What do you think of when you think of home? Do you think of sleep after a long day of work? Spending time with your family? A space to wind down and entertain over the weekend? As we continue to grow and change, what home means for us may grow and change as well, yet some parts always remain the same.
As C.S. Lewis so beautifully puts:
“What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes?”
A tradition that puts a lot of effort thinking about the home and other indoor spaces is Feng Shui. Some people say it’s just based on superstition. Others say that following it is important for wealth and prosperity. And some seek to understand what Feng Shui can reveal to us about our space design and its affect on our souls, especially based on current scientific research.
What is Feng Shui?
Feng Shui is a traditional Chinese practice, though some say it originated from India. It has specific laws and operates on the fact that furniture and decor, as well as the way that they’re arranged within our living spaces, affect our energy flows. These factors influence our thought processes and behaviour.
This connection affects aspects of our lives such as physical, spiritual, mental, and relational health, as well as wealth.
There is no regulatory board for feng shui and there are different schools of feng shui. Their practices can range from using chinese astrology to numerology, and from a magnetic compass to just relying on intuition and a bagua board. In general, Feng Shui uses the wisdom of the 5 main Feng Shui elements and the Yin-Yang belief system.
Yin-Yang Energies in the Home
An understanding of the yin and the yang plays a vital role in the laws of feng shui. Yin, the feminine energy, is soft, relaxing and passive. The yang energy is associated with “fiery directness”, speed and “the rock solid surface of the mountain”.
Both are equally important, and a home needs both. Yin energy serves mostly in places like a bedroom, where we need quiet and relaxation. Yang energy serves mostly in places like a kitchen or office, where we do busy movement and work.
On an intuitive level, we can see the usefulness of recognizing these energies in such way. The need for yin energy in the bedroom is supported by research findings.
Some people put items associated with the yang energy, like televisions, exercise machines, office desks and other electronics in the bedroom. Research shows that this arrangement isn’t helpful for good sleep. Sleep Experts recommend placing these objects elsewhere.
It’s interesting to note that while sleeping well, even our bodies reflect the yin energy.
According to psychology today, the best temperature level for sleep is in the low 60’s; “a cooler bedroom slows down your metabolism, helping you experience a deeper sleep”.
Details like this support the fact that our environment has an effect on our bodies at the base level and that our bodies reflect these energies too.
Colour and the Presence of the 5 Elements in our Homes:
The practice of feng shui plays with 5 elements of the natural world; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These elements are reflected through specific colours, shapes and materials. Each element brings its own influence and blessings.
Research affirms that colors are capable of affecting our perception and behaviour. For example, in feng shui, red is associated with the fire element.
Numerous research shows that the color red influences our behaviour on a primitive level. Research done at the University of Rochester shows that men find women wearing red more sexually desirable.
Seeing red raises our pulse levels, making time seem to move faster. It grabs our attention quickly by appearing closer than it really is; this can explain why drivers react more aggressively to red cars blocking them in traffic than cars of other colors.
Red activates our fight or flight reaction. It makes sense why the color red is associated with yang energy and the fire element. It also makes sense how including this color in our homes, such as the kitchen, can influence our behaviour. Research also shows that the color blue is a good choice for the bedroom, as it triggers sleep hormones.
Feng shui involves a lot of esoteric elements that current scientific research cannot, at least yet, explain. However, scientific details such as the ones I shared earlier really highlight how the elements of feng shui do have truth and relevancy to them.
It’s hard to disagree with the impact that the environment has on perception and behaviour, and how these, in turn, influence every other areas of our lives.