Feng Shui – Key Basics

What is Feng Shui?

our guide to feng shui at home

It may sound like something you would order in a restaurant but Feng Shui is actually a Chinese belief system that can establish balance and harmony in your home or office.

Pronounced “Fung Shway”, it literally translates as “wind and water” and uses psychological, geographical, mathematic and aesthetic rules in order to control the flow of energy or qi, pronounced “chee” in a room, house, building or garden.

Feng Shui has been practiced in Asia for more than 5,000 years and many in the Western world now use it to improve prosperity, good health, and general well being. In fact The Los Angeles Times newspaper recently reported that big corporations such as News Corp., Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard and Ford Motors are using Feng Shui in the workplace to improve business and the happiness of their employees.




Feng shui is based on the opposites Yin and Yang and experts of Feng Shui consider Yin to be feminine and passive energy, and Yang, to be a masculine and fiery force.

Feng Shui uses this notion of opposites and combines Yin and Yang with the properties of five elements; water, fire, wood, metal, and earth to identify different areas of your life.

The points on the compass, with its eight separate directions - North, Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, and Northwest - are also important when examining the flow of qi in your home.

Usually a Feng Shui expert will consult an individual's Chinese horoscope and use complicated mathematical calculations from the ancient text I Ching, or Book of Changes, to determine what aspects of the house or office are out of balance.

But basic Feng Shui is simple to understand and can be practiced easily by a beginner without paying for a costly consultation. This no-nonsense guide makes understanding Feng Shui simple, and also has tons of practical tips so that you can start to reap the benefits of Feng Shui in your property straightaway.

Where does Feng Shui come from?

Although it is widely practiced today, Feng Shui used to be a secret known only to the Chinese Royals and their scientists and astronomers. The Emperor would use Feng Shui when building his palaces and cities to ensure peaceful harmony in the country, and today Feng Shui is a principle of classical Chinese architecture.

The most famous example of Feng Shui is the layout of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the capital of China. The Forbidden City is a walled enclosure containing temples, administrative rooms, and the home of China’s extravagant Ming and Qing dynasties. When Chairman Mao came to power, however, he opened the Forbidden City to the public and the secrets of Feng Shui spread throughout China and the world.

Today most Chinese families and businesses continue to use Feng Shui, and despite some continuing scepticism, it has also become widely practiced in Europe, America and other parts of the world.

How can I use Feng Shui in my property?

Using Feng Shui is quite straightforward. First you will need to print off this diagram, which is called a Bagua, pronounced “Pa Kua”. Then you will need to draw a similar sized map of the floorplan of your home or office on a sheet of paper.

As you can see the Bagua is an octagonal diagram which is marked with the compass points, and different areas of your life such as career, health, children and so on.

According to Feng Shui, the energy (qi) which flows from each compass point has a different element (water, fire, wood, metal) associated with it.

  • North - water
  • South - fire
  • East - wood
  • West - metal
  • Northwest - metal
  • Northeast - earth
  • Southwest - earth
  • Southeast - wood

The fact that each direction has an element associated with it gives the energy that flows from there a unique quality.

  • North:

Qi flowing from the North, as opposed to North flowing qi, is linked to the element water, which is diplomatic, intuitive and compliant.

This energy tends to be nurturing and mysterious and is often symbolized by a Black Tortoise, which is the animal of winter and the moon.

  • South:

Qi from the South is linked to the element fire, which is interpreted as dynamic, restless and energetic.

This kind of energy is seen as invigorating and lucky. Its symbols are the Red Phoenix which is the bird of summer and good fortune and the sun.

  • East:

Energy coming from the East is linked to the element wood, which is warm, generous, and represents growth.

This kind of energy is protective, kind and competitive. Its symbols are the green or gold Dragon which is the animal of spring and thunder.

  • West:

This qi is linked to the element metal, which is unyielding, forceful and self-reliant.

Qi from the West is usually unpredictable and disruptive. Its symbols are the White Tiger, the animal of autumn, and the lake.

Feng Shui experts believe that each kind of qi seeks its opposite to achieve harmony. So the active, hot qi of the south seeks the cool qi of the north to balance itself, and the wise qi of the east seeks excitement from the qi of the west, and so on.

The qi in the centre of the Bagua is associated with the element earth, which is patient, stable and prudent. This energy is compatible with all the directions, and seeks to harmonise them.

The Bagua should be seen as a map of your life. When you compare it with the floorplan of your home or office, each area of your property therefore corresponds to an area of your life.

Relating areas in your property to different aspects of your life is also the first step to understanding how problems you may be having in your personal life could be caused by the flow of energy in your home.

