Many westerners (including most of the Coop Dream Team!) have a very specific and incorrect idea of feng shui. We conducted an informal office poll, and most people thought it simply had to do with furniture arrangement and flow of a room.
And that’s… a little bit right. We essentially understand one piece of the puzzle, as alternative and Chinese medicine expert Tsao-Lin Moy tells us. “Feng shui is the art and science of placement,” says Moy. “Based on the Daoist principles of Yin and Yang to cultivate balance that translates into health and longevity, the environment in which you live and work can either support your health or diminish it.”
It’s not shocking that environments in which we live and work (or otherwise spend lots of time in) are critical to our overall health and wellbeing. Feng shui is said to work to bring good fortune to everyone who exists in the particular space; from better grades for your kids to general happiness and success for the entire household. But how?
To speak to how feng shui works, we must first discuss ways in which it doesn’t. It’s not a mystical belief system or just rearranging a room in a day. It is a thoughtful, intentional, and introspective practice. Feng shui is about how humans exist in their environments—about how our own human energy interacts with the energy of our space. It is about achieving harmony in your space, and thus, your life.
Since we’ve been spending so much time in our homes, we decided it would be a good idea to make sure our spaces were actually working for us rather than against us. And what a better place to start than the bedroom?
First, A (Very) Brief History
The art of feng shui can be traced to its roots in ancient China, when “farms and villages were auspiciously placed within the protective folds of mountains, shielded from harmful winds and nurtured by the gentle, winding streams,” writes the blog, Feng Shui Style. Settling in valleys and foothills made these particular villages more prosperous than villages that were developed on infertile soil and in big, open space subject to harsh weather. This is where we get the very literal idea of how important the flow of energy and set-up is to a space.
This importance of energy is then seen in political, religious, and spiritual texts over the next thousand years. The Book of Changes, the philosophy of Yin Yang, and the Five Elements all add to the significance of life energy (a.k.a. Qi) and its flow. These ideals have remained true in Chinese culture, even through the rise of communism.
We look to feng shui to help us figure out where ideal flows of Qi are in the spaces we inhabit, and let that guide us in terms of item placement and room layout.
1. It’s All About the Bed
“The most important thing to take note of in the bedroom is the placement of the bed,” says Eddie Tee, who has been a feng shui practitioner since 2003. “This not only concerns which area of the room the bed should be placed, but also the orientation, or position, of the bed.”
Tee tells us that the bed should be placed with the headboard against a wall in an area that is free from harmful negative energy. According to Tee, the most common sources of negative energy are bedroom doors and bathroom doors, beams on the ceiling, and any exposed pillars. To avoid these negative energies, don’t place your bed in the “energy line” of these features.
So, where do you put the bed? “Ensure the headboard is against and aligned to a solid wall,” advises Albert Lee, creator of Home Living Lab. “Beds without a solid backing tend to result in poor ‘Qi,’ which may result in poor health and unstable relationships.” It’s also important for the bed not to obstruct any energy coming from the doorway, so try to place it in an area where you wouldn’t walk directly into it if you were to walk a straight path from the doorway!
2. No TVs, No Computers, No Tech!
“It’s very important to make sure there are no electronics in the room at night,” advises Kelli Yellen, founder of feng shui line Magari. “The bedroom is a place for sleeping, not working.” However, Yellen admits that with the advent of smartphones and the increasing combination of work/life living spaces at home, keeping technology out of the bedroom can be challenging. “If you must have your phone or other piece of equipment in your bedroom, try to keep it a little distance from your bed. If possible cover it with a cobalt colored piece of cloth at night.”
3. Clutter? I Barely Know Her!
“Clutter obstructs energy flow within the room, and the bedroom is a place for rest,” says Lee. “If the bedroom is cluttered and messy, your quality of rest will be affected.”
A lot of us tend to use our bedroom as a place to hide things we don’t want in more communal living spaces, which can get pretty messy. “Don’t make your bedroom a dumping ground,” says interior designer Pamela O’Brien. “Keep only what you need in your room and have a place for everything. Clothes should be in the closet or in drawers. Other items should be kept in your nightstand, dresser, or chest of drawers.”
4. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
“Remove any mirrors that face your bed,” says Moy. “Mirrors reflect energy back to you—such as clothes in a pile or worrying thoughts—and can even make you feel like there is a presence watching you sleep.”
Constant feeling of being watched? No, thank you!
5. Make Space
“It is important to have good energy flow on both the sides and the front of the bed,” says Lee. “If the left side of the bed is up against the wall or cluttered, it may result in poor reputation, or lack of support from important people or friends. If the right side is against the wall or lacks space, it results in poor accumulation of wealth, lacking in financial issues.”
Whether or not you believe the earth’s innate energy has an impact on your own personal life, certain principles of feng shui stand on their own. Do you follow any feng shui “rules”? Comment below and let us know!