This Feng Shui Expert Explains How Small Changes Can Make your Home a Better Place to Live
What made you want to explore feng shui?
I studied architecture in college and worked at architect firms in New York City for years. But in my late 20s, I started feeling really unhappy and depressed, like there was something more to life than working nine-to-nine every day. In 2006, my friend and I took a trip to Thailand and were eating in a restaurant in Chiang Mai when a Reiki master offered us a session. I remember crying the whole time—releasing a lot of emotion. When I got back to New York, I started practicing yoga and meditating, and I realized that I needed to bring this spiritual practice into other aspects of my life, including my work. The first thing that came to mind was feng shui. So when I got laid off in the 2008–09 recession, I decided to jump in, study feng shui full-time, and start a business [anjiecho.com].
How would you explain feng shui in layman’s terms?
It’s an ancient Asian practice that I describe as the mindfulness of spaces. It’s not just about moving furniture but about changing the energy around the furniture, too. In paying attention to all the details of your environment, you’ll start to realize that you’re all interconnected. And when you recognize that your space is a part of you and affects you, you can use feng shui to set up your home so that it supports and nourishes you, rather than drains and blocks you.
You can start by picking a different burner. When we wake up in the morning and we go to put on some water for our tea or coffee, we usually beeline to our favorite burner. You’re probably thinking of yours right now. I’d challenge people to—instead of their habitual pattern—head to the stove and make an actual decision about which burner to use. It’s a nice mindfulness practice that sets the tone for the whole day. And in feng shui, the stove represents nourishment, while fire represents passion and inspiration. So if we can look at life a little differently every morning through a simple act like this, you may start to see that moment of intentionality trickle down.
How have you been able to impact others through feng shui?
I teach now and have watched the most guarded student tap into a new level of intuition with the simple adjustment of a desk. Shifting her workspace from a corner nook to a more open layout allowed her to connect with the space in her home, not only for herself but for her creativity and productivity, too. And that confidence has found its way to all aspects of her life.
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How do you rely on your home environment to provide you with comfort after a stressful day?
I take a lot of baths. Water is a soothing and supportive element, and the bathroom is where I can cleanse my body, mind, and intentions. My bedroom is also a palace of rest that I’ve separated visually and energetically from my workspace.
Has your relationship to home changed?
I grew up with traditional Korean parents who placed an emphasis on creating a home that was reliable and stable. It was always a safe space for me. But it wasn’t until I lived on my own and started studying feng shui that I realized what areas of my home, and life, were closed off. I used to have my bed pushed up against the wall, for example. I would sleep on the outside, and whoever I was dating would sleep on the inside. In feng shui, this setup signals that you aren’t open to creating space for a partner—in the bedroom, or in life. So I repositioned my bed with space on both sides, and now I’m married to my then-boyfriend who has since admitted how uncomfortable he was in the previous situation. When I told my therapist that I moved my bed, she said, “Anjie, this is the first time I’ve seen you make a change in your environment or your outside life to accommodate someone.” Feng shui has given me the ability to see what the universe wants to offer me.