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Mirrors and Feng Shui


with Rodika Tchi, MSc

That gorgeous new mirror may look nice behind your bed, but it can hurt your feng shui. Find out where to put your mirror to help improve the energy and flow in your home.

Transcript: Mirrors and Feng Shui

Hi, I’m Rodika Tchi for About.com Home and Garden.

The Role of Mirrors in Feng Shui

Mirrors have been fascinating humankind since ancient times. They come in all shapes, sizes, and framing materials, and can help you in improving the energy flow in your space.

Mirrors are also called the aspiration of feng shui, because they can literally relieve your headache of having to deal with bad energy in your home.

How to Use Mirrors in the Home

Let’s say this is your floor plan and this is your main door. The energy comes through the main door to nourish your home. However, if you place a mirror right in front of the main door, what is happening is you’re pushing the energy right back.

So what you need to do is remove the mirror and let the energy come into your home and circulate among all the areas of your home, in turn, nourishing your own energy.

Mirrors in the Bedroom

Do not have mirrors reflecting your bed or behind your bed. In feng shui, mirrors bring the energy of war into the bedroom, as well as discourse between partners. Mirrors also weaken the energy when you sleep, if they reflect in your bed.

Cover or Remove the Mirror

There are many easy solutions, from removing the mirror to covering the mirror. In this specific case, we had a small mirrored closet in the back of the bed. And the way to deal with it is to cover it with nice fabric.

Keep Mirrors Away From the South Area

Do not place mirrors in the south area of your space. Mirrors represent water, and the south area of your space needs fire. As water puts down fire, you should not have water in the south area of your space.

The south of your space needs red, bright, fiery colors to support the light you bring into the world.

The Benefits of Mirrors in Feng Shui

In this case, the mirror serves a triple feng shui duty. Number one, it expands the narrow hallway by bringing more light in from the adjacent windows.

Number two, it hides a closet, even though the closet is quite neat and tidy. Closets have a low and static energy, so it’s nice to kind of make them disappear.

Number three, the mirror compensates for the slightly missing area in the bagwa of this specific floor plan.

Where to Place Mirrors in the Home

Mirrors bring the energy of water, so it’s good to have mirrors in the areas of your space with wood or water elements in it. So do place a mirror — or more mirrors, if your décor allows — in the east, southeast, and north areas of your space.

In this specific example, we have a beautiful gilded mirror in the southeast area of this space, which brings the energy of water. We also amplified the water energy with the light blue color.

To learn more, visit us on the web at homegarden.about.com. Thanks for watching.

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Everyone appreciates the benefits of beautiful, comfortable living environments; America’s billion-dollar interior decorating industry attests to this fact. However, Feng Shui takes the approach that your surroundings affect not just your level of material comfort but also your physical and mental health, your relationships, and your worldly success.

Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) examines how the placement of things and objects within it affect the energy flow in your living environment, and how these objects interact with and influence your personal energy flow. Your personal energy flow affects how you think and act, which in turn affects how well you perform and succeed in your personal and professional life. Feng Shui affects you every moment of the day — whether you’re aware of it or not.

As you begin to discover more about Feng Shui, remember that you need to have an open mind and should use the methods that are most comfortable for your particular circumstances.

Demystifying Feng Shui

If you’ve already read a bit about Feng Shui, you may be somewhat confused by the seemingly contradictory advice you’ve encountered. People who are unfamiliar with this method may have some misconceptions and apprehension.

Feng Shui is not

  • A get-rich-quick method of Asian interior design that guarantees impossible results for mystically rearranging your furniture
  • A superstitious or magical belief system, or a New Age fad that disconnects you from reality or from your daily life
  • A simple home and garden makeover
  • A quick fix to be tackled in one afternoon
  • A luxury only the rich and famous can afford

So the million-dollar question is, what is Feng Shui?

