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April 12, 2017

The Ancient Art that can bring Balance to our Modern Lives.

 

Three Reasons why Feng Shui is a Bonus in our Lives.

Between you and me, I don’t know how well I’d be doing now if it wasn’t for feng shui and the wisdom it has given me.

Back when I was in feng shui school, I was going through the most pivotal time in my adult life. I was juggling career change, loss, family upheaval, and major parental challenges.

I guess you could call it my “midlife crisis.”

In school, I learned to change my perspective and see my life in a much deeper, more symbolic way. The Eastern philosophy of arranging spaces is also about arranging our minds. I learned that our homes are a reflection of what is going on in our lives. And I learned how my house contributed to the challenges in my life and my way of looking at things.

First, let me explain a bit about what feng shui is. It is an ancient practice of organizing our environments with the natural order of life and welcoming good energy to our homes. Ancient practitioners observed the natural world and developed “truths” that became the foundations of Taoism and eventually, feng shui—these are chi, yin and yang, and the five transformations of chi.

Chi, or life force energy, animates everything in creation. These practitioners understood that chi flows through life like water or wind flows through the land. It shapes everything in its path—either bringing positive or negative influences.

They realized that there is a balance of complementary opposites, also known as yin and yang. These opposites are relative and cannot exist without each other. We cannot understand light without also knowing dark, just as we cannot understand hard without knowing soft. Yin and yang provide the necessary tension in the universe, which allows for dynamic growth and change.

They also observed the process of change, which they called the five transformations of chi (also known as the Five Natural Elements). Each of these elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—represent a different quality of energy found in all of nature. Wood represents action and growth, fire represents upward movement and dispersion, earth represents stability, metal represents contraction, and water represents descending movement.

Although its principles were developed thousands of years ago and influenced all of the Eastern arts, including traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui is a wonderful practice to implement in our modern environments.

There are three main reasons why I believe this to be true.

1. Location Challenges

When feng shui was developed, the most important evaluation was the quality of the land. The location of our home or village meant everything. There were two primary requirements for determining the best location: healthy, flowing water to irrigate the crops, and the presence of mountains or hills to protect from harsh winds. These qualities represented the yang principle of bringing chi to a site (flowing water) and the yin principle of containment of chi (supportive landscape).

Location continues to be the primary driver for property evaluation, even today. However, given the rising population and limited open space, not everyone can have the best location. We continue to build on land that has the least desirable feng shui. However, principles of feng shui can be applied to help create better feng shui in those locations as well. We strive for a balance of yin and yang. When there is too much yang chi, we can add some yin chi, and vice versa.

In most instances, roadways (rather than flowing water) serve the function of bringing chi to our land. And if our neighborhoods are too stagnant or yin (very little traffic), we can add movement (yang) to our property to encourage vitality, such as a water feature, a flag, or wind chimes. If our property is too open (too yang) and lacking a “container,” we can add landscaping to provide the yin qualities we need for balance.

I live on a “dead end,” and needed to attract more yang energy to my home, which would translate into opportunities. So I added a wind chime and a water fountain by the front door.

Feng shui enables us to embrace a poor site and use its principles to create more harmony.

2. Fast Pace & Increased Stress

Our lives seem to be getting more fast-paced than ever before. And stress is the leading cause of most major illnesses, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In order to counterbalance the “noise” in our lives, our homes should be a place of sanctuary, away from the everyday stresses of life. Using the basic principles of the flow of chi, yin and yang, and the Five Natural Elements, we can create greater balance in our homes. Understanding how chi flows through our homes helps us to position furniture in the best way and add objects that can channel chi or deflect chi, as needed.

Yin and yang is the ultimate balance “tool.” If there is too much yang chi (loud, fast, or bright) then we need to balance it with some yin chi (quiet, slow, or dark). Most of us intuitively know when a space is out of balance; however, feng shui gives us the language and tools to achieve greater balance.

Rooms that are a bit more yin are places we typically feel most able to relax and de-stress. Lighting plays a huge role in the ambiance of a room, that’s why the soft glow of candles, a fire place, and the use of indirect lighting are common in rooms that are conducive to relaxation.

I realized that there were some important spaces in my home (my family room and my home office) that were too yin. I added lighting and mirrors to those rooms to attract positive energy. They became more uplifting spaces to be in. I also moved my home office to another space that received lots of natural sunlight and had a view of beautiful trees outside, which gave me a better perspective in my life and career.

Feng shui reminds us to use the principles of yin and yang to create spaces for greater well-being.

3. Toxins

The average American spends 90 percent of their day indoors, limiting their access to nature. Our work spaces and homes are often filled with man-made materials which emit thousands of chemical toxins. Toxins from paint, adhesives, man-made fabrics, and materials, as well as little, if any, access to fresh air, causes poor indoor air quality and increased positive ions which contribute to allergies and asthma.

Using the Five Natural Elements in our homes can help us breathe better, feel healthier, and be more connected to the natural world. We can incorporate the wood element with beams, flooring, and objects such as driftwood. Fire can be added with a fireplace and candles, but be sure to use soy or beeswax candles and natural scents, or none at all. Earth can be incorporated through stone flooring, counters, and even pottery and found rocks. Objects made of metal, including copper, brass, and silver, are great ways to add the metal element to our homes. And finally, water features provide a wonderfully soothing way to add the gentleness of the water element.

Another “toxin” that we have to deal with is technology. Technology has contributed so much to our lives, however, we no longer even realize the fact that humans have not adapted to it in this short period of time. We no longer live with the natural rhythms of sunlight or the seasons. We work throughout the day and night, we eat bananas in northern climates, and air conditioning has drastically changed the way we live in warm climates.

In addition, we have immersed ourselves in a technological haze consisting of electromagnetic fields (both wired and Wi-Fi) that are not in-sync with the human body’s natural energy field. Most feng shui practitioners, who have adapted to these changing times, incorporate knowledge of toxins and their impacts on the human body, as well as steps to reduce exposure.

I realized that I needed more plants around me and changed the colors of some rooms to better support my energy. I learned how to limit exposure to toxins and electromagnetic fields, which made me feel better and healthier.

Feng shui reminds us of our connection to nature and our need to live in harmony.

The wisdom that feng shui provides is a wonderful counterbalance to the modern world, because we need to build in locations that are less desirable, stress is something we encounter every day, and we will continue to live and work surrounded by toxins. Feng shui gives us the wisdom to acknowledge all of that, while brining more peace and balance into our lives—more nourishment for body, mind, and spirit.

I would love to hear if you have incorporated feng shui into your home and how it has changed your perspective. Please comment and let me know!

 

Author: Maureen Calamia

Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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