North Bergen kicks off Chinese New Year

Expert explains Feng Shui

North Bergen kicked off its official Chinese New Year celebration with a Feng Shui workshop conducted by Ivy, a North Bergen resident who began studying the practice seven years ago. As a certified Feng Shui instructor, Ivy introduced dozens of locals at the North Bergen Public Library to the history and practice of the ancient custom, and how it can be applied today.

Today, Feng Shui is practiced worldwide. It applies a holistic framework to architecture and design that can be seen in Chinese buildings and burial sites. It can be traced to the end of the Neolithic era in some of the oldest shelters discovered by archaeologists. Feng Shui can benefit people spiritually and mentally when they practice it on their own living spaces.

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“I came to the United States as a teenager,” Ivy said. “I studied and grew up in both Hong Kong and the U.S., so I had a good understanding of both eastern and western cultures. I try to bridge the gap between the two.”

Bridging the gap allowed her to understand what aspects of Feng Shui could appeal to people in both cultures.

“In China, classical Feng Shui requires spending a lot of money on major construction overhauls,” Ivy said. “If you live in an apartment, you can’t really take the approach of renovations and constructing Zen gardens.”

“Our environment and surroundings can have a profound positive or negative impact on our lives.” — Ivy

Ancient traditions

Feng Shui incorporates spirituality, metaphysics, and other philosophies.

“In the old days, when people were out in the wild, they discovered that our environment and surroundings can have a profound positive or negative impact on our lives,” Ivy said.

Ancient architecture took the natural landscape into account.

“When the first shelters were built, they discovered that an enclosed back was beneficial,” Ivy said. “It provided them with security, safety, and a sense of protection. The landscape in China is generally higher in the west, and wind would be coming from the northwest, so they would avoid that cold wind by building shelters in a way that blends with the natural world.”

The tradition of Feng Shui is linked to Tai Chi, the Chinese combination of martial arts and meditation.

“Everything within the Chinese philosophy of nature has chi, which is described as an energy that we can tap into,” Ivy said. “They realized that Tai Chi helps us tap into a natural flow of energy to align internally with nature. Feng Shui is aligning the external with that energy.”

Feng Shui today

Ivy’s approach to Feng Shui is more straightforward than the way it was classically practiced in China. Windows and doors are important aspects of light and spacing. Water and plants are also crucial to a living space.

Ivy has devoted her career to philosophical and spiritual pursuits, beginning with her PhD in metaphysics and humanistic studies. She then focused on Feng Shui, dream interpretation, and life coaching.

She contributed to two recently-published books on dream interpretation, “Dreams that Change Our Lives,” and “Harmony in Chakras.”

“In dream interpretation, our subconscious is telling us something,” Ivy said. “It could be something we’re afraid of, or something we need to overcome. Understanding our dreams and what our subconscious tells us can help us improve our lives.”

In all her pursuits, Ivy takes a holistic approach in providing supportive pathways for her clients.

“I try to build on people’s health issues, finances, careers, and relationships, as these are all major practical things day to day that we deal with,” Ivy said. “Relationships tie everything together.”

Library celebrates cultures 

Ivy gave a shout-out to the North Bergen Library for its support and its efforts to celebrate a wide range of cultural festivities.

“The library has been very supportive in general,” Ivy said. “They’ve been doing a lot to support cultural events, and celebrating our diverse cultures.”

After the workshop, attendees enjoyed a feast provided by a local restaurant. Chinese New Year is a celebration that typically lasts several weeks; the library will host two more events on Feb. 21.

A workshop on the ancient arts of Jianzhi and Zhezhi, paper-cutting and folding, will be held at 4 p.m. A Qigong workshop on the fundamentals of Tai Chi is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

To learn more about Ivy’s studies, and about the services she offers, call 914-510-2351 or visit

For updates on this and other stories keep checking and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at

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