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Learn Chinese Culture – About Chinese Fengshui

Mar. 24, 2015

Deciding not to go with a red sofa, moving a mirror from the bedroom to the living room, changing the position of the bed in your bedroom. These may seem like just simple interior design or decorating decisions, but they may also be part of the ancient Chinese practice of Fengshui. Fengshui, which literally means Wind & Water, is a method of creating good Qi, or energy flow, through changing one’s environment. The name refers to this passage from an ancient book, the Zhangshu, or Book of Burial: “Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.” Thus, Fengshui is the process of choices that focuses on simultaneously moving and retaining Qi in order to improve one’s health, prosperity, and fortune.

While modern and Western applications of Fengshui generally focus on arranging objects within a home, office, or other architecture, Fengshui was originally used to decide on how best to place dwellings, burial sites, or crops. Fengshui has been used for thousand of years, with some of the earliest instances appearing as far back as 4000 BCE. These early forms of Fengshui relied on astronomy in order to make decisions about where to build or settle. Modern Fengshui practitioners utilize the magnetic compass to aid them in arranging spaces.

One of the most common Fengshui techniques is Bagua, or Eight Symbols. The Bagua are 8 three-line symbols, often called trigrams, which correspond to different meanings, including the cardinal and ordinal directions, natural elements, and seasons. For the purposes of Fengshui, the Bagua are placed onto a map or grid, which is then placed over a map of the house or office in question. Since each of the Bagua has a specific meaning and element associated with it, these meanings are used to determine placement of objects and rooms within the space. The five main elements are water, wood, fire, earth and metal. One example of Bagua fengshui is to avoid having drains within the areas of the house that are associated with wealth, as your wealth will drain away. When used properly, the Bagua map will help parse one’s living or working area into different areas of the resident’s life. By understanding the function of each area, the practitioner can maximize the benefit from each area and avoid creating negative energy or bad luck.

While many skeptics dismiss Fengshui as superstition and folklore, it’s worth noting that many famous structures, whether intentionally or unintentionally, incorporate many of the principles of Fengshui. Additionally, Fengshui practitioners and apologists respond that one need not believe in the existence of Qi in order to benefit from many of its common sense principles. Clearing up clutter around the house and moving dangerous objects away from children’s sleeping areas, for example, are two principles from Fengshui that most anyone would agree are beneficial. Another objection to Fengshui is that of a potential conflict with the practitioner’s religious beliefs. While it is true that advanced Fengshui techniques rely on an understanding of both Qi and Yin and Yang, simple uses of Fengshui for rearranging one’s home and office can be done without conflicting with most religious beliefs. Since the goal of modern Fengshui is harmony through arrangement and placement, it should be compatible with other worldviews.

Those interested in Fengshui will be glad to know that the elementary aspects of Fengshui can quite easily be learned and applied. The tools are as simple as a compass, a measuring tape, and some pen and paper. Now are you ready for some beginning Fengshui tips?

For the bedroom:

-Some Fengshui experts believe it is bad luck to have a mirror facing a couple’s bed, or placed anywhere near it, as mirrors can increase opportunities for infidelity.

-Sleeping on floors or in bunk beds is also discouraged, as Qi is meant to circulate around the bed as one sleeps. If the areas above and below the bed are obstructed, the Qi is unable to circulate freely, causing health problems or disturbing sleep.

-Experts also suggest opening doors and windows on a regular basis to allow fresh Qi to enter. No one wants stale Qi circulating around when he or she sleeps.

For the living room:

-As much as you may want that red crushed velvet couch, Fengshui practitioners will tell you it’s a big no-no. The color red represents the element of fire, and having a central object like the living room couch represent fire can wreak havoc on your finances, relationships, and even emotional or psychological well being.

-Try not to place couches, loveseats, or other major furniture items so that people are consistently seated with their backs against doors or windows, as this can block the flow of Qi in and around your living room.

-Some practitioners suggest using color to create a sense of balance, keeping ceilings and other higher objects light-colored, choosing wall colors or furniture that is mid-toned, and accenting floors with darker flooring or rugs. This works to give the home a natural setting, mimicking the lightness of the sky, the neutral, comforting tones of grass and water, and the grounded feel of earth beneath one’s feet.

-Since many Fengshui experts also recommend placing small fountains or live or fake plants (so as not to risk the bad Qi involved with dead plants) in your home, the living room would be a good open space to try out this technique.

For the kitchen/dining room:

-We all know that fire and water don’t mix. This is why Fengshui theory will tell you it’s not wise to place any water-based appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, even the kitchen sink) directly opposite your stove, as the crashing of the two elements will lead to family disputes.

-You’ve probably never thought too much about how the makeup of your dining room table might affect your mental health, but heavy, dense materials like marble or stone can pile pressure on many people’s already stressful lives. If you have enough pressure from your boss, your kids, or the IRS as it is, try opting for a wooden dining room table.

-Many Fengshui practitioners like to make sure that views from windows are pleasant and refreshing. What better place to implement this idea than your kitchen sink, where members of the family routinely stare outside while washing the dishes or preparing food?

Now that you have some easy, practical tips based on Fengshui theory, you too can start balancing the Qi in your home.

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