Redecorate your room the Feng Shui way

Living in the Ghetto doesn’t mean you can’t have good chi

Travis Kann-McGarrity found his sleeping improved after applying the principles of this ancient Chinese art to his own space.
Travis Kann-McGarrity found his sleeping improved after applying the principles of this ancient Chinese art to his own space.
The bagua, a divided aerial drawing of a room, provides first-time Feng Shui decorators with a simple how-to guide, The bottom of the diagram represents the room’s entrance.
The bagua, a divided aerial drawing of a room, provides first-time Feng Shui decorators with a simple how-to guide, The bottom of the diagram represents the room’s entrance.

A university student’s life can often lack in positive energy. Cramming for exams, co-existing with housemates in microscopic living spaces and balancing school work with countless extracurriculars can make for negative influences on your life’s journey. Enter Feng Shui.

An ancient Chinese practice whose name literally means “wind and water,” Feng Shui aims to create balance and harmony in your life by first achieving balance and harmony in your living space.

History professor Emily Hill said the philosophy of Feng Shui is similar to being in harmony with nature.

“Nature is composed of elements in a balance and interacting. That basic philosophy has ancient roots,” she said. “I think the people who believe in it, as far as I know, are confident that being in alignment with these forces ... good things will flow your way.” Hill said you can find references to chi in sources from thousands of years ago, but no one really knows how Feng Shui first began.

“It’s something that has roots in ancient Chinese philosophy, but it’s not the same thing as it was thousands of years ago—everything changes over thousands of years,” she said.

Pat Hyduk, a Feng Shui practitioner and instructor trained at the Western School of Feng Shui and practising in Prince Edward County, said the discipline’s basic tenets are simple.

“The principle is that your home reflects who you are and that you want it to reflect the best part of you—to be an indication of who you are now and where you want to go.” According to Hyduk, getting started on the path towards inner enlightenment begins humbly: by cleaning up your room.

“One of the very first things to do is clear clutter,” she said. “That is very important in improving the chi flow throughout the house.”

Chi, or qi, is energy Hyduk describes as “the force that meanders through and embraces all areas of your home.” According to Hyduk, chi’s imperative to achieving inner peace, and is easily blocked by mess and unnecessary objects.

Travis Kann-McGarrity, ArtSci ’10, argues it’s significantly more complicated than that. He recently tried to apply the principles of Feng Shui to his own room.

“Two words best describe it: hectic and confusing,” Kann-McGarrity said.

“The rules and the organization of the room just aren’t easy for a student, both economically and space-wise.”

Kann-McGarrity said he spent more than three hours rearranging his bedroom and though he’s “always a little skeptical about these sorts of things,” he did notice some positive changes, both personally and aesthetically, after implementing a few Feng Shui enhancements.

“I feel as if I sleep better,” he said. “My bed was changed from pointing north-west to east-west, following the rules. I don’t see how that could help me sleep better, but apparently it does.”

Kann-McGarrity also found his new chi design pleasing to the eye.

“Aside from the sleeping thing, I just think it looks better. I’m going to keep my room this way,” he said.

Kann-McGarrity’s bed originally faced northwest with his feet out the door, a Feng Shui faux-pas referred to as the “death position,” as Chinese tradition dictates that dead bodies be removed from the home feet-first.

He also removed storage boxes from underneath his bed and covered his printer and computer when they weren’t in use, following the Feng Shui principle that the bedroom is a place for tranquil relaxation—not work.

But an improvement in sleeping patterns is just one of the benefits Hyduk insists come from knowing how to channel the chi in your home.

“Feng Shui is very nuanced. It can be quite superficial and simply about clearing clutter or it can really be quite deep and get involved in a personal growth experience and, for some, a spiritual one.”

Hyduk said Feng Shui can be simplified to fit any student’s lifestyle.

“One of the ways to assist yourself is to use the bagua—that’s very much part of understanding Feng Shui. It’s sort of like a road map,” she said.

The bagua, an aerial drawing of a room divided into different areas to reflect different parts of your life, provides an easy how-to for first-time Feng Shui practitioners. For example, the nearest left-hand corner upon entering your bedroom represents knowledge and self-cultivation, and can be enhanced with earth elements or blue-based colours.

Through placing different elements—wood, wind, fire, water and earth—in different areas, students can theoretically improve their quality of life and sense of calm. But it’s more than just simple decorating.

“It’s not just about putting a bouquet of flowers in a corner. It’s about understanding the purpose of doing that and what your desired outcome is,” Hyduk said.

An object’s placement can represent your aspirations and inspire you to achieve them, she said.

“When you do enhance a part of your home, as you do it, you make it very clear in your mind why you’re doing it and what your intention is. That enhancement, then, every time you look at it, is a reminder of your goal.”

Ancient customs and rituals aside, Feng Shui seems to boil down to living more simply.

“One of the central concepts in Feng Shui is making sure you have only those things that, a) you need and, b) you love,” Hyduk said.

“If you look at something and your energy goes down, it’s not meant for you, whether it’s clothing, a painting, a piece of furniture or the colour of the walls. You need to surround yourself with things that uplift your spirit.”

Feng Shui fundamentals

• Clear your clutter. This will make way for new energy flow in your space.

• Get organized and express yourself. Your closets are where you store your life. Make them an expression of who you are.

• Bring nature into your space. Live plants are a symbol of abundance, harmony and healing and caring for them will represent how you treat yourself.

• Add colour. Influence your mood with reds and oranges to stimulate, blues and greens to calm and relax, or whites and greys to focus the mind.

• Use art to uplift. Pleasing works of art or family photos will bring positive energy.

• Sounds right. Gentle background music, chimes or rippling water fountains can positively affect the space and attract good energy.

Source: Pat Hyduk,

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