As spring blooms, bringing with it a sense of renewal and rebirth, what better time to refresh your space with feng shui?
Offering guidance on how we can design our indoor environments to promote positivity and balance, feng shui is a powerful tool for enhancing wellbeing.
But the ancient wisdom of feng shui is sometimes misunderstood. Here, Conscious Spaces partner and feng shui expert Sarah McAllister talks us through the fundamentals of feng shui and gives her tips on how to apply its principles in your own home:
What is feng shui?
"Feng shui traces its origins to ancient China over 5000 years ago. It is the study of Natural Law, and looks at how to align people with the natural energies of Earth and Heaven so they can foster harmony, health, wisdom and prosperity.
"Feng Shui as we know it today is a blend of practical wisdom from farmers who depended on reading patterns of nature for their livelihood and also the methods and astrology of the court scholars. This knowledge is so profound that it can still be applied in the modern world. Originally more focussed on health, feng shui knowledge is now also used by business owners looking for an extra edge."
"Literally any space can benefit from feng shui. I have given advice to whiskey distilleries, industrial units, hotels, spas, salons, homes, offices, and once even a new build Llama farm!"
How is feng shui used in modern spaces?
"Today, all over the world (not just in Chinese-speaking cultures) feng shui is used to help with the proper alignment of new-build homes, offices, leisure developments, communities and, in some cases, an entirely new city. It is also adapted to work with existing homes, offices and apartments to help rectify (or at least reduce) any feng shui mistakes used unknowingly in the original design."
What sorts of spaces can benefit from feng shui?
"Literally any space can benefit from feng shui. I have given advice to whiskey distilleries, mill houses, industrial units, hotels, spas, salons, homes, offices, large and small new builds, community projects and once even a new build Llama farm with worker dwellings!
"I have also studied the impact of feng shui on government buildings such as the EU complex in Brussels, and the impact of how major cities have been designed and which areas thrive better than others or suffer more than others as a result.
"You can apply feng shui to a small space such as a bedroom, but for best results, I would have to look at the whole house to see which area of the home the bedroom falls in for example. Feng shui is very holistic."
"If you aren’t sleeping well, then look at the position of your bed. Does it have a solid wall behind it to encourage stability and safety, or is it under a window? Are the colours too stimulating?"
How does a space feel different when it is energetically balanced and cleansed through feng shui?
"One of the most common things I hear from clients is how 'everyone who visits says how great the space feels’. There is a tangible feeling of calm, vitality and movement in a beautifully balanced space. Too much balance and things won’t ‘produce’, so it isn’t necessary to have all five elements in a room for example (a common mistake beginners make), or to achieve perfect symmetry. Nature is imperfect in its perfection and we all thrive best with a little imbalance to kickstart the process of growth. Too much imbalance, though, and we can feel plagued by constant problems, tiredness or arguments. Correcting the excessive imbalance helps return us to a smoother and more harmonious rhythm and dynamic."
If someone is thinking about trying feng shui for the first time, where would you suggest they start?
"A safe space to start would be your bedroom. If you aren’t sleeping well, then look at the position of your bed. Does it have a solid wall behind it to encourage stability and safety, or is it under a window? Does it have a nice sturdy yet soft padded headboard, or is there a hard slatted headboard, metal frame, or worse, no headboard at all? Are the colours too stimulating? Too much red or bright green? Ideally, have the bed with a wall behind it and have a wooden frame with some upholstery on the headboard and keep colours soft and pastel rather than too strong."
What are the main benefits of feng shui for wellbeing?
"We can’t make grand claims regarding curing physical illness but there is a robust methodology influenced by Traditional Chinese Medicine that associates each compass direction with a particular part or function of the body.
"If there is bad feng shui in one of those directions, it might well start to influence the body part over time. There are a few exceptions based on the occupants' date of birth, but broadly speaking, the qualitative data I have amassed over the years reveals this all to be accurate. A pylon or very tall tree too close to the house in the North-West can cause headaches for example, as North-West is associated with the head.
"In terms of mental and emotional wellbeing, people often report feeling calmer and clearer about their life after a comprehensive consultation with me that includes Chinese Astrology blended with the Feng Shui aspect.
"Often, babies and children sleep much better after feng shui changes, and this has such a positive impact on both the children and the parents. Reducing ‘argument chi’ in a home also helps to restore harmony. So there are many benefits of adopting classical feng shui to help with wellness."
"Often, babies and children sleep much better after feng shui changes, and this has such a positive impact on both the children and the parents."
What does feng shui consultancy involve?
"Ideally, I conduct an onsite visit so that the compass readings taken can be as accurate as possible and I can sense the energy inside and outside the building. Obviously, I have had to do some more remote consultations recently. These can offer a good level of basic assessment, but not the more advanced methods, because we don’t have an exact compass reading, only what the Google Earth reading tells us and/or what the client has managed to take with their own camping compass. We definitely don’t rely upon the compass or an app on a smart phone. Happily, the construction industry has remained open, so I have still been able to do a fair few site visits. I look forward to workplaces opening up more and more.
"Once on site, I have a debrief with the client and then take the readings. I then carry out my customised calculations and considerations of the unique form and topography in and surrounding the property and figure out a bespoke strategy to best help them either with existing property enhancements or modified layouts to furniture and colours.
"With a new design or partial renovation, we can plan out the best feng shui from the outset, and I'll incorporate Chinese Astrology and Auspicious Timing into the mix.
"There's usually a feedback session with the client at the end to discuss my suggestions and make sure they are practical for their budget and preferences. Then, once I'm back at my desk, I create a report that serves as a reference for the client to implement the recommendations. I'll also support them with their queries or any liaison with relevant professionals like interior designers, architects and tradespeople, for example, to make sure the feng shui is applied as thoroughly as possible."
"If your space is too congested, heavy and messy, it isn’t aerodynamic enough to benefit from the positive chi ‘pulses’ that we tap into with high-level feng shui"
How has feng shui helped you in your own life?
"Feng shui has helped me transform difficult relationships into empowering ones. It's allowed me to gain a greater understanding of my unique strengths and weaknesses and given me something to focus on that is of service to others and gives me great peace. I have also made tweaks to my feng shui (water features in particular) that have helped bring incredible opportunities out of the blue.
"Day-to-day, I am not a neat freak, but when things get too messy, I will sort them out again so that the Zen feeling returns after a bout of creative chaos! The more subtle and more powerful Feng Shui techniques are definitely much more effective for me when my space is clear and organised. The aerodynamics of a bird allows it to be carried on thermals - and it is similar with feng shui. If your space is too congested, heavy and messy, it isn’t aerodynamic enough to benefit from the positive chi ‘pulses’ that we tap into with high-level feng shui."
Finally, what does a 'conscious space' mean to you?
"To my sensibilities, a conscious space feels tangibly calm. It has an emotional warmth and a beautiful quality of light and spaciousness. It's also visually pleasing in a subtle way, and from a more physical perspective, has a pleasant temperature and air quality and comfortable acoustics. Ideally, it would also have high ceilings, so you get a sense of inspiration rather than claustrophobia. There will also be minimal artificial materials. Usually, a conscious space would have views of nature, or at least real houseplants or flowers, and possibly also a natural organic scent. It may or may not have had Feng Shui applied, but would hopefully have some of the basics if I was to analyse beyond the initial instinctive impression."
Call or email our team to book your personal feng shui consultation with Sarah and Conscious Spaces:
T (+44) 01326 727 222