So, you’re stuck at home, stuck in a way that’s weird and unprecedented. The rooms you’ve walked through hundreds of times without noticing a thing are suddenly speaking to you. You’re questioning the purpose of that chair in the corner nobody ever sits in, wondering about entire rooms that are rarely used. You’ve become sensitized to the environment you’ve created for yourself to an acute degree. In other words, you’re having a feng shui crisis.
One of five ancient Chinese metaphysical practices, feng shui (which means wind and water), has roots in astronomy and was conceived to reveal auspicious correlations between man and the universe. Over the centuries it’s been used to decide when to build a building, where it should go and what direction the front door should face. Mao banned it as a “feudalistic superstitious practice” during the Cultural Revolution he launched in 1966, and it’s still illegal to practice it as a business in China.
Nonetheless, the fundamental idea has persisted across cultures and around the globe. According to Vastu Shastra, the traditional Hindu science of architecture, the head of your bed should face west. Hippies who fell under the sway of Carlos Castaneda during the seventies, learned of the shamanic Brujos of Mexico, and the notion of “power spots.” A power spot is a significant energy field, and my power spot won’t be the same as yours. A mafia don’s power spot, for instance, would be with his back to a wall, facing a door.
The world of feng shui and power spots doesn’t exactly lend itself to scientific testing, and there’s something very Goop-ish about it. To a certain degree, it’s a luxury for the wealthy — moving a door three inches to the left isn’t cheap — and it’s vague, no doubt. But there is something to it. We know intuitively when a piece of furniture is in a place it doesn’t want to be. Why do we gravitate repeatedly to the same napping spot? Why do we avoid certain areas of where we live? What about that troubled hot spot where you’ve stashed something you’d rather not deal with? It gives off static energy, doesn’t it? This isn’t a matter of aesthetics. It’s more mysterious than that.
The way that colors are deployed in a room, the balance of round and square shapes, issues of proportion, surface, and orientation are akin to the divining rods used to find water, and they can affect human behavior. We need all the help we can get at the moment, and a little feng shui might be beneficial. (It certainly won’t hurt!)
You can start with the holistic approach and do what several of my friends have done; tear into your house in a frenzied fashion and rearrange everything in every room. This has left them exhausted and ready to tackle the job all over again, so you might want to start smaller. For instance, windows are important this spring. It’s reassuring to look out a window and see that the trees and the sky are still in place, and the world hasn’t completely crumbled. Looking out windows is recommended. Mirrors, on the other hand, are probably best avoided for the time being. Facials, haircuts, and manicures are off-limits, so most of us are looking a little frayed around the edges. But it doesn’t matter. You could go weeks without washing your hair and nobody would even notice! People have bigger fish to fry these days.
Skip the grooming and focus instead on optimizing your napping set-up. Do you have a fancy blanket that you save for important guests? You need to be using that blanket right now. You are your most important guest for the time being. And, you might want to take a long hard look at each piece of art in the house and ask yourself: Do I like this thing? Does it have meaning for me? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
Televisions aren’t terribly attractive objects, and most people try to place them somewhere discreet and unobtrusive. But there are special rules for televisions now. Having a television on during the day has always made me feel like I’m home sick from school, and I’ve tried to observe a “no television until sundown” rule. However, the feng shui of the moment dictates that you give your television pride of place in your home. So, grab that blanket and a bag of potato chips and settle in, because it’s okay to watch television all day this month. We are all home sick from school. And, as you become an increasingly immovable object, try to be in proximity to something auspicious.