What is Feng Shui Therapy?

This post will be a little bit about “What is feng shui?” but also “What is Feng Shui Therapy?”

The name of my business, “Wind Over Water,” is actually a play on the words feng shui, which means wind and water in Chinese. I posted about this a while back here.

What is Feng Shui?

First, “feng shui” means ‘wind water’ and is defined by the lifestyle and decor website The Spruce as “a practice of arranging the pieces in living spaces to create balance with the natural world. This is what it means to feng shui your home. The goal is to harness energy forces and establish harmony between an individual and their environment…It is related to the concept of Tao, which in very simple terms is ‘the way of nature.’”

I became interested in feng shui when I first heard about it, but did not really try to apply it until I was a working adult after graduate school. I read several books, and since I had always been interested in design, a lot of what they said made sense. My favorite book, at the time, was called “Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life” by Karen Rauch, and it was written in a way that did not make it seem esoteric.

In 2009, I took a course in feng shui from the Feng Shui Institute of America, and they explained some about the different ‘schools’ of feng shui and how they were based on slightly different principles. They call their approach ‘scientific feng shui’ and base their goal setting philosophy on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a tool I was already familiar with as a therapist). It basically looks like the same pyramid, and is a way to think about goal setting a bit differently. It asks you what you need to build on to reach a goal. 

How Feng Shui works

In feng shui, you would lay a map of different areas that are supposed to correspond to different types of energy over an image of your floor plan and place objects, decorate, or otherwise follow recommendations for areas that you have specific goals or changes you want to make in your life. In the image, the floor plan is missing part of the section for travel or helpful people.

So if someone wanted to attract that into their life, they would put something in that area of their home to “fix” the missing section. Or if you want to find a relationship, you would put pairs of things, like candles, or images that remind you of love or romance in the relationship corner. If you are happy in your relationship, you would make sure to put a couple of photos of you and your partner in that corner to make sure that your relationship is honored and stays on track.

Part of the idea is that what you look at is what you pay attention to, and what you pay attention to is more likely to get accomplished – which makes sense. So you maximize that potential by thinking about your goals, thinking about your space and the energy that is there, and planning accordingly. 

Another interesting tidbit: we tend to stop paying attention to things after a while – it is called ‘habituation.’ So if you have a goal, like wanting to have kids, you might put something (like round mirrors in metal frames in a group of 7) in that area of your home. In order to keep focusing on it, you might move those mirrors around differently every 6 weeks or so in order to keep yourself focused on that. 

In feng shui, you pay attention to the elements, colors, shapes and numbers of objects to make sure your energy is balanced in your home. You always want those things to feel comfortable and natural for you – do not put a random wind chime someplace you are going to hit your head on it because you think you are supposed to because that will not work. It does require some thought and out of the box thinking, but I am a fan of thinking and planning, so it works well for my brain.

Feng Shui Blogs from the Spruce

What is Feng Shui Therapy?

I believe that you should get something you want AND need if you are going to invest the time, money, and energy in therapy. It is a wonderful tool to help spark growth and change. 

In my therapeutic process, there is a certain flow to what we talk about and certain exercises that I use with almost all of my clients at some point. One of these is the Values, Goal Setting & Decision Making Worksheet. 

Values Based Goals & Decision Making Worksheet

I am not the kind of therapist that you just talk to without setting goals and working through things you identify as problems in your life. But as with all people, I come with my own perspectives and biases. One of these is that you have to know what your goal is in order to achieve it, and that is the first step. 

Another is that the goal has to strike a balance between what feels natural or reasonable and sustainable for you. 

We all have things we want, things we need, and things we think we should want or need. Feng Shui Therapy asks about some of these and tries to help you clarify the areas for improvement that are the most important for you. 

How Feng Shui Therapy Works

The Feng Shui part comes in here – whatever your goals are, you need to figure out what you need to get there, and it is usually in steps that build on each other (like a pyramid). Many people have heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 

Using this as a starting point, you figure out what skills, knowledge, or help you need to get to your ultimate goal (Fulfillment of the Goal or Need) at the top of the pyramid. 

Whatever the goal is, you can then look at the corresponding section of the bagua to get ideas, or you might have something that comes to mind that will physically represent the goal for you. Once you have your long term goal clear in your mind, and you have a physical reminder of that goal, then you get started on your pyramid!

We might be talking about accountability or energy allocation, skills you need to reach your goal, visualization, acceptance, mindfulness, compassion….the list goes on and on, because everyone’s goals are different. 

here are some examples

Let’s say your value is creativity, but that you are not doing anything creative in your life right now. Maybe you have been too depressed, have been focusing on kids and your family, or that your eating disorder has taken over your life (or all three!). What now?

Well, what do you need first? You need to manage your eating disorder – there are basic needs that may not be met involved with that. What physiological needs are unmet? Safety needs? With an eating disorder, we may spend a lot of time making sure that your ‘basic’ needs are being met because you might have to learn a lot of skills to get to a place that is sustainable and reasonable. 

Sometimes you need to break each of these down into smaller goals. But once the basic needs are met (knowing that is both simple and difficult), you move on to the ‘growth’ needs. 

With the next levels, perhaps that is self acceptance, perhaps that is being honest about your behavior with your support system, perhaps it is learning to set boundaries or ask for help. Maybe you need to get involved in the community or make new friends. There are sets of skills involved in all of these! Chances are, we will already have talked about many of them and laid the foundation for your pyramid. This is where your view of yourself really changes. This is where you tweak your skills and goals for yourself. 

In this example, let’s say that the person’s depression resolved with their eating disorder behavior. They are eating reasonably, sustainably, maybe even intuitively. They are working on their body image and self esteem goals. They have made new friends in their community art classes and are doing something creative every day. Their family schedule is manageable (mostly) and they are communicating openly with their partner and other members of their support network. They are fulfilling their potential!

The art that they have been putting together tells a story of their path. They put drawings, photos, and mementos in different places in their home throughout the journey to help remind them what they were working towards. They painted walls and moved their space to a new part of their house to make it more accessible for them to create and use that as self expression and as a coping skill. The reminders of their goals and accomplishments are all around them!

That would be a great expression of Feng Shui Therapy. 

Of course…

It is not always that neat or simple. We did not talk about the obstacles that cropped up along the way or how difficult (and important) it is to learn to have compassion for ourselves. What we did do is break down the problem into manageable goals, leveraged our space and home for our well-being, and learned a LOT of different skills along the way. If you would like to learn more, or if you think this would be a good fit for your therapy process, let me know!