Feng Shui Basics: Getting Started
First there was Vastu, the Indian Science of Placement and Architecture, which dates back more than 5,000 years ago. Buddhist monks brought Vastu to China, and about a thousand years later it developed into what we now know as Feng Shui. is an age-old practice that embraces the idea of living in harmony and balance with our environment. Feng Shui (pronounced fung schway) literally means wind and water and is the study of energy and how it affects people. Feng Shui teaches you how to harness and control the visible and invisible energies that surround us.
The underlying premise of Feng Shui is that everything in your environment, down to the smallest detail of furnishing and décor can either further your goals in life or work against you. By understanding the subtle currents of energy that flow through your body and through everything in the universe, you can arrange your living and working spaces to help you reach your goals.
The arrangement of your home or office can affect your peace of mind and physical health. By applying the principles of Feng Shui, it is possible to make your relationships healthier and to create living and working environments more attuned to the life force that surrounds each of us.
Feng Shui is a creative and intuitive science. The practice of Feng Shui represents a belief that there are subtle forces in our surroundings that can impact our lives. It provides a framework for understanding the secrets of how energy moves in our surroundings and how the landscape, the style of buildings, and their interiors affect us at a subtle level. Using Feng Shui, you can enhance your entire life and minimize obstacles and misfortune.
The Four Methods of Feng Shui
There are four methods of Feng Shui: The Form School, Eight Directions, Compass Method and the Black Hat. The teachings provided in this e-course are based on the Black Hat method, however an overview of the other methods are included below.
According to the Form School method, Feng Shui has an “armchair” configuration. For instance, a hill or mountain behind the home on the northern side provides protection from cold winter winds, with lower hills along either side, the house facing south to catch the sun and a lake or stream in front to provide water for crops and livestock. This type of landscape configuration is still considered auspicious (lucky) today. In an urban environment, a larger building to the rear provides a similar kind of protection. Streets and highways act like rivers to provide pathways for chí.
The Eight Directions are the four cardinal compass points-east, west, north, south–and the points in between–NE, NW, SE, SW. Based on your gender and year of birth, four of these directions will be auspicious for you, and four will be inauspicious and thought to bring illness or bad luck.
According to this method of Feng Shui, the front door of your home should face one of your lucky directions. You should sleep in an auspicious section of the house, and face one of your lucky directions while you work, and so on. This approach to Feng Shui is very popular in Europe and is becoming more widely known in the U.S.
The Compass method is a complex practice that calculates a detailed “star” chart for the home, based on the year of construction and the precise compass direction the building faces. This approach is comparable to having an astrology reading for your home.
In addition to the basic chart, there are influences that change every day, month, and year. Some homes will have poor star combinations that will bring bad luck and misfortune to their occupants unless those influences are corrected through specific Feng Shui “cures,” such as placing metal or water in certain areas of the house. Other homes might have a good star chart, only to come under unlucky influences during a particular month or year.
The Black Hat method is a contemporary Western style of Feng Shui. It addresses the need for a method that can be used where compass-oriented rules of placement are difficult or impossible to follow. It can also be used in combination with the other methods to provide a deeper understanding of the energetic qualities and influences of your space.
In this contemporary approach to Feng Shui, the association of specific areas of the home with specific aspects of your life is based on position relative to the front door, also referred to as the “mouth of chí.”
Furniture is arranged to create a safe and comfortable environment, and colors, artwork, and other imagery are chosen to reinforce desired changes. One of the most appealing aspects of this style of Feng Shui is the emphasis it places on the power of your intention to influence the energy of your home. This makes the practice of Feng Shui much more personal and unique to each individual, and creates the opportunity to use Feng Shui as a tool for increased self-awareness and personal growth.
Black Hat Feng Shui teaches the principles of contemporary western Feng Shui in a way that is easy to learn and apply. And the best part of this type of Feng Shui is that anyone can use it for increased prosperity, success and happiness–starting right now, without special equipment or years of training.
Feng Shui: Basic Principles
For thousands of years people have been aware of energy moving through the universe, connecting everything in it like a huge computer network. What has come to be called Chí (chee) is a subtle flow of electromagnetic energy, which links all things in the universe.
