What is Feng Shui? And, What Does Feng Shui Do?
Marissa Lada, an interior designer here at Board & Vellum, is also a Feng Shui consultant. But, what does that mean? What is Feng Shui? What does it do? Well, it’s complicated, so let’s start with the basics in this primer to get you started.
January 8, 2019
We now offer Feng Shui consulting services at Board & Vellum. But, if you don't know what Feng Shui is, how would you know if it’s even something you are interested in? Well, let’s start with the basics.
The literal translation of Feng Shui in China is “Wind” (Feng) and “Water” (Shui). It comes from the belief that the environment is linked to a person’s wellbeing through chi, otherwise known as energy.
Everything is made up of energy. From plants to coffee mugs, everything is broken down into molecules that are constantly vibrating. We, too, are made up of energy; and as living organisms, our energies are constantly changing. Many Eastern cultures understood the importance of our energetic bodies and built practices — such as reiki, acupuncture, and yoga — for energetic healing.
As everything is made up of energy, there is also an underlying universal flow of energy that we are all tapped into. Other ancient cultures were also aware of this energy and built important structures along ley lines (earth’s energy lines). Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Egypt are examples of this.
Feng Shui connects this universal energy flow to our own specific energies, helping achieve balance and improve aspects of our lives through the direct correlation of our spaces.
Feng Shui can seem confusing to understand at first. When I first started learning the practice, I saw a lot of literature that seemed in conflict. This is because there are many different types of Feng Shui, each one using different principles in determining chi. (Visit us again soon for more on the history of Feng Shui.)
The different types of Feng Shui share common foundations.
Even though there are multiple types of Feng Shui, the types all have common foundations: the five Chinese elements, the Bagua, and the concept of Yin-Yang.
The Five Elements
The Five Elements are a cornerstone in all Feng Shui schools. Derived from Daoist principles, these elements are Water, Earth, Wood, Metal, and Fire.
Each element produces specific energies that help in balancing out the chi of a space. Elements work together to either enhance energy or reduce energy, depending on what the space needs. Each person has a dominant element that their energy aligns with. This primary element is taken into account when orienting and designing a space for Feng Shui. For example, if someone’s main element is Fire, incorporating the element of Wood into a space is be beneficial to help support and nurture the energy of Fire.
The Bagua is the map associated with orientation in Feng Shui. Broken down into nine sections, each area of the Bagua corresponds to a different aspect of life, from prosperity to creativity and children.
Overlaying this map to a floor plan, a Feng Shui consultant can determine where these energetic spots are located in your home and how to improve and enhance these areas.
Yin & Yang
Another of the underlying concepts of Feng Shui is Yin-Yang and the idea of balance and harmony. The Yin-Yang symbol (known as ‘Taijitu’) is a common representation of balancing this energy. These energies, while opposite, cannot exist without the other. Yang energy is associated with masculinity, day, sun, and positive polarity. Its counter, Yin, is connected to femininity, night, moon, and negative polarity. Both energies are connected, and we need both in our lives. Feng Shui evaluates the balance of Yin-Yang energy in a space and works towards an equilibrium of energy.
So, what can Feng Shui do?
Feng Shui creates harmony between a space and its occupant. When we achieve balance in our lives, we see improvements in different areas, from wealth to health.
In architecture and interior design, Feng Shui is a helpful tool, guiding us to focus on the idea that spaces should be built with nature rather than against it. It is a holistic approach to design, viewing how our spaces can affect our own energies.
Though many people practice Feng Shui in their personal spaces, it isn’t just for the home. Offices and hospitals are among other common spaces where Feng Shui is practiced. For example, long and narrow hallways in hospitals and offices have been known to cause stress due to the acceleration of chi. One way applying Feng Shui practices can help resolve this, is by carefully placing artwork and plants to slow down this fast-moving energy.
Of course, this is a basic introduction to the practice of Feng Shui. There is so much more to know, and we will continue to write about it.
But, ultimately, to really understand what Feng Shui can do, it has to be experienced.