The Science Behind Feng Shui Beliefs and Superstitions

Feng shui is a direct Mandarin translation of wind (“feng”) and water (“shui”). In Chinese culture, both elements are associated with energy. This energy, better known in feng shui as chi (“气”) can harnessed to our benefit, or act as a detrimental force. The difference comes down to our beliefs, practices and the chi in our lives. The flow of chi is therefore a critical part of feng shui.

  1. Door Facing Door

According to feng shui theory, the openings of a house are where chi flows in and out. We call these openings chi kou (气口) in Chinese, which literally means “the mouth of chi”.


When two “mouths” face each other, it can generate negative energy known as sha chi (煞气). This form of sha chi is termed dou kou sha (鬥口煞). Dou kou literally means “arguing”. This energy builds arguments or disharmony within the family. 


The logical explanation for two doors to not face each other is that when these doors swing open at the same time, the sudden simultaneous movement may cause alarm or fright. In a narrower hallway, two occupants of the opposing rooms could even walk into each other. 


  1. Door Facing Window or Rear Exit

It is common knowledge in feng shui that if the front door aligns with the backdoor, all the chi that flows in from the front will go straight out the rear. Some superstitiously interpret this to mean wealth and opportunities will slip in through the front, and out the back, meaning a house is unable to retain wealth.


Logical explanations, however, suggest that this draws the attention of guests to the rear of the house, and as such, deters them from fully appreciating other areas of the home. 

  1. Bed Facing Door

When you lie on your bed as you normally would at night, if your feet face a door, feng shui practitioners would urge you to change your bed’s position immediately. Known as the “coffin position” or “dead man’s position”, it is deemed bad luck and bodes ill for your health because dead bodies traditionally are removed from a bedroom feet first. It is also believed that your bed facing a door (be it the main bedroom door or a balcony door) is imprudent as the door “pulls” your chi from you as you sleep, causing poor rest, and leaving you feeling restless and fretful in your own home. More chillingly, many cultures, even in Italy, have eerie superstitions about sleeping with your feet facing the door. Some believe evil spirits may drag you out the door while you slumber. 


If you live in a small space and you have no other place to put your bed, you can break the pull of chi by blocking the foot of your bed with a lounge chair or ottoman.


Logically speaking, not having your bed face the door protects your modesty as you sleep. Sometimes people sleep in compromising positions, often with our clothes in disarray. It is much easier to catch an unwanted glimpse up your sleeping shorts or nightdress with the foot of your bed facing the bedroom door than in any other position. 

  1. Bed Facing Mirror

According to feng shui, if you aren't sleeping well, a mirror in your bedroom could be the culprit. In feng shui, a mirror facing the bed depletes your chi and creates sleeplessness. As a mirror doubles and reflects all chi, including negative energies, it disrupts the serenity of a bedroom and rattles your peace. Hanging a mirror on the wall facing your bed can also invite third parties into a couple’s relationship and result in infidelity.


Speaking from logic, most people fall asleep and wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. If you have a mirror right next to you when you sleep, you will notice any movement from the mirror’s reflection. This triggers in your brain a false sense of movement in that area, and may creep you out, especially in a dark or dimmed room. This makes for a fitful sleep, heightening your senses and making you unnecessarily alert. 


Photo Credit : thespruce


  1. Mirror Facing Front Door

Placing a mirror on the opposite wall of the front door is said to cause both good and bad chi that is absorbed by this crucial chi kou to bounce around relentlessly, which could cause unsettling disturbances in the family. It is also believed a mirror “pushes” all good fortune or chi out of your home by reflecting it out upon entry.


Scientifically speaking, our eyes are embedded with motion detectors, and unexpected movements in a mirror may be alarming. If a mirror is right in front of you when you enter the home, you may feel as if someone is walking towards you, and get a fright. This is a nasty experience for guests and homeowners alike. 


  1. Front Door Facing Stairs

Some feng shui practitioners caution that if a stairway faces the front door, you may experience many “ups and downs” in your life. Some also believe wealth will roll down the stairway and straight out of the door.


A logical explanation for avoiding this layout is that your attention will naturally be drawn to the stairway upon entering the house. The second floor is usually a private space out of bounds to guests, and this may cause awkwardness as guests may feel as if the staircase “invites” them up while social decorum forbids them from invading others’ privacy. 


In feng shui, besides “blocking” the chi, you can subtly divert it away. Using carpets or partitions that mimic a road or create a pathway that leads away from the stairs and to the living room area is one way to do it.


As you can see, feng shui places heavy emphasis on the front door. In a typical caricature of a small landed house, a front door can be thought of as the “mouth of the house”, with adjacent windows posing as the eyes - you get the drift. The “mouth” is how the house absorbs good or bad energy. Good energy equates to a healthy diet, allowing occupants of a home a living space filled with positive vibes. 


Logically, the front door also creates a first impression for visitors, and impacts the mentality and mood of homecoming occupants. A well maintained door that swings inwards gives you a welcoming vibe, whereas a poorly maintained entrance that swings outwards not only dampens your mood but forces you to take a few steps back before you may enter; a subtle but powerful difference in the welcome you are given.


Posted on 28 October 2022


Rachael Sia,

SiXiDES Writer


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