The overriding purpose of feng shui is to create an environment where, through a variety of components, we are able to maximise our physical and mental wellbeing. Let's face it, we could all do with a bit of that.
We’ve all walked into a room and felt uncomfortable, and, likewise, there are places we go where we feel totally relaxed and ‘at home’. Feng shui is the 'science' that explains why this happens.
Basically, it’s all about balance. Most of us have heard of the yin and the yang, the concept of positive and negative energies, conflicting with each other to obtain dominance. Sounds like we’re heading back to mumbo jumbo land, BUT we can apply this to any real world situation.
For example, imagine a slow moving yin river, when it hits rocks, it drops, speeds up, and creates turbulence. It is now yang. As it reaches a lake, it becomes yin again. A boat travelling on this river will be at its optimum speed when the energies are balanced. Too much yang, and it could be damaged by the currents. Too much yin, and much more work is needed to paddle it.
So what about our own working environment? What can we do about that?
It’s all about creating a balanced and harmonious environment. Common sense really, but we experience our environment through our five senses, so we need to make sure they’re all accounted for.
Some of the key factors we need to think about are:
Lighting will play a key part in how we feel. Our bodies are in tune with the sun and its natural cycles. Just ask anyone who suffers with SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) caused by changes in lighting conditions in the winter months.
Natural light is important, and we should position our furniture and arrange our activities to make the most of it.
Ordinary bulbs produce light which is towards the red end of the spectrum, with little blue or green light. Fluorescent light is the opposite. It emits higher electromagnetic fields, and its flicker can cause headaches
Colours will also play an important part in how we feel too:
White represents a clean canvas, and black symbolises a clean slate. Both provide a base on which we can create a picture, from the main colours below:
RED: Red is stimulating and dominant. It reduces the size of a room, and increases the size of objects. It is associated with warmth, prosperity and stimulation, but also with anger, shame and hatred.
YELLOW: Yellow is associated with enlightenment and intellect. It stimulates the brain and aids digestion. Its positive qualities are optimism, reason and decisiveness, whilst its negatives are craftiness, exaggeration and rigidity.
GREEN: Green symbolises growth, fertility and harmony. It is restful and refreshing. Its positive associations are optimism, freedom and balance, and its negative ones are envy and deceit.
BLUE: Blue is peaceful and soothing and is linked with spirituality, contemplation, mystery and patience. It’s positive associations are trust, faithfulness and stability. Negatives are suspicion and melancholia.
PURPLE: Encouraging vitality, purple is impressive, dignified and spiritual. Positive associations are excitement, passion and motivation, negatives are mournfulness and force. Can’t quite see it in our office somehow!
ORANGE: A powerful and cheerful colour, orange encourages communication. Its positive qualities are happiness, concentration and intellect, and its negative is rebelliousness.
BROWN: Brown suggest stability and weight (good one for me then). Its positives are safety and elegance, while its negatives are dinginess, depression and aging. Good for studies / offices, but not for bedrooms.
Pleasant sounds, in the right place, at the right time can really add to the ambiance. Wind chimes, water features, etc or even a little background music can make a real difference to our mood.
We all know that smells can influence the way we feel about a place. Who hasn’t popped on a pot of coffee or wafted some fresh baked bread around when trying to sell a house? At 1st Addition’s offices, we always have scented oils and air fresheners in the office (even when none of us have had a curry the night before. That’s how feng shui we are)!
We are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation on the human body. The effects of exposure to ionising radiation in X rays and ultraviolet rays in sunlight are well known. Also, the low frequency radiation which surrounds power lines has been linked to childhood illnesses
Despite our awareness of the effects of radiation, we are so dependent on the equipment that produces it, that we are unwilling, or unable, to live without it. We should, therefore, take precautions, where possible:
+ Laptop computers should never actually be used on our laps.
+ Mobile phones should be used as little as possible
+ Screen filters should be fitted to all unfiltered VDUs
+ It helps if we can sit as far away as possible from the computer, when not actually using it.
+ For those of us that use a microwave in the office, we should keep as far away from it as practical whilst it is on. Microwave ovens have been found to emit low frequency radiation far in excess of that known to cause lymphatic cancer in children.
Clutter is a state of mind, not just the state of our physical environment. It can be all the things we haven’t done, like unreturned phone calls and appointments not made. It’s everything we do not use or wear, inherited objects and things given to us as presents that we don’t like, but feel guilty about parting with.
We may stay in a job, thinking we are indispensable, or due to a misguided sense of loyalty, but, often it is because we are afraid to take a leap and change direction.
It is this fear of change that can cause us to stagnate. We need to clear our homes, our work places, and even our minds. This may not be something we do in one go. Often it is the little things that add up. Clutter represents stagnant energy, and the list is endless – blown light bulbs we keep forgetting to replace, dead wasps on the window sill and that squeaking door we never get round to fixing. All just a minute or two each to fix, but their accumulated affect can have a significant impact on the pace and quality of our lives.
Plants will have a variety of uses in an office environment. As well as their obvious aesthetic charm, they have a number of uses, including hiding a jutting corner, draining excess water energy from a room, breaking up long corridors and bringing life into an office environment. Some will even clean the air for you.
We should remember though that cut flowers may look beautiful in a vase, but, like dried flowers, they are, technically, dead. Potted plants are much better as they bring life to the environment.
The positioning of our desks and other furniture can also play a vital part in the feel and energy of a room. (See Below).
To finish, we have a few top tips to feng shui up your office. These are split between the workplace office and the home office. Why not give one or two of them a try?
Office Feng Shui In A Workplace Office
Here are few tips to keep the energy flowing in your office.
- According to office feng shui guidelines, your desk should be placed at a diagonal to the doorway, or directly facing it, rather than with your back to it.
- If there's more than one desk, place two on a diagonal facing towards the door and any others on a diagonal facing into the centre of the room. They should not be placed in rows in a traditional classroom layout, or back to back.
- If the doorways of offices that face each other across a hallway are not exactly aligned, place a mirror in front of each door.
- If you face a partial wall or partition, when entering an office, place a mirror on the partition.
- Soften jutting walls with plants.
- Break up dull walls with mirrors or paintings.
The feng shui elements that are easiest to blend into an office decor are pictures and photographs. Look out for pictures that represent the various aspects and display them in the appropriate areas. Very obvious feng shui symbols, though, might invite unwelcome questions from visitors or co workers.
Office Feng Shui In A Home Office
Use office feng shui, if you're working from home, to maintain a professional approach to your business.
- Use a separate entrance to your office, if at all possible
- Otherwise, chose a room near the front or back door of the house or flat.
- Separate your office from living areas, to keep your business and personal lives separate.
- If your office space is part of another room, divide it from the rest of the room with a screen or large plants. Even a large mat will help to define the spaces.
- Take a short walk before entering your office to work each day, and another one at the end of the working day. This separates the business and personal aspects of your life.
- Place your desk on the corner, diagonally opposite the doorway.
- Don't place your desk under a window, but let the light reflect on it from the side. Some people prefer to have their desks facing east.
- Leave space between your furniture (bookshelves etc) and the walls. Feng shui experts suggest leaving a 7-9 inch gap.
- An important aspect of office feng shui is to keep your work space tidy, to allow a free flow of energy throughout the room.
- Differenciate between clutter and storage. Stored items don't have to be catalogued and labeled but they should be stacked neatly in a cupboard or in binders, so as not to impede energy flow.
So why not give it a try. You never know, you might just notice a difference.