If you’re like most of the world, you’ve probably spent a lot more time in your home over the past year. How’s your living space looking—and feeling? If you’re feeling stuck and stagnant when you’re at home, it might be more than just quarantine.
Feng shui practitioners believe that human life flows and is connected with the energy and environment around us. This is a principle of Taoism. Part art, part Chinese philosophy and part “science,” feng shui aims to balance the energy in your home.
Whether you believe that you can influence energy or you’re desperate to try anything, rearranging your living space according to feng shui principles can make a difference—even if it’s just vacuuming underneath your couch for the first time in 15 years.
The basic principles of feng shui
Imagine your home’s basic floor plan, then compare it to this bagua map. Bagua means “eight areas.” In this case, it refers to eight different areas of life: wealth, fame, marriage, family, children, education, career and helpful people. At the center is a ninth area: your health and well-being.
Western feng shui schools lay the bagua map over the floor plan so that the knowledge, career and helpful people sections align with the front door of your home. Once you get a general sense of which bagua area corresponds with the rooms in your house, you can start rearranging accordingly.
There are a few general principles you can apply to every room. First, declutter your space. Clutter is not just poor feng shui—it’s psychic weight. You’ll instantly feel better once you tackle that pile of papers or take the trash out. Next, make sure that each room has a very clear path to the door. In feng shui, this enables energy to flow around your home properly—but it’s also just good fire safety practice.
If your home feels a little stagnant, think about bringing in some houseplants. There are plenty of easy-to-maintain plants that thrive on low light and neglect, like the snake plant. Not only will it give you another living being to take care of, it will literally bring life into the room.
Finally—and we know it might seem a little out there, but give it a try—give thanks to your home. We already know that a gratitude practice can make a huge difference in mental health. Saying “thanks for keeping me safe and warm” when you lock up to leave the house might improve your home’s energy, or it might simply remind you that you are lucky to have a safe, warm abode. Either way, it’s a net positive.
Declutter and rearrange, room by room
Most feng shui practitioners advise people to take it one area at a time. Don’t try to rearrange your entire home at once: identify the areas in your life you want to improve and then pick a room. For example, if you’re trying to attract a relationship, and that area corresponds to your bedroom, focus on that room first. If nothing else, it’ll be clean and rearranged when you do find a new partner!
Next, think about the “commanding” position. It’s the spot in the room that’s furthest from the door: you should have a direct line of sight, but it will be diagonal. This is the part of the room that you’ll spend the most time in—so if it’s your bedroom, place your bed in the commanding position.
After you’ve put your bed in the commanding position, you can start applying elements and principles for that specific area. For example, the relationship sector is said to correspond to the number two, the earth element and the color pink. You could add a few pink candles (in groups of two) or decorate the room in earth tones, which will evoke the calm, stable nature that one can only hope their partnerships embody.
Once you’ve tried some basic fixes for your problem areas, there are plenty of further resources online and in bookstores. Whether you believe in the Taoist feng shui principles or you figure it can’t hurt to try, feng shui is a great way to consciously acknowledge how each segment of your home fits together.
Plus, those dust bunnies under the TV stand haven’t been paying rent. Use feng shui as the excuse to evict them mercilessly—then enjoy the tranquility that follows.