Samita Khanna takes a quick look around the room where our meeting is scheduled. Then, walking to the far end of the space, she takes a chair at the head of the rectangular table. “Did you rely on feng shui principles when choosing to sit at the head of the table?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says, with a smile.

It is not surprising. After all, Samita, a certified master consultant and founder of Feng Shui Arabia, has been practising the ancient Chinese art of harmonising people with their surroundings for about 15 years. So, what prompted her to opt for that particular chair?

The Dubai-based expert offers her first tip: “If you’re invited for a meeting, choose a position where you do not sit with your back to the door. Ideally, your chair should have its back to a wall, but most importantly, the power location for every room, be it your bedroom or office, is diagonally opposite the room entrance door.”

Why? “First, because it’s better feng shui to be able to see who enters the room and not be taken by surprise and have your chi [energy force, according to Chinese culture] jolted by surprise visitors; second, because that chair was placed diagonally opposite the door and allowed for a good flow of energy towards me; and last but not least, I wanted to face north as that is a great direction to face in the year of the sheep.”

A graphic artist by profession, Samita worked as a creative director in an ad agency in Dubai before giving it all up in 2000 to pursue this “metaphysical science” as she terms it, after hitting a few hurdles in her own life. “There were a lot of things I wanted – a Canadian passport, to sell a property, be more in control of my life… But I wasn’t tasting success.”

On a trip to India in 2000, her mother suggested she do a course in feng shui. “‘It’ll help you for sure’, she told me,” says Samita.

After a 36-hour power course in feng shui from a master teacher in her home town of Kolkata, Samita decided to implement all that she had learnt in her own life.

“The first thing I did after returning to Dubai was follow the first lesson in feng shui – clear the clutter at home,” she says.

“I realised that if I wanted, for instance, the birth certificate of my daughter, Sakshi, now 20, I had to wade through half a dozen folders and boxes. Apart from being time- consuming, it was also causing a huge amount of stress in my life that I could do without.”

Over a weekend, Samita cleared around 10 suitcases, emptied her wardrobe of everything she didn’t need or would never use, and went about the house discarding piles of magazines and old newspapers that were just gathering dust.

“From around 10 suitcases and boxes I ended up with just one file that housed all important and relevant documents, and another box for photographs. That’s when I realised the amount of junk I had at home and how this was seriously affecting my life,” she says.

Clearing clutter releases blocked energy channels, she says. “For instance, if a stack of newspapers is piling up in, say, the northern corner that represents luck in your work, then having a successful career could be at stake. You may be doing your best, putting in 110 per cent at work, but rewards and recognition may not be forthcoming.

“The reason? That pile of papers is repressing your career energy.”

Just clear that and you will see a positive change in your career and life, she says.

Samita claims that barely a couple of months after she cleared the junk from her house, her Canadian visa came through. “I also managed to find a buyer for my property and – best of all – there was a dramatic positive change in my family life,” she says.

Enthused, she went on to do more intensive courses during her stay in Canada and later in Malaysia during visits there before setting up her own company in Dubai.

So, apart from keeping the north corner of the house clutter-free, what should one keep in mind to improve career prospects?

“OK, let’s start at the office,” she says. “The first and important rule is to avoid sitting at a desk that has a floor to ceiling window right behind you. In feng shui, that is akin to sitting at the edge of cliff. You will end up being stressed out, edgy, and constantly worried about losing – or falling – from your position. Such work areas leave you vulnerable to professional threats and you will not find any support from colleagues or the management.”

But what if that’s the only desk you have and cannot move?

Then make sure the blinds are down so that it simulates a wall, which in turn denotes support, she says. “This is especially so if it’s a clear window.”

Next tip: Do not sit near a pillar or a cabinet whose edge is directly behind you or pointing in your direction. That is bad feng shui, she warns. The edges effectively cut your body’s energy aura and could leave you with acute back pain, headaches or a feeling of constant discomfort.

“If you have no option to move, then place a tall plant in front of the offensive edge to blunt the effect,” she suggests.

“Sitting with your back to an open area is also not ideal,” she says. “In feng shui, it means you are leaving your back exposed, which means an unpleasant jolt to your aura – the energy field that surrounds your body – and potential back-stabbing by colleagues... not a good thing.”

Luckily, she has a solution for people sitting in such areas: “Keep a little mirror on your work station. It will deflect bad energy and save you from being taken by surprise.”

Another important tip to bear in mind is to keep your desk clutter-free and well organised. Clearing clutter is clearly a crucial element of feng shui.

“Clutter is the main reason for several issues at home and in the office,” says the feng shui expert who is consultant for several major projects in the UAE.

What are the general tips she can suggest for a home?

“Let’s begin from the entrance,” she says. The main door should not be in disrepair or have peeling paint. 
A fused bulb at the entrance, a broken step, or a dead plant are all bad feng shui. A visitor must feel cheerful when he is at your doorstep. They should feel positive vibes when entering your house.