  • On the surface, Feng Shui is the simple interaction of humans and their environments. Taken a step further, Feng Shui enables you to influence these interacting energies to achieve specific life improvements. This influence is achieved by positioning or designing your surroundings in harmony with principles of natural energy flow. As a result, you (and your life) can achieve harmony with your surroundings. Feng Shui is practical and grounding, and it helps you right where you live and work.
  • Feng Shui is often referred to as the art of placement. How you place your furniture, possessions, and yourself within your surroundings largely determines your life experience at every level. Feng Shui offers a unique way of looking at yourself and your environment, and it provides a way of bringing balance, comfort, and harmony into your environment in a manner that is difficult to achieve by any other means.
  • Feng Shui is the study of the relationships between the environment and human life. Discovered by the Chinese, Feng Shui has been practiced for centuries to design environments that enhance conditions for success in life.

Interesting bits of historical Feng Shui confirmation are starting to emerge. For example, recent scientific research indicates that 28,000 years ago, Neanderthal cavemen (located in present-day Croatia) chose which caves to live in based on three criteria: The caves held the high ground in the area, the surrounding area was easily seen from the entrance of the cave, and the water source was easily accessible. These findings show that even our ancestors were naturally aware of the effects of placement in their environment. Interestingly enough, all three of these criteria are in harmony with the basic principles of Feng Shui, which has evolved and become more sophisticated along with humankind. Thus, Feng Shui is as relevant and beneficial to humankind today as it was 28,000 years ago.

Feng who? The meaning of the term Feng Shui

Feng Shui is a term composed of two Chinese words: feng (wind) and shui (water). Wind and water are the two natural elements that flow, move, and circulate everywhere on Earth. They are also the most basic elements required for human survival. Wind — or air — is the breath of life; without it, we would die in moments. And water is the liquid of life; without it, we would die in days. The combined qualities of wind and water determine the climate, which historically has determined our food supply and in turn affects our lifestyle, health, energy, and mood. These two fundamental and flowing elements have always profoundly yet subtly influenced human individuals and societies.

The essence of these life-giving elements is chi, or life force. Wind and water are direct carriers of chi, as their flowing quality reflects their essential nature. All living organisms are largely composed of these two elements. Thus, Feng Shui is the art of designing environments in harmony with the flow of chi through one’s living space, and this flow supports and enhances one’s personal chi or life force.

The big picture view of Feng Shui

Feng Shui is rooted in a holistic worldview. It sees all things and creatures as part of a natural order, a vast environment that is alive and in flux, ever moving and changing. Each thing in this natural order is equally alive and has an energetic value or component. So everything — plants, animals, people, and things — exists in a vast landscape that swirls with vital energy. The same energy that flows through the world flows through you as well. In fact, according to this view, your essence — the part of you that makes you alive, unique, and vital — is this energy. And your body is the vehicle or environment in which this essence flows.

Feng Shui divides the vast environment or landscape that is the universe into more manageable units — like human beings and their homes, property, offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. You can’t control the Feng Shui of the world at large. But Feng Shui enables you to design your personal environment according to the same universal principles of energy flow by which planets spin in their orbits and galaxies wheel through space.

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Feng Shui involves many principles for the auspicious (or favorable) positioning of your bed. To take advantage of as many of them as you can, use common sense, along with the conditions of your individual room, to make the best choices possible. For example, Commanding Position concept shows you how to achieve the most powerful bed position according to one Feng Shui school of thought. If you see that your bedroom doesn’t meet these criteria — don’t panic! There are cures you can implement to dramatically enhance your bedroom situation.

The position of the bed relative to the door

The first Commanding Position principle states that the position of the bed relative to the bedroom door rates more importantly than the compass direction the bed faces. That is, you don’t analyze whether your bed faces east, west, north, or south. You can rest easy and position the bed according to the way it best relates to the other main feature of the room — the door.

