What is spiritual feng shui?
Feng shui works on many levels, from physical to emotional to mental and to spiritual. Spiritual feng shui deals with spiritual aspects of individuals or organisations. In classical and modern feng shui, humans are placed between heaven (spiritual) and earth (material) dimensions. One of the original applications of feng shui was sitting for burial places, so the ancestors’ spirits could rest in peace. Modern feng shui aligns itself with modern spirituality in a holistic understanding of the interaction between environments and individuals.
Benefits of spiritual feng shui
Research suggests that when people have organised their homes or workspaces with spiritual understanding and connection they feel better, are happier and perform better.
What is spirituality and who advocates it?
Spirituality is defined as a connection to a spiritual realm that is beyond physical, emotional and mental spheres or aspects of individuals or organisations.
Spirituality is recognised now by health professionals, governments and educational bodies. For example, The Nursing and Midwifery Council expects newly qualified graduate nurses to be able to: “In partnership with the person, their carers and their families make a holistic, person-centred and systematic assessment of physical, emotional, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs, including risk, and together, develops a comprehensive personalised plan of nursing care (from Spirituality in nursing care: a pocket guide, Royal College of Nursing, 2011). In a poll of British nurses taken in 2010, 80% felt that spirituality needed to be included in their education.
In mainstream education, the need for a holistic approach that includes spirituality is stated in the first paragraphs of the England and Wales Education Act of 2002 legislate for ‘a balanced and broadly based curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of children and of society’. The opening sentence in Education Reform Act of 1988, states: “The curriculum for a maintained school (must be) a balanced and broadly based curriculum which – promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development fo pupils at the school and of society.” Education (Schools) Act 1992, states, “The Chief Inspector for England shall have the general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at those schools.” Ofsted School Inspection Handbook (January 2015) mentions the word ‘spirituality’ 20 times, for example, “Before making the final judgement on the overall effectiveness, inspectors must also evaluate: the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.” It’s interesting that historically, learning was conducted within the safe confines of temples, abbeys, convents, monasteries, or other sacred space such as groves.
In May 1984, the Thirty-Seven World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA37.13, which made the “spiritual dimension” part and parcel of WHO Member States’ strategies for health.
The British Association of Social Workers, in their Code of Ethics for Social Workers (2012), states “Social workers should respect, uphold and defend each person’s physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being.”
Royal College of Psychiatrists, issued a statement ‘Spirituality and Mental Health 2014’, where they stressed that “Spirituality emphasises the healing of the person, not just the diseases. It views life as a journey, where good and bad experiences can help you to learn, develop and mature.”
Scottish Executive Health Department issued a directive ‘Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy’ in 2009, stating, “Chief Executives are asked to ensure that this guidance is brought to the attention of all appropriate staff and, in particular, to ensure that: They have appointed a senior lead manager for spiritual care.” and “Spiritual care is usually given in a one-to-one relationship, is completely person-centred and makes no assumptions about personal conviction or life orientation. Spiritual care is not necessarily religious. Religious care, at its best, should always be spiritual.”
The General Mecial Council, states “A doctor must adequately assess the patient’s conditions, taking account of their history (including the symptoms and psychological, spiritual, social and cultural factors), their views and values.” (Personal Beliefs and Mecical Practice, 2013, p.1). And there is obviously, the Hippocratic Oath, historically taken by physicians, that requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards.
The United Nations conference on environment and development, The Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (Agenda 21, 6.2), suggested that “Health ultimately depends on the ability to manage successfully the interaction between the physical, spiritual, biological and economic/social environments.” This sounds like a definition of feng shui where the art, philosophy and science of feng shui merge with spirituality and metaphysics in joined care and compassion for individuals.
Modern spirituality encompasses green values of protecting and caring for the environment which are also included in feng shui as part of its ethos of living in harmony with the local and global environments.
If you want to have a good and practical understanding of modern spirituality, I highly recommend a book by William Bloom, ‘The Power Of Modern Spirituality: How to Live a Life of Compassion and Personal Fulfilment’.
