|As the new year is just getting off to a start, many people are still making plans and resolutions to change or refresh their lives, careers, or health. While there is a vast world of advice, how-to's, and help for each of the three aspects, some people might feel a little overwhelmed and not know where to start. For those of you with this dilemma, a good way to get started on positive changes is to try some of the basic tenets of feng shui.
Before getting into feng shui, however, it might be useful to know a little about its origins. By now, many of you have probably heard about it in a magazine or television show; undoubtedly, feng-shui is growing in popularity. Contrary to some popular beliefs, nevertheless, feng shui is not a religion or strict way of life. Rather, feng shui is a collective term given to an ever-evolving set of practices and beliefs. Literally speaking, feng-shui means “wind” and “water” which illustrates its ties with nature. Feng shui can also be seen as a concept which emphasizes the influence of the cosmos on everyday life which further affects such things as health, career, and well-being. Tracing back to the ancient Chinese civilizations of at least 1100 B.C.E., feng shui has evolved into a wide spectrum of levels ranging from devoted schools that study it, to businesses that offer its advice, to simple customs that are part of everyday life.
While based on many ideas and theories, there are several central principles that are essential for understanding feng shui. One of the most important concepts is that of yin and yang which holds that the universe exists with opposing forces. Contrasting energies, yin and yang are dependent on each other and when balanced correctly, bring harmony. Yin represents passivity, coldness, darkness, and femininity; the moon and Earth are also characteristic of yin. The yang force represents yin's opposites with activity, heat, light, and masculinity; the sun and heavens are characteristic of yang. These forces hold significance as one of the main goals of feng shui is to achieve a balance of yin and yang and attain harmony.
Another essential concept to feng shui is that of chi and the five elements. Chi is characterized as a “cosmic” energy or “life force” that flows throughout the universe and fosters vitality. Chi can also manifest itself in one of the five elements: Earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. The Earth element represents productivity, creativity, and nurturing; its associated colors are shades of yellow and brown. The water element represents peace, tranquility, spirituality, mystery, strength, and patience; its associated colors are shades of blue, gray, and black. The fire element represents stimulation, passion, enlightenment, strength, and prosperity; its associated colors are shades of red, orange, and purple. The wood element represents growth, fertility, form, relaxation, and harmony; its associated colors are shades of green. The metal element represents energy and the ability to be shaped; its associated colors are shades of white and light gray. These five elements are key factors in feng shui for they possess productive and destructive aspects that affect and are affected by each other. As with yin and yang, feng shui strives to find a balance among these elements.
The principles of the eight trigrams and the luopan are fundamental to feng shui as well. The eight trigrams, which are usually illustrated as a chart or map, are used for making analyses and calculations in feng shui. A trigram represents a direction in which, according to feng shui, there are eight. In addition to the trigrams, the luopan or compass is a main tool for making calculations. Circular in shape, the luopan typically has a south-pointing arrow which is surrounded by many circular charts and diagrams. Yin and yang, the five elements, the eight trigrams, the four seasons, and constellations are just several of the many charts and diagrams that may appear on a luopan.
While feng shui has many aspects that relate to all aspects of life and at varying levels and degrees, it is, nevertheless, best to start in moderation and with some simple ideas. The following is an assortment of basic feng shui practices that can easily be done in your home. Also, please keep in mind that the following are merely suggestions which do not necessarily have any association with Mrs. Lin's Kitchen but are based on the ancient practices of the Chinese that continue today.
Try to avert sharp or pointed objects, including street signs, wall corners, and buildings, from pointing towards your house or any significant area in it (such as bedroom, couch, desk...etc.); it is said that such objects parallel knives, or pointing fingers which symbolize negativity. Keep your most used areas free of clutter and mess; make sure your bedroom, study space, living room, and kitchen are full of space as they should be non-stressful areas.
Grow plants inside your home as they not only filter and freshen the air but symbolize growth and vitality. Place a fish tank inside your home as it is not only tranquil but can bring fortune and welcome the life force chi. An indoor water fountain will also foster chi as well as attract positive things for your life. Always open your windows at least once a day to allow fresh air in which also carries fresh chi.
Make sure your bed, desk, and stove have a clear view of the door as it is best to be in a position of control. Place mirrors in areas you wish to deflect evil from such as your front door; but make sure they never face your door or important areas like your bed or desk. Avoid your bathroom, and particularly toilets, from facing north as it may lead to misfortune.
An easy solution for the bedroom is to make sure your bed has a headboard and is against a wall; while symbolizing foundation for your life, this position will also allow you to sleep deeper and become more rested. As well, make sure your head or headboard does not rest against a window or that your feet face the door as these positions can lead to the draining of your energy.
If it can be changed, try not to have any bedrooms near main entries as this position may lead to a feeling of anxiety and restlessness. Also, do not place your bed under a beam or shelf as it can suppress chi and lead to stress and bad luck. This may be difficult but try not to place a TV in your bedroom—it reflects too much negative energy; otherwise, try to keep it covered with a cloth.
Most importantly, make sure the area under your bed is clear so that chi may freshly circulate and positively affect your health and well-being. Keeping this in mind, it is not a good idea for anyone, especially children, to sleep on floors or bunk beds.
A simple strategy for your living room is to arrange your furniture in a square or octagonal shape. To avoid sharp, pