When I first started my own fascinating dive into the world of feng shui, I was far more interested in art and design and holistic living than I was interested in some sort of placebo-effect of superstition that I found lots of….everywhere.
I mean, I didn’t want to recommend things to clients that I didn’t wholly know to be true, because to suggest things that required such a big “leap of faith” was against my own ways of thinking about life in general.
So I researched, researched and resarched.
And I practiced, practiced, practiced.
I don’t need a controlled lab experiment to “scientifically” prove that something works if it’s worked for over a decade in hundreds of different homes… but the fact that scientists started to pay attention to environmental design was intriguing.
Then… an outpouring of data started to crop up. Whether it’s the fascinating science of epigenetics (how our lifestyle affects our genetics) and the ways that our environment literally affects our cells (!) or the wild studies on clutter that link cluttered environments to increased cortisol, weight gain, stress and even depression… the science was compelling. Plants can clean your air. Your sleep quality does depend in part on environmental factors and bedroom design. The colors we see are engineered to create influence…Art can help you to heal physically. Nature can revitalize your mind.
Reading all this, even I want to feng shui my own home much more!!!
What I find about science isn’t that it’s “legitimizing” what I do because it’s been legitimate for thousands of years, but, rather, each awesome probe into the nature of the universe and how we interact with it shows me new ways to go deeper, to experiment more wildly and apply all this ancient wisdom with so much more power.
Today, let’s explore more ways that science is catching up with feng shui!
Is Science Catching Up With Feng Shui? by Gabriele Van Zon, Feng Shui Universal
“Architects are concerned with designing spaces that fit the personalities and preferences of the future occupant. They now have access to virtual environments and physiological instruments whereby they can measure and gather information on how the client reacts to their models of design. Interesting experiments reveal that peoples’ stated preference are sometimes out of sync with the readouts from their bodies and movements. In other words, their body-based emotional reaction does not match their intellectual choices.
These observations confirm what we know in feng shui to be positive or negative environmental aspects. We distinguish between the yin of soft round shapes versus the yang of straight and jagged edges. We also follow the guiding principles of the five elements to determine which shapes might be auspicious in recommending environmental adjustments. Personal needs can be served by increasing or decreasing elemental features with color, line, shape and texture.
Colin Ellard, a cognitive neuro-scientist at the University of Waterloo, says that “we see curves as soft, inviting and beautiful whereas jagged edges are hard, repulsive and may signal risk.” Other neuroscientists show that exposure to curved or jagged contours in architectural interiors can change our pattern of brain activity. “The presentation of curves produces strong activation in brain areas like the orbitofrontal cortex and cingulated cortex – areas of our brain that are associated with reward and pleasure. Jagged edges can cause increases in activity of the amygdala, an important part of our fear-detecting response systems.”
University studies and experiments have revealed that participants were more likely to behave aggressively when they were surrounded by art with sharp angled shapes than when they were in a room where more rounded contoured art was hung. These findings suggest that shapes and contours can make us feel either happy and comfortable or anxious and fearful.
Armed with the latest facts from scientific research, we are ready to embrace the wisdom of traditional Chinese gardens and structures. We might come upon the round opening of a moon gate gazing through its framed view along a meandering garden path trailing off into the distance. Pagoda-style roofs with swept up edges and corners are part of an intricate system indigenous to the architectural grammar of design that has been prescribed for thousands of years.
Form school practitioners from early agricultural societies would seek the soft undulating shapes in searching for “the dragon’s lair” they thought to be the ideal setting for a tomb site. A massive arch-shaped mountain, symbolizing the black tortoise of the north, provided protection from inclement weather and the threat of the approaching enemy. The rolling hills of a dragon shape in the east and a white tiger in the west would open up to the views of a lake or river with a central soft elevation representing the red phoenix in the south.
If these configurations are replicated in a virtual reality lab, biofeedback devices and electrodes can now measure and report how our brain activity and physiological responses are altered by the environment.”
So so cool Gabriele! The science IS catching up with the ancient practice of feng shui! xoxo Dana
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