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Romancing the Feng Shui - The New York Times

There I was crying in my kitchen.

This is not how I saw things happening when Patricia Lohan, a feng shui coach based in the Indonesian island of Bali, came to my Harlem apartment to be a guest on my podcast. My microphone malfunctioned, so instead of discussing feng shui, which Ms. Lohan describes as working with space to create a fertile foundation for realizing your potential, she assessed my home for anything that might be blocking me from attracting love.

While the decluttering guru Marie Kondo has the world tossing their unwanted socks because they no longer “spark joy,” Ms. Lohan, 38, teaches people how to make their space a reason to smile. I first met Ms. Lohan, the author of “The Happy Home: Your Guide to Creating a Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Life,” just over a year ago at a media mixer in New York, where an eclectic crowd of thought leaders from around the world gathered to network. I loved Ms. Lohan’s energy and her stories. She shared that she was an Irish feng shui coach who lived in Bali with her husband, whom she manifested through the art of feng shui. I was intrigued and ready to give it a try.

I recently began dating again after breaking up with my long-term partner the same day I got the contract to write my first book on how ambitious women navigated their personal and professional lives, “Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success” (St. Martin’s Press, 2018). I was ready for my next great love and wanted her No. 1 tip.

Without hesitation, Ms. Lohan replied, “clear out under your bed.”

With storage space in my Manhattan apartment being sparse, I was resistant. Then I realized I had nothing of value under there, so I decluttered. What I found startled me: a T-shirt belonging to a former lover.

Nitu Patel, a New York-based feng shui consultant and the founder of Phoenix and Rose, agrees that clearing out under your bed can refresh your energy. “Feng shui is about getting present,” Ms. Patel said. “Make your bedroom the love and sex sanctuary.”

Soon after clearing out (and tossing the shirt and other reminders of past relationships) I felt lighter. A charismatic, take-charge acquaintance soon jumped out of the friend zone. We had dated last year before he faced health challenges and planned to move out of the country.

I was ready to reset my space and be open for new love by the time Ms. Lohan visited my uptown one-bedroom. Here’s how feng shui helped me to clear four areas in my home and open my heart.

When Ms. Lohan began walking through my space, one of the first stops was the front door. A metal dress form coat rack stood behind it.

“When you come in you want the door to open as full as possible to maximize the possibilities coming into your life including energy, money, and blessings,” Ms. Lohan said. I quickly moved the coat rack to the hallway. She also noticed the blank wall across from my entryway. “When you open your front door let the first thing that you see spark joy,” she said.

Now my vision board, covered with images that represent my desire for a satisfying and soulful marriage, a smooth transition into motherhood and to make good money while doing good in the world, gazes at me when I enter from a busy day. “New York is hectic, high strung and full of energy,” said Laura Cerrano, the chief executive of Feng Shui Manhattan and a second-generation feng shui consultant trained by her mother, Carole Provenzale. “It’s important to have balance and a place to call home. Your environment is an extension of you.”

“Right now the way your bed is, it’s pushing away love,” Ms. Lohan shared when we walked into my bedroom and she saw that my bed was positioned in the far corner facing the door.

I couldn’t change the architecture of the room but I could move my queen mattress off the wall, if only a little, and continue to keep under the bed clean. In an ideal scenario I would keep the bed facing the door and add two night stands on both sides of the bed, one for myself and one for my partner. Not only should I be making furniture selections with my future partner in mind, but I also had to free up some closet space.

“Do yourself a favor and buy a few hangers in a different color and make a little promise, ‘These are for my guy,’” Ms. Lohan said. She had done the same thing soon before meeting her husband, Ken Mahon.

Ms. Patel, who recently moved to New York, intentionally saved room for a great love she anticipates. “If a man were to come in my life tomorrow, he would have a place to put his stuff. It’s ready,” said the feng shui consultant. “Live as if you already have a partner. Leave a few drawers empty and have out coasters, a book and even a condom for your partner.”

“What’s your date night?” Ms. Lohan asked as we walked through my living room that included my desk and bookshelf. “Where’s the space for it?” My overflowing desk and packed bookshelf were a reflection of my busy schedule — which had no set time for date night. So I added Wednesday as date night and saved the time in my calendar. Looking forward also meant releasing the past, including the books and magazines I wouldn’t be reading again.

She also noticed the lone piece of art I had hanging above my bookcase: a woman standing tall under an umbrella. It signaled resilience to me. “You’ve got to signal you don’t want to be by yourself,” said Ms. Lohan. “If you want to fill your space or your life with new things in relationships and opportunities for your career, we have to make space for it.”

I took the painting down. If you work from home, Ms. Cerrano recommends a desk that can be closed or concealed and to keep everything on and around your desk organized and neat.

“It’s important to create boundaries physically,” Ms. Cerrano added. “Feng shui isn’t furniture, it’s personal development and a reflection of where you are and can be a road map for where you want to go.”

I was most excited to have Ms. Lohan in my kitchen so she could see I was already using her advice. I am a member of her Facebook group, where she often shares feng shui insights. I implemented some of her tips including putting a mirror at the back of the stove to amplify wealth and health. I also started working on buying more things in pairs for my future partner and me to enjoy. I was really proud I consciously purchased two jewel encrusted champagne goblets. I couldn’t wait to show Ms. Lohan — once I remembered where they were stashed. I grabbed my foot ladder so I could reach the top shelf in my cabinet. I found them and smiled.

“They are gorgeous,” Ms. Lohan said. “And you needed a ladder to get them. You had your dream as unreachable and up on a shelf.”

Her words hit me and the tears came. I indeed had my desire for marriage up on a shelf as something coming later, and not fully embracing love in the present. I grabbed a bottle of Mo√ęt Champagne from my wine shelf that I had been saving for some arbitrary moment of celebration. I popped the cork and we christened those goblets with love. I sat them out on my counter and now enjoy them in my space every day, especially on date nights when I write to my future husband, who is somewhere smiling on the planet.

“You better ask me to the wedding,” Ms. Lohan said as she exited my newly transformed apartment.

Charreah K. Jackson is an author and the founder of P.S. Powerhouse, a communications agency. She formerly served as a senior editor for Essence magazine.

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