The lobby of your home – the passage or entry point – should be well lit. She suggests keeping a light on here in the evenings. “You can use a power-saving bulb,” she says.

Avoid having shoe racks immediately to the right of the doorway (while looking into the home). The right side of your house is considered the wealth location, and in oriental culture storing footwear in this position is considered bad luck. You can have the rack behind the door on the left side, if necessary. This area symbolises career, health, family relationships and social success, says Samita.

The living room should be bright, airy and cheerful. “Do not hang pictures or have artefacts of gloomy characters or themes, war scenes or wild ferocious animals,” she says. “You need to hang pictures of things that you aspire to or are inspired by.”

Depressing pictures and statues reflect a similar energy in your life.

Samita is also against homes where the living room is akin to a small museum, filled with sharp-edged furniture.

“It prevents the free flow of energy and creates blocks, which is not healthy. The rule of thumb is you should not be dodging things to move around your home… you should not be constantly worried that you might knock against something and hurt yourself or break stuff.”

In feng shui, apart from clutter another very important c is colour, says Samita. “I know of many instances where colours are wrongly used in homes, particularly children’s bedrooms.”

Samita recalls a parent who sought her advice because his child was hyperactive, irritable, stressed and unable to concentrate on his studies.

“The moment I entered the child’s room, I realised the reason,” she says. “Unbelievably, each wall was painted a different vibrant colour. Also, there were half a dozen bright pictures on the walls and many boxes lying around, crammed with toys. How do you expect the child to sleep, relax or study when there are so many contrasting elements in the room?”

Bedrooms are for rest and tranquillity and there should never be focal walls, where one wall is painted in a contrasting colour to the other walls, Samita says. Pastels and tones of beige and pale cream are shades that are fine for bedrooms.

“Of course, depending on the room’s location, direction wise, I can suggest more accurate colours to help a child enormously,” she says. And there’s one colour she warns against using in bedrooms – red.

“It’s considered a volatile shade,” she says. “It can ignite tempers in relationships and lead to ill health, arguments and unpleasantness. In fact, you need to be careful even when using this shade in other rooms. You can use it on one wall in your dining, or living room but never in your bedroom.”

While on the topic of bedrooms, she says an important feature to bear in mind is decor.

“First, do not use furniture that has sharp edges because it can affect your aura and thereby your relationship with your spouse. If there’s a sharp-edged piece you just love, ensure you do not sit with the edges pointing towards you.”

Many of the feng shui principles are common sense, she says.

“If every time you enter the bedroom you end up banging against the furniture and hurting yourself, you will be angry and upset and the night is surely not going to be a happy one,” she says.

Similarly, she warns of having the bedside table with its corner pointing to your head. “Believe me, you are sure to have headaches if you don’t change its position.”

Samita has another tip for bedrooms, “Never have a mirror facing the bed.” The feng shui principle is a mirror doubles everything – so if your mirror faces the bed, you are, ahem, doubling the people in your relationship.

Also, because bedrooms are areas where you relax and rejuvenate, mirrors facing beds can double your energy, therefore making you hyper.

Ideally, she says, when you are in bed, you should be seeing either a nice plain wall, or a calming picture, or a comfy sitting area.

“However, remember, a mirror reflecting the dining table with a bowl of fruit is a good thing, because it doubles abundance.”

Samita suggests avoiding having the bed’s headboard against the bathroom wall. “It will end up draining you of your mental and physical health,” she says.

“The kitchen is one of the most important areas of the house and considered the prosperity position. It is important because there are two primary elements – water and fire – in the same area. As these are conflicting elements, care should be taken when designing the kitchen so that the water area – the sink – and the fire area – the cooker – are a little away from each other. Ideally the sink and stove should be at an L shape.”

But what if that’s not possible, particularly in studio apartments where sink and stove are in the same line? Samita suggests a solution: “Place a small potted plant between the two, which means creating a wood element energy that ends up being beneficial,” she says.

Kitchens, she says, should not be painted red, black or blue. “Use earthy tones, white, a sunny yellow or even soft green.”

An important point: never leave washroom doors open and keep the lids of the toilet down when not in use. Also, never ever hang pictures of people, particularly of children – yours or of children in general – in the washrooms, she says.

“I recently visited a young couple’s well done-up house in Dubai. The woman, my client, told me they were having relationship issues. Everything in the house seemed fine until I opened their washroom and saw the reason for their problem there: a beautiful statue of a romantic couple. The statue there was causing their relationship to quite literally go down the drain.”

Samita says that barely a fortnight after they removed the statue from the washroom, the couple’s relationship came back on track.

So, what according to her is the most important problem in homes? “Clutter,” says Samita. “Keep your home clutter-free.

“I’ve done workshops only on clutter therapy – how to get rid of clutter in different areas of your life, such as personal as well as professional.

“Clear clutter and there will be an improvement in your life.”