Feng shui, also known as geomancy, is the ancient Chinese art of placement. It is believed that chi, or life energy, flows in every place, influencing whatever and wherever it touches upon. Proper arrangement of items in your surroundings - furniture, appliances, decorations - can help manipulate and channel this energy in positive and beneficial ways in your life. Having free-flowing chi brings about success, health, prosperity, and all other kinds of goodies. Blocked chi, on the other hand, can bring about misfortune, difficulties, and general unfavorable, not-so-good stuff.

There are many books that explain how to practice geomancy both at home and at work. A lot of what I've seen says that a cubicle is far too small a space for it to work in - feng shui is designed for the flow of energy in as large an area as a wing of a building or, larger still, the entire floor plan of a building.

I, for one, think that feng shui can work in the cubicle area despite what the naysayers tell you (it's a conspiracy, I tells ya). It's a small area, yes, but, hey.. you have to make do with whatever you got, right?

Feng shui works with navigational directions (N, E, S, W, et al.), The eastern version of the elements (earth, fire, water, metal, wood), and a whole lotta symbolism. Here are some fundamental concepts:

  • North is the direction of career and business success. Its color is black, its number is one, and its element is water.
  • North-east is home to wisdom and intelligence, colored blue and associated with the number eight.
  • East is where you'll find growth, health, and family. It's also where you'll find the color green, the number three and the element wood.
  • South-east is the direction you face for wealth. Purple is its color and four, its number.
  • South deals with fame and fortune. With red as its color and nine as its number, fire is its element.
  • South-west vibrates with marriage and partnership. Its associated color, number and element are, respectively, yellow, two, and earth.
  • West corresponds to children and creativity. With white as its color, its number is seven and its element is metal.
  • North-west is the direction you head into for important people and travel. It's gray with the number six.
In general, if you wish to have prosperity in a particular part of your life, look to see where it occurs in the eight directions and what symbolism is tacked on with it. From there, we simply put the placement back in ancient Chinese art of placement.

Here are some ideas I came up with for feng shui-ing your cubicle:

Having trouble with your cubiclemate?
Some of us aren't fortunate enough to warrant our own separate space and, quite often, friction may arise. Try placing two canary yellow Post-Its in the southwestern (marriage and partnership) corner of your workspace. On these two notes, write in very large, friendly letters: LEAVE ME ALONE - I HAVE A KNIFE. ..and presto! harmony achieved!

Feel like just another face in the corporate crowd?
It's downright crummy sometimes when you feel like your existence in the working world isn't noticed, especially by the higher-ups. Perhaps some special placement in your southernmost (fame and fortune) area will do the trick: stacks of paper cluttering your area is probably blocking the flow of chi. Clean them up, disposing or filing them away as needed. Set nine of them aside. These should be of completed assignments. With a red pen, scribble "DONE" on each of them and arrange them neatly in a single pile in that same corner to the south. Then set them on fire. (Fire is the element of fame and fortune.) People will notice you now and, you know what? They won't be able to help but notice you for a couple of weeks after, too. Isn't feng shui great?

Can't do enough for your career?
It's inevitable for a hardworking professional to slip into a rut. And sometimes, this careerperson doesn't know what more he/she should do to point his occupational goals in some sort of direction. Well, north is the direction of career and business success. Office feng shui suggests placing either a calendar depicting oceanic scenes in that area or even an aquarium, as water resonates with the north (especially moving water). For cubicle feng shui, try a black coffee mug full of water instead. To achieve that sought after 'water in motion': as opposed to merely placing a mug of water in your northernmost area, try splashing it over your north cubicle wall. Repeatedly. Nevermind the screams of protest. This should do lots for your career.

Bolster your IQ from within the confines of your cube.
Forget about those pesky crossword puzzles and cheesy anagram exercises. The key to wisdom and intelligence is chi, particularly funneled in from the northeast. Tapping into chi-enhanced mentality is easy: grab eight blue stick pens and jam them into your northeasternmost cubicle wall, cap side out. Every morning, bang the side of your head against the stick pens until you reach that point where you can feel the chi pour in through your head (usually accompanied by euphoria or blinding pain). If you elicit stares, don't worry - true genius is always envied and never understood. (Make sure to wipe off the resulting blood from the pens - red is not associated with wisdom or intelligence, after all.)

Enjoy your space.

A word to the wise: the author of this article doesn't have any idea of what he's talking about (actually, he has some idea but admitting that much would be more flattery than he deserves) and the preceding should not be taken seriously or as dogma in any manner. If anything, it should be laughed at, pointed at, and ridiculed at a distance of no less than five yards from this publication.

(originally my contribution to a company-wide newsletter, last winter)