The distance from the bed to the door

The second Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should sit as far from the bedroom door as possible. If the door is on the left, the best position is the far right corner of the room; if the door is on the right, the best bed location is the far left of the room; and if the door is the center, the best location is either the far right or far left corner of the room. (See Figure 1.) The farther your bed sits from the door, the more control you can feel over your space and your life. You aren’t startled easily, and you have plenty of time to prepare for events as they unfold.

Figure 1: The Commanding Position: Three placement options for your bed.

The sleeper’s scope of vision

The third Commanding Position principle asserts that the bed position should allow the sleeper the widest possible scope of the room. A diminished range of sight within the room can restrict the sleeper’s chi and his or her life vision. The larger the space in front of your bed, the more your life expands, breathes, and improves. For this reason, Feng Shui cautions against placing the foot of the bed against a wall, which can block your career and cause foot and ankle problems. In addition, placing your bed directly against a side wall (with no space between the side of your bed and the wall) can make you feel cramped, stifled, and less flexible in life.

The visibility of the bedroom door

The fourth Commanding Position principle states that you should clearly see the bedroom door from the bed. This concept means that when lying on your back in bed — that is, in the center of the bed (if you sleep alone) or on your side of the bed (if sleeping with a partner) — you can open your eyes and immediately see the door of the room without repositioning your body. If you have to perform gymnastics or create new yoga positions to see who or what’s coming in the door, your bed position does not meet this principle.

Not seeing who’s approaching can keep you uncertain and on edge. Even if you think that you’re accustomed to not seeing the door, you still likely experience ongoing subconscious stress, which can create imbalance and frustration. The possibility of always being startled can keep you on edge, and over time, the continual tension and unrest can cause an imbalance in the nervous system. Results can include nervous problems, arrhythmia, and heart palpitations. In addition, repeatedly twisting the body to see whether someone’s coming can cause neck and spinal problems in the long run.

If your bed position doesn’t allow you to see the door and you can’t move the bed, you can place a sizable mirror opposite the bed that allows you to easily see the door. If you need to angle the mirror to show the door, use a standing mirror angled to the appropriate position.

The direct line from the door

The fifth Commanding Position principle holds that the bed should not sit in the direct line of the path of the doorway. If your bed does sit in the direct line of the door, the chi of the door runs directly and too powerfully up the middle of the bed. This factor can create diseases along the midline of the body.

The farther you sleep from the door and the more of the room you see while in bed, the more you can feel in control of your environment and, therefore, your life. Seeing the door to your bedroom symbolizes that you know what life is bringing and feel prepared to deal with whatever comes. You’re in command, and the results manifest positively in many areas of your life.

When following the Commanding Position principle, you can choose from three alternatives for good bed placement. (See Figure 1.) Choices 1-b and 1-c are both excellent; just be sure, if possible, to leave enough room on the side closest to the wall for your partner (or yourself) to get into bed. Position 1-a (the bed angled in the corner) is the strongest choice of all; it gains support from two walls rather than one wall. If you choose this position, then your bed should feature a solid headboard. Make sure the corners of the bed firmly touch the walls. You can strengthen this bed position by placing a plant and a light behind the headboard. (A real or an artificial plant works for this cure, and the light should be in good working order but doesn’t need to be on at all.

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Arrange your personal office or cubicle according to the tenets of feng shui to get the most possible work done with the least amount of stress and frustration.

The continuous corporate emphasis on cost-cutting and profit maximization has led to a related yet unfortunate drive to squeeze the maximum possible usage out of every square inch of office space — not to mention out of the employees.

Corporate settings use two general seating arrangements: individual offices (one room per worker) and the dreaded cubicle (or office isolation tank). The move to more people sharing space, whether in cubicles or not, contributes to an admirable flattening of hierarchies within the corporation. However, the downside is sterility, a lack of privacy and personal space; you may feel like a unit in a machine rather than a person with individual needs and desires.

