What is Feng Shui?
Simply put, Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art and science that seeks to create, or restore, balance and harmony within our living and work “environments” in order to create, or restore, health, harmony, and happiness within us.
Feng Shui, founded over 3,500 years ago, was originally based on the Taoist (Tao means “the way”) vision of nature; specifically, upon the idea that the Earth is alive and filled with vibrant, moving “chi” or energy. Chi intertwines and connects all life, therefore, the manner in which chi flows through our environment directly affects how chi flows through us-for better or for worse.
The literal translation of Feng Shui is “Wind” (Feng) and “Water” (Shui). These are fundamental life-force energies that create and fuel every aspect of our lives. Wind is considered to be the Earth’s breath; water is seen as the “lifeblood” of all that is alive upon our planet.
Feng Shui seeks to find balance with the perpetual flow and movement of chi, which flows in the form of Yin (“feminine” energy) and Yang (“masculine” energy) and the five elements: Earth, Wood, Metal, Fire, and Water. When these various energies are in harmony around us, and within us, then we are in harmony with ourselves and with our surroundings.
At the foundation of Feng Shui is the belief that we are energetically connected to everything in our physical environment, and that our environment will always reflect where we are energetically, either consciously or unconsciously.
Feng Shui incorporates interior and exterior design elements (including the optimum use and/or placement of such things as lighting, colors, textures, tones, rocks, crystals, and plants; the placement and arrangement of furniture; and the regular use of positive affirmations throughout our environmental spaces). All of this is carefully choreographed in order to maximize human potential and well-being (health, happiness, harmony).
The specific aim of the practice of Feng Shui is to free up blockages of energy in order to create harmony and bring balance between all complementary opposite forces – especially those of the internal and external worlds.
Feng Shui – Our “Nature” in Balance
Although we may no longer acknowledge it, we are all still deeply connected to 100,000 generations of ancestors who lived in the natural world. Nature is literally “built into” the genetic fabric of our lives.
The growth and development of the human body was conditioned and shaped by the continually moving and “alive” forces of nature. Within our core there is still a deep yearning to be in balance and harmony with the world around, and within, us.
Basically, we have an innate need to be supported by, and in balance with, the natural world. For hundreds of thousands of years our daily lives depended upon an ongoing, and deeply respectful, connection with the ebb-and-flow of nature.
We lived with a visceral awareness of the seasons of planting and growing and harvesting; the cycles of the wind and the snow and the rain; the rhythms of the forests and the mountains, the meadows and the valleys, the rivers and the streams and the oceans, the tundra and the desert and the arctic.
We heard-and listened to-the mood and tone of the life alive around us in the animals and the plants, the grasses and the grains, the wind and the water.
We lived in harmony with the sunrise and the sunset; with the coming and the going of spring, summer, fall, and winter; the tug and pull of the tides; and the precise and predictable march of the glittering stars across the night sky.
In the long span of our time on Earth, it is only within the last few generations that we have moved ourselves into pre-constructed, pre-fabricated, temperature-controlled dwellings – where we often do all in our power to shut the doors and the windows to even the tiniest breath or blow of fresh air; the movement and breath of life (chi).
Our modern disconnection to the raw and fresh and vital forces of nature can lead to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual “dis-ease” and distress in our daily lives. It may not only be pleasing to plug back into the natural rhythms and flows of natural “chi” – it may be critical to our overall (and long-term) health and happiness.
Within the core of our being we still have a “cellular memory” of the true flow of nature. We know what it “feels” like to be in balance, and what it feels like to be out of balance. We know what it “feels” like to be out of harmony with nature and with our true selves.
We all know, especially on a deeply subconscious level, how good and safe it feels to be in tune with the flow of life in its truest and most completely honest and natural sense.
Feng Shui: Safety First
There are many ways that Feng Shui can reconnect us with primal “nature,” such as using shapes and sizes, tones and textures, and even lighting that “reflects” natural patterns and colors that make us feel at “peace” and at “ease” in our surroundings.
One of the first, and most vital, steps in establishing health and harmony in our homes and businesses, however, is to make sure that we feel safe.
Not only do we have a built-in connection with nature, we also have a built-in sense of how best to ensure our safety and enduring survival within that nature (whether or not our surroundings are all that natural). We may no longer have to fend off animals in search of their own dinner or step lightly to ensure that we don’t get flattened by falling trees or get trapped in quicksand, but we still have a razor sharp sense of potentially impending peril.
That is, the core of our subconscious still does. We may not be able to put a name to our vague, and ongoing, discomfort and unease, but we still know when things just aren’t quite right in our surroundings.
In fact, because we can no longer always put a direct name to danger – the stalking tiger, the jagged edges of rocks – it makes it even more difficult for our innate survival instinct to ever settle down. This leads, over time, to higher levels of stress and dis-ease throughout our days and our nights.
There are a few quick, and easy, ways to calm the nagging sense of danger that rests just below the surface of our awareness. The first is to go through our homes, room by room, with the conscious intent to remove potential dangers (real or perceived) that often trigger subconscious alarms.
Ceiling fans that have knife-like blades, for example, can trigger unease and unrest.
Yes, you consciously know that the blades are not knives ready to hurl out and slice you to bits and pieces. Your subconscious, however, may not be so sure!
No, you do not have to remove them from your home! You may consider, however, moving furniture (especially bedroom furniture) out from directly underneath the spinning fan blades. In addition, there are many online places that sell replacement blades that look more like serene – and natural – palm fronds!
Large, dark ceiling beams can also trigger subconscious unease and unrest.
Again, your conscious mind is fully aware that they are not likely to fall from your ceiling and crush you. Your subconscious mind, however, broods through its literal duty, and worries through its dark doubts, about that impending possibility.
And again, you don’t have to remove the beams from your ceilings. Just as with sharply spinning ceiling fans, however, you may want to move your furniture out from directly underneath any beams. You may also want to try painting the beams a color that matches the color of your ceilings – having them blend in with a less fearsome and perilous background.
Bumps and Bruises
Big, bulky, unwieldy furniture (no matter how much you love it or how much you paid for it) should never stand, or sit, between you and your inner sense of safety. If you’ve banged or bruised body parts on it, then your subconscious has labeled it “dangerous” and dutifully sends chills down your spine whenever you’re even close to the vicinity of it.
If you can soften the edges, or place it where it can’t do any physical harm, then keep it. If you can’t – consider replacing it with something soft and luxurious and less sweetly less ominous.
Feng Shui – Put Yourself at Ease
Tour your house (or office) consciously looking for potential dangers (even if they are only subconsciously triggering your survival instinct). If something, in any way, feels out of place or not quite right then change it, replace it, soften it, rearrange it, or remove it.
Trust your instincts, because that is the level you are in vital communication with. You will know what works for you and what doesn’t work. If in doubt, you can always seek out a professional Feng Shui Consultant near you who can tour your home (or office) with you!
After all, Feng Shui is about harmony and balance – and you can achieve neither if you don’t put safety first.