If, like me, you live in the West but also believe in Eastern medical thought -- things such as Chi, life-force, acupuncture and energy flow -- then consider how the ancient art of Feng Shui may affect your sleep.
Feng Shui is a complex, 3,000-year-old Chinese philosophy based on the art of placement, harmony, balance and the fundamental principle that cosmic energy (chi) unites all universal matter.
In Feng Shui's energy system, nothing happens without direct consequence to something else; free-flowing chi that circulates smoothly has positive influence on everything in its path. Stagnant chi or chi that moves too rapidly has a negative effect on your well-being. Harnessing good chi and directing its flow is in large part Feng Shui's goal.
And like the Western approach to yoga -- another complex, centuries-old system -- people often take from Feng Shui what works best for their own lives. Thus, you might find some elements of Feng Shui superstitious and others a good fit. Use what works best for you.
And like many other ancient belief systems, purist vs. popular ideas abound about what exactly constitutes Feng Shui practice today . Most experts, however, agree on many things for the bedroom, an important Feng Shui space.
In this system your bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your home, because this is where you sleep and renew your body. It's the one space you inhabit that's completely yours, where the outside world is kept at bay. When you walk into your bedroom you should feel like a warm pair of arms has encircled you: It should be tranquil, peaceful and inspire proper rest, privacy, reflecting your true personality.
The bedroom is critical "because this is where we spend one-third of our lives," says Anita Rosenberg, a certified Feng Shui expert and consultant in Los Angeles. "Sleeping and resting impact our health and vitality, which is why we want excellent Chi in our bedrooms." And, she says, "bedrooms have only two purposes: to recharge your battery through sleep and rejuvenate your spirit through romance."
Who could argue with this?
Try these basic Feng Shui bedroom ideas to spice-up your 'Bedroom Chi':
- Bed placement is key. Importantly, don't have the foot of your bed in direct alignment with the door. This is known as the "death" or "coffin" position and suggests your chi will flow straight out of the room while sleeping. (Many people say this one switch works wonders.)
- From the bed's headboard position you should have a full view of both the windows and the door. Try to place the bed against a solid wall, making sure headboards are tightly fastened to the frames. Never place a bed directly under a low-slanting ceiling, a window, or under exposed beams, as this is thought to dilute chi by half.
- Have your bed easily approachable from both sides," suggests Rodika Tchi, a Feng Shui expert and consultant in Vancouver. "It's best to have two bedside tables (one on each side)." She also says: "Having a good looking and well-balanced bed is very important in creating a perfect Feng Shui bedroom." This means have a good mattress, a solid headboard (no metal please) and high quality sheets from natural fibers.
A major bed chi rule: Do not leave beds unmade. This stagnates and erodes chi as well as looks un-wonderful. It's the very first thing I do in the morning, and if nothing else, do it respectfully for yourself.
- Clutter and electronic equipment stagnate and erode chi-flow, so cover your television and computer screens with plastic covers or draped cloth. Better yet, take electronics out of the bedroom -- something I write about at length in my book, The Well-Rested Woman: 60 Soothing Suggestions for Getting a Good Night's Sleep. www.wellrestedwoman.com. [To our health and sleep's detriment, bedroom's have become info-entertainment centers, which they are not.]
Clutter is Feng Shui's nemeses, so here is one suggestion: don't. Please do not live with clothes strewn around the bedroom and on the floors and furniture. Hang them up. Clear out the clutter under your bed and store it in a closet; don't let books and children's toys and all manner of things clutter up your bedroom space. Keep it a relatively clean, empty, breathable space.
- Peaceful art and colors are important to your bedroom chi. Feng Shui experts note that how you want to live your life should be reflected in the art you place inside your bedroom. In other words, don't put up moody, lonely and singular images unless that's how you want to interact with the world. Also out: bright, bold and aggressive images, you can save those for other places in your home.
Soothing colors are the best choice for your sleep room. Good Feng Shui colors are the so-called "skin colors," from white to rich chocolate brown. These include warm colors such as cream, white, gold, beige, brown and caramel. Stay away from red or anything too vibrant and bright.
"Clients are very open to creating more romantic and relaxing and sleep-inducing bedrooms," says Rosenberg, "they just don't know how to do it." In her opinion, the key is in adding the "yin" and "eliminating the "yang" - meaning soft cozy bedding in sumptuous colors, wooden bed frames, romantic artwork, photographs of you and your significant other only, extending the foot of the bed with a bench. Yang elements to steer clear from include mirrors, ceiling fans, vibrant bedding, electronics and TV sets, family photographs, under-bed clutter and metal bed frames.
- Feng Shiu principles suggest sparing use of mirrors in the bedroom: one mirror is thought to be the maximum, something somewhat unusual for Westerners. Don't have mirrors face the bed, as they reflect and increase chi and disturb sleep. Chi escapes from windows, so you want to cover them at night. Try to keep the sharp edges of bedroom furniture from pointing toward the sleeper.
- Have several levels of lighting in your bedroom, or use a dimmer switch to adjust the energy according to your need and mood. Good and appropriate lighting is important as light is thought to be our number one nutrient and a strong energy manifestation. Candles and their soft light are great in the bedroom for this reason.
- Your bedroom air is important so open the windows often during the day and evening or use a good air-purifier to keep the air fresh and full of oxygen. You don't want to breathe in stale and stagnant air, as this hinders flowing chi.
Plants in the bedroom are not classically thought to be good Feng Shui, but if you have electronics inside your room, some small plants such as peace lilies and/or spider plants set away from the bed are okay to use. If your bedroom is large, some larger plants such as palms are also acceptable.
- And finally, your bed is the one piece of furniture in your home that pulls the most energy from you. You spend one-third of your life on it, so many Feng Shui experts suggest changing your bed mattress each time a new life cycle starts, approximately every seven to nine years, and especially if you bring a new partner into your bed. Also, whenever you move, try to buy a new mattress.
If your interest is piqued by this information, there are numerous books, websites and Feng Shui experts to help you increase your 'bedroom chi.' Do it yourself or hire an expert to help.
Some items, such as bed placement, are more complex than can be discussed here. Feng Shui experts can personalize the information to your own statistics, or in Rosenberg's words, "(we can) help personalize your best directions and make sure you are not activating any negative yearly stars," something surely to avoid if you desire good boudoir chi.
To purchase Janet's book: "The Well-Rested Woman: 60 Soothing Suggestions for Getting a Good Night's Sleep," or for more information on sleep and sleep counseling visit Janet's website: www.wellrestedwoman.com.
You can follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/wellrestedwomen