on what you see in those areas of your home. It’s really fun. You can put on your detective hat.
Robyn: So, some of it’s easy and you don’t have to spend tons of money to have some fixes in your space.
Amanda: No, and you can always … I’ve been writing on my blog for over nine years, I have tons of free resources. I think now more than ever, this kind of work is really, really needed. We’re starting to get in this era of what my professor calls “strange chi,” or “strange energy.” People are starting to become very isolated because of all of the electronics in our lives. We’re not connecting and we’re not getting outside and grounding.
And so, now more than ever, it’s really important to start looking at your home in a new way and getting acquainted with our details, so that you can really start getting that vibe right. It helps your personal energy, too, so that you feel better, and kind of shifts everything. And we really need that right now.
Robyn: Yeah, I was really excited to have you on the show because talking about the energies in the space that we live in is something we haven’t talked about before. It does seem really important. This whole interview I’ve been completely getting motivated, like fever pitch motivated, that as soon as we’re done with this interview, I’m going to clean up my office right now. Then, I’m going to go clean up my bedroom.
And at a minimum, I’ll tell you I am not productive or particularly happy when I have messy spaces. Especially in my kitchen, my bedroom, and my office. None of which are particularly neat right now, so tell us a couple of tips that someone could do right now to improve the feng shui of their home.
Amanda: Oh, well, without a doubt, start at your front door. A lot of people don’t use them, they tend to come in in the garage door, or the back door, or a side door. So, really pay attention to your front door. That, again, is where all energy enters your home. So, if it doesn’t work right, or if it’s not functioning, or if you have a … I literally just met a woman a couple of weeks ago, while I was at Kripalu, who [inaudible 00:25:38] a sauna, a home sauna, and put it in her entry way, up against her front door. And I just thought, “Oh my God.”
If your front door is not functioning, or if you have something in front of it, it’s essentially like having your mouth wired shut, so pay attention to your front door. Keep it clean. Wipe it down. Make sure you don’t have any dead plants. Make it very pretty, inviting, and make it easy to find. I know that sounds kind of funny, but some people have their front doors off to the side of the house, or it might not be obvious, and you don’t want confused chi when people come over to visit you. You want it to be very easy.
Number two, I would just pay attention. Once you get that free map of the energy centers in your home, pay attention to where your bathrooms are. Bathrooms are a huge suck on your energy, so where are they landing in that energy map?
If you’re having a lot of issues with your children, or maybe they’re suffering from anxiety. I’m actually working with a client right now whose daughter is suffering from a huge amount of anxiety. There’s a bathroom sitting on the energy center that is known, or represents, children in this gal’s home. So, pay attention to where your bathrooms are and where they show up on that map.
And then, thirdly, I would absolutely, the most important thing you can do is pay attention to command. Your bed, desk, and stove are so important to make sure that you’re not in that fight-or-flight mode and stressing out your system. I literally had a real estate agent a couple of weeks ago that has been … He had his desk up against the window, and he was like, “But I love looking at the birds and the trees and everything.”
And I said, “Well, let’s just do an experiment for like 30 days. Can you just turn it around for 30 days and just see how it feels?” And, I kid you not, the day that he turned it around, three real estate clients that he had been working with for over a year that were just draining the hell out of him, and they just were so difficult, that day all three of them called him and they closed the deal. And he said, “I am sold. I will never put my desk up against the window again.” So, if that’s not a testament, I don’t know what is.
Robyn: I love stories of moving energies, and suddenly a lot of different things in your life shift, so what a great story to end on. Tell everyone where they can find more about you, and give that URL for your ebook one more time.
Amanda: Yeah, so gatesinteriordesign.com is my main website, and if you type in gatesinteriordesign.com/energymap, you’ll get a free ebook on a map that you can lay out on your home. It gives you instructions, step-by-step instructions. It’s super easy, so don’t be intimidated. And if you do have any questions at all, or if you’re confused, reach out to us. My team and I would love to hear from you. Our email is email@example.com.
Robyn: I love it. Amanda Gates, thank you so much for educating us about feng shui, about energies in our homes and spaces. Thanks so much for being with us.
Amanda: Thanks so much, everyone.