Feng shui for beginners

Tiffany L. Neri
·5 min read

Feng shui is a term that has grown in popularity for quite some time now—especially among those in the architecture and interior design industries. Nowadays, people hire feng shui experts to examine the current state of their homes or even involve them in the construction plans for new ones.

A lot of us have probably heard someone say: “Oi! Don’t sleep facing the door. That’s bad feng shui!” Or something of the sort at some point or another—especially if you’re Filipino, Chinese or Tsinoy.

It’s just one of those things weaved into our diverse and dynamic culture as people who live in the Philippines. But what is feng shui beyond a cynic’s perception of it being “just another superstitious set of beliefs”?

Human beings in relation to space

Some say feng shui is about the balance of elements, the flow of energy and the harmony of surroundings. In a modern and design perspective, feng shui has become known as the Chinese art of placement—a concept which is actually quite important to the use of a certain space.

Space is a crucial thing for us human beings. Our lives, and how we go about living them, are so incorporated in the spaces we occupy—at work, school and, most importantly, at home.

As you learn more about feng shui and delve into the practice, you’ll realize that it does somehow change the feel of a place. And although you probably won’t or don’t believe in the whole harmony and energy part of it, you’ll realize that a big chunk of the practice is actually just a collection of common-sense ways to organize and balance your space.

Practical tips

Clear your room of clutter

It’s pretty straightforward. Clutter isn’t visually pleasing in any way. In fact, it is known to impede mental clarity and even be a factor that is both a cause for and result of stress. In feng shui, it is a stagnant and draining energy that takes up space and blocks new energy from flowing into your life. In a practical sense, clutter is simply an impractical use and complete waste of space.

Clean your workspace or bedroom and see what a difference it will make for you mentally, physically and emotionally. Also, the cleanliness will make you feel like you had a win—no matter how small.

Take note of the ‘command position’

The “command position” in feng shui is basically a position in your space where you feel comfortable and in charge of the room.

Important pieces of furniture like your bed (which symbolizes your life), your desk (your career) and your cooking area or stove (your wealth) should be in the command or commanding position—somewhere where you have full vision of your door but you aren’t directly in line with it.

Symbolically, and also literally, this puts you in the best position to deal with whatever comes into your life through that door—opportunities, possibilities and even dangers.

In a practical sense, these major pieces of furniture or places will be where you spend most of your time in your space, so having a clear vision of what comes through your entryway will help you feel safe and deal with anyone or anything that’s approaching.

If you can’t be in the command position and are facing the opposite direction, you can remedy it by using a mirror that reflects your entryway into your line of sight.

Also, a big no-no is having your bed directly facing your door—because it symbolizes a coffin.

Keep the area of the front door or entryway clear too

Front doors and entryways are super important in feng shui because they represent energy that enters your space. Having an uninviting, messy or cramped entryway blocks the good energy or even good fortune from entering your home.

In a practical sense, obstacles blocking your doorway are just a hassle to deal with for you and your guests. You don’t want the first thing anyone sees in your house to be piles of boxes or heaps of clothing, do you? Also, you’d want to keep it clear in case of emergencies—that’s why movie theaters also clearly mark and make way for their exits.

Make sure it’s easy to see your door from both sides, clear the pathway of any obstacles and have a shoe rack or coat and umbrella stand in an orderly place somewhere nearby because these items hold “outside energy” so they have to be left in a certain place.

Also, in a practical sense—germs. And for most Asians, outside shoes aren’t really welcome inside. They’re dirty.

Reduce or remove negative symbolism

Symbolism is a huge part of our everyday lives. And the symbols that surround us actually influence how we feel, the choices we make and how our lives end up playing out. Sometimes we fill our spaces with things that we hope will uplift our mood; other times we subconsciously fill our spaces with things that symbolize the challenges we face and that somehow just reinforces our experiences even more. Negativity manifests negativity and so does the opposite.

Remove energy-draining and negative imagery and symbolism. Replace them with clear, positive and uplifting things and you’ll find that eventually you’ll attract more positive outcomes in your life. Also, seeing things that remind you of your goals will help you strive harder to achieve them.

Keep your bathroom door closed

Why is it that doors, cabinets and closets left even slightly ajar bother us so much? It somehow feels off. But in feng shui, keeping the bathroom door closed—and even the toilet bowl covered—actually has a meaning.

The bathroom is where water flows out of our homes, and that water flowing out also symbolizes wealth or even good fortune flowing out as well. No one wants their money flushed away.

In a practical sense, the practice of leaving the bathroom door open or closed depends on habit and culture.

Some people say you should leave your bathroom door open for a while after you shower so that the humidity decreases and there will be less of a chance for mold to grow. Others say that if your space or room is air conditioned, it’s best to keep the bathroom door closed to reduce any bathroom odors from seeping through.