What is feng shui?
Feng shui is a philosophy that creates an environment which is ergonomic; it lets us work efficiently, comfortably and successfully by following the patterns of nature. Think of yourself as a boat, it is just easier and more efficient to sail with the current and wind rather than against it. This idea is one of the fundamental concepts of feng shui. Imagine your house as an extension of yourself, like a shirt that you can wear. If you were to wear the shirt so that your neck was to fit through the sleeve, you probably would not function very well, finding it very constructive and hard to breathe. In feng shui, a house is designed to fit the body comfortably, orientated to allow the body to take in vital energy or qi so that can function effectively. There are many aspects to getting dressed for success – you can’t just put on a shoe and walk out the door for an interview. Similarly, there are many aspects of understanding and designing with feng shui. It is not just about orientation and opening the door in the right direction. It is about being aware and in tune with yourself and your environment: the combination of interior and exterior space, light, sounds, smells, materials, furniture arrangement, etc. and how they affect your mental and physical energy. In the philosophy of feng shui, everything has Qi or the ability to influence you, regardless of your awareness. Feng shui theories guide us in creating an environment tailored to promote our individual well-being.
What is Qi?
Understanding the concept of Qi is the key to understanding feng shui. Because there is no equivalent of Qi in English, the following examples give a general idea of Qi. For instance, feng shui literally translated means “wind-water.” Qi is like the wind, a natural energy source that is continuously flowing all around us. We cannot see it, but we know it exists by the way it affects the landscape and physical matter. Qi is also like water, an energy source that can be diverted to where it is needed and be more beneficial to our well-being. At the same time, Qi like water also cycles endlessly from one phase to another: it is a cycle that, if broken or interrupted will affect everything else that depends on the continuity of this cycle. This can be compared to the ecosystem of a forest where every plant, insect, and animal depend on one another to evolve and survive. A decline or increase in any of the species will affect the whole ecological system.
In relation to our built environment, feng shui theories guide us in seeking naturally beneficial site conditions, designing landscapes and buildings, arranging rooms, furniture and such so that they are all in sync with natural Qi patterns. In doing so, we channel natural energies to empower us in doing what we do better.