Whilst Feng Shui has attracted a massive amount of coverage in the UK press and television over the last eighteen months, it would appear that it is not just a fad. Far from it, Feng Shui has been actively practised for centuries in many eastern countries (in particular Hong Kong) and dates back over 3000 years. In recent years it has become very popular in the US and is rapidly spreading in popularity across the UK.
What exactly is Feng Shui? Feng Shui, literally translated means wind and water and it is concerned with the interaction between ourselves, the buildings we inhabit, and the wider environment. The practice of Feng Shui aims to influence this interaction in order to enhance our quality of life. To many westerners, Feng Shui may seem a mystical practise because of our unfamiliarity with the notion of Chi, which can be roughly translated as vital energy or 'life-force'. Chi does not only move around our bodies but also our homes, offices and beyond and like water, healthy chi is moving chi. Sometimes chi can either move too quickly or can get stuck and become stagnant. When this happens in the body illness develops and when stagnation occurs in the home Feng Shui is used to balance and harmonise the energies, so bringing about a happier, more prosperous and healthy life.
For the more sceptically minded, more recently modern science can provide a wealth of research to back up the simple fact that our environments do substantially affect us. For example, Colour:
Colour Therapy The use of colour is very important in Feng Shui and a substantial body of scientific research highlighting the significant impact that colour has on our mood, now backs what Feng Shui has been saying for centuries.
Red represents fire in Feng Shui. It has been shown to be very stimulating to the brain and overuse can lead to excitability, anxiety, migraines, impatience and irritability. For this reason red should be treated with care, (like fire) and used in smaller amounts to add zest where appropriate.
Green represents the Tree or wood element and has been shown to stimulate creativity, optimism and ideas as well as bone growth and good posture!
By contrast the Blue end of the spectrum particularly violet at its far extreme, representing the water element, has a very calming effect on us and is particularly good for restful sleep.
Earth tones (principally yellow, terracotta, pink and peach) provide supporting, nurturing influences and can also be quite restful as long as they are not too vivid. Yellow has been shown to enhance sociability and communication and reduce introspection and can therefore be a useful antidote to 'bickering'. Yellow flowers are a classic Feng Shui cure for ongoing arguments.
A picture paints a thousand words There's also mounting evidence to show that artwork can affect our mood and even our physical well-being.
Artwork around the home can have a profound effect on us as we are constantly absorbing the imagery into our subconscious minds. The bedroom is particularly important: The last impression we have as we close our eyes should be of a clear, tranquil space with positive, harmonious images around us. Artwork and ornaments should be peaceful and non-confrontational: the last thing you want to see before going to sleep is a picture of a bullfight or a poster of 'Terminator II'. On a very basic level the question to ask is "Do the images around me reflect the kind of life I want to have"? If the answer is "No", I suggest releasing them.
Light Light is very important for good Feng Shui and can dramatically affect the ambience of the interior and the mood of the occupants. Shadows, over-bright direct light and glare can create an unstable environment and lead to eye strain. Up-lighting provides an uplifting feel to an environment and imitates the invigorating qualities of the rising morning sun. Down-lighting reflects the setting sun and gives amore relaxed feel.
Natural light with its full spectrum quality has recently been shown scientifically to stimulate learning, memory and creativity generally. For this reason natural light should always be maximised in a building to enhance the well-being of the occupants.
Positioning is all-important Try to position the bed, desk or armchair so that you have full 'command of the room'. This means having a good view of the door and window without being directly in front of either of them. Otherwise your subconscious mind is always wary of intruders entering unannounced. Feeling reflective? Always have a headboard for your bed which enhances feelings of security. If you have on en-suite bathroom or toilet keep the door closed to reduce the draining away of good chi energy.
Try not to sleep under beams or sloping ceilings as this can cause sleepless nights and illness or, if the beam lies directly between the two of you, rifts between partners.
Plants There is no better way to enliven and freshen the interior than through the use of plants. This is perhaps the most obvious way of bringing nature directly into a building to create harmony. Plants have many positive attributes:
They help charge the atmosphere with negative ions which have a positive effect on our physical and mental health.
They enhance the supply of oxygen in our surroundings.
