Feng Shui is the study of the relationship between people and their environments. Our homes and workspaces are mirrors of ourselves. Our homes and workplaces affectus and these spaces reflectus. Our environment is a dynamic force that is constantly responding to the intentions of those living there. Once an intention is strong, it creates an energy which builds. Feng Shui takes universal principles and creates balance by looking with new eyes at all aspects of our life. It requires us to consider our homes as an integral part of who we are. It is a life-enhancing philosophy that is based on balance and self-discovery. We can createspaces that heal, restore balance in our lives, prosper us and encourage growth.
The art of Feng Shui is primarily about unblocking energy through work with the environment. We want to increase the positive energy flow in all environments by improving balance, harmony, order, beauty, function, and safety. We want a harmonious relationship between us, the spaces in which we live and the environment. This can be achieved by applying some fundamental principles, using common sense and being open to and learning to listen to our feelings about our spaces.
Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art and science of living in harmony with the environment.
“Feng Shui” literally means “wind and water” and to the Chinese these were important matters. “Gentlewindsmean good harvests and healthy livestock. Springsand rivers provide food and ensure the survival of a settlement against drought. On the other hand, harsh windsdestroy crops, stagnant waterscan cause disease. Wind, water, rain, fog, sun and clouds were believed to be the energy of heaven and earth. Energy (or ‘chi’) that moves is nourishing and energy that is stagnant is destructive.” Feng Shui simply consists of chi management, keeping the energy moving not too fast and not too slowly.
If, like the Taoist monks who first revealed the secrets of Feng Shui, we recognize that everything is connected byconstantly changing energy,then it is easy to understand how we create in the objects around us reflections of our inner blueprint of energy. Though our choice of dwellings affects us, our choice is an exquisite reflection of our inner life, much the same way we are drawn to a particular piece of artwork – simply a resonance with our past experience of who we are.
Today, we are so insulated from the natural forces of nature because we live in engineered and technological buildings. We have little experience of appreciating this energy, this ‘chi in nature.’ Our ancestors who lived close to the Earth were very sensitive to it. They were aware of even a small hill because they sensed the strain it caused the oxen or the horses that pulled their wagons. In our modern automobiles, we hardly take notice of a road’s incline. Yet, the forces of nature are still present and contain the same potential for good or for harm. From earliest times, mountains and even gentle hills were thought to possess their own energy or chi. The more height to a mountain, the stronger the chi, while as the chi spread out into the foothills, it decreased in strength. So the early practitioners saw this chi energy as winding its ways through mountains and hills – which were termed ‘veins of a dragon’ – until it was stopped by water or dissipated onto flat land. It made sense to choose a location on a mountain’s south side so that the mountain’s strength would deflect the northern winds, sparing crops and homes the worst of early frosts and winter storms, and all would benefit from the gentle warming chi of the southern sun. Cutting through these ‘ veins of chi’ – or ‘veins of a dragon’ – and such an action as cutting through a hill to make a road would not be advised, as bad fortune would follow. To westerners, this might seem like folklore, and we could easily discount the Chinese references to images of dragons, tortoises, or tigers to describe their geological features. We can, however, instead be inspired by this imagery and wisdom. Physicists today call these ‘veins of chi’ potential energy, energy contained within a body that is not in motion, like water held back by a dam. Tons of earth shoved high into the air by the movement of tectonic plates – which is what a mountain is – have stored within them incredible amounts of this potential energy. Years of experience with landslides, avalanches, and even erosion have taught the Chinese that cutting into the ‘ veins of a dragon’ can release this force. Flat land embodies no dragons, but it also offers no protection. Many aspects of the land were examined in evaluating a site.
Thus, several thousand years ago, in China, the theory of energy and vitality was formulated, and for about the last 100 years, scientists have been confirming the fundamentals of this model. ‘Man and environment are one,’ says a Chinese proverb.
‘Chi’ and ‘life force’ are one and the same. Life is defined by chi even though it is impossible to grasp, measure, quantify, see or isolate. Immaterial yet essential, chi forms the material world. An invisible force known only by its effects, chi is recognized indirectly by what it fosters, generates, and protects. It is the fundamental mystery and miracle.
Vital energy is the dance of the cosmos.
Both our gardens and our human bodies are microcosms of Nature. The processes, cycles, and conditions that exist in a garden can also be observed in the life of a human being. Like the Earth, the human body is enveloped and permeated by streams of chi that link and enliven all its activities. The human body is subject to similar rhythms and cycles as the garden. To the Chinese, life is about the dynamic, constantly shifting relationships of one system with another, always within the context of the whole system. No aspect functions independent of another.
According to this ancient Chinese art of practical ecology, the Earth has veins of energy that course through it, hold it together, and act as a grid from which all life derives its power. The movement of wind and water reflects the activity of chi. The originators of feng shui sensed intuitively the influence of the electrical, magnetic and gravitational fields that pervade the universe. These ancient Chinese knew well the effect of energy flow on the surrounding environment. They even had a tradition that you should build your house where the sheep slept because the animals instinctively knew to avoid lines of geopathic energy. All people would probably still have that instinctive sense if we lived a life more closely connected to the land, but we have divorced ourselves from that knowledge and tend to live in industry-agriculture and technological societies, with our lives governed by artificials like freeways and the Internet and computers and phones and biologically engineered crops. One price it has extracted from us is that we have lost the wisdom we used to possess about the land and the environment that came from interacting with it directly.