In the Far East the understanding and control of energy flow underlies traditional healing systems such as acupuncture and Shiatsu, as well as martial arts like Tai Chí, Qí Kong and Aikido. The energy has several names. In China it is called Chí, in Japan it is known as Kí (also spelled Qí) and in India it is referred to as Prana. There are no specific words for it in the West, although expressions such as ‘atmosphere’, ‘mood’, ‘life-force’ or ‘spirit’ describe how it is perceived. In this book, it is referred to as Chí energy.
Chí stays mainly within entities such as human bodies, plants or buildings, but some of it constantly flows in and out and some flows in from other sources. Your own personal chí energy is always mixing with the chí energy around you. In this way you are connected to the immediate environment, and ultimately the entire universe, as ripples of chí energy from far away reach you. Exceptionally sensitive people may be able to pick up advance information from these distant sources in the form of premonitions, visions or telepathy.
The flow of energy from one entity to another is the basis of Feng Shui. The chí energy you take in from your environment influences your moods, emotions, physical energy, and over time, your health. Let’s say there is one particular individual who controls the environment. You’ve seen it happen; the boss comes in grumpy, slamming doors, drawers and telephones. He lets everybody know he’s in a bad mood and everyone walks softer, talks quieter and gets busier. But, later that afternoon he lands his big deal and he’s popping the cork of the champagne bottle and patting all his employees on the back. Now there are loud voices, laughter and less work being done. Do you see how you would be influenced by this man’s positive or negative chí energy? We’re always exchanging energy with everyone and everything around us. What are you sending out and what are you taking in?
Chí energy is carried throughout the environment by wind, water, the sun’s solar energy, light and sound. It moves in a similar way to these natural phenomena except that, unlike some of them, it is able to flow through solid matter. It flows in and out of buildings mainly through the doors and windows, but some chí can enter and leave through the walls. The name Feng Shui, which literally means “wind-water”, reflects the way chí energy moves. The basic aim of Feng Shui is to enable you to position yourself where this natural flow of chí energy helps you to realize your goals and dreams in life.
Buildings alter the flow of chí energy. Their shape, openings and the materials they are made of define the way chí energy flows through them. It moves most easily through doors and windows, so the orientation of a building to the sun and the planets will determine the kind of chí energy that enters it. This energy is constantly changing as the planets move through the sky, so there is a new pattern of chí energy each year, month, day and hour. The biggest changes occur each year.
Features of the immediate surroundings such as water or roads, determine the kind of chí energy that flows back and forth through the doors of the building. In an ideal situation chí energy flows harmoniously through the whole of a building. The design and interior decoration should enhance the kind of chí energy that furthers the goals and desires of the occupants and should exclude or minimize features that hinder them.
UNFAVORABLE CHÍ ENERGIES:
Some situations produce unhelpful types of chí, causing problems for a building’s occupants, and even physical or mental ill-health.
Negative Chí: Certain buildings or decorating materials have a negative effect on chí energy; synthetic fibers, synthetic building materials, artificial lighting and air conditioning all add their own artificial chí energy, which negatively influences the chí energy of the occupants and could lead to mental and physical exhaustion.
Stagnant Chí: Slow-moving and stagnant chí is produced by dark corners, cluttered rooms and dampness. They can lead to a slowing down of your personal chí energy, which may cause serious health problems and a loss of direction in your life.
Fast-Flowing Chí: Chí energy moving quickly in a straight line can destabilize the flow through an entire building; so long corridors, straight paths or several features in a straight line should be avoided. Fast-moving chí energy directed towards you could push away some of your own chí energy, making you feel insecure and under attack.
To appreciate how chí energy in the environment influences you, it is necessary to understand how it moves within your own body. It flows through it in much the same way as blood. Along the center of the body are seven concentrations of energy called chakras, which are similar to large organs where blood concentrates. Spreading out from the chakras are 14 paths of chí energy known as ‘meridians.’ These flow along your arms, legs, torso and head. Like blood vessels and capillaries, they take chí energy to smaller and smaller channels until each cell is nourished by both blood, and chí energy.
