THE HOME OFFICE
AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT CREATIVITY CENTER
"In the future, our grandchildren will be working only 15 hours per week and, thus, choosing to spend more time enjoying the pleasures of life..." was the famous prediction by revolutionary economist John Maynard Keynes back in 1930. He based his prediction on the fact that the economic hardship of the time was only a temporary slump, and that, by 2030, living standards would have increased 4-8 fold. Keynes was right on one front: current statistics report that our living conditions are likely to be 8 times better in 2030 than they were in 1930.
He was wrong on another front... where on earth has this 15/hour work week gone?
Indeed, work has begun to play an increasingly large role in our lives over the past 80 years.
So whilst the feng shui official trilogy of "crucial areas" is normally kitchen/bedroom/bathroom, I have a different spin on it, as I feel the home office should win the coveted 3rd place.
As more and more people are working from home, some of us are now spending more time at the desk than in bed!
It is the place where we manifest money, where we make our dreams come true, where we follow our purpose, follow our hearts and where we make our voice heard to the world..
Every man is an artist, and the home office is often the place where the art of our humanity comes to life.
I mentioned in the previous article, Bedroom, that every time I have done energy work on someone's home I found energy blocks in the bedroom. It is no surprise that this is also true of the home office. It is an area where it's easy to fall under stress, lose our center and get overwhelmed, therefore carefully creating it according to some considered principles is of paramount importance.
So, similarly to the bedroom, it's important to start by establishing your broader objectives and picking out the ones that can be achieved through your home office.
Do you want to make more money?
Do you want to find peace with your financial situation?
Do you want to find clarity with your life's purpose?
Do you feel like your current career path or offering is confused and would like to tidy it up?
Would you like to gain more respect in your field and from your peers?
Or maybe you would like to become more efficient and allow yourself a better work/life balance?
One of the biggest issues plaguing our society is this need we all seem to have to "do more".
To feel like we are being more productive and that we are up to speed with the rest of the world. To not "waste our time".
How many of us feel guilty when we have a day off Or when we are sick And we begin to fall behind on work? What if, rather than feeling guilt, we could come to a place of understanding that we live in a world ruled by expectations which are completely out of order?
We are not meant to be sitting in offices for 9-12 hours per day, surrounded by machines and harsh lighting and without any contact with nature. What we do need is an equal balance of yin and yang rather than so heavily tilted towards the yang...
What if we could go for that long walk in the park in the middle of the afternoon, take that siesta on the beach from 2-5pm, or go to that 11 am Wednesday morning yoga class without the guilt of feeling like we are doing something wrong and we are not being a worthy citizen?
What if allowing ourselves to do all of those things meant we would also be open to grabbing a pad and scribbling down our ideas when we spontaneously wake up at 4 am and can't get back to sleep. Or to meet with a potential client on a Sunday afternoon because that's the only time they are free, without feeling frustrated that it's eating-up our personal time? What if we loved our work so much that would be open to working at all times, and thus, actually, never "working" at all...
What if we considered our yoga or meditation time as part of our work as it helps us conceive new ideas?
Or what if visiting that new art exhibition helps us flex our creativity muscles for our work?
So many of us have moments of heaviness and lethargy in which our bodies are asking for a break but we often force ourselves to push through. whilst, instead, we should recognise that these moments are necessary to our growth, for our work and essentially for our soul development (AKA our real work).
According to biographers of the Beatles, McCartney composed the entire song Yesterday in a dream one night in his room at the Wimpole Street home of his then girlfriend Jane Asher and her family. Upon waking, he hurried to a piano and played the tune to avoid forgetting it. Would it have been more worthy if I had taken 40 days of sleepless nights instead?
I recently had a moment when I returned from 6 weeks of travelling in Mexico and LA and couldn't wait to "get back to work", feeling guilt for not sitting at a desk for so long...
Yet I had probably been doing the most important work I had ever done; exploring ancient wisdom and downloading temple-making knowledge which would take my work to a new level. All this without ever sitting at a desk. So when I finally returned home I felt sluggish, while I "should have" been feeling motivated to "do more". I tried to push myself to do more work but to no avail. Instead, at some point I stumbled upon the book "The Art of Stillness" by Pico Iyer on one of my shelves, and felt intuitively that it contained the answer I was looking for.
A busy Manhattan travel writer, he is asked to go interview famous singer Leonard cohen who had retired to a life of meditation in a Japanese monastery. He was inspired by the star who told him this had been the most meaningful time of this life. He then left his busy life behind, renting a room off the backstreets of Kyoto and decided to sit and meditate there for a year.