The true learning of Feng Shui begins when we acknowledge our place in the universe, not necessarily a dominant place, but one that has its role in the scheme of things. This recognition and acceptance allows us to perceive and work with the energies present in the environment. We have often been taught that we live in a hostile world, or that the world is there for us to conquer or dominate. In the practice of Feng Shui, we need to adopt a different worldview, one that recognizes us as co-workers with Nature rather than its master. We also need to understand that knowledge is the power to cooperate rather than to manipulate.
Our Earth is an entity animated by energy. It is ALIVE. Energy flows in it, through it, and around it. Energy in flat, open spaces is different from energy in mountainous areas. Energy in a valley is different from energy on a plateau. Each type of landform has a particular kind of energy associated with it, and becoming aware of the primeval energy of the land and the power of place requires opening yourself to the natural world.
The universe hides and reveals. To some people, once something is known or explained in a particular way (or given a name), the door to that part of the world is closed. To others, the universe constantly reveals its wonders and mystery and the more they see, the more there is to see.
When feng shui is experienced from the perspectivethat the land is a living entity, it offers us a different way of seeing the world. It sensitizes us to aspects of reality that we never would have known and reorients us to interact with the land and the environment in a harmonious rather than destructive way. The universe becomes an interplay of dynamic forces and changes rather than a collection of objects to be dissected, manipulated and exploited. We want to rediscover our sensitivity to the world, to see all that is infinite, powerful, wondrous, and mysterious. By cultivating intuition and sensitivity to the environment, we can become aware of the energy that flows through the universe and catch a glimpse of the fleeting moments of transformations and the underlying reality of all things. By practicing feng shui, we are indeed the guardians and caretakers of the environment, for through it we make ourselves and others aware of the vast immensity of the world around us and the interdependence of all things
Thousands of years before quantum physics, Feng Shui was based on the concept that everythingon the planet is alive. While it is not difficult to accept that the worlds of humanity and those of the animal and plant kingdoms are connected, it’s not generally assumed that the chair you sit on, the car you drive, and the picture hanging on your wall are also alive. So now to have quantum physics share that everythingis alive with the vibrating motion of molecules, we can understand clearly and logically the basis of Feng Shui: we affect each other AND the pile of old broken furniture hidden in our basement affects our lives!
Feng Shui was given to us to be used to improve the overall quality of our lives.
The Feng Shui process is a physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological and aesthetic journey that can profoundly change our lives in many ways for the better. Feng Shui is not a quick fix. It’s a process of consciously unblocking our limitations and creating a solid foundation which will serve us the rest of our lives. The more we are able to strengthen these various connections, the more energy we will have to access the things we desire and illuminate the path that we choose to walk. Knowledge is power. We all have the power to draw on guidance and direction from higher sources. Many individuals do not understand that a spiritual connection to a higher power is not just a luxury available to a certain few, but a birthright available to everyone. Not being taught this basic right early in our lives has forced many of us, in attempting to feed our energy needs, to go outside of ourselves to connect with a source of power. When we go outside of ourselves to connect for energy, we are actually borrowing from an energy supply that basically belongs to other people, places and things, and not ourselves. When we draw on energy from the universal source, which can be accessed within ourselves, we are absorbing energy that is always in abundance and specially designed just for us.
In our lifetime, the most sacred space we will ever need to create is the space within ourselves – the place deep within our soul where we go to find peace and serenity and to connect with our true self. It’s that quiet place inside we return to over and over again that keeps our thoughts sacred, our heart protected and our dreams alive…the space we have total control over, including whom we let in and whom we keep out. In order for our soul to grow, we need to be able to make this internal space a place that is safe to go into, where we can hear our inner voice, the part of ourself through which our Higher Power speaks to us. This is where we make our decisions, contemplate life and feel connected to our lives. By turning our home into a sacred space, we create very special places that help us reshape and reopen to our sacred place inside.
As a society, we need to realize that we are merely participants in a co-creative process in life with Nature, the elements, animals, other human beings, the universe and God. We need to end this alienation between the natural and the built, and to the loss of the sense of wonder at Nature in our time. The land has become real estate that can be bought and sold, and is no longer felt as a source of energy and nourishment. Moreover, our modern temperament has a tendency to dismiss the indigenous and ancient views of the environment as primitive and the product of illiterate minds, just as many “objective” and “detached” observers have regarded Feng Shui as a bunch of superstitious beliefs.
Feng Shui is a system of design based on energy as well as a system of mindfulness that eventually becomes a way of life. It is a lifelong process that changes and moves with our own life cycles, reflecting back our life and all that it consists of during a certain period of time. As our life changes, the Feng Shui of our space should change, too. Stay fluid with the process – make periodic adjustments as well as necessary complete overhauls. Trust our own intuition to guide us when the time is right to make another change. Let’s be an active participant in our own life story.
Thanks to compilations from Feng Shui, Back to Balance by Sally Fretwell, Feng Shui: Harmony by Design by Nancy SantoPietro, Feng Shui Revealed by R.D.Chin, Feng Shui, The Ancient Wisdom of Harmonious Living for Modern Times by Eva Wong, Between Heaven and Earth, A Guide to Chinese Medicine by H. Beinfield and E. Korngold, “Don’t Mess with Mother Nature,” article in the Digest of the American Society of Dowsers by Christan Hummel, Adventures of a Feng Shui Detective by Valmai Elkins.