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Feng Shui

Notes from Feng Shui Way

by Michael Braunstein


...energy flows freely, ontologically speaking, from its source sometimes called the Big Bang. Problems come when we block the flow of energy. Resistance is futile. Think of the energy that flows through a set of wires around the building you are sitting in. It's called electricity. Look at a wire. You don't know if it's got electricity or not. You can't see it, even when it's there. But you can see its effects!

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Do you remember moving into your first apartment? The day you moved, you had some decisions to make. They seemed simple but they were important. One big question was "How do I arrange the furniture?". Do you recall, say, placing the sofa and then maybe thinking "No, it's too far out into the room that way." Or maybe thinking, "It blocks the path to the kitchen." Or do you remember placing something and thinking, "Yeah, that looks good there." Or holding a picture or mirror up to the wall and asking a friend, "Should it be here or should it be over there?" We've all done that.

Arranging the furniture in a new living space is something most people do just out of "feel". But when you have done it in the past, you may have unknowingly been following or violating vital laws of placement know as feng shui (pronounced "fung shway").

Feng shui is a term many of us have heard or read before. To some it is synonymous with interior decorating. But it is a far cry from just that. Western world architects have begun to pay it heed during building design and land use. It is applied in landscaping. It is certainly not new. It is also certainly not American in origin. But feng shui parallels some Native American concepts of living in relationship to nature. Feng shui may even be derivative of sthapatya veda practiced by adherents to ancient Indian vedic laws.

All of these, and specifically feng shui, can be considered the art/science of placement and location of things in the world of form in such a way to enhance the unimpeded flow of energy through the universe. The practical application to many people translates then to improved prosperity, health, relationships, productivity and happiness in all aspects of form.

The very term "feng shui" relates to energy. Translated directly it means "wind and water," two of the obvious energies that flow through our physical world.

Science tells us that the universe is made up of energy. In fact, that's all the universe really is: energy. Energy is never a problem. It flows freely, ontologically speaking, from its source sometimes called the Big Bang. Problems come when we block the flow of energy. Resistance is futile. Think of the energy that flows through a set of wires around the building you are sitting in. It's called electricity. Look at a wire. You don't know if it's got electricity or not. You can't see it, even when it's there. But you can see its effects!

There's no problem as long as the energy is unimpeded. Stick your fingers in a wall socket and impede the energy flow. Now you've got a problem. Any obstruction in the flow of energy will produce an effect. Resisting energy results in wear and tear. That's why we use oil to lubricate our car engines. We smooth out the resistance to energy as the pistons hammer up and down. Run out of oil, the resistance builds, the engine fails.

Since energy moves through this universe, it is optimal then to arrange objects around us so that we enhance that flow rather than block it. That is the essence of feng shui. The Chinese word for the energy of life is chi. Chi is synonymous with prana to an Indian, num to Kalahari bushmen, ki to Japanese and life force to Westerners. Chi is the living energy of the Universe that animates all things, even what appears to be inert matter. Without chi, there would be no life as we know it.

Like electricity, chi is invisible (to most). Like electricity, just because it is not seen with the eyes doesn't mean it is impotent. On the contrary. Don't mess with chi. Feng shui helps us maximize our harmonious standing with the chi of the Universe. We should observe some basic rules and when we notice there is a compromise, we can take steps to initiate cures.

The principles of feng shui can be applied on large scales, such as geographic. And they can be applied on much smaller scales, down to how we arrange our individual workspaces, homes or rooms or even the clothes and jewelry we wear. (Presumably, now you can have "feng shui impaired" friends or "a bad feng shui day.") You can even feng shui your car or your locker at school. It gets pretty technical. Basic rules help to sort it out.

(Note: A very good resource for learning more about feng shui is a book written by David Daniel Kennedy titled Feng Shui Tips for a Better Life, an amazingly easy-to-understand and practical guide. Publisher is Storey Publishing, storey.com. Phone is 888-470-2727.)

Feng shui applied on a geographic scale can help a developer decide which way to face a building in relationship to the sun or compass points, even the prevailing winds. Sometimes known as geomancers, feng shui experts who apply cosmic relationships to land use are actually acknowledging the scientific fact that there is a potent electromagnetic field that flows through and around the earth.

Feng shui can also determine the most auspicious way to orient a building or group of buildings depending on the landscape characteristics. Considering things like slope of the land, predominant features like mountains or hills, sun exposure, water sources and existing buildings, feng shui uses specific principles to guide decisions that may seem like common sense later but are easy to overlook at first. Modern architecture or engineering often doesn't look at the big picture. Typically, the Western way considers only "Is it possible?" A more subtle approach is "Is it appropriate?"

