Like many things, the way we like to study is very personal. Some people love a bustling coffee shop, while others favor a library-like environment. Covid forced many of us to learn how to study and work from home.
Feng shui is one tool you can use to up your study game no matter where you are. If you’re skeptical about feng shui – read on. It’s a lot more practical than you may think.
Environmental impact on focus
Environment is often considered a major factor when it comes to mental health. If we’re hot, cold, stressed, tired, or scared, our mental health takes a hit as does our ability to function and focus.
The space you’re in when you’re picking a time to study is more important than you may realize.
There have been studies that compare natural vs. artificial environments and how that affects cognitive ability. Lighting is another major factor that has been proven to affect our mental states in our work space.
Feng shui’s focus is to create balance and harmony within our environments. Creating spaces that are conducive to work, sleep, play, and general living.
Imagine walking into someone’s home or office and immediately there’s harsh angles, intense colors, furniture blocking pathways, lots of clutter, and no natural light. This won’t feel good to most humans.
But imagine a bright, airy space with no clutter, comfortable furniture, good air flow, natural textures, and open space. For most of us, this would feel like an environment where we could focus and feel calm.
In which environment would you rather try to study?
What is feng shui?
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice of arranging one’s environment in a state of harmony and balance. Here are some fast facts:
- feng shui means ‘the way of wind and water’
- Rooted in early Taoism
- Chi = life force present in everything
- Chi is made up of yin and yang elements
- Good feng shui = positive flow of Chi
- Negative flow of Chi means Chi energy is blocked
- All materials fall into one of the five elements (water, wood, earth, air, fire)
At its core, feng shui is about finding the balance between these five elements. Those who practice feng shui will often orient their spaces and belongings according to the bagua map which shows how these elements interact with each other.
A Bagua map has nine different sectors that relate to a part of our lives, an element, and a color. The idea is that by using this map as a guide, one will find balance and harmony within these sections of their life.
There are typically two types of bagua maps that people see. Each correlates with a type of feng shui.
- Black Hat feng shui*
This method uses a square bagua map and entrances to align the home with the different areas of the bagua. It’s generally easier for beginners and less complicated to follow.
- Traditional/Compass feng shui
This method uses the octagonal map and compass directions to align elements on the bagua map.
*This article focuses on the Black Hat method
There are benefits to both types of feng shui. Natalie Scott is certified in feng shui and has a helpful article explaining the differences on her website.
How does feng shui work?
Take a bagua map and overlay on the area you want to feng shui. This can be your entire home, a room, or even the top of your desk. The bottom of the map lines up with the entrance to that space – front door, door to the room, or your seat at your desk.
Look at the areas on the bagua map and see how they line up with the elements you currently have.
Most of the time, we can’t, or don’t want to align everything exactly to the map. You might have a piece of furniture that only fits in one specific spot, or maybe your home or room has an irregular shape. That’s okay.
There are several general feng shui ‘cures’ we can use to increase the balance of Chi even when we can’t create a perfect space. The cures often involve adding an element or balancing an opposite element with an item like a crystal or colored object.
Feng shui guidelines and cures
While you don’t need to follow every guideline perfectly, there are some generally accepted concepts that apply to most spaces and help with positive flow of chi.
It’s ideal to not sit with your back to a door or put the head of your bed on the same wall as a door. Desks and beds should be in the ‘commanding position’ which means you can always see the door from your bed or desk, ideally with the widest view of the room.
Cure: strategically place a mirror to give you more visibility of your space
Clutter is typically seen as a chi blocker. It’s best to limit and remove clutter at all times. This also applies to broken items. Start small and do one area at a time. (Psst…we have a whole blog about how to de-clutter here.)
Cure: de-clutter a small area – bedrooms are a good place to start and create more systems for organizing your items. If your bedroom is the most cluttered, maybe it’s time for a closet cleanout or a new hanging system in your closet.
Mirrors are typically connected to the water element and are used to amplify certain energies. The shape of the mirror’s frame can also relate to an element. A round mirror will channel metal and a square mirror channels Earth. Hanging mirrors that reflect beautiful views or elements you’re proud of is a great idea, but hanging a mirror right across from the front door will reflect all the energy coming into the house.
Cure: Take note of where your mirrors are and what they reflect. Are they showing positive things or directing energy away from places you need it.
No, it’s not a type of frog. Poison arrows come from sharp edges or corners that point towards you, a door, or your home. The general idea is that poison arrows are shooting negative energy straight at you.
Cure: Place a plant, wind chime, or long fabric over any sharp corners if possible.
Color & element activation
Colors are a big part of balance in feng shui. That doesn’t mean you should run around painting all the rooms in your house. Instead, think about incorporating elements you already have like blankets, pillows or decor. Use whatever color is associated with the bagua area to enhance chi in that spot.
Example: Your feeling stuck in your career or finding a job is difficult. Activate chi in your career area by adding dark colors or some sort of water feature (or even water imagery).
Feng shui fixes for your study environment
Bedroom or non-office
If you study in your bedroom, it’s very difficult to create a separate space. Ideally, you’d be able to delineate your study area from your sleep or relaxation area. Don’t throw your clothes on your desk or your computer and books on your bed. Maintain distinct separation between your work elements and the rest of your room. When you’re finished with work or study, close your computer and neatly arrange your workspace.
Outside the home
If you’re studying outside of the home, opt for a desk or table where you’re in the command position and without a bunch of sharp edges (poison arrows) facing you. Pay attention to the mirrors in the space (if there are any) and what you see in their reflection. Perhaps consider using black or blue pens (I’m a big fan of fountain pens).
If you’re lucky and have a dedicated office or study space, here are some suggestions:
- Keep things as clutter free as possible on your worktop and in the room
- Orient your desk so your back isn’t facing the door (or keep the door closed or use a mirror)
- Add lamps that point light upward
- Display awards, trophies, or diplomas (ideally in the Fame area)
- Activate the Knowledge & Self Cultivation area:
- Blue, black and green elements
- Earth elements – plants, ceramics,
- Books that symbolize your skills or areas of study
- Small metal objects
Giving feng shui a try
If this sounds like silly nonsense to you, that’s perfectly okay. One of the best things about feng shui is you can take or leave whichever elements of it that work for you. It’s not a one size fits all, and it’s not an all-or-nothing practice.
Often when you walk into a space that feels good, it’s already following a lot of principles of feng shui – whether on purpose or not. Having good ‘flow’ in a home or office generally appeals to most people. You don’t have to be a hardcore believer in feng shui to benefit from many of its principles.
If this type of practice resonates with you then dive in. If you’re highly skeptical, maybe give one small thing a try just to see if it’s helpful. Experiment!