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If you're someone who spends a lot of time at your desk, it makes sense that you would want to set it up in the most supportive, creative, and inspiring way. Of course, you want to consider the ergonomics of your desk so you can feel comfortable and keep your neck, back, and wrist pain at bay while working. But this conversation is not about the ergonomics of your desk, it's about the energy of your desk and workspace, specifically energy that's created by employing feng shui and aromatherapy.
First, we'll talk about using feng shui when setting up your work desk.
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But first: what is feng shui? It's literal definition is wind-water. Feng shui expert Amanda Gibby Peters says that feng shui is a wisdom and practice that is about changing things energetically so that we can feel a shift in our spaces and in our lives. She says that wind is energy that we don't see, but we feel the effects of, and water energy is something we see. It's about understanding that we are working with both these concepts in our homes. It's not just about making things look visually appealing by moving things around or tidying up or placing plants in specific spots. It's about shifting the energy around us that we don't actually see.
I was curious about the command position of a desk according to feng shui. Basically, what's the best way to place a work desk to inspire abundant, prosperous energy while working? I asked Amanda to explain:
Feng Shui expert Amanda Gibby Peters: "People get kind of confused by this, so I'm going to start with: think about a mafia boss sitting at the back of a room, solid wall behind him, able to see anyone who comes in. There [are] a lot of reasons that we talk about being in command. And so let me just explain the setup and then I'll explain the benefits. When you are in command, ideally you are back against a wall or something solid, so maybe bookcases or something that feels like it's supportive. You're not exposed. You are facing the door, but you're not in direct alignment with the door, which means that if someone walks in the door, they're not going to run into you if they just keep walking. So it allows you the fullest command of the room.
"Here's why it matters: because when our back faces a door (through no choice of our own), our subconscious is like, 'Well, wait. Survival is the name of the game, so I need to be paying attention to anything or anyone that might come up unexpectedly.' So there you are working away and you are trying to do what you're focused on, but your subconscious has got a whole other agenda. And so something to keep in mind with feng shui: nothing is transactional. Anytime you read something and it scares you, just know that usually it's not [that] you've done something and then immediately something bad is going to happen. And likewise, you're not going to do something and immediately something wonderful is going to happen. It really is about what is the quality of chi over a period of time. So going back to command, if your subconscious is on guard day after day after day, there's that drip, drip, drip again of you feeling that decision fatigue without even knowing it. So you start to feel exhausted.
"And when you're not on your A-game, opportunities might get by you. You might not see something coming up. You might have missed out on something. Again, all the metaphors of having your back to opportunities play in here. For people who have to face a wall though — because I don't want anyone to feel left out — you can mitigate that by putting yourself in a situation where you can possibly see the door. So you can angle your desk. You could even put a mirror up. But the bigger thing I would say, the two things I would really insist on is if you're facing a wall, put a piece of art on the wall that has a landscape view, something that opens up the space in front of you so you don't feel like you are, again, metaphorically hitting a wall day after day.
If your subconscious is on guard day after day after day, there's that drip, drip, drip again of you feeling that decision fatigue without even knowing it, so you start to feel exhausted. — Amanda Gibby Peters
"And then go for a high back chair so it creates that speed bump between whatever's coming in the door and you, okay? And that can help mitigate, because I know when people are working from home, and certainly over COVID, people didn't have the space. And then they were sharing it with their kids or they didn't have square footage to set up a dedicated office space. So there are ways to work around that, and that's again, a really another beautiful part about feng shui is that there's always a workaround. There's always a way to sort of figure it out."
I also had the opportunity to speak with aromatherapist Amy Galper about how to use essential oils at our desk.
Why essential oils? Essential oils have therapeutic benefits. Amy says that the power of aromatherapy lies in our sense of smell and has a profound effect on our health and wellbeing. I've occasionally kept a diffuser on my desk because I like using scents for focus or clarity or calm, but really I've only felt comfortable doing that at my desk while working from home and not when I'm in an office. Because if you share a workspace with someone, whether it's at an office or within your home, the scent of essential oils might be overwhelming to others. Amy shared some genius ideas on how we can use essential oils at our desk while working without bothering anyone.
"...passive diffusion could actually in the long run be more effective." — Amy Galper
Aromatherapist Amy Galper: "There are some other more passive kind of diffusing methods that you can have at your desk, which are really nice. One is they're really great, they come, these little flash drives, they look like a USB and there's a pad on it. I don't know if it's cotton, but it's some material that's very absorbent. You could just plug it right into your laptop and then put a drop or two of the oil on that pad and you'll be the only person smelling it. Because the heat of your computer will gently allow that aroma to waft to you. So that's a really nice way and very subtle way of using it. You can also just have a cotton ball at your desk and every once in a while just smell it, have it near you.
"There's other passive diffusers. I've seen them called aroma stones, where they're like a very porous clay or a lava kind of rock. And you could just have that sitting at your desk and you drop a few drops of essential oil, and then you'll smell that throughout the day. And I think those are really the best options for at your desk because having a real diffuser blowing on you the whole time can be a little intense. And I think just more [of] the subtleties of what I call passive diffusion could actually in the long run be more effective."
Now you have a couple of ideas to try when setting up your desk so you can create the most positive, supportive, and dare I say, lovely energy while working. To listen to the full conversations with both Amanda Gibby Peters and Amy Galper, visit us on the Being Home With Hunker podcast.