What he expresses in this beautifully written book is that retiring to stillness is actually not about escaping the world but actually about engaging with it even more. When we look within, we gain more sympathy and empathy for those around us. We become a better person for ourselves, for those close to us and for the rest of the world. We get the chance to look into all the dark corners of our being where we may have hidden away the things we don't want to see, and shed light on them, allowing us to become fuller more expanded beings. And when we are our fullest, most expanded and most aligned we attract all the things that are meant for us and including work and money.
The book also depicts how, after going off to meditate in Japan, Cohen returned home and launched a new album at the age of 72 which became an overnight success. The lesson is that retiring away into stillness and connecting to source allows us to allow our "real" work emerge from a place of deep talent and intelligence rather than strenuous effort.
We channel rather than strategise.
We "allow" rather than organise.
We trust, rather than worry.
We "magnetically attract" rather than forcibly promote.
It takes a lot of courage to move into this way of working because it goes against society's norms and the way everyone around us works. Yet, it is the way of source and the ultimate way of creation.
This is our real work. Everything else is a nice extra.
Now.. how the hell do we design a space for this?
Home office location:
Using your feng shui bagua map, locate your wealth and blessings, career and life path or fame and recognition areas. Have a look if any of these can work as a home office for you. If all of them do, then choose the one that is most related to your personal objectives.
If not, any of them will do!
Choose a room that gets a lot of natural light as light is yang energy and will help manifest in your work.
Also choose a room that has good air circulation if you can so you can get lots of oxygen.
One of the most common mistakes people make is to have their desk facing a wall. I have seen this in almost every home I have worked on. We do this to save space but we end up putting ourselves in a corner, feeling like we are being punished the whole entire day, which doesn't fit with the above working philosophy...
Turn the desk to face towards the room and ideally towards a doorway which will allow you to feel confident and in command. Our reptilian brain will feel more comfortable with the fact that we can see any possible incoming danger. (Like those letters from HMRC or your local tax office for instance)
You want the view from your desk to represent your goals so a white wall won't do.
Try to have a window nearby if you can.
According to the school of Vastu Shastra, the Hindu predecessor of Feng Shui, it is best for the desk to face North-East to get new ideas and inspiration and there is a positive magnetic energy coming from north or easrg enhancing to clarity of mind, or prosperity
Also, on your desk, use the following alignments:
On the north east part of your desk place a water element, like a vase with water or a bowl of water. Even a picture of water will do.
In the south east part of your desk, use a fire element, that is where ideas take inspiration so it's a great area to put your electronics like a phone etc.
On the earth or south east side, put your "inbox" the pending work that needs to be done. As that is the side where the energy builds from and gathers.
On the north east side put your completed work as that is where the energy is ready to go out to the world.
Colours and decoration
As usual, use colours, artworks and objects that inspire you and that relate to your objectives.
As this is a yang area, It is recommended to use brighter masculine colours. Light blue or light green or very light grey are great. Green is great to manifest money, blue is great to create more masculine energy and bright yellow is great for creativity.
Also use artworks which represent what you are trying to achieve with your space and in your life and reflect your relationship with your work.
Avoid sunsets or artworks which are too peaceful. Try instead to favour artworks which are more adventurous or high energy to bring in more yang energy. mountains or a city skyline are good.
You'll know it when you find it.
We have seen before how electronics can affect your energy field and your health.
Keep a bowl of Himalayan salt on your desk to neutralise the electronics. Try to use a laptop instead of a desktop. If you must use a desktop try to keep the motor of it at least 60cm away from you. Use a speakerphone or a headset (corded, not Bluetooth) for your phone. Remember cordless phones are worse than smartphones.
Keep two small crystals one on either side of your computer to neutralise the field or use one larger pyramid shaped clear quartz crystal to transmute the energy.
A crystal will also be a great way to tune into source at any point throughout the work day.
Plants create oxygen, are a source of life so keep plants around your desk and connect to them. Choose some which have large leaves as they are great for prosperity.
They will also neutralise the toxins of the electronics or chemicals which may be hanging around.
Plants can also allow you a constant connection to nature which is very important as we have seen, as it is from nature that true creativity emerges. Flowers are also great for inspiration.
Keep the desk tidy and have only a small waste bin which you change regularly.
Use a comfortable desk chair but not too comfortable that you get complacent or sleepy. you want to feel energised. Choose it carefully. A chair with a high back is great as you will feel supported and in command.
Try not to have your back to a window or a door. And try not to have shelves over your head as if may become overwhelming.
Set up your desk using the temple making orientation principles if you have the space.
You may be one of those people who says "I just don't work well from home" and work better in a café. In that case, I urge you to try using some sound in the space. What makes us work so well in a cafe is that the white noise around us distracts our logical brain and leaves free reign for our creative brain to come to life.
