One day I was sitting at my desk at work, green computer screen glowing, honky-tonk music spurting out from a speaker not far above my head, trying to concentrate on a long list of numbers that needed to be entered into the computer, glancing at pages waiting to be proofread and images to be downloaded, when a word drifted across my consciousness – Feng Shui.
For those who need a bit of a refresher course, feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging one’s personal space in order to achieve harmony with the environment. This harmony is known as chi, the “life force” or energy that exists in human beings, nature, and all animate and inanimate objects. It is everywhere. There are books and classes and consultants and everything in between to help us stressed-out people calm the flowing water of our psyche. Of course, people like me who jam ten pounds of sugar (daily duties) into a five pound bag (24 hours), rarely have time to read the back of the brownie mix box, let alone sit down and read a book about harmony and the environment.
But I wanted to learn about feng shui so I could bring a little bit of peace to my corner of the office. With indigestion and carpel tunnel threatening every turn, there had to be a way I could tap into my calm center somewhere between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. So I called a friend of mine who is into energy and higher levels of vibrations to see if she could give me a crash course on harmony and flowing water. She told me feng shui was not something you can learn overnight; it is a gradual meeting of mind and space, of openness and channeling. Wanting to know more, we scheduled coffee and chi for the next night.
She talked, I talked, we drank coffee and ate chocolate cream pie and I brought out a pen to take notes. But we never really got around to talking about feng shui, because we talked about kids and sushi and Nicholas Cage instead. Still wanting to open my pathways just in case chi came by, later that night I went online and Googled the term, and came across a few guidelines to bring harmony to my cubicle.
When sitting at a desk, the entrance door should be in a clear line of sight, and you should have a view of as much of the room as possible. Well, I struck out before I even got up to the plate. My desk faces the wall — worse, it is a corner unit, so it faces two walls. The only line of sight I have is where the two walls meet. That, and an oversized computer screen. Hopefully everyone else’s clear view of my back is enough of an opening to get the energy flowing.
When lying in bed … well, I stopped reading that suggestion. If I was found lying down at my desk, my chi would not only flow but be flushed down the toilet.
Straight lines and sharp corners are to be avoided, and especially should not point where people tend to sit, stand, or sleep. See interpretation and explanation for point number one.
Avoid clutter. How can anyone who works in an office not have clutter? How can a spiffy multi-tasker like myself give up piles of paper or a dozen catalogs within arm’s reach or stacks of manila flats or thirty CDs with images or weekly bulletins from Human Resources? Oh, and don’t forget the pictures of my kids and my stapler and tape dispenser and staple remover and yellow highlighter and white-out and my pink pen for corrections and stickies for emergency notes. Strike two.
Roads to and from ancient towns were often curved and winding, an attempt to disorient and keep away evil spirits, who were believed to travel in straight lines. Now, I admit I have to maneuver through hallways and around cubicles just to get to my desk, so I wondered — if I circled the halls long enough, would I be able to ditch the bad spirits and run into feng shui? This wasn’t quite a strike, but more like a ball.
Some objects are believed to have the power of redirecting, reflecting, or shifting energy in a space. These include mirrors, crystals, wind chimes, and pools of flowing or standing water. This suggestion is a cousin of the “lying in bed” dilemma. I didn’t think my boss would let me bring in a water fountain, and, although there is enough hot air coming and going around here to tinkle a dozen wind chimes … mmmm, no.
So I sat and pouted in front of my computer, realizing that there was no way I could rearrange my daily grind and surroundings to let the energy flow freely. Feng Shui would have to wait until I got home. I knew that at least there I would be able to rearrange chairs and hang mirrors and listen to the wind chimes that hang on my balcony.
But wait! There was one more point — not really a point, but a closing statement. Every environment is unique with its own energy, challenges, and possibilities. By becoming aware of your surroundings, connecting to its energy, and using the inherent wisdom and inspiration of nature, you can create surroundings that reflect your highest potential and support your personal and professional goals. Let’s dissect that for a moment. I am aware of my surroundings. I can feel the energy that flows through my body, through the pen and onto the paper. I can gaze at the fields of Ireland through my screen saver, I can listen to Mozart while I type, and I can read about astronomy during my breaks. Becoming aware of one’s surroundings is nothing more than living in the here and now, taking what you can and making the most of it.
For all the hoopla, I think I have finally found the secret of feng shui. I finally know how to arrange my space in order to achieve cosmic harmony: keep my kids’ picture in sight, eat lunch outside when the weather is nice, and make sure my M&M dish is always full.