Feng shui – the Chinese art of placement
An interview with Jan Cisek, London-based expert in feng shui by Susan Norman
When I first met Jan Cisek, feng shui expert, he cast his professional eye around my home and home office and made three recommendations: put a money plant in a particular position in the office for prosperity, put a headboard behind my bed for protection and security, and replace the bathroom mirror tiles (which were breaking up my energy) with a big mirror. He also told me to tidy up when I had time. I did all three major things the next day – and on the day after that was given a business opportunity which brought in £8000 over the next two months. I was impressed!
The tidying is a long-term project, but I have noticed that each time I clear, clean, decorate or reorganise an area of my home, positive changes seem to follow.
I decided it was time to know more, so I asked Jan for an interview.
Question: Feng shui is ‘the Chinese art of placement’. Jan, you’re from Poland, what makes you an expert in feng shui?
Jan Cisek: My clients, I suppose. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become a world-leading expert – and I’ve done more than my 10,000 – over the last 25 years or so. I’ve had the opportunity to fine tune the advice I give people and see what gives the most positive results.
Q: And do people all want the same thing?
JC: In general, they all want reassurance and peace of mind that their environment is working for them – a kind of MOT for homes and workspaces. But specifically people want all sorts of things: a profitable business, good relationships, a baby, happiness, find a partner, financial security, design a logo or website with feng shui, improve health, check for geopathic stress, to buy or sell a house… Having a baby. with feng shui
Q: And can feng shui deliver all of that?
JC: Absolutely. From the point of view of becoming an expert, though, the good thing is that clients tend to come in groups – I once had four people in one week who were having fertility problems. One was a radio presenter and she was so thrilled when she immediately got pregnant that she recommended me to all her friends.
Q: So is it just a case of telling everyone the same thing?
JC: No. The causes were different so they called for different solutions.
Q: Which were …?
JC: Well one simply hung a crystal in the fertility corner, but one couple’s problem was that they had an immovable staircase in the fertility corner – so I sent them on holiday, which is where they conceived. With an Indian couple, it seemed that the husband was worried about having children – unconsciously – so we put pictures of happy children playing around the place.
Q: And they all got pregnant immediately?
JC: Yes. Well, within a month or so. Because they all conceived around the same time, I got a rush of thank you cards all in the same week about nine months later, which all said things like ‘I’d been trying for years to get pregnant, but after one consultation with you, I got pregnant immediately’! I had a bit of explaining to do to my girlfriend!
Selling your house with feng shui
Q: I bet. You mentioned buying and selling houses. Are some houses intrinsically better than others, or just better for some people?
JC: Both. In some cases it’s a case of getting a good ‘fit’ between property and owner – feng shui is first and foremost about helping you live the life you want. But there are some properties that it’s very hard to do anything about.
JC: Sometimes it’s to do with geopathic stress – a kind of fault line in the earth’s magnetic field which carries negative energy. The opposite of that is ley lines which carry positive energy – and you’ll find that all early churches were built on ley lines to harness the energy of the environment.
Q: And can you do anything to help someone whose house has geopathic stress?
JC: Often you only need to worry about not siting your bed on a fault line, but I might also do ‘space clearing’, and I often install a Helios3 – a small device which plugs into a normal electrical socket and neutralises negative energy of geopathic stress. Ideally you do a sort of earth acupuncture – sticking needles in the ground around the house, but often (in flats or terraces) that’s not possible. Some houses have so many problems that it’s almost impossible to do anything. Kensington Palace is one.
Q: Kensington Palace? You did a consultation for Princess Diana?
JC: Yes. Unfortunately the palace was riddled with geopathic stress. The chair Prince Charles liked to sit on was at the crossing point of three different negative lines. And there was a very strong line across the bottom of their bed – and I’ve noticed a pattern that when couples have this line, one or both becomes unfaithful. Anyway, the best thing I could recommend was that she should move – which of course, she couldn’t. Failing that I recommended she move some of the furniture – and that she stay elsewhere as much as possible and travel more.
Q: I suppose she couldn’t really sell it.
Q: Can you sell properties with such problems?
JC: It can be really hard. Potential buyers don’t necessarily know what’s wrong, but they just don’t feel good when they walk in.
Q: So what can you do?
JC: All the things I mentioned before. There can be other problems too. Often the seller has unconscious blockages about selling – and if these are very strong they may need to do fairly complicated rituals to release them. But the longer the house is on the market, the more they have an unconscious image that the house is ‘unsold’ and it’s important to change that – sometimes by doing something simple, but counterintuitive, like putting the price UP. It’s reverse psychology. And then if you make the selling price number divisible by 9 (which has the energy of completion), you make selling even more likely.
Q: And do houses always sell?
JC: Usually, yes. We often get very quick results even when a property has been on the market for ages. But I did have one apparent ‘failure’ about 18 months ago, where the couple were leaving the country to live abroad and they couldn’t sell their house. Eventually they decided to rent it out instead. And it turned out to be the right thing, because after a year abroad they realised it had been a mistake and they came back.
Q: So what was happening there?
JC: It may be that subconsciously they weren’t convinced that they would stay and that they should sell. And I can only go by what clients tell me. But I always build in a sort of ‘clause’, if you like, that whatever changes we make should be for the clients’ highest good, even if they don’t know what that is.
The early years
Q: So how did you get started?
JC: I think I was interested in this sort of thing from childhood. When I was about 9 or 10 I watched a TV program about dowsing. It’s an accepted discipline in Poland where I come from – it’s called radiesthesia. Everyone knows about negative fault lines (geopathic stress). Anyway, I went outside and cut myself a forked twig – and discovered that I could do it. So I made it a hobby and used it to check if friends where sleeping on geopathic stress.
