Bakersfield Magazine: Feng Shui

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Our living environments affect us in numerous ways; they impact work productivity, health and well-being, social interactions, and overall quality of life. Interior design takes into considerations the users, the functions, scale, and shape of a room while adhering to building codes. We pay high prices for real estate; therefore, our designs are based on efficiency. That is not the case for Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese study of the relationships between the humans and their environments. Feng means wind, associated with good health and Shui means water, associated with good fortune. Though simple in definition, it takes years of study and practice to really grasp its essence and complexity. There are many schools of Feng Shui but they all have the main principle: through placements of objects in your spaces, you can allow the energy or Chi to flow easily and achieve balance and harmony in your life.

Elements of Feng Shui

The main elements of Feng Shui are Earth, Water, Fire, Metal, and Wood and each is associated with a specific energy. Often substituted by colors like sand and beige, the Earth element is about grounding and stability; its calming qualities are known to maintain good health and inner balance. The Water element symbolizes freshness, calmness, and abundance as represented by fountains and mirrors or colors like blue and black. To achieve success, wealth, and recognition in your career the Fire element should be introduced in the south area of the room. Its high energy is believed to ignite passion in relationships and is often represented by colors like red and orange. The Metal element is believed to bring precision and clarity to your mental health, therefore it helps maintain keen focus and steer away distractions. Its colors are white and grey. The Wood element, represented by plants and trees, or colors like green and brown, is responsible for good health, vitality, growth, and abundance.

It is not sufficient to only include these elements in your space but there are also guidelines to follow.  Here are examples of Feng Shui design principles.

  1. The front door of the house should open inward but not be aligned with another door or window, especially the back door. It should not face the bathroom, closet door or the stairways. In the case the doors are already in alignment, painting them different colors while emphasizing the energy that you need to attract in that particular area and placing furniture as to re-direct the flow of energy.
  2. Bedrooms are best located at the back side of the house and in the case of a two-story house, over a quiet reading area or dining room, never in the front of the house, over the garage, bathroom or the kitchen. Within the room, the bed should not be under or next to a window and in bedroom suites; the bed should be far from the bathroom.
  3. The kitchen, heart of the home, should not be close to the front door, next to staircases, laundry rooms, or the garage. The triangular layout of the stove, sink and refrigerator is a good Feng Shui practice though the layout should not allow for one to cook with their back to the door.
  4. Staircases should not be at the center of the house, nor aligned with the front door.  The wood element is favored on staircases due to the sense of stability that it brings.
  5. Bathrooms, closets, laundry rooms, and garages are spaces where the energy gets trapped and should not be in the center of the home or office, next to the bedroom, nor facing the front door. These spaces should always remain clutter-free.
  6. Living areas should allow a lot of light because light has the highest level of energy essential for vital health. Living rooms are for social interactions and the furniture should be positioned to allow for gatherings. Irregular shaped rooms are not recommended for living rooms.

Recent research studies have proven that access to natural views in acute patient rooms is linked to reduced length of stay. In healthcare environments, artwork with nature scenes, water features, and indoor aquariums are often used as positive distractions to ease fear and anxiety and people find a space warmer and more inviting when it has finishes with wood-like properties. With these findings, Feng Shui is still questionable since it is based on a holistic approach. So what can we learn from Feng Shui that fits the western beliefs? What Feng Shui describes as stale space with stagnant energy is what we refer to as space not utilized. In my own experience, when a room does not fulfill its potential, I re-design it and whether it’s my bedroom, where its main function is to rest, or my office, where its main function is to increase creativity and productivity, having a well-designed space goes far in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. A Feng Shui designed office will not make you rich; a well-designed space will enhance your work experience and in result improve your productivity.