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Nancilee Wydra

Rx for Living
March 2002

Feng Shui Goes to the Office by Nancilee Wydra
Feng Shui Goes to the Office
How to Thrive from 9 to 5

by Nancilee Wydra

The Sounds of Silence

I play my car radio at a volume that some would find intolerable and yet when writing I cannot endure soft classical music even if played at low volume. There are differences in sound sensitivity among people but the common thread is as Winifred Gallagher writes in her book Power of Place that the difference between sound and noise can be your relationship to it. A person pushing a lawn mower one a sunny Sunday morning might be reveling in their surroundings while the person waking up to that very same lawn mower might define the sound as annoying noise. These differences notwithstanding, here is a chart that delineates sound levels in decibels.

Level Examples
0-10 Silence
10-20 Whisper, rustling leaves
20-30 Quiet environment
30-40 Soft conversation, murmuring brook
40-50 Normal conversation
50-60 Normal music, local traffic
60-90 Loud conversations, music, and traffic; some kitchen appliances
90-120 Industry, jackhammer, aircraft
Over 120 Unbearably painful

Although there are decibel levels that are clearly over the top for our eardrums, what is too much sound for one person may be a melodic symphony for another. We have a great ability to habituate to sounds that are familiar. It’s common for people living near a loud commuter train route to cease to be consciously aware of the trains, even though they are very loud. Such sounds are still affecting the nervous system, however, and it takes energy to screen out sounds. The timbre of falling water and the hum of a refrigerator compressor or furnace blower may mask a conversation in the next room and therefore be useful in some settings. (but eventually, either one can become tiring and irritating)

Too much sound puts the nervous system on alert. A too-loud environment tends to be stressful and tension-filled and can give rise to the following:

• Disruption of peristalsis
• Irregularity of breathing
• Onset of ulcers and colic
• Construction of blood vessels
• Increased adrenaline secretion and hormone reactions
• Galvanic skin response changes
• Disturbed sleep
• Hearing loss

Recently I was asked to feng shui a two-person office. When I asked for their wish list, their one common desire was for the other person to lighten up about sound. In this case one person’s need for continual music was the other person’s poison. The feng shui remedy in this case, after I decided that the sound was not over the decibel level conducive to health, was to recommend a white noise near the person who needed silence.

A white noise is an ongoing sound not dissimilar to humming that camouflages other sounds. I asked the sound sensitive partner to select from the following:

  • A water fountain
  • A ticking clock
  • A fan blowing paper
  • Georgian chants (which approximates humming)

This cure works because it is difficult to listen to two sounds simultaneously. But, in this case, the cure did not work and the partners called me to suggest an alternative. Since stress is produced by having to endure something that is unpleasant, I suggested that music be turned on only on even hours and silence allowed during the odd hours. (I would have suggested a head set, but the majority of their work is over the telephone so this was not appropriate)

When the body has respites of relief from anything, it has time to heal. In this case, sound and silence were the culprits and the only cure was to permit each one to have their way alternatively. Compromise, after all, is always a good option when perfection can’t be achieved.

Nancilee Wydra, Feng Shui Master and author of six books on feng shui travels the country lecturing and consulting for Fortune 500 companies and individuals. She is the founder of the Feng Shui Institute of America and has developed the first nationally certified professional training program on feng shui in the country. The next class is March 15-22, 2002 in Palm Beach Florida.

To secure additional information about her lecturing, consulting and teaching contact her at: NancileeWy@aol.com or visit www.Windwater.com or 888-488-FSIA or --for FREE answers to feng shui questions: www.EfengshuiUSA.com.

Nancilee Wydra’s Books:
Feng Shui The Book of Cures
Feng Shui in the Garden
Feng Shui and How to Look Before You Love
Feng Shui Goes to the Office
Feng Shui for Children’s Spaces


Read Nancilee's Current "RX for Living" Column


Nancilee's February 2002 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's January 2002 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's December 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's October 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's September 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's August 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's July 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's June 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's May 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's April 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's March 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's February 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's January 2001 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's December 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's November 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's October 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's September 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's August 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's July 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's June 2000 "RX for Living" Column


Read Nancilee's Feature Articles at SoulfulLiving.com:

How Can You Uncover Another's Authentic Self?

Creating a Soulful Garden

Spring, When the World Wakes Up

What is the Size of Your Soul?


Some of Nancilee's Book Titles:

Upcoming Professional Feng Shui Certification Courses:

2002 courses in Phoenix, AZ, Delray Beach, FL, Chicago, IL, and Maryland.

Home Study also available!


Visit Nancilee Wydra at:



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