The feng shui practitioner uses a template know as a ba-gua. This is an eight-sided "map" of the various areas of life that is applied to whatever is being read for feng shui consideration.

When a bagua is applied to a house for example, the main entrance is the front of the house and the house is divided into segments of front, left front, right front, center, left, right, left rear, rear and right rear. Chi enters a household, or business for that matter, through the front door. A front door that is easily accessible and unblocked by bushes or plants allows the chi to flow easily. Chi can mean prosperity or health or other good fortune. Once inside the building, one must remain concerned about the easy flow of chi. Sharp cornered tables jutting out into a walkway can be an obvious impediment. So can inadequate lighting at a doorway. Lots of these things can be common sense; feng shui can help set out rules to remind us.

According to the bagua, the areas of our building or home relate to areas of our life. The areas are self or career (front), wisdom (LF), compassion (RF), community or family (L), health (center), descendants (R), wealth or power (LR), fame or future (rear), relationships or marriage (RR). The areas translate to individual rooms too. If there are compromised areas in a room or home, that life area may suffer.

For example, if the part of your office that is the wealth area is cluttered or messy, straightening it up or eliminating the waste could improve things in that area. Adding elements to an area can help too. Have you ever noticed a small water fountain on the counter of a Chinese restaurant? Water enhances the chi of prosperity. Lakeside estate or house in Malibu sound good to you? Even if you don't have one, you could enact the same ideas by having water be a part of your wealth area or bring it to your door.

Sometimes we commit to purchase a property or building for some reason and we find that it may have some unsatisfactory characteristics according to feng shui. Maybe the property is a north-facing slope (not desirable). Maybe it is an odd or angular shape. That too is undesirable. (Ragged corners or rough edges catch or break energy. Think of how a smooth surface lets water or dirt or air flow right over it. An odd shape catches that.) Perhaps we are thinking of building on a property that has an adjacent building pointing a corner right at our home or business. In feng shui this is called a "secret arrow" and literally shoots bad energy, called sha, at our property. Or maybe we are building on land overlooked (dominated) by a factory or prison. All of these things could be looked at as "bad" from a feng shui point-of-view. We can't always change the way our house or apartment or property is designed. We must then resort to feng shui remedies.

If we think about the different forms of energy around us, we can get an idea of things we can use to enhance our flow of chi through our living spaces. Our primary experiences of energy are represented by our senses.

Light is energy. Therefore color is part of that spectrum. Sound is energy; so chimes and the sound of the flow of water is useful. Touch and the flow of air and fragrances and aromas can be utilized. Visual triggers of heaviness and spatial relationships have impact. Things we bump into on our way from one room or the other fall into a tactile and visual arena. By adjusting some of these elements, change can be initiated and results can be enjoyed.

An almost-cliché feng shui cure is keeping the lid closed on your toilet and the bathroom door shut. The idea is that it will keep chi from flowing out of the house unnecessarily. One person I know was chronically ill and her consultant saw that her bathroom was in the very center of her apartment (the health area). He suggested she remember to close the toilet, use the drain stopper and keep the door shut. She grew stronger and healthier almost immediately. He said her health was literally "going down the drain."

Using movement of wind by adding wind chimes in the right place in your home or office can enhance the flow of chi. Making sure there is a good flow of air can help things. Opening a window slightly or attaching colored streamers to an air vent can have impact. Some suggest a small fan focused on a plant helps nature move through the surroundings.

Hanging crystal spheres from specific locations can diffuse and spread light into areas where it is needed. Using mirrors to reflect light also works. If a "secret arrow" is pointed at you, it's energy can be deflected by providing a reflective object or surface to shield you. If danger or physical threat is a concern, statues such as Fu Dogs or Lions at the gate or door can carry the idea of protection.

In the final analysis, the benefit of feng shui is that it reminds us that the essence of who we are and what we interact with is energy. Feng shui reminds us to keep our mind's eye open to the unseen in our life and to let our attention go there.

Finally, since we are talking about energy here, it is imperative to recognize that the highest form of energy is thought. Compensation for what appear to be feng shui gaffes or inadequacies on the physical level are one thing, well and good. But one must also realize that all things of form are ruled by thought. That is the flow of cause and effect. So, in addition to "rearranging the furniture" on the physical level, we must truly realize that we are indeed working on the metaphysical level. Have fun.

Be well.

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Michael Braunstein is Executive Director of Heartland Healing and certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners in clinical hypnotherapy. He graduated from the Los Angeles Hypnotism Training Institute and was an instructor at the UCLA Extension University for 11 years.

Heartland Healing is devoted to the examination of various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information and not as medical advice. It is not meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or by Heartland Healing Center, Inc.

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