Benefits of spirituality
There are many benefits of spirituality with a clearly defined relationship between spirituality and medicine and healthcare. People who have a spiritual connection are healthier, happier and live longer. And there is a wealth of rigorous research and evidence demonstrating benefits of spirituality for physical and mental health as well as wellbeing for individuals and for the wider community. (Obviously, there are risks and bad practice but these are fully acknowledged in the research). There is also an emerging science and physiology that explains the connection. The major study on the benefits of spirituality was done by Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University, under the supervision of Harold G Koenig. In the key paper, Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications (International Scholarly Research Network Psychiatry Volume 2012, Article ID 278730), Harold G Koenig reviewed over 3,300 studies on health and religion/spirituality with a major conclusion that ‘A large volume of research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who are less religious/spiritual.”
In another study, where researchers looked at eight decades of research, Michael E McCullough and Brian L B Willoughby, (‘Religion, Self-Regulation, and Self-Control: Association, Explanations and Implications’, Psychological Bulletin, January 2009) demonstrated that, “Believers perform better, had better health and greater happiness, and lived longer than non-believers.’ and that ‘People who were highly religious were, on average, 29% more likely to be alive at any give follow-up point than were less religious people, suggesting 25% reduction in mortality.”
Physical health benefits of spirituality affect coronary heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, immune function, cancer, physical functioning, self-rated health, pain and somatic symptoms, and mortality.
List your spiritual gateways that help you connect to the wonder and energies of life and how they make you feel and find ways to represent these in your home or workplace.
Mental health benefits of spirituality include coping with adversity, positive emotions, well-being and happiness, hope, meaning and purpose of life, self-esteem, sense of control, positive character traits, coping with depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as anxiety and psychotic disorders (schizophrenia), bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
On the social level, spirituality benefits society through less delinquency and crime, as well as reducing marital instability, greater care for family support and children, boosting social support and adding improvement to social capital.
And health behaviour benefits of spiritual people include less smoking, better exercise and diet which will affect weight, less alcohol and drug use and more contentment and discernment in terms of sex life.
How spirituality actually achieves these benefits?
There is a science and physiology that suggests how the health benefits occur. It’s established that there are five triggers: community, meaning, lifestyle, spiritual practice, and giving care and compassion.
It’s recognised that people who meditate or spend some quiet time on their own reap health and spiritual benefits. For example, 20-min/day of mindfulness will extend your telomeres so you can live longer. Abraham Maslow, who created the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health which prioritise fulfilment of human needs which culminate in self-actualization or enlightenment, noticed in his study that there was only one common characteristic among self-actualised individuals ie that they spent at least one hour every day on their own, meditating, reflecting, journaling or just walking in a park.
Science and spiritual practices
If you need to know more about the benefits of spiritual practice, I highly recommend the pioneering book by Science and Spiritual Practices: Transformative experiences and their effects on our bodies, brains and health, where he shows how science helps validate seven spiritual practices which are:
• connecting with nature,
• relating to plants,
• singing and chanting and
• pilgrimage and holy places.
Rupert summaries the latest scientific research on the effects when we take part in these practices and how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, even if they don’t subscribe to a religious belief system.
All these seven spiritual practices are part of modern feng shui too. For example, meditation, singing and chanting and gratitude are part of space clearing process; connecting with nature and plants are part of living in harmony with nature and biophilia effect; rituals are key to feng shui and holy and sacred places are good examples of good feng shui.
What is spiritual feng shui for?
By definition, the function of spiritual feng shui is not for personal aspects because spiritual is transpersonal. Spiritual feng shui is designed for higher values and aspirations. Spiritual feng shui is to help you connect with spiritual dimensions and realms and anchor them in your home or workplace. Having said that, spiritual feng shui can affect your personal life. By having a spiritual perspective on life, your personal and professional life can become easier, less self-centred and more productive and fulfilling because there will be less self-inflicted suffering and more balance and harmony. It is said, that one of greatest suffering is when your soul is in a collision with your personality. The function of spiritual feng shui is to balance your personal needs and wants with your spiritual needs.