While blood carries oxygen and nutrients, chí energy carries thoughts, ideas, emotions and your dreams in life. It also carries some of the chí energy from the environment. Therefore, what you think and where you think it will have a direct influence on the cells in your body. The influence of the mind on physical health is well established. Many people have experienced the benefits of positive thinking and some claim to have used it to recover from serious illness. Similarly, it is possible to be healed by moving to a new location. Traveling to spa towns or locations with special healing properties has a long tradition.
Many factors affect the chí energy that comes into your body – among these are food, weather, and the people you are with. In Feng Shui terms, the primary influence is the chí energy of the environment. This includes your home, your place of work, and the surrounding landscape. A building itself also has an influence.
Being in a large ornate building such as a museum or cathedral can be inspiring, exciting and stimulating, whereas a small cozy place such as a cottage, café or bar is more relaxing and intimate. A building’s location also helps shape the kind of chí that enters your body. The chí energy in rural areas is different from that in a city, and traveling to other parts of the world also gives you the chance to experience very different kinds of chí energy.
Yin and Yang:
In Feng Shui, opposite forces are called yin and yang. The concept of yin and yang offers a comprehensive way of looking at the world and how it affects you. It makes it possible to adjust your relationship with people and your surroundings so that you can place yourself in favorable, rather than unfavorable, situations. Ultimately, you will be able to use your knowledge of yin and yang to get more out of your life with less effort.
Yang energy is light, high, bright, active, lively, forward and positive. Yin energy is dark, low, inactive, calm, reflective, backward and negative. Opposite qualities compete for space, but too much or too little of anything causes an imbalance.
Inside a room or building, symptoms of excessive yang include an overflow of possessions, people, pets, furniture, equipment, or books. In the kitchen, excess yang takes the form of counters littered with bottles, jars, and dishes. In the living room, it is end tables piled high with magazines and papers. Such a space is taking in more chí than it can expel.
To determine whether you have too much energy in your space, ask yourself these questions:
• Is the space protected from the elements? (exposure to the elements damages the good energy of any space)
• Is the space too bright from excessive lighting or too much sunlight?
• Is the atmosphere loud, hot or noisy?
• Are people packed in like sardines?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, you might have excess yang chí.
Here are a few simple things you can do to regain your balance and peace of mind:
• Close the curtains or blinds, turn off the lights; use spotlights to highlight special objects in darkened rooms; use muted lighting from invisible sources
• Use quiet, cool, dark or secondary colors with still patterns
• Cover, enclose, or contain areas or objects
• Use absorbent, dull, wide-weave surfaces and fabrics
• Add heavy, solid furniture and accessories
• Remove clutter and make empty spaces where chí can flow
When there is an excess of yin, there is insufficient yang and no energy for life. Health, business, love, and every area of life are diminished. It is not a good idea to build or live where chí is weak or inaccessible.
To determine whether your space has too much yin, ask yourself these questions:
• Is the space so empty you can hear your voice echo?
• Is it cold or damp?
• Can you see mold spots, water stains, or rotten wood?
• Is the air stale and smelly because there is no ventilation?
• Is it dark and gloomy?
• If there is a window, is it so dirty that no light enters?
• Is the floor warped or damaged?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, here’s what you can do right now to make things better:
• Open the curtains, let in the sun, or turn on some lights
• Use primary, warm, hot, bold, bright, contrasting colors in dynamic and vibrant patterns
• Uncover, open, or dramatize areas or objects with bright or moving lights
• Use reflective surfaces and shiny, smooth fabrics that bounce the light
• Use patterns that run the same way as the flow of traffic
• Add movement. Turn on an electrical fan, hang wind chimes or pieces of fabric where they catch the air
When applying feng shui to your home or office, it is better to focus on solving one specific problem rather than to make blanket changes all at once. Please don’t just dive in and pull bits and pieces out of this book. It’s important to have a basic understanding of feng shui before implementing remedies or you could end up creating problems that currently do not exist.
Above all, do not expect feng shui to be the answer to all your problems. It is only one of many influences on your life. Your diet, your family background and general life experience, all have profound effects. The success of feng shui depends largely on how realistic your expectations are.
