Understanding the Principles of Feng Shui

Everyone appreciates the benefits of beautiful, comfortable living environments; America's billion-dollar interior decorating industry attests to this fact. However, Feng Shui takes the approach that your surroundings affect not just your level of material comfort but also your physical and mental health, your relationships, and your worldly success.

Feng Shui (pronounced "fung shway") examines how the placement of things and objects within it affect the energy flow in your living environment, and how these objects interact with and influence your personal energy flow. Your personal energy flow affects how you think and act, which in turn affects how well you perform and succeed in your personal and professional life. Feng Shui affects you every moment of the day — whether you're aware of it or not.

As you begin to discover more about Feng Shui, remember that you need to have an open mind and should use the methods that are most comfortable for your particular circumstances.

Demystifying Feng Shui

If you've already read a bit about Feng Shui, you may be somewhat confused by the seemingly contradictory advice you've encountered. People who are unfamiliar with this method may have some misconceptions and apprehension.

Feng Shui is not

  • A get-rich-quick method of Asian interior design that guarantees impossible results for mystically rearranging your furniture
  • A superstitious or magical belief system, or a New Age fad that disconnects you from reality or from your daily life
  • A simple home and garden makeover
  • A quick fix to be tackled in one afternoon
  • A luxury only the rich and famous can afford

So the million-dollar question is, what is Feng Shui?

  • On the surface, Feng Shui is the simple interaction of humans and their environments. Taken a step further, Feng Shui enables you to influence these interacting energies to achieve specific life improvements. This influence is achieved by positioning or designing your surroundings in harmony with principles of natural energy flow. As a result, you (and your life) can achieve harmony with your surroundings. Feng Shui is practical and grounding, and it helps you right where you live and work.
  • Feng Shui is often referred to as the art of placement. How you place your furniture, possessions, and yourself within your surroundings largely determines your life experience at every level. Feng Shui offers a unique way of looking at yourself and your environment, and it provides a way of bringing balance, comfort, and harmony into your environment in a manner that is difficult to achieve by any other means.
  • Feng Shui is the study of the relationships between the environment and human life. Discovered by the Chinese, Feng Shui has been practiced for centuries to design environments that enhance conditions for success in life.

Interesting bits of historical Feng Shui confirmation are starting to emerge. For example, recent scientific research indicates that 28,000 years ago, Neanderthal cavemen (located in present-day Croatia) chose which caves to live in based on three criteria: The caves held the high ground in the area, the surrounding area was easily seen from the entrance of the cave, and the water source was easily accessible. These findings show that even our ancestors were naturally aware of the effects of placement in their environment. Interestingly enough, all three of these criteria are in harmony with the basic principles of Feng Shui, which has evolved and become more sophisticated along with humankind. Thus, Feng Shui is as relevant and beneficial to humankind today as it was 28,000 years ago.

Feng who? The meaning of the term Feng Shui

Feng Shui is a term composed of two Chinese words: feng (wind) and shui (water). Wind and water are the two natural elements that flow, move, and circulate everywhere on Earth. They are also the most basic elements required for human survival. Wind — or air — is the breath of life; without it, we would die in moments. And water is the liquid of life; without it, we would die in days. The combined qualities of wind and water determine the climate, which historically has determined our food supply and in turn affects our lifestyle, health, energy, and mood. These two fundamental and flowing elements have always profoundly yet subtly influenced human individuals and societies.

The essence of these life-giving elements is chi, or life force. Wind and water are direct carriers of chi, as their flowing quality reflects their essential nature. All living organisms are largely composed of these two elements. Thus, Feng Shui is the art of designing environments in harmony with the flow of chi through one's living space, and this flow supports and enhances one's personal chi or life force.

The big picture view of Feng Shui

Feng Shui is rooted in a holistic worldview. It sees all things and creatures as part of a natural order, a vast environment that is alive and in flux, ever moving and changing. Each thing in this natural order is equally alive and has an energetic value or component. So everything — plants, animals, people, and things — exists in a vast landscape that swirls with vital energy. The same energy that flows through the world flows through you as well. In fact, according to this view, your essence — the part of you that makes you alive, unique, and vital — is this energy. And your body is the vehicle or environment in which this essence flows.

Feng Shui divides the vast environment or landscape that is the universe into more manageable units — like human beings and their homes, property, offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. You can't control the Feng Shui of the world at large. But Feng Shui enables you to design your personal environment according to the same universal principles of energy flow by which planets spin in their orbits and galaxies wheel through space.

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