One of the most important aspects of feng shui is to bring items and materials from nature into our homes and offices. While we know that it “feels” better to have these items around us, we may have never thought about the reason why.
For millions upon millions of years human beings have primarily lived outdoors. Sure, we found or created shelter to protect us from the elements of nature, but for the most part we spent the vast majority of our time outside in the natural environment. It is only within the last 150 years or so (with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution) that people began to move away from farming to work in factories. Most of us now spend a great deal more time indoors than our ancestors did, but the way we respond to our indoor environment is actually influenced by the same factors that allowed the human race to survive in nature environment up until this very moment.
The ancient masters of feng shui understood the intrinsic relationship human beings have with their surroundings. They knew that in order for people to have an optimal environment, they needed to feel safe; in other words, their survival needs had to be met. As I state in my book, “When our survival needs are met, we feel safe, when we feel safe we relax, and when we relax we are able to accomplish positive things in our lives, and when we accomplish positive things in our lives we are able to thrive and prosper.”
Plants and water are fundamental to our survival, therefore we are programmed to respond favorably when plants and water are nearby. The less we are surrounded by nature and the more we are surrounded by man-made materials, the less comfortable we become. Can you imagine New York City without Central Park? The park provides a natural haven for city dwellers, offering them respite from the concrete world around them. Adding plants and natural materials to the interiors of our homes and offices do the same thing. They provide a connection to Mother Nature that in turn soothes our soul and nurtures our body, mind, and spirit.
How can you bring nature into your environment? Here are ten easy ways:
1. Opt for furniture made from wood and natural fibers like wool and cotton rather than metal, plastic, or synthetic materials.
2. Add flowers to your home for a beautiful and nurturing touch of color. Scientists have proven that human beings actually release endorphins when they see flowers. The theory is that there are three main colors found in nature: green, blue, and brown. When early humans would come across the vibrant purples, reds, yellow, fuchsias, and other brilliant colors of flowers, they responded with delight at the rare sight. To this day we give flowers to celebrate occasions and bring happiness to others.
3. ALWAYS use natural scents rather than chemical air “fresheners”. Therapeutic-grade essential oils, citrus, and natural spices can be diffused safely in the environment to create a pleasant aroma. The scent stimulates the limbic center in the brain which helps us relax and rejuvinate.
4. Choose full-spectrum lighting. Full spectrum lighting mimics the natural light spectrum of the sun. Your body is designed to respond to sunlight, and you release serotonin and other mood-enhancing hormones when you’re exposed to it. Use dimmer switches to change the light intensity. Full spectrum lighting comes in energy saving and LED styles as well.
5. Consider adding a water fountain or aquarium to your home or office. The sound of water is relaxing and nourishing. Water is a positive element in the north, east, and southeast areas of the home. Try to avoid it in the south, west, and northwest, and it is neutral in the center, southwest, and northeast.
6. Minimize exposure to EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) as much as possible. There is a growing body of evidence to support that over-exposure to electromagnetic fields can lead to all sorts of health issues. As a general rule, try to keep anything electric (including your clock radio) at least three feet away from you while you are sleeping, and don’t even THINK about standing directly in front of the microwave when it is turned on!
7. Open your drapes and give yourself a clear view of the outdoors. Trees, plants, birds, and other animals connect us to nature while calming and relaxing us.
8. If you’re looking for artwork, try scenes from nature. Art.com is a great source for artwork of landscapes, seascapes, beaches, forests, and more. Always choose images that you love and will enjoy looking at.
9.When possible, open your windows and doors. No air purifier can hold a candle to fresh air. Translated, the words “Feng Shui” mean “Wind and Water”, which symbolizes the flow and balance of nature. Let Mother Nature cleanse and purify the air in your home.
10. Choose shapes that mimic those found in nature. Meandering pathways, rounded edges, spirals, and circles are all shapes found in the natural world. Right angles and straight lines don’t exist in nature and when in abundance in any space will make it feel less comfortable.
The early feng shui masters certainly knew what they were doing when they suggested that people add nature to their interior environments. As we become more and more technologically oriented and detached from the natural world, the wisdom of feng shui is as important, if not even more important for our well-being as it was when it was first developed over 5,000 years ago.
c. 2012 Cathleen McCandless, All Rights Reserved