The history of feng shui
Feng shui (pronounced 'fung schway') was originally developed in medieval China about 6000 years ago. It was seen to hold much power and was therefore kept a closely guarded secret of the elite, the rich and royalty. From these beginnings feng shui gradually became available to the masses as those who had the knowledge felt feng shui should not be kept for just the privileged few. Today, in many areas of Asia, feng shui has become enmeshed in everyday life with both businesses and individuals regularly calling on the services of feng shui consultants.
In today's society, Asians live all over the world, and with them comes their traditions. Feng shui is now becoming very popular in the West and it is now possible to find feng shui consultants in most major towns and cities. Some of them may be Asian, but you will find many are in fact 'Westerners'.
What is Feng Shui?
Some would say feng shui is an art form while others would say it is a skill. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Feng shui is concerned with creating sacred space, concerned with making the world around us into a balanced place where energy ('qi' in Chinese) can flow and we can be happier, healthier and more prosperous.
Feng shui tackles the blockages in our environment head on and in very practical ways. You may need to rearrange your furniture, or hang something like a crystal in a dinghy corner, or look at the orientation of your house before you buy it. Often the action you must take is practical.
Sometimes it is obvious that if you move a chair out of the way of an entrance there is more energetic 'flow' through a room. Once you create more flow and positive energy, or 'qi' this environment will affect your very being in very positive ways. We do not always appreciate how sensitive we are to our environment, but think how uncomfortable you feel when you just can't get the furniture arranged in the 'right' manner, or how the sound of a dripping tap gradually makes you tense, or the colour of a room makes you feel depressed. Feng shui tackles issues like these head on.
Once the positive energy 'qi' begins to flow in our home or work this is when the benefits begin to show. These benefits might be better health, better relationships, increased creativity, less depression, feeling more alive, feeling more secure and of course better financial status.
The modern movement west of feng shui has led to there being different attitudes and schools. Some would say they practice 'traditional' feng shui with its roots firmly planted in it's history and heritage. While others might say they practice 'intuitive' feng shui which is more of a modern development where the practitioner is less focussed on the rules and regulations of the past and allows their intuition to be the main master in their work. Some from the traditional schools would say that intuitive feng shui is too open to abuse in that practitioners could do anything they liked simply by saying it is 'intuitive', while an intuitive practitioner might say that traditional feng shui is too rigid for the Western world and needs to make adaptations to be relevant.
A profitable industry has sprung up around modern practice of feng shui. Some websites, books and products proclaim, almost like evangelists, that if you buy such and such or pay for this piece of information then you will surely become wealthy. But feng shui is not just about wealth. It is about creating an environment in which energy can flow to improve our lives in many ways.
How do I practice Feng Shui?
Practitioners study and practice techniques of feng shui for many years (or at least they should do) before going into peoples' homes and giving advice. Like many spiritual practices some become true masters of this craft, constantly developing and enhancing their skills. But you can start to use elements of feng shui in your life now, which is what many are doing in the West. They see a diagram of a room with the best placement for a bed, and they simply move their bed round.
There may be many other factors in the room that also need adjusting but moving the bed may do something to benefit you. It may be the whole cure or just a tiny piece.
In taking a small part of a complex craft such as feng shui you should be careful where you get your information. If you heard someone in the pub say that, "if you hang a wind chime it such and such a place it will bring you luck" then that is probably not the best place to start. Likewise if you read some advice somewhere, look who wrote it - are they qualified, do they seem genuine in their intention?
Unfortunately, because of the big money-making opportunities feng shui has brought to some people, they may loose sight of the true essence of feng shui. So we as students have to be vigilant, and use our intuition with the information we receive, and almost put it through a 'truth' filter..
Do I need any special equipment?
In the 'Complete Idiot's Guide to Feng Shui' by Elizabeth Moran and Val Biktashev they say that to start practising feng shui the most important items you will need are your brain, your integrity, a compass, a good pair of walking shoes, a clipboard, a tape measure, a ruler and coloured pencils. They are very much from the traditional school of feng shui.
Others would say that items such as hanging crystals, animal statues, mirrors, wind chimes and singing bowls are important too. But like many arts that deal with the etheric you do not need to spend a fortune unless you really want to.
One of the main things often told is to remove clutter. In terms of energy it is easy to imagine all our old magazines, keep sakes, and windowsills that have become crowded creating blocks. So the first thing a practitioner may say to you would be to sort through your cupboards, clear cluttered surfaces and generally make more space. If we make physical space in our practical world then, as feng shui sees a very firm relationship between the outside world and the inside world, we are in essence also making space in our selves which may attract some of the good things you are hoping for.
In 'Feng Shui made easy' by William Spear he says that when placing items such as mirrors, wind chimes etc. it is good to perform a small ceremony. A ceremony is simply a period of time you take to focus on what you are doing. You may light a candle and quieten your mind, or burn a sage smudge stick and waft the smoke around the room, or you may simply close your eyes and say a little prayer that what you are about to do will bring you positive things. The ceremony makes you sure you are aware of what you are doing and it also signals to the spiritual world what you expect.
Can Feng Shui really effect your wealth?
I think many would agree that life is not as easy as that. I wish it were. Certainly if you put a lot of effort into doing feng shui with good heart and remain committed to its principles it can certainly make many changes to your life, one of which may be increased wealth.
But having said this, counselling could also help you get rich by changing the way you were taught by your parents that "there is never enough money", or acupuncture could make you rich by curing your ME so that you could go out to work again. So in many respects any path of spiritual and personal development has the potential to make you rich.
Can Feng Shui ever cause any harm?
In my opinion the main danger in feng shui lies in the advice we are given. I have heard of someone saying that a pillar in the hallway (that couldn't be removed) was blocking energy and could cause sickness. I have also heard of stories of practitioners warning that if such and such weren't done then the persons' children would become very sick and possibly die.
Stories such as these can create havoc in peoples' lives. The person could not move the pillar in the hall so might spend a lot of time worrying about how they might get sick, and in the end all that worrying might actually cause sickness, and the prophecy is fulfilled. And the mother of the child might worry that they haven't followed the advice 100%, and might worry constantly about her children.
Our relationship with the world is a subtle one. If we believe something strongly enough we can make it happen. Take the superstition of walking under ladders. Walking under ladders will not bring bad luck. But the belief that walking under a ladder causes bad luck can in some way, on a subtle level, attract bad luck to you.
One of the most commonly talked about feng shui myths is that leaving the toilet seat up will flush away your money. Well, obviously, leaving the toilet seat up will not physically flush away your money. But if every time you leave the bathroom you pop back 1 minute later to double check the toilet seat, this is entering the realms of superstition and worry, and worry is a mental process that actually stops the flow of energy. So trust yourself - if an idea frightens you or causes concern - then it is obviously not being presented properly.
Feng shui sees life as a cosmic dance of which we are all a part. It is concerned with managing your space within this dance so that you can live in harmony with your environment and improve your wealth, health and relationships and generally make your interaction with the world a smoother process. It should not cause you to worry. It should be more of a celebration of our potential and how we really can create the world we would like to live in now.
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