The first step is to identify the problem. Make a list of areas where you have had problems and those you would like to improve. Relationships, finances and career usually figure in either or both lists.
Next, work out more specifically why you are having these problems. For example, if you are having financial challenges is it because your income has declined or your expenses have shot up? If you cannot find a romantic partner, it is because you do not go out and meet people, or overwhelm those you do meet? Is your career at a standstill because your efforts are not being noticed, or have you lost your ambition?
The answers should suggest a solution – to make more money or cut down expense, to be more sociable or less aggressive, to be more assertive, more motivated or set your horizons higher. Only now can you begin to think of applying Feng Shui to make sure your environment is helping you to achieve your goals. In order to fully benefit from Feng Shui it’s important for you to be clear on what results you wish to achieve.
Potential Benefits of Feng Shui include:
• Increased Motivation
• Improved Health
• Better Stress Resiliency
• More Harmonious Family Relationships
• Enhanced Prosperity
• New Career Opportunities
• Fame and Respect
• Love and Romance
• Sense of Well-Being
• Feeling More in Control
Clean and Clear
Clearing the clutter and debris in your home and in your personal life is the first step of Feng Shui and it costs you nothing. Clutter is trapped energy that has a far-reaching effect physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Clutter makes you feel unorganized, confused, keeps you in the past, congests your body, and leaves you feeling lethargic and tired. Clutter is energy constipation and who needs that?
Ridding yourself of clutter (even things which were once of value to your life) makes room in your life for what you really want and need now.
Ten Tips for Eliminating Clutter
• Use the Ultimate Clutter Test ~ Does it lift your energy? Do you use it? Do you love it? If you answer no to these questions, it’s time to let it go.
• Give yourself a miniature energy shift ~ Set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes and clear a small area such as a kitchen drawer. You will probably find you are feeling more energized and might have trouble stopping!
• Put things away within 30 seconds of using them. ~ How many times have you tossed a magazine on the table, intending to get back to it? Is it still on the coffee table? Just for today, put everything back in its place.
• Throw things away often ~ 80% of what is stored or saved is never used again – that applies to papers, clothes, magazines etc. Maybe it’s time to clean out those old files stored on your computer or in your desk?
• Make a list of all the unfinished things in your life ~ This could include letters or phone calls you need to make, someone you need to apologize to, an appliance that doesn’t work. Then set out to complete these things. They have all been draining your energy.
• Do a little clutter busting every day ~ Sort mail daily and file your paperwork. Have a place to put things so you don’t waste time looking for them.
• Get rid of old clothes ~ For some reason we hang onto clothes thinking they will come back in style or we will lose the weight we need to fit back into them. Ask yourself these questions: “Do my clothes represent who I am now?” “Do they make me feel good about myself?” If your closet is filled with clothes you no longer need, donate them to charity. Open up space in your closet for new things to come in.
• Clean out your cupboards and refrigerator ~ Do you have any non-perishable items that you know you won’t eat? Donate them to a food bank or offer them to your neighbor. Get rid of outdated food items in the refrigerator and give it a good cleaning.
• Donate books that no longer serve your needs ~ Aim to have a collection of books that represent you as you are today, not who you were in the past.
• Think before you buy ~ The next time you go shopping, ask yourself before you buy something, “Do I really love this and need it?” “What am I willing to part with, in order to have this?” A good rule of thumb is to only buy what you really need.
As you identify and release your clutter, you free up the energy held there for more constructive purposes. Your life may take off in ways you never thought possible. Clearing your clutter is essential in Feng Shui.
What you want is available to you, but there may be no room in your home or your life for it! Letting go of what no longer serves you must occur before more treasures can come into your life. Releasing clutter can help you clear life patterns that do not serve you any more. The simple act of clearing clutter can transform your life by releasing negative emotions, generating energy and allowing you to create space in your life for the things you want to achieve.
Begin today by choosing one area to begin with, such as a counter top that has accumulated an entire month of junk mail. You’ll get more, really! Keep the clutter-busting simple. If you look at the whole picture, you might become overwhelmed and not do anything. As you eliminate the clutter from your environment, visualize what it is that you are making room for. This will begin the process of manifestation.
