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By Amanda Frank

Monster Contributing Writer / published in Monster.ca

Feng Shui, pronounced “fong shway” is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics that allows you to live in harmony with your environment, the art of placement according to Lydia Pawelak, Montreal-based certified Feng Shui practitioner and interior designer. Pawelak explains how to bring Feng Shui into your workplace with a few simple practices that you can do at home and at the office.

Read on to find out the inside scoop on what Feng Shui can do to influence your career.

MONSTER.CA: What’s the best position for me to sit at my desk?

PAWELAK: If you have the choice, position your desk so that you’re seated with your back against a wall with a view of the entrance to your office. The wall behind you will give you support, meaning other people will help you. You have more control over what is happening if you can see who’s coming and going and what’s happening around you. Always having someone walking behind your back weakens your position.

An office chair with a higher back can substitute for a wall if you don’t have a wall behind you. Consider replacing your chair for comfort purposes too. People spend hours in their uncomfortable chairs unwilling change it unless the company pays for it. It’s worth the investment to buy the chair for yourself and take it with you when you leave the company. Buy a good chair and desk lamp. You are there every day. Elevate your feet so you can be seated as comfortable as possible.

MONSTER.CA: What else can I do to Feng Shui my desk?

PAWELAK: Cubicles all look alike, so bring in at least one personal item like a picture of your partner, your kids, your dog, something you look forward to. You can glance at it and feel better when things aren’t going well. Limit yourself to one or two items. You can’t overdo it in a working space. Keep your desk looking as Zen or uncluttered as possible. The more stuff we have the more our chi is disorganized, the more we’re thinking of ten things at once and can’t concentrate very well.

You can arrange the items on your desk so that you’ll have a smoother workflow. On the left hand side put things that have to do with the past, tasks you’ve completed. On the right side put things that relate to the future, things you have to do. We generally don’t have control over the office environment at large and can’t do much about what’s going on around us. Try something simple like closing garbage cans.

We’re very often disconnected from nature when we’re in an office. Bringing in something natural, like a plant or two is very healthy. If you can’t have a plant, bring in a picture of nature. Avoid cactus because it emits negative energies. I recommend the Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily because it neutralizes positive ions emitted by your computer. Pay attention to your five senses. Sit down in your office. What do you see? Close your eyes and focus on what you hear and smell. What can you do about it? The same applies visually.

They say it’s not such a good time to have a clock right in front of you. People are much more stressed when they see the time all the time. Of course it’s hard to avoid the clock on your computer. If you have a clock, place it off to the side rather than staring right at you.

MONSTER.CA: What about computers and BlackBerries?

PAWELAK: Don’t wear your cell phone. Keep your cell phone and any electrical wiring as far away from you as possible. Use a headset instead of the handset on your landline phone. Wiring, computers, phones, all electronic devices emit electromagnetic fields. Prolonged exposure can influence the nervous system. People get headaches, feel more nervous and stressed and don’t sleep as well. These fields are usually very highly elevated in an office.

Some people put a small quartz salt lamp next to their computer to neutralize some of that energy. You can neutralize it with plants, salt lamps or selenite lamps. I was once in a train station in Switzerland and next to every computer there was a salt lamp lit up. People occasionally put them next to their television but you rarely see it in an office space.

MONSTER.CA: If all the world’s a stage, what’s the best lighting for my chi?

PAWELAK: It’s best to work in a well-lit environment, but avoid fluorescent light. It takes a toll on the nervous system. People get tired when they’re exposed a lot to fluorescent lighting. Get a desk light, it’s better for you.

MONSTER.CA: Can Feng Shui Be Useful in Cafeteria?

PAWELAK: Stay away from the microwave. Everything we put in the microwave is dead afterward. Healthy vegetables have chi energy in them, but the moment you put them in the microwave the chi is gone. We need that chi in our body. That is why we eat fruits and vegetables. You’re more tired when you don’t have enough chi. Find another way to heat up your food. Don’t use the microwave and you will have more energy. Always keep water nearby and drink throughout the day. This applies on more of a health level but water is used a lot in Feng Shui.

MONSTER.CA: What’s does Feng Shui say about work fashion?

PAWELAK: Feng Shui suggests not wearing black because it absorbs energy. Add some color. It’s important that you’re appropriately dressed for the environment but that you’re comfortable. It’s not good to go out of your way to dress up to impress if you don’t feel comfortable.

MONSTER.CA: How do you choose paint colors when you design an office space?

PAWELAK: Color depends on the element of the person, which depends on their date of birth. Blue might be good for one person but bad for another person. During consultations I usually check people’s elements to incorporate colors that support those elements and group people with harmonious elements closer together.

MONSTER.CA: Can Feng Shui help me in meetings?

PAWELAK: Yes. In important meetings always try sitting with the wall behind you and the door in front of you or at least within your line of sight. Your body will be more relaxed. Things going on behind you won’t distract you. You’ll have more control and communicate your needs better. If you are leading the meeting or giving a conference and you’re sitting next to the door and everyone else can see the door except you, you will need much more energy to convince your colleagues or have them pay attention to you. The meeting will flow so much better for you if you’re seated with your back to the wall facing the door.

The reasoning behind it goes back to ancient wartime survival instincts, that if you could see your enemies arriving you weren’t going be stabbed in the back. It puts you in control. Position your body so you’re able to see what is happening around you.

The same applies at home. If you can watch TV from your sofa and still see the kitchen and the front door, your body will be more relaxed, which is better for the immune system. Sitting in middle of the room without the support of the wall at your back, your body’s never one hundred percent at ease.

MONSTER.CA: What else can I do at home to enhance my career?

PAWELAK: The main entrance of your home is connected to your career and your journey of life. It is very important to pay attention to what your entrance looks like. Is your garbage can in front of your house? Is your address number clearly visible? Does your door need a paint job? A dark narrow entrance will decrease the energy that expands your career or what you are doing pertaining to work. Is your entrance prettier than your neighbors? You don’t want to see shoes and coats first thing when you enter your home. The nicer your entrance the better your career will be. If you’re looking for a job avoid hanging plants. I’ve often found a link between people who have an idea or are waiting for something to happen in their life and hanging plants. A pot on a shelf or the ground is grounded. Something can materialize. Hanging plants are in suspension. Nothing materializes.

MONSTER.CA: What do I get out of Feng Shui?

PAWELAK: As an employee you’re more productive, which makes the time pass faster and reduces your stress level. You do a better job and you’re less exhausted at the end of the day. If you’re completely drained from your day you lose out on quality time in the evening at home and don’t feel like doing anything.

Very often we don’t have enough time to decompress over the weekend so over the long term we suffer from burnout and other problems. If you’re looking at it from the perspective of the employer, keeping your employees healthy and in shape is a good long-term investment for any company.

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