Q: So you had a natural talent?
JC: I suppose so. And then my father had a decorating business and he used to take me along on jobs and he had a strong belief that colour and how you decorate your house can affect how you live. He used to recommend things to people – he would redecorate and things changed. Single people suddenly got married, or a couple would have a baby. I began to take notice. Actually you couldn’t miss it, because he tried out his theories on the family too. One time we came home from school and found that he’d painted the whole flat blue, and we all became passive and sleepy, until six months later he painted a lot of walls red or warm colours. Everyone was as high as a kite and bouncing off the walls. After that he strived for balance – which is one of the principles I work with now. Although I have inherited his love of extremes. Whenever I learn something new, I like to push it to its limits. For example, I’m a voracious reader (I even trained as a speed reading trainer to read more). I have read (and still read) everything I could lay my hands on, including everything on feng shui and any related subjects.
Q: Subjects such as …?
JC: Well dowsing, décor and design, and geomancy, which is more about earth energy and the terrain than interiors. Also any latest research in Environmental Psychology, Cognitive Ergonomics, Ecological Design, electromagnetic radiation and so on. Everything interrelates.
Q: So what happened in the intervening years to bring you here?
JC: Well when I was 15 I became the chair of the local Polish India Society. There weren’t many of us, but my motivation was to house all their books at home – and I read the lot. And I organised lots of people to give talks on yoga, health, and energy healing, etc – and on Vastu Shashtra, which is a sort of Indian feng shui. Then I went to college to study art and design, and I was doing a lot of paintings in and for churches, and I became aware of sacred architecture.
Q: This is still in Poland?
JC: Yes, although shortly after that I came to England, and I started giving talks about feng shui to the Polish society (in Polish because my English wasn’t very good at that point). People didn’t know much about it at the time, and they were mainly interested in the health aspects – how geopathic stress can be a significant factor in causing cancer, for example. And I started getting clients – and getting results. And then more and more clients. At one point I was doing three or four consultations a day. Some of them I did at a distance from plans, photos and videos – and then I started teaching feng shui and the videos came in handy for teaching purposes.
Q: And I’ve seen your name on the Feng Shui Journal too, haven’t I?
JC: Yes. I was a founder-member of the Feng Shui Society in 1993, and for a number of years I edited and produced the Feng Shui Journal. Then when I was doing feng shui consultations for people’s businesses, I got involved in improving their logos – and that side grew too, until now a significant part of my work is to do with branding companies, and improving their logos and websites.
Q: Using feng shui?
JC: Absolutely. I use feng shui principles to ensure that brands have a powerful energy. And my background in art and design comes in very handy too.
When feng shui doesn’t work
Q: So are there any occasions when feng shui doesn’t work?
JC: Not really. Although sometimes people don’t do what you tell them and then they’re surprised when they don’t get results. And there have been occasions when things have changed but the people didn’t notice, or didn’t attribute it to the feng shui. Or sometimes they had totally unrealistic or non-specific expectations. You can’t expect feng shui to build you a billion-dollar empire if you sit around on the couch watching TV.
Q: Do people have to believe in it for it to work?
JC: No. Even Niels Bohr, Danish Nobel-prize winner, had a horse shoe above his door. And when people used to ask him why he, a scientist, would take any notice of an old wives’ tale, he would say: ‘I understand that it works whether you believe in it or not.’
Q: So a degree of scepticism is OK?
JC: Yes – as long as you follow the suggestions of your consultant. And things like geopathic stress and electromagnetic radiation will affect you whether you believe in them or not. But if people are totally negative, they can sabotage the positive effects of feng shui – which is as it should be. You are the person most in control of your life and your beliefs will have the strongest effect. The people around you will be second in the hierarchy – and then your environment.
Q: So is feng shui at work if I change the colour of my bathroom, or move my bedroom around?
JC: Absolutely. We are all shaping our environment to reflect aspects of ourselves. But most people are doing it unconsciously and some are having more positive effects than others. I once went to work with a guy who was depressed because he was lonely – he didn’t have a partner, he didn’t have many friends. When I got to his flat, I had to squeeze past a huge cactus next to the door – at great risk of being scratched. And he had lots of pictures around of himself doing things alone and of deserts and deserted beaches. He didn’t realise that he himself was creating the separation from other people.
I like to quote one of Winston Churchill’s favourite sayings: “We shape our buildings, thereafter, they shape us.” It makes sense to be aware of the effects we are creating and to get the maximum benefit from our surroundings.
Q: And can you help everyone?
JC: Um … yes. If people know and can tell me what they want, we can work with that. If they don’t know I can generally optimise the environment to make life easier for them. So yes. Feng shui works for everyone who wants it.
Q: There’s one thing I’ve always wanted to ask: is it true that I shouldn’t leave the toilet seat open?
JC: If your toilet is situated in your wealth corner, then the belief is that leaving the lid open allows your wealth to flush away. But then you’re disempowering yourself by thinking that your finances are totally dependent on your toilet.
Q: So is there any advice you can give that I could put into practice? A sort of ABC for beginners?
JC: Well, you want to get a good flow of energy in your home and workplace – hence doing a bit of tidying up. But I as a starting point I have three rules:
• if something is blocked, unblock it;
• if something is constricted, release it;
• and if something is weak, strengthen it. And love your home and workplace.
Q: Nice. Jan Cisek, feng shui expert, thank you very much.