Windows – Eyes to the World
I find that we don’t give windows enough thought! They let in light, air and if we are lucky a good view, but there is more:
In Feng Shui we consider windows to be the eyes of the building. They should be designed to purpose and positioned to let in positive life energy. They are our connection to the world. Just as our eyes are windows to the Soul, right windows can make buildings soulful. We should give themspecial consideration.
What window can do
I have a strong memory of women and older people in my German hometown with a pillow under their elbows leaning on the sill of an open window, enjoying the sun, watching kids play and the world go by. Open windows were places for connecting socially the inside with the outside. They were also used to call on those outside.
I find that being able to hang your head out of a window is something special. You are inside, but feel the air outside, can look up and down the street or landscape, smell the flowers or the wet pavement, or exchange a few words with a neighbour without having to move. It is a private-public interface.
I also enjoy a seat by a window – either open or closed depending on the weather. It is a special spot to hang out, to watch people, clouds or trees. And also a good spot for reading. It changes the quality of being home alone.
Interestingly today, windows are more like invisible screens. We are more likely to be separated by them or behind them, or in the other extreme, we remove them altogether when we want to bring the outside in, which can end up in unprotected spaces that are too exposed.
When I came to Australia, I remember being quite dismayed by the windows.
They weren’t the windows I’d known but covered by fly screens. No more hanging the head out, but instead looking at the world through a mesh barrier. No more really fresh air – fly screens reduce the air’s life force by charging it up and filtering its flow. And they collect dust.
In every of my homes, I helped myself by removing the flyscreens from half of our windows. You can do this in many locations where there are hardly any insects during the day. Taking off the screens was always a relief, restoring my sense of connection, healthy energy and fresh air.
I invite you to try this where possible – in winter or where you don’t have a fly or mosquito problem. That way you are able to really let in life force and positive Feng Shui energies.
Right Window Types
When choosing windows we seem to be guided by external looks rather than the function of an individual space. We go for uniform windows and care more about symmetry and conformity than to work out what would make us feel good there.
To get a window that works, you need assess what your individual needs and functions are in each room and choose windows that can facilitate that.
Incidentally, the best window to let in fresh air and to hang your head out are casement windows. They are either single or double windows that are hinged at the side and fully open. They are my favourite windows. You can breathe the air, watch the birds or spend time day dreaming in your window seat.
Double-hung and sliding windows on the other hand only open half of their area. The other half is always shut. They don’t provide the same exhilarating experience – and their mechanisms can get stuck. They can however be securely bolted open for a slit of fresh air.
Awning windows are very popular and very annoying. They are hinged at the top and wind open at the bottom, but don’t open more than a few hand widths. They are inadequate for communication with the outside, but handy to let in a steady stream of air, which is good in some situation such as over the kitchen stove. They can also be kept open when it is raining.
Louvre windows also keep the rain out – if tilted the right way. I love them in the right place. I have an almost full height narrow louvre window on the south (cold) side of the house in order to direct a cooling breeze through it on a hot day. The panes can be adjusted to direct the air up or down. But they are not to hang the head out either.
The window that’s not there
Have you ever run against the pane of a full sized door or window thinking it was open? I have – even though it had some pale markings to show that there was glass there. Somehow, we have made it an objective to pretend that windows are not there by making them invisible, ie by constructing them without or with only minimal frames or glazing bars.
This is bad Feng Shui. Windows are meant to be there and have frames. Research shows, that we appreciate a view much more if it is framed. It becomes like a piece of art. We feel even more comfortable if a window has many panes, rather than when gaping at an undefined expanse.
In permaculture we refer to the meeting of two surfaces (such as the glass and the building) as edge. Edges should be beautiful and emphasised. This facilitates communication and life across it. The thicker the edge or the frame of a window the more comfortable we feel. Have a look at various houses and their windows and note your emotional response.
We like big windows and often have a wall of windows and glass doors separating our living area from the garden or a view. This may be appropriate but can also result in a living area too open, lacking definition, cosiness and comfort.
We need to get this balance right, based on our needs and lifestyle. The more public a space, the larger windows you want there, the more private, the smaller they should be.
One particular bugbear of mine are floor to ceiling windows in the wrong place, such as in bedrooms and some studies. With such windows you can see into the room from the outside, which may not be appropriate.
I remember a situation where when sitting at the desk, one could look up your legs from a public driveway, or another where people could see your the bed from the road – all because the windows came right down to the floor. You end up closing your curtains altogether in these situations.
In both of these cases, a normal height window with a bit of wall below would have protected you. With them you can be private and sit at your desk in your undies or lie in bed enjoying the sun without needing to shut the curtains – and from the outside you can only see the ceiling of the room.
How to Select Windows
Don’t make the selection of windows a rote decision. Each window has a right place, right size, dimension, right way of opening, etc. Take time to feel into the space and get each window to do what you want it to do.
Keep your windows clean. Being the eyes of the building you don’t want their vision clouded or dusty fly screens. Dirty windows reduce the quality of the Yang energy coming through them.
Image: Rob Wingate on unsplash
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