Feeling a little sluggish lately? Always seem to have a sore back or a runny nose? Perhaps your feng shui needs adjusting.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that to feel good, you must be surrounded by good chi, or energy. The art of designing your environment to enhance your chi is called feng shui (pronounced "fung shway"), and it can be practiced in every room, building, office, neighborhood, even your desktop. Although the ideas that follow may sound mystical to those who are unaccustomed to the notions of chi, and yin and yang, feng shui—which literally means wind and water—has its origins in the earliest Taoist traditions of ancient China.
Alive, Connected, and Changing
There are three basic tenets of feng shui: Everything is alive, everything is connected, and everything is changing. And it begins with the basic structure of your home. The placement of doors and windows can mean the difference between chi that is fresh and alive with energy, or stale and damaging. A room can have too much yin, or negative energy, if it has been unoccupied and dirty for a long time; cleaning, bright lights, and uplifting music can, literally, clear the air. Happy sounds are always an effective antidote to bad energy.
According to feng shui, every object, space, and living thing has chi.
"The better the quality of chi coursing through a thing, the healthier, more vibrant, or more beautiful that thing is," according to Patricia J. Santhuff, who often writes about the relationship of chi to health. "When our bodies are experiencing low or blocked chi, we experience fatigue or, if over an extended period of time, are more prone to develop health problems." The goal is to protect against negative energies and welcome those that bring health and longevity.
In Your Home
Start With the Bedroom
One of the most important places for practicing good feng shui is the bedroom, where it is easy to allow the energy to be "too yin," with lack of sunshine and fresh air—a combination that creates stagnant chi and can manifest itself in illness. Here is how the set-up of your bedroom can help your chi:
- Sleeping in a room located at the end of a long hallway can cause the flow of energy in that spot to be too strong and can cause poor health.
- If possible, a bedroom door should not open directly onto a bathroom, and a bed should never be placed against a wall that is shared by a toilet.
- Bedroom doors should also not open onto a staircase, which could allow bad chi to enter the room, or face the corner edge of another room, which can block chi and cause circulatory problems.
- Any bedroom that has been occupied by someone who was ill, should get a good airing, bright light, and a fresh coat of paint to create a burst of positive, yang energy.
Placement of the bed is equally important. Here are some taboos offered by Lillian Too in her book, Feng Shui Fundamentals: Health:
- Never sleep with a mirror facing the bed. "A mirror in the bedroom is one of the most harmful of feng shui features—[as it] creates health problems connected with the heart. Mirrors above the bed are equally harmful." A television counts as a mirror because it also reflects; if you must have a TV or mirror in the bedroom, cover it when it's not being used.
- Never sleep with a water feature behind your bed. A painting of a lake or waterfall—or, worse yet, an aquarium—has the same effect on the heart as a mirror.
- Never sleep with the sharp edge of a corner pointed at you. The sharp edge of a corner is a deadly form of poison arrow that brings the "killing breath." Use furniture to disguise the sharp edge.
- Never sleep under an exposed overhead beam . If the beam is directly over your head, you may suffer from migraines and headaches. If it crosses at chest level, you can usher in problems with the heart, lungs, and other respiratory problems. Beams are not a good feng shui feature in any room.
Move to the Kitchen
Kitchens, too, are important places to practice feng shui for health. If your kitchen directly faces a bedroom, for instance, your home's yin (bedroom) and yang (kitchen) energies could clash and bring continuous illness to family members. Nor should the kitchen door be in a straight line from either the front or back door; good energy shoots through the home without dispersing, resulting first in "annoying illness," Lillian Too writes, then progressing to more serious misfortune. Solve this layout by hanging a mirror on one of the outside doors so positive energy will not leave so quickly.
More Directions for Good Chi
Many feng shui books (including Too's) contain tables that help readers calculate the "best health direction" for their homes. The stove should always point in that direction (as should the head of the bed). The stove, which symbolizes the fire element in feng shui, should never be located next to the sink—which would bring a clash of the fire and water elements—and should never sit in the northwest area of the room, which would be tantamount to "setting fire to heaven's gate."
"This is because the trigram chien, which stands for heaven, the source of all good luck, rules the northwest," Too warns. "Placing a cooker there will [set] fire to the source of good luck energy."
Feng Shui Everyday
Cleaning up clutter can help you relax, and oiling doors so they do not squeak can reduce irritation. Patricia Santhuff has some tips for when you "need an extra boost of energy for a particular project, or are having trouble decluttering:"
- Add a wind chime in the room or over the work area and ring it now and then. Some feng shui practitioners say wind chimes foster clarity and creativity.
- Vacuum and dust. This not only removes dirt; it actually freshens the chi.
- Play some uplifting music.
- Bring a desktop fountain into the area.
- Energetically treat the room by using rattles or clapping, especially in corners and closets.
We should remember, too, that people—as well as spaces—need fresh chi in order to feel good and perform well. A few suggestions for raising personal chi:
- Create something.
- Clean your house, or just a drawer.
- Call a friend. (But, try to avoid complaining!)
- Buy fresh flowers for yourself.
- Cancel a commitment you are sorry that you made.
- Explore some part of your city or area you are not familiar with.
And do not forget the old standbys for feeling better, because they still work:
- Take a walk.
- Do deep breathing.
- Take a hot bath.
- Eat well.