Top tips for spiritual feng shui
Modern, person-centred spirituality acknowledges and recognises that people have different ways or gateways to connect to the wonder and beauty of life. For example, some people get the spiritual connection just by walking their dog in a park, some reading a book, some watching their favourite programme with family or friends, some cooking or having a bath. A spiritual connection can happen anywhere and it is not dependent on any specific setting or practice such as meditation, contemplation or prayer which are regarded as typical spiritual practices.
Top feng shui tips and ideas to deepen your spiritual connection and to connect with your inner self as well as the wonders and energies of life:
1) Create a sacred space that has spiritual connotations and brings spiritual connection to your life. This could be a physical reminder in a form of a place on your bookshelf with things that have spiritual meaning or a little altar or pooja mandir temple, etc.
2) Having a quiet place where you can sit still, contemplate and meditate or do your own spiritual practice would embed positive energies and create a morphic field where over time it will be easier and easier to have some sacred space for yourself.
3) Have some sacred objects and these can be just simple reminders of connection to nature such as stones or crystals or religious type objects, crosses, or pictures of saints or holy men/women. Remember, any object that reminds you of your specific gateway to your spiritual connection is a good, if not better, than anything that others might consider sacred objects. List your spiritual gateways and how they make you feel and find ways to represent these in your home or workplace as reminders and anchors (nudges). Feng shui = intention + energy + ritual.
4) Bring reverence to nature in your home. Images, posters, pictures depicting nature will help as a reminder. Biophilia effect is your connection to the wonder of the world and life’s energies.
5) Recognise wabi-sabi in your home or workplace. Seeing the beauty in the imperfection of your home or workplace will connect you to the physical world more.
6) Bring more curvilinearity as opposed to angularity. According to research round and oval shapes are more associated with spiritual and energetic aspects of life as opposed to square or rectangular shapes which are more associated with the material world.
7) Light and fire are associated with spiritual realm (probably because plasma makes up 99.9% of the universe). Make sure that you have good illumination at home and plenty of good and healthy lighting (no fluorescent and energy saving lightbulbs). Candles, incense and fireplaces are good spiritual connectors and activators but don’t overdo them since they do pollute the air. My personal favourites are plasma balls and Himalayan salt crystal lamps.
8) Perform regular space clearing rituals and ceremonies to purify your home and workplace.
9) Add fractal designs and patterns. Fractals are infinite patterns to can remind us of the wonder of this world and it’s infinite possibilities.
10) Visit some local power places or sacred sites to feel the presence of the connection to the wonder and energies of life.
11) Create a healthy home by avoiding and minimising environmental stressors such as geopathic stress, electromagnetic pollution, dirty electricity, etc to echo an old Latin wisdom of ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ – “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
12) Your gateways to your spiritual connection ………….
Spend a few minutes thinking about your spiritual gateways, how they make you feel, write them down. It could be anything, anyone, anytime or place or activity that makes you feel at ease, embodied and connected to life eg looking at art, listening to music, swimming, sunbathing, running, holding a baby, dreaming, etc that make you feel… eg at ease, peaceful, blissful, mindful, happy, joyful, active, enlightened, present, alive, in the flow, relaxed, energised, safe, etc. In the next few weeks or months find ways to represent these spiritual connections in your home or workplace as reminders and anchors for these events and affects to help you become more spiritual (as demonstrated by Noble prize winning ‘nudge theory’). Feng shui = intention + energy + ritual.
To sum up
Spirituality is not dependent on spiritual feng shui because it includes it. To develop one’s spirituality one just needs to do spiritual practice which practically can be done anywhere. Of course, it’s helpful to have a nice, supportive and harmonious environment for your spiritual practice – that’s where spiritual feng shui plays a role – an environment that reflects your spiritual values and reminds you to be present, mindful and connected to the wonder and energy of life.