Feng Shui can help:
• Make your home feel welcoming
• Improve your relationships
• Bring your family closer together
• Improve your children’s study habits
• Improve your health
• Help you buy or sell your home or business
• Help you succeed in all areas of your life
Releasing the Past and Preparing for the Future
In Feng Shui, our homes are regarded as sacred places; therefore it is very important that we maintain our homes, just as we maintain the hygiene and health of our bodies.
The second step to incorporating Feng Shui into your daily life is to fix and repair everything in your home, office and garden. Oftentimes, we hold onto items that are in need of repair, but never get around to repairing them. Broken items are symbolic of a broken life and who needs that?
How much stuff do you have that needs a screw, a dab of glue, a stitch or two? Make time to sort through these items and determine what you really want and what you know you will never fix. Determine the value of this item and if it is truly something you want to hang on to, take the time to fix it or take it to someone who will fix it for you. If you are ready to part ways with the item, then place it in the trash, sell it or donate it, but get rid of it. You won’t miss is, and you’ll feel so much better.
There is much symbolism used in Feng Shui and the more you learn about this art, the easier it will become for you to make these connections. These include:
• Clutter and broken items are symbolic of clutter of the mind, holding onto the past, and things which no longer work.
• Windows are the eyes of chí (life force energy) and affect your clarity, so replace broken window panes and clean the windows. If you’re having a hard time “seeing” things, take a look at your windows. Chinese culture teaches that broken windows create conflicts with a child or inner child.
• Broken or blocked doors block the voice of the adult.
• Plumbing represents our digestive system, so repair leaky faucets and clogged drains.
• Electricity and electrical devices represent our neurological system, so tend to your electrical needs – you don’t want to ‘short-circuit’.
• A sticking door or two doorknobs banging together, can contribute to tension between partners, so ease a tight fit. Tie red ribbons on doorknobs that bang against one another.
• Garbage cans should be put away and always covered with a lid.
• Toilets, sinks, tubs and shower stalls are drains. Connected with the water element, these are symbolic of your wealth. Keep your toilet lids down and close the drain plugs and bathroom doors to avoid draining your wealth.
The main entrance to your home or building is the main ‘mouth’ of Chí. Symbolically this is where all of the chí enters the building. It is important that the main entrance be clear, open and well defined. Below are tips to help you strengthen the entrance to your home or office:
• Eliminate obstructing clutter that blocks your path.
• Check for a squeaky door, broken handle, uneven door frame, uneven steps or a broken doorbell.
• Check your doorknobs, repair broken hardware and add oil until the door opens flawlessly.
• Clean the entrance area and get rid of cobwebs and dirt.
• Make sure the entrance is well lit, as good lighting will create a flow of good energy into your home.
• Make sure that the access from the street or sidewalk to your home or business is clear, so that people can easily see the entrance door.
The important thing for you to remember is that all these things affect the way chí (energy) flows through your home and workplace. Although this energy is invisible, it is there. Feng Shui provides you with the tools to harness this energy and put it to work in your favor.
As chí circulates through your home, it begins to develop certain forms and invisible energy patterns. These patterns of energy form the chí that enters our bodies. The chí in our bodies in turn sends out these energy patterns like a telegraph to the world. The energy then draws to it, like a magnet, certain life situations (e.g., relationships, jobs, etc.) that reflect the same type of energy patterns that our chí is sending out.
By learning to detect how the chí flows through and around your house, you can then locate the areas where energy is blocked, stagnant, oppressive, or flowing too strongly. Bringing things back into order may be as simple as placing a jade plant in your wealth corner, adding extra light to a room, perhaps a splash of color on a wall. By learning how to work with the energy in your home, you can ultimately shape and alter the many different situations in your life.
Remember, it is important to determine what your main goal is and apply one cure at a time. If you go into a room and take everything out, paint the walls, replace the carpet and put in brand new everything, you could end up with a bigger problem then you started with. Keep this simple and be patient. Feng Shui is not a quick fix, but if you carefully follow the steps outlined here, you will experience positive results.
by Lissa Coffey