They can help soak up electo-magnetic (EMF's) radiation from computers and other electrical equipment as wella smany noxious gases given off by man-made materials and other sources.
They enliven a space through colour and beauty.
Good Feng Shui recommends plants with rounded leaves rather than those with long spiky leaves.
Clutter All too often, popular Feng Shui talks about adding things to the interior in order to boost certain aspects of your life, but I have found that the greatest benefits achieved come from removing harmful influences first, and clutter is certainly one of them!
So what is clutter and what isn't? Clutter can be defined as anything which is not 1) genuinely useful, 2) genuinely cherished or loved 3) orderly. Also, anything which is broken, unfinished or out of place counts as clutter until it's sorted.
Clutter restricts the flow of healthy energy and stagnates the space that it's in. Having lots of clutter around is like going through life with a ball and chain around your ankles! Getting rid of it can create a huge amount of positive energy in the body and bring lightness and clarity to the mind, releasing negative emotions and refreshing the spirit.
Science has also shown many other aspects of our buildings can affect us. These include:
The types of materials used in the structure, decoration and contents of the home
Electro-magnetic frequencies (EMF) from your mains supply and appliances
Which types of plants are the best air cleaners
Even the type of energy coming from the Earth beneath the home.
...the list goes on.
Additionally the more esoteric side of Feng Shui sees your home as a reflection it's inhabitants. Therefore problems in the home reflect problems in your life. Correct the problems in the home and your life begins to change automatically.
The following tips will help you balance and harmonise your home accordingly:
Ensure all clutter is removed from all areas of the home, starting with those mentioned above. This will clear away any stagnation.
Ensure that solitary objects are removed as far as possible from the relationship areas (the south west). Introduce pairs of things especially a photo of you and your loved one and pairs of special ornaments.
Avoid pictures or ornaments that represent fighting and confrontation ( I was recently asked to help with relationship problems in a home where two ornamental horses where positioned charging at full speed toward each other!)
If there are a lot of disagreements or ongoing arguments try introducing the colour yellow which enhances communication. A client form North London recently painted her relationship sector (her bedroom in the south west of the home) yellow and reported a dramatic improvement in her relationship. Yellow flowers placed in the relationship area can do wonders. Alternatively hang a windchime in this area to disperse volatile energy
If work, parents-in-law, or children are in some way having a negative impact on your relationship with your partner remove photographs or other associations with these things from the relationship area.
If your relationship has lost it's spark introduce to your relationship areas some fire energy with red colouring (including candles ) for passion or pink and peach hues for a more romantic air. Use appropriate aromatherapy oils and music to create a desired atmosphere.
It is critical that you ensure that you are not sleeping or regularly sitting in an area of geopathic stress, otherwise ill health may well occur. Have an experienced dowser or feng shui consultant check this for you.
Have plenty of healthy plants around the hose (with non-spiky leaves) to cleanse and ionise the air in your home/office.
If the staircase is in direct line with the front door position a windchime between the two. This will reduce fast moving chi which could disrupt the household.
If you can see into the back garden from just inside the front door hand a windchime between the two. This will reduce the likelihood of there a being a drain on finances.
Bathrooms and toilets: Keep loo seats down, plugs in sinks and baths, ventilate regularly, use plants liberally, keep the door closed and hang a small mirror on the outside of the door at about eye height (to reflect the positive energy away from the toilet so that it is not drawn out of your home by the drains).
Hang a cherry size leaded crystal or place a crystal bowl in the back left area (from the front door) of your home along with a 'money plant' to enhance prosperity.
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Biography: Robert Gray is founder, Director and Principal Consultant, with The Feng Shui Academy which provides accreddited nationwide training courses for beginners through to Practitioners as well as Consultations for homes and businesses. Since 1993 Robert worked as Senior Interior Consultant for one of Europe’s leading commercial interiors organisations before establishing The Academy in 1996. He was a guest speaker at the recent International Feng Shui Conferences in London and Florida where his seminars were amongst the most popular received. He sits on the Feng Shui Society Executive Committee as well as the sub-committee for establishing Industry Standards of training and practice. He teaches and consults across Europe and the United States.
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