Feng shui is an ancient art that is intended to harmonize your relationship with your environment. It’s a beautiful, complicated art with many schools of thought and sometimes, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds. But there are some very simple, everyday things you can do to improve the feng shui of your home.
And you can start today, with very little knowledge of Chinese philosophy or the art of feng shui. In fact, my first introduction to the concepts of yin, yang, and the five elements came through T. Raphael Simonss’ Feng Shui Step by Step way back in middle school. I admit that I first used it to compare my crush’s birth star to mine (we were not compatible.)
While Simons did his very best to distill a complicated art to an approachable book, feng shui still appears to be very complicated. You can take a deep dive into the more esoteric side of feng shui and I’ll admit – it’s super fun.
But you don’t need to.
If you want to dip your toe into the feng shui shallows, this post is the perfect place to start.
Start with function
If you’ve heard the word qi defined, you’ve probably heard it defined as “energy.” Like I mentioned in the first acupuncture misconceptions post that’s because Chinese philosophy and acupuncture where introduced to the US in the 60s and 70s where it got tied with the New Age movement.
But really, a better definition of qi (which you may occasionally see spelled chi) is “function.”
Feng shui is as much about improving the qi or function of a space as acupuncture is about improving the qi of the body.
So you have to ask yourself – how do I want this space to function?
You want your kitchen to function as a space to create nourishment for you and your family.
You want your entryway to function as a space to safely enter and exit your home and give guests a sense of ease and comfort.
You want your living room to function as a space to connect with family.
And you want your bedroom to function as a safe and quiet space to sleep and have sex.
Multi-function rooms have scattered qi. If you can’t limit a room to a single function, think of ways you can divide off sections to have singular functions within that space.
Let qi flow
Qi needs to move. It’s yang and effervescent. When qi doesn’t move it stagnates. In the body, we see stagnated qi as a limb that doesn’t function well, pain, anxiety or depression. In a home, we see it as clutter and inefficient space.
I always recommend making a plan for decluttering because it’s a bigger project than you ever expect. And it’s a process. But decluttering clarifies the things you really need in your space and helps to establish the function of a room.
Right now, my desk is very cluttered because my desk is in a multi-function room. But as I’ve been working through my own decluttering process it’s gotten easier and easier to focus on work when I sit down because the process of decluttering has defined the function of my desk as a workplace.
Clutter also impedes your ability to travel through a space. If you can’t easily travel through a room, it’s function is negatively impacted.
Arrange furniture efficiently
One of the most recognizable aspects of feng shui is the auspicious placement of furniture, arranging it to bring good fortune and health.
There was a Penn and Teller Bullshit! epsiode on this I saw when I was in college and it was the first episode I realized, “Oh! These are straw man arguments designed to make the subject of the episode look stupid. Got it.”
They looked at a feng shui book and arranged a couch on the set according to the book. And then complained that it was in the way. Good luck, bad design. Right?
If the room cannot function as a space, it doesn’t matter that the furniture is in the appropriate corner for wealth or health. The point of a room is to function.
Have chairs arranged in your living room so people can see each other and chat. Make sure your hallways aren’t too choked with benches and clutter. And make sure that your kitchen is useable. Let the qi of the room flow.
At the end of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up”, Marie Kondo says,
“The basic belief [of feng shui] is that everything has its own energy and that each thing should be treated in a way that suits its characteristics. To me, this seems perfectly natural. The philosophy of feng shui is really about living in accordance with the rules of nature…owning only what we love and what we need is the most natural condition.”The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, page 197
Marie Kondo does not claim to be a feng shui practitioner, but because of her work feng shui is something she is intimately familiar with. By releasing clutter and the things that don’t serve us or bring us joy we improve the function of our homes. They make us happier because we are surrounded by things that make us happy.
Practical Feng Shui
Now we have covered the basics of feng shui:
- Define the function of the space
- Arrange furniture efficiently
- Embrace minimalism
These are big ideas and may take some time. But I promised you some simple, toe-dipping feng shui tips. “Declutter your apartment” is not that.
So here are some super simple, practical feng shui tips and why they work:
Use your stove every day
From a feng shui perspective, using your stove every day means that you’re warming the heart of your home and bringing in finances and improving your health. From a practical perspective, it means that you’re not eating out as much, saving money and eating homemade food.
Feeling depressed? Move 27 things.
From a feng shui perspective, this stirs up the stagnant qi which alleviates depression and anxiety. From a practical perspective, studies have shown that changes as small as taking a different route to work have a measurable impact on our happiness. Our brains like variety and moving 27 things to a different place can fill that need for change.
No televisions in the bedroom
Your bedroom is for two things: sleep and sex. Subtle lights from the television, cable boxes and other electronics can disturb your sleep. If you have space, find a cabinet you can shut the TV in at night. Or better yet, remove it from your bedroom completely.
Keep the toilet lid down
From a feng shui perspective, health and wealth get flushed down the drains of the bathroom. Modern research shows that flushing your toilet with the lid up very likely risks taking your health with it.
Treat your items with respect and gratitude
Keeping your home and items in good repair means they last longer and you spend less money replacing things that break or tear.
Do you have any practical feng shui tips? Comment below!
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Resources and links
Feng Shui: Step by Step – T. Raphael Simons
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Disclaimer: I am an acupuncturist in the state of Minnesota, and the information falls within my scope of practice in my state. However, unless I have directed you here as your homework I am probably not your acupuncturist. The information in this post is for general purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. As always, check with your own acupuncturist or primary care provider before making any lifestyle changes. This post does not create a patient-practitioner relationship and I am not liable for any losses or damages resulting or relating to the content in this post.
Jessica Gustafson is a licensed acupuncturist in St Paul, MN specializing in women’s health and fertility. She loves working with patients through the Health Foundations Birth Center on Grand Avenue in St Paul as well as doing home visits in the Twin Cities area. Check out the services page for more information!
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