Having a room of one’s own

The ideal office is a room of your own with a regular shape (preferably square or rectangle), natural lighting (at least one window), a solid door you can close, and a good position for your desk. One of the great advantages of having your own office is that you can usually perform more decorative Feng Shui adjustments than if you work in a cubicle. Of course, not every company can afford, or desires, to put every employee in his or her own individual space.

If your office deviates from these ideal conditions, try these cures:

  • Irregular room shape: Use a faceted crystal sphere, mirror, or plant to correct the space. If your office is extremely irregular, you can have inexplicable setbacks and continuous frustrations at work. If you can’t switch offices, you can apply the special nine green plants cure: Add nine healthy new plants to your space all on the same day. The plants should be purchased new for the purpose of this cure. If convenient, you can place the plants near particular irregularities in the room, such as strange angles, posts, cramped areas, and so on. Otherwise, just stick them where they fit best. For full results from this cure, visualize that your job and career are going very well.
  • Projecting corner, post, pillar, column, soffit, or duct work: Many offices contain features that break up the energy flow of the room or, worse, shoot “poison arrows” at your sitting position at the desk. Place a sizeable plant in front of the troublesome feature, or hang a faceted crystal sphere between the feature and your sitting position at the desk.
  • Solid versus glass walls: If your office contains one or more glass walls that make you feel even a little vulnerable, try to hang mini-blinds to cover the glassed-in area. Blinds are effective even if you don’t often use them; their presence gives you added protection. If you can’t perform this solution, hang faceted crystal spheres from the ceiling with red ribbons cut in 9-inch multiples. Use one sphere for every 5 linear feet of window space.
  • Improper lighting: Like the majority of office workers, if you suffer under fluorescent lighting, you can use a couple helpful hints. You may be able to replace the tubes yourself with healthier full-spectrum ones (also called “grow lights”) from the hardware store. If you can’t replace them, bring in some supplemental incandescent light in the form of floor or table lamps. Working solely with overhead light is uncomfortable for the eyes, and supplemental lighting is a source of relief for your eyes and mind.

Surviving and thriving in a cubicle

A cubicle is a much trickier Feng Shui situation than an office room. Cubicles are unfortunate paradigms of vulnerability for the individual worker. One of the chief problems is that you don’t use a real desk but work from a countertop, unless you work in one of the large manager type cubicles. However, you can do plenty to improve your situation. By judiciously applying Feng Shui cures, you may find yourself in your own office sooner than you imagined. (See Figure 1 for cure placements.)

  • The first and most important priority is to make sure you can see the entrance to your cube from your desk. Try to move your sitting position first, but don’t seriously cramp your work style. If you can’t move — you can’t.
    If you definitely can’t move your sitting position, you can place an 8-x-10-inch mirror in a picture frame or on a small stand to reflect the entrance of the cube to allow you to see if anyone is approaching. Many people subconsciously use the reflections in their computer monitor to see who’s approaching them, because seeing the entrance is a basic human need. The problem is that the reflection in a monitor’s screen is distorted, unclear, and unreliable.
  • The second priority is bringing living and flowing energy into your workspace. These features are important ways of compensating for the small size of your space and the constant traffic flows that pass by your cube. If you can bring an odd number of healthy plants into your space, you can stimulate more-active, vibrant energy. Also, a nice fountain near the entrance of your cube can work wonders. Not only can it stimulate more salary coming your way, but also it can help uplift your mood and diffuse any negative flows of chi (human or environmental) in the vicinity of your work space. If space or social realities preclude a fountain, you can get some of the same benefits from a photo (the larger, the better) of flowing water, such as of a waterfall or river.

Figure 1: Cubicle with plant, fountain, and mirror cures.

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Being stuck in an office can be the pits, but learn about the 13 do’s and taboos of feng shui office design and you can feel like you’re working in nature.

