Feng Shui 101

Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese practice of selecting and organizing land and property, has been around for over 4,000 years.

bathroom, public goods products

Developed initially to help determine safe places to live as well as to plot appropriate burial sites, over time Feng Shui became a means of maximizing the flow of positive energy throughout various spaces.

No scientific studies are able to confirm that Feng Shui actually changes anything in the environment, although some researchers have drawn interesting correlations. Nonetheless, people across the world believe in the capacity of Feng Shui to bring wealth, luck, opportunity and peace into their lives. Some even report sleeping better and having more energy as a result of arranging their living spaces according to Feng Shui principles.

Interested in giving Feng Shui a try yourself? We reached out to a few Feng Shui experts to get the lo-down on how to apply the ancient practice in any home.

The Basics

“The main idea behind Feng Shui — where Feng means wind and Shui means water — is that the earth has a natural flow of energy, or Chi, that moves through the land,” explained Feng Shui practitioner Maureen Calamia, author of “Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life.” “This energy can be Sheng Chi, beneficial, balanced, and harmonious, or Sha Chi, harmful, imbalanced, chaotic, or stagnant. The ability to tap into the beneficial flow of energy to not only survive, but thrive, is the goal of Feng Shui.”

According to Feng Shui, there are nine Guas, or areas of life. Each gua is associated with a particular color scheme and “element:” earth, fire, water, metal and wood. In the center is the earth. Traditionally these Guas are arranged on a Bagua Map or Magic Square.

They include:

  1. Wealth and prosperity (abundance)
  2. Fame and reputation
  3. Relationships (love and marriage)
  4. Creativity and children
  5. Helpful people and travel
  6. Career and life path
  7. Wisdom (spirituality and personal growth)
  8. Health, family and ancestors
  9. earth

Depending on where your home is located and which directions its rooms face, Feng Shui practitioners advise arranging each room in a manner that honors its associated element, color scheme and Gua. Whether you live in a dorm room, studio apartment, or multi-level house with a front yard, you can apply the principles of Feng Shui to the organization of your living space.

Here are four key areas to target:

1. Front Entrance (Front Door, Foyer, Hallway)

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“The entrance to your home, or the ‘Mouth of Chi,’ is where most of the energy from your neighborhood enters and where your outside world meets your inner world,” Calamia said. Based on how you arrange it, Feng Shui practitioners believe it will attract either positive, negative or no energy.

“Always keep the Mouth of Chi clean and clutter free and well-lit,” advised professional Feng Shui advisor and founder of Transformation & Design, LLC, Melissa Waite Stamps. “Remove old newspapers, magazines, bags, and boxes. If you have coat hooks on the back of your front door that make it hard to open and close the door, hang them elsewhere.”

Shoes and boots should go into a cubby in an organized fashion. Getting a table to place your keys and mail on is ideal, as is having mirrors on the walls to bring in extra light.

Even better? “If you have the space, get a fountain for the table. Moving water in the career and helpful friends gua are considered lucky.”

2. Kitchen

zeus luxury apartment kitchen

Not surprisingly, Feng Shui practitioners consider the kitchen to be the ultimate symbol of nourishment. The stove itself is thought to symbolize wealth.

“Maximize this wealth by keeping the stove free of pots and pans and place a mirror behind the stove to reflect the burners,” Waite Stamps suggested. The thinking here is that by reflecting a source of wealth (the stove and its burners), a mirror will amplify the amount of wealth flowing from such a source.

Keeping the sink drain covered is also thought to help increase wealth, and keeping a plant or vase of fresh flowers on any surface in your kitchen is believed to enhance energy within the room.

“Regularly clear out expired food from your refrigerator, freezer and pantry,” Calamia added. “Put away your dishes and cookware on a daily basis, wipe down the counter after each use and keep the counter clear of clutter” — solid advice, regardless of your endorsement of Feng Shui.

3. Bathroom

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Feng Shui practitioners believe the bathroom has the potential to either drain and eliminate or restore and enhance wealth, prosperity and health, depending on how its interiors are arranged and designed. Any drain is thought to suck the positive chi out of the room, so keeping your toilet seat down and all drains covered is a first step, explained Waite Stamps. It can also help to keep the bathroom door closed.

Placing a bamboo plant or orchid on top of the toilet tank or right behind it if you have room can help prevent excess loss of the water chi, which itself is associated with money and wealth. Waite Stamps also recommended placing a full length mirror outside of the bathroom door, “to deflect elimination energy of the bathroom.”

4. Bedroom

zeus studio apartment bedroom

“The bedroom is where we regenerate our cells and organs while we sleep. It is also a place for romance and love,” noted Waite Stamps, who advised maximizing these qualities by removing all electronics (televisions, computers, ipads, etc.) from the bedroom, as these items “bring in harshness of the world when you need to relax and recharge.”

Ideally, your bed should be in what Feng Shui practitioners call a “command position” relative to the door (with a full view of the door to your room; not directly in front of or directly next to the door but catercorner or diagonally to it, if not as far away from it as possible). “Being in command means that you are in control, in your power. Your body is able to more fully relax and restore itself,” said Calamia. With greater relaxation and rest comes improved immunity, she added.

“There should be equal space on both sides of the bed, and two bedside tables with lamps on each table,” Waite Stamps added. For readers looking for new romantic prospects, Waite Stamps recommended buying new sheets and a new comforter as a way to welcome in new love.

The Takeaway

If you’re unable to apply these basic principles to your home due to spacing or affordability issues — or other housemate pushback— don’t worry. To date, no scientifically validated studies have confirmed that living spaces arranged contrary to Feng Shui principles bring significant havoc into their inhabitants lives.

But if you’d like to improve the aesthetic appeal and sense of peace you and any guests feel when spending time in your home, and you have the ability to do so, go forth and realign your interior according to the principles of Feng Shui. If you just so happen to get a promotion, land a dream job, get the chutzpah to write the next great American novel or meet the love of your life after the fact, then maybe there is something to this millenniums-old practice after all.

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