Create your "work white noise" by using inspiring classical music, gregorian chants, or chakra chants as mentioned in the sound article.
If you sit at your desk a long time try to get up every couple of hours to go out and connect to an element of nature whether a tree or a patch of grass or a park if you have one near.
Failing that, sit and connect to your breath in meditation for one short minute every hour.
Ideally do both.
Do remember to make time to meditate as part of your work day and watch what emerges from that stillness.
I am not expecting any of you to become Leonard Cohens or Paul McCartney's overnight!
But begin by noticing your feelings of guilt that come up around not doing enough and needing to do more. When these do come up, grab a timer and put it on for 3 min and sit in meditation intending to merge with that feeling. (I promise you, whatever you are doing can wait 3 min.) Notice yourself nudging your way towards feeling guilt free, doing less work and taking much-needed breaks.
Keep a todo list on your desk. The first thing you should do every day is look at what needs to be done and prioritise. Check in during the day and Make sure you are always doing the most important thing, remembering that there is a big difference between important and "urgent". Urgent things that come up may be better left unanswered if it means we will be neglecting something which is the actual priority.
Another great efficient tip was recently recommended to me by a friend who suggested breaking down tasks into slots of 20 min.For instance, rather than have the task "finish my website" on my list, I would have "spend 20 minutes on website" Which of the two would you be likeliest to get done?I know that when I have a big difficult task it's easier to put it off to "when I will have more time" or "when I'll have more information" and actually leave it undone. Instead, using this practise, you will find that when the timer bell goes off after 20 minutes you will likely put it on for another 20 as you will be excited and energised during your work. Switch your phone on airplane mode and shut out all distractions for that time period,Leave calls, texts and emails unanswered during this time. Everything can wait at least 20 minutes. You'll be surprised by what a difference this makes .
Most of all, you need to feel excited and inspired.
There is no sense in following the above if you do not feel like excited to sit at your desk in the morning.
You want to feel a magnetic pull towards it, and inspired and alive when you sit down.
So use your imagination and creativity to make the right decisions for this to happen.
CASE STUDY 1
SAINT MARTINS LOFTS
When designing saint Martins lofts, I found myself designing an office for a person I didn't even know so I needed to use some pretty universal principles.
I placed the desk to face out toward the room, we chose an area which was light, airy and expansive amd used light blue colours, very yang energy.
All the objects chosen were upcycled which helped create an energy of creativity in the space, renewal and creation.
- A desk made out of recycled newspaper
- Two armchairs made from a restored classics (one Australian and one Brazilian) found in the trash
- A small side table made from melting shredded recycled plastic computer parts and 3D printing them
- A table lamp made of sand
- A stool made out of hay
- And a desk chair made from an experimental process where by the designer angled the legs at an angle which offered even more solidity and strength than a normal 90 degree angle
All these pieces carried an energy of turning one thing which has little value into something else with muchmore value. That is the very definition art.
CASE STUDY 2
MY HOME OFFICE
Again if you don't have the luxury of owning a £5 million central London loft, you may not have too much choice about where your desk or workspace can go. As I live in a small 60m flat, I originally didn't feel I had much other choice than to use my dining table as a desk.
So I created the space in this first image below.
Luckily located in a very bright area, with lots of air and natural light and Also luckily located in a space that straddles my wealth and blessings and fame and recognition area. I used a very light blue to bring a yang energy of creation and manifestation. Chose brown leather mid century chairs which could easily double as dining chairs or desk chairs.
Meditating on it recently, however, i realised that a new corner wanted to be created. I felt my large mid century armchair was asking for a corner of its own to be used more often and more purposefully. So I moved that chair to the corner and created an area to read, research, meditate and reflect for my work.
While I then had very little choice but to move my desk to the position as seen in the image below.. It was actually ideal! I now have a full view of the entire room including the outdoor terrace and the sunny Mediterranean skies all day long as I work.
Being at the top floor of the highest building in the area, it allows me to feel on top of the world and optimistic about the future, as well as empowered and supported by a solid wall at my back.
For artworks, I chose a large photo by my good friend Stephen Morallee.
This image represents courage as if was the first time he courageously pushed past his fears and got up close to Japanese men in traditional ceremony to take the photo.
This inspires me to be courageous in my work as well. I am surrounded by fresh plants and flowers and keep the electronics to the minimum.
I can still dine from this table on my own, but will need to entertain guests or all those dates I will be attracting from finding alignment (!!!) on the comfortable sofa!
Most importantly, I am now excited to sit at my desk every morning and feel inspired when I sit there.
Now, go have a look at your workspace with these ideas in mind and see what new changes emerge.
And most of all, enjoy it.
All of it!