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Office chi wiz
Basic feng shui principles can bring harmony to the confines of the workplace
Not feeling at one with your office environment? Life inside a cubicle can make a person feel stuck, continually running on a wheel like a little mouse chasing after that ever-elusive, dreamy piece of cheese.
Perhaps that's because your chi -- your source of life energy -- is walled off, kept from flowing around your desk and through your being.
Short of taking a sledgehammer to the walls of your cubicle or continually fantasizing about getting your own private office -- neither of which is too productive an activity -- there's not too much one can do about the structure of an office. Gray, drab cubicles are here to stay.
But you can incorporate positive change within your impersonal square by following basic feng shui principles about the art of placement. Thumb through feng shui books or consult a professional to help you unclog that blocked chi.
Ideally, the theory goes, once your perspective and your environment improve, so will your productivity and energy level. A win-win for you and your boss.
"People really do know that the environment affects them," said interior designer Karren Barozzi. "People are looking for harmony, and it's hard to get that day after day."
But change can be hard to absorb, literally, even when it's positive. "Some people are always negative. They live in the past," said Lien Bal, a black (hat) sect feng shui practitioner and an intuitive counselor with Sedona. "In order to change a pattern, you need to accept change and not resist it. A lot of people resist it. Welcome change."
1. Entry, career area.
2. Overhead storage with doors keeps work at hand without clutter.
3. Locate major work area in view of the entry.
4. A window or artwork in the area of creativity, new thought and new ideas improves chi and keeps you from feeling like you're against the wall.
5. Mirror reflects movement when your back is to the door.
6. In partners area, keep free of stacking work, may have flower or picture of a spouse.
7. Something red represents fame.
8. Solid panel to provide privacy and distraction from co-workers.
9. Curved desk fosters creativity.
10. Plant for growth.
11. Poster showing wisdom and knowledge.
SKETCH CONCEPT / LIST PROVIDED BY KARREN BAROZZI
The bagua is a directional tool used in feng shui to map placement of items to promote good chi.
Grab a bagua , a directional tool to map out the areas of your desk, and begin establishing a general sense of well-being.
First, decide if your desk is in a commanding position. If you're able to see the door, without being aligned with it, then yes: You're able to see who's approaching.
"This way you can benefit from the incoming chi, resulting in greater productivity and success," said Laurens Laudowicz, an interior designer and owner of Buddhawelt. "Feng shui is based on the principle that the vital life energy -- chi -- flows everywhere: in nature, buildings and people."
If your desk is in another position, angle a convex mirror or place an 8 1/2-by-11-inch mirror on a picture stand to see who's approaching and so you feel more secure and in charge, said Bal. People will be less likely to startle you.
"The cubicle is an office environment," said Bal. "There's only so much you can do. But the desk position can make a difference between an easy, smooth, progressing career or one that is filled with problems and hardships."
If there's enough room, Bal suggests putting a small waterfall fountain near the entrance of the cubicle to add life and remind you of the outdoors. "It will remove the negative flow of energy and stimulate salary."
Bring in items representing career (water), knowledge (mountain), family (thunder), wealth (wind), fame (fire), relationships (earth), creativity/children (lake), benefactors (heaven) and health (earth).
They can be something as simple as a picture of a mountain for the knowledge corner, or a plant representing earth for the relationship corner.
If your area is small, bring in the five elements -- fire, earth, metal, water and wood -- and place them in a clockwise fashion, with fire at the top. Focus on the color of the objects for simplicity. Fire can take the form of something as simple as a bit of red cloth.
"Color will evoke certain images, and it will nurture us at different times," said Barozzi.
To counterbalance the static state of a typical cubicle, add an odd number of plants to increase the flow of chi, especially if you're far away from a window: Put one on top of the monitor, in front of your desk and in the wealth corner (left back corner of your desk).
Some people might have a desire to focus on one area of the bagua , but Bal cautions against that, as feng shui is about a balanced perspective.
"You may want to work on one particular area -- for example, relationships -- but you need that knowledge you've gained from previous relationships and apply it toward future ones."
It's essential to keep your desk clean in following feng shui, said Laudowicz. Keep the center clutter-free for good health and to increase calmness. Also, avoid vents; if you must sit near one, hang a scarf beneath it to direct the air flow away because the energy interferes with the chi. Move tall objects out of your line of view, as they can overpower you.
Change needn't stop with environmental modifications. The three secrets of reinforcement in the school of black (hat) sect feng shui -- mind, body, speech -- help people become more in tune with their surroundings.
"If the desired end result of a situation is to make money, visualize that," said Bal. "For the body, make hand gestures in a prayer manner. For speech, depending on your religion, it can be the Lord's Prayer or the equivalent.
"Feng shui is not a religion, but a practice," she added. "But the changes you're focusing on will reinforce your behavior."