How do I know if I’ve mapped the Bagua correctly on my floorplan?

Draw a floor plan of your property on a piece of ordinary paper and place the Bagua underneath it so you compare the both. Always line up the front door with the knowledge, career, or helpful people areas. Look at where different areas of your life are to be found in your home and cast a fresh eye over your property.

If there are certain situations in your life that you would like to improve, it is likely that the energy of the corresponding areas in your home or office need to be balanced.

How do I identify what areas need to be balanced?

Think hard about the different aspects of your life. If you’ve been ill recently, or your child is having problems at school, there may be a need to examine the space in your home that relates to Health or to Children.

For example if your child has been having problems with discipline, then check whether there is too much qi from the West in their bedroom. Energy from the West is linked to the element metal which can be a disruptive and energetic.

As qi from the West needs qi from the East, try balancing the energy in your child’s bedroom by putting a green plant, or a wooden bowl in the space. Wood and the colour green are linked to the East so these objects should help restore harmony between the elements.

Feng Shui experts also use certain objects which they believe have the power of redirecting, reflecting, or shifting energy in a space. These kinds of items, which are known as cures, include mirrors, crystals, windchimes, and pools of flowing or standing water.

I don’t have a particular problem but I would like to improve certain areas of my life. What can I do?

Perhaps you’d like to meet someone special, get a raise in your job, or improve your child’s performance at school? The principles of Feng Shui can be used at all times to increase success in the different areas of your life. Place the Bagua over your floorplan and follow our simple guidelines to boost certain aspects of your personal life.

  • Marriage/Relationship/Partnership

Fresh flowers, particularly pink ones, will attract new romance. If you are already in a relationship, however, hanging a pink crystal ball in the right hand corner of your home, and bedroom, will harmonise any problems you may be having. Round mirrors hung over a bed also reflect harmful energy flowing towards you both while you sleep but never hang a mirror opposite your bedframe - this encourages a third party into your relationship!

  • Fame/Reputation

This area of your home should make you see red – literally! Red is the colour of the fire element which is the most powerful force for success. Hang a red crystal in this area of your office to boost your reputation at work, or put red flowers and red candles in this area of your home.

  • Family/New Beginnings

The best energy to introduce to this area of your life is that of growth. Placing family photos and green plants will encourage harmony and development. If you are starting a new business venture, or a new job, or even if you just want to make a fresh start with something in your life, run a table top water fountain here to encourage the flow of energy into your project.

  • Career

The career space is associated with the water element and the color black, so many of the recommended Feng Shui cures include water. Things like crystals, mirrors, an indoor water fountain, a fish tank, or decorative black ornaments will all boost your career. But it’s worth noting that a metal wind chime placed over your kitchen stove activates your career as well!

  • Benefactor/Travel

Everyone wants to meet helpful people in their lives. Surrounding yourself with productive relationships can make for a long and happy life. The color most closely associated with this area is grey. You could paint the walls grey or put grey cushions in the room.

  • Wealth

The most important principle here is receptiveness. What you want here is to encourage the flow of success into your life. This can be enhanced by using a tabletop fountain, or a fish tank, to stimulate the flow of money into your life.

  • Knowledge/Self-Cultivation

The Knowledge area of the Bagua is associated with the earth element, which is associated with solidness and the colours black, blue and green. You should also put your bookcases, papers, and files in this section of your home or office.

  • Children/Completion

The Children’s section is about completion and the future. Our children are most likely our hope for the future, but even if you don’t have children you can use this area to help activate any plans you may have. The colour associated with this section if white. Use white or metal in this room to harmonise whatever energy you want to attract into your future.

Is there anything else I should know?

The above tips will improve balance in specific areas but there are several general principles that will maintain harmony in all aspects of your life.

The main thing to remember is if any part of your life is in disarray then your corresponding space needs to be examined. Clutter in your property causes blockages or problems with the corresponding area of your work or home life.

There should be no television sets in your bedrooms. But if you must have one then cover it with a plastic table cloth afterwards to trap its electric energy.

Place an indoor water fountain in your home in a favourable area to attract whatever you want in your life. Water encourages that energy to stay but be careful where you put it as it can also encourage bad energy to linger. If you notice bad results in an aspect of your life after placing the fish tank for approximately four months, shift your fish tank to another location.

Be careful with a red sofa set. Red is the element of fire which is the most powerful force. But too much red in the living room can give rise to heavy work pressure for you, and disruptive or misbehaved children.

Always open your bedroom windows at least once a day to allow fresh qi to come in. If not you will be sleeping with stale energy every night and therefore no new luck will come your way.

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