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What is Feng Shui?

By M. Dee Dubroff
Updated May 16, 2024
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This complex concept of feng shui literally means “wind and water,” and is more easily understood than pronounced or defined. Feng shui must be experienced in order to truly comprehend its ramifications on the human spirit. Surrounding its meaning and application is the elusive energy known as chi, which is one’s aesthetic periphery. Chi is everywhere in the universe even though it is intangible. This practice reveals itself in our attitudes about life and landscape, which is the frame we place, either consciously or unconsciously, around our lives.

The positioning of many objects especially graves, furniture and buildings in oriental culture are based on the patterns established by yin and yang and the flow of chi, which together create positive and negative effects. Feng shui contains five elements, which combine in their own specific ways to create either positive or destructive cycles. These five elements are: wood, water, metal, earth and fire. For optimum results, a room would need a balance of all five elements without being overpowered by any one of them.

In practical terms, if metal elements such as modern furniture dominate a room, the effect can easily be offset by introducing wood elements to the room such as green plants or fire components in the form of candles. Natural things fare well in implementing feng shui design in one’s home. The dual aspects of yin and yang always reign supreme with this practice, as the ultimate goal is the harmonious balance between humans and natural objects.

The bedroom is the most important room in any house and is crucial to the flow of energy throughout the home. Beds have power positions as well. Some Asian philosophy holds that the energy of anyone who ever slept in a bed leaves a residue (Not just cracker crumbs, but energy!). For optimum feng shui, the bed’s position in relation to the bedroom door must be considered. The door should always be visible from the bed, and if it isn’t, place a mirror in such away so that it will reflect the door. This will restore feng shui.

Feng shui inextricably links life and landscape as all things in life depend upon each other. To the oriental way of thinking, a landscape is a living, breathing thing. And so it would seem that there is much about heaven and earth and humanity that the western world can consider as those in the east do. As an Englishman named Shakespeare succinctly put it in Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, my dear Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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Discussion Comments

By catapult43 — On Mar 06, 2008

We thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually when life's force flows within and around us. So just as our bodies need flowing air, loving relationships need kind words.

In Feng Shui it is the free flow of this energy that helps achieve balance and peace. To get to that place of balance, you should clean your clutter because it stops the flow of energy. Be generous. By giving you will receive, again, affecting the flow of energy. Add sunlight to your environment, as well as plants and gentle sounds. Think positively. Your positive energy will draw positive results. Be grateful for all your blessings.

Feng Shui is not just organization of your physical surroundings, but a whole way to live life in balance and harmony.

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