  1. DO sit in the corner farthest from the entrance to the room to have a “command” position.
  2. DON”T sit in line with the door, as you will be in the path of negative energy.
  3. DO keep your back toward a corner or a wall for support. If a post protrudes from the corner or wall, correct it by covering it with a hanging plant’s draping foliage.
  4. DO sit with a tall building behind you to provide the support of a “mountain” if your back is to a window.
  5. DON”T face away from the door if you are conducting business from home. Business will symbolically come to you through the door, so don’t turn your back on it.
  6. DON”T arrange your workspace so that you look straight out into a corridor or see the stairs, storage rooms, closets, elevators, escalators, or toilets.
  7. DO put your computer in the North or West area of your office to enhance your creativity. Place the computer in the Southeast if you use it to generate income.
  8. DO place an aquarium or tabletop fountain in the East, North, or Southeast. A small aquarium with black or blue fish in the North area of your desk or office will activate your business and career success. Guppies or a single arrowana are ideal for an aquarium made of glass and metal.
  9. DO place a safe, which is usually constructed of metal, in either West or Northwest, which both represent the metal element. The safe symbolizes the prosperity and financial security of a business.
  10. DO have a good balance of yin and yang when decorating your workspace. Balance light and dark colors, soft and hard surfaces, and smooth and rough textures in your choice of window treatments, furniture, and flooring.
  11. DON”T have any mirrors in your office, as they can reflect negative energy from clients to other people in the room. You should always maintain control over the energy in your office.
  12. DO treat the files in your office with respect. They represent your past, present, and future business.
  13. DO keep the cords to your office equipment well hidden. This elimate clutter and allows for the free flow of chi.

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Feng Shui


Phil Mansfield for The New York Times

In Western culture, interior designers attempt to create a happy and harmonious environment by careful selection and pleasing arrangement of the elements within the home. They usually start with a functional furniture arrangement. They then add decorative elements — color, texture, effective lighting and accessories — to create a satisfying or dramatic atmosphere. Function and esthetics are the primary guidelines in Western interior design.

In Eastern countries, designers are primarily concerned with harnessing the forces in the land and the cosmos to create a harmonious environment. This approach to design and arrangement is known as feng shui, also known as Chinese geomancy. Feng shui means wind and water, and it represents all the forces that can change a landscape or affect human fortune. A place that has the correct combination of forces is said to have good feng shui.

In the West, many people dismiss feng shui as an elaborate form of fortune telling; but in China feng shui is taken seriously as an art and a science. It is believed that a person’s fate can be determined by how favorably his dwelling is laid out in its surroundings. Individuals and even large corporations would not think of building any structure, be it a home or an office building, without consulting a geomancer skilled in the practice of feng shui.

Feng shui experts believe that the earth and everything on it is composed of one or more of the five basic elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. They are represented by the colors: black, green, red, yellow and white. These elements will create harmony if grouped in a positive, creative sequence. Thus water nourishes wood, wood feeds fire, fire burns to make earth and from earth comes metal.

Bad feng shui results when the elements exist in a destructive arrangement. Water, for example, destroys fire so it would be bad feng shui to have these elements next to each other. Metal and fire, or earth and wood are also undesirable combinations. The feng shui consultant examines the house, both inside and out, for possible relationships between conflicting elements and tries to correct them.

Of course it is not necessary to have the actual elements in the house. No one has a pile of earth in the living room or a fire in the bathroom, but the elements may still be there symbolically. A yellow or brown sofa would be an earth element. In some cases the symbolism is more obvious: the kitchen stove is a fire element, the sink water.

Fire and water are conflicting elements, so having the stove and sink side by side would be bad feng shui. Does this mean that you have to remodel your kitchen if you have this arrangement? Not necessarily. You could hang an earth symbol, a green pot holder for example, between the two to create tranquillity. — From “Using Feng Shui to Create Harmony,” by Edward R. Lipinski, The New York Times, May 25, 1997. A link to the entire article is included in the Feng Shui Navigator to the right.

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