Phone-in Feng Shui: Stephen Benton Offers Advice for Good Living in Petoskey
by Robert Downes
Is your new home giving you headaches, literally? Does the flow of your living space feel somehow jarring and wrong? Are you concerned that you may be facing the wrong way in your bed at night, out of sync with the universe?
Relax, Stephen Benton can fix or prevent bad vibes in your living space through his work as a practitioner of the Black Hat School of feng shui. And, he can do it all over the phone by reviewing faxed-in drawings of your home's floor plan.
"Feng shui bedroom, office and home consultations improve health, peace, love, prosperity and help you achieve your goals by creating enhanced living/working spaces that nourish and strengthen your soul," he notes on his website, www.fengshuihomes.net.
Benton is the owner of The Healing Arts Company on Mitchell Street in Petoskey, which offers feng shui consulting as well as self-empowering products.
Feng shui, which means, "wind-water" in Chinese, is the art of orienting your home, decor and furnishings in a way that is in harmony with the universe. Your home's feng shui sends a message about who you are, invites specific energies into your home, and creates a sense of flow in tune with the universe. The belief is that a home designed around feng shui principals will offer a balanced living space, inviting health, good luck, happy feelings and success in many areas of life. On the flip side, a bad home layout can result in errant energies, poor flow, bad luck and even illness, with your feng shui seriously out of kilter.
A 1983 graduate of Petoskey High School who studied at North Central Michigan College and Michigan State University, Benton got interested in feng shui while living in Hawaii for four years.
"I remember hearing about the Hawaiian Kahuna system that would superimpose a spiritual giant atop a floor plan," he recalls. "The entryway of the home would be the head, the body laying down would be the living room, and the kitchen and other rooms would be the legs and feet. Depending on what's going on in your life, you could modify the living space. A headache, for instance, could indicate a need for modifications.
"I got interested at that point, but things didn't blossom until I bought some books on feng shui," he adds.
Through his readings, Benton encountered the work of teacher David Kennedy, who practices the Black Hat School of feng shui in California's Bay Area. The method, created by Thomas Lin Yun of Berkeley, teaches that one's home and furnishings should be laid out to harmonize eight life qualities -- a sort of cosmic compass called the Ba-Gua. These qualities include career, family, children, marriage, helpful people, fame/respect, wealth, and knowledge.
PHONE-IN FENG SHUI
Benton took a six-month correspondence course in 1999 and established his consulting firm. Although one would imagine that Bay Harbor would be a haven for feng shui aficionados, Benton notes that he hasn't had much success marketing his services in his hometown. Most of his clients have come from Traverse City or the Detroit area.
"I do on-line consultations where people fax or email me their floor plans," he says. "Then I go through the floor plan and incorporate Chinese directions based on birthdays to orient the clients' beds and desks."
Feng shui practitioners believe that it's very important to sleep with one's head facing in the correct direction proscribed by the Zodiac. This can cause some serious problems if you're sleeping with your sweetheart whose astrological influences run counter to your own. "A lot of times the husband's best direction is east and the wife's is west," Benton notes. "It sounds sexist, but under feng shui, you would orient the bed to the man's direction. This is because in the old days, it was the man who would go out to the fields and the man who needed the most good luck in the family. A different way of looking at it would be that men are less flexible than women and men require more supportive energies from the universe."
On the other hand, Benton notes, if the woman is the breadwinner in the family, today's feng shui would dictate orienting the marriage bed to give her the most energy benefit.
Sometimes, Western room layouts don't lend themselves to the best sense of feng shui. Benton notes that the ideal situation is to submit floor plans before your home is built so that it can be designed with feng shui principles from the get-go.
WHY FENG SHUI?
"People need feng shui because it's a way to improve what's called earth luck," Benton says. "In astrology, we are born with what's called heavenly luck, and it's hard to change that; but it's fairly easy to change our earth luck through feng shui. And it's not hard to change one's belief in order for it to be effective -- you can see and feel the feng shui changes happening in your life."
For the future, Benton plans to do more marketing to promote his service. Ideally, he'd like to have accounts around the
country with an option to travel. Currently, he charges $80 per half hour and $150 per hour for telephone consultations, or $300
for an on-site consultation.
He also has a number of "self-empowering" products for sale through his website, including quartz crystal singing bowls,
feng shui fountains and grace note chimes. Benton is also working on a book entitled "Mantras Are Us," and has mantras available
for those who wish to hum their way to a higher state of consciousness.
For more information on Stephen Benton's Healing Arts Company, see www.fengshuihomes.net.
Published in Northern Express Weekly, Petoskey, Michigan.