Stuck in your career? Trouble in your love life? The root of your problems may be in the design of your home, say practitioners of the ancient Chinese philosophy, feng shui.
Donald Trump uses it. Virgin Airlines, the Bank of England and the United Nations embraced it. Even that old hit TV series, Big Brother, employed ideas borrowed from this ancient art. But what, exactly, is Feng Shui?
"Feng Shui teaches us how to create healthy harmonious environments," says Stanley Bartlett, who uses the centuries-old art to design homes and businesses. The ideas date back at least 3,000 years, yet a growing number of architects and decorators are integrating feng shui ideas with contemporary building design.
Feng shui (pronounced fung shoy) is an intuitive art of understanding the energy of elements. Feng is wind and shui is water. Designers and decorators claim that they can "feel" the surrounding, universal energy -- called ch'i. But architects who incorporate the Eastern philosophy are not guided by intuition alone. The ancient art prescribes lengthy and complex rules that may strike modern homeowners as quirky. For example, your home should not be built at the end of a dead-end road. Round pillars are better than square. Ceilings should be high and well-lit.
To further confuse the uninitiated, there are several different ways to practice feng shui:
- Use a compass or Lo-Pan to establish the most beneficial placement of rooms
- Draw on information from the Chinese horoscope
- Examine the surrounding land forms, streets, streams and buildings
- Use high-tech equipment to examine environmental health hazards, such as electromagnetic radiation and toxic materials
- Use feng shui principles to help sell your house
- Use some variation of a tool called the Ba-Gua -- an octagonal chart outlining the most favorable placement for rooms
- Manipulate surrounding ch'i with appropriate colors
Yet even the most baffling practices have a basis in common sense. For example, feng shui principles warn that a kitchen door should not face the stove. The reason? A person working at the stove may instinctively want to glance back at the door. This creates a feeling of unease, which can lead to accidents.
"Everything in nature expresses its own energetic force," says Master Lam Kam Chuen. "Recognizing this is essential to creating a living environment in which Yin and Yang are balanced."
Source: Feng Shui Handbook, by Master Lam Kam Chuen, Holt, 1996, p. 90
Despite the numerous complicated rules, feng shui adapts to many architectural styles. Indeed, the clean, uncluttered appearance may be your only clue that a home or office building was designed according to feng shui principles.
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Learn more about feng shui at Fengshui.about.com