Feng Shui is about how the universe works, how energy affects us and how we become conditioned by our environment, for better or worse, over time. – The Open Center
If it’s a beach day, or anything close to one, you’re likely to find Patricia Ripley body surfing in the waters of the West End. It’s something she took up four years ago and absolutely adores. “I’m big into the surfing community,” she says with a smile, “in my head.”
When she’s not catching a wave, Patricia is the female half of Ripley-Grier Studios, one of Manhattan’s premier rehearsal facilities for performing artists, teachers, and entertainment professionals. She’s also a certified Feng Shui Practitioner.
The Yang to her Yin is husband and former stuntman, Butch Grier, whom she met 33 years ago. “He pulled up on a motorcycle and asked, “would you like to go for a ride… for a couple of days?” She said yes. Not long after that fateful meeting they began their space rental business, which presently includes 68 studio’s in three locations.
Two life changing events convinced the long time Manhattan residents it was time to put city dwelling behind them. First, the adoption of their daughter, Jeannie, in 1999, and then the horrific attacks on 9/11. “We wanted to get out, find a neighborhood,” says Patricia. With water access and public transportation at the top of their wish list, they searched upstate and New Jersey but nothing felt right. So they turned east. “When we drove into the West End it looked like a town we had loved in California. It was just what we wanted.”
But 20 houses later, nothing was clicking. “The energy just wasn’t there, I could feel different things that went on in the house before.” When a new construction project on Vermont Street entered the market they jumped on it. “We couldn’t believe we had found a beach house.”
Meanwhile, Patricia had grown increasingly interested in Feng Shui. She took courses, read books and earned a certificate at the Metropolitan Institute of Interior Design. “The guest teachers really opened my eyes to the pureness of Feng Shui,” she explains.
She continued her training with a three-year course at The Open Center, learning from Professor Lin Yun. “It was very intense, really deep into Chinese history and philosophy, with a lot of technical work.” In 2008 she graduated with a certificate in the Black Sect Tantric Buddhist School of Feng Shui.
Patricia put her training into practice at Ripley-Grier Studio’s, using colors and materials to bring harmony to the rehearsal spaces. Then in 2009, she and Butch bought another new construction on Pennsylvania Court (ocean adjacent, the land had been vacant nearly 20 years) and worked with the builder to adjust the rooms for optimum energy flow. She also hired an interior decorator she had met during her Feng Shui training to help design the house.
The basic idea behind Feng Shui is that everything has energy, and the way you arrange your home can bring greater peace and joy into your life. Using an octagon shaped compass called the Ba Gua (pictured right) a Feng Shui practitioner maps the energy of a home to see where changes are needed. Examples might include the adding of a water element or introducing a specific color. These “fixes” restore harmony inside a room. But Patricia insists it’s much more than adding and adjusting decor. It’s very much about intention. She says, “you have to DO something to put energy forward in order for Feng Shui to enhance your life. It’s not about flaunting the physical.”
Does it work? She says she’s seen the results. Worried that their daughter had selective mutism when she was little, they painted her bedroom a calming apple green. Shortly after, she began to thrive.
When Patricia learned that a teenage boy on her street had been paralyzed in a surfing accident, she knocked on their door and offered to Feng Shui their entire home for free. They welcomed her help. During the consultation she asked his dad what he most wanted to bring into his life. He said he really wanted a girlfriend. So Patricia suggested they paint his bedroom peach, the color used by Chinese fathers when the time came to marry off their daughters. Today he has a girlfriend. Coincidence or…?
For this story we met at her home, and as she toured me around I immediately saw what kind of detail goes into her work. She really is an artist. You can check out some of the rooms of her home here on Houzz.com
I asked what she considers most important when applying Feng Shui to a home. “The front entrance,” she says, “that’s where all the energy flows into a home.” Her entry on Pennsylvania Court was hand-designed and laid with red pavers. And the front door was painted black to summon good energy for an auspicious career.
In addition to running her NYC studio’s, Patricia offers private Feng Shui consulting. It’s an in-depth process that includes a consultation, a two-hour visit to the home, and the creation of a Chinese Astrology Chart for the entire family. She finds the predecessor Chi of the home (reason why the previous owner sold) then consults the Ba Gua to come up with a plan to harmonize the energy of the entire home. After the homeowner completes the changes she returns to oversee final adjustments.
I met Patricia in the spring of 2016 when I signed up for her Feng Shui Continuing Learning class at Long Beach Middle School. It was an excellent introduction to the practice and made me want to learn more.
Currently, I’m reading Feng Shui for Dummies, which happens to be written by another student who trained under the same professor as Patricia. And let me tell you – it’s not as simple as putting a fountain in a corner! But I’m learning. And as advised by Patricia, my Buddha has moved from the fireplace to a high place of reverence in my home so that I may reap the blessings of a grateful Buddha.
If you’re interested in getting introduced to the practice, Patricia is teaching another class at the Middle School on October 17, 2016 from 6pm-8pm. I’ve put the link to the Registration Page here. Her website regarding private services can be found at PatriciaRipleyFengShui.com
Or maybe you’ll get lucky and bump into her in our local “water element” aka “the ocean.”
ps. On any given day in Long Beach SOMEONE is sporting Polar Bear shirt so just for fun I’m asking all my interviews for a count of their Polar Wear.
Patricia: 0 – but she said that will probably change this February when she takes the plunge. Sidebar: From November to the plunge, all monies raised by selling Ripley-Grier swag is donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in support of the Long Beach Polar Bears. Kudos!
Coming up next on Short Stories from Long Beach: Judy Chicurel – Author of the novel, “If I knew you were going to be this beautiful I never would have let you go.” Set in a fictional Long Island beach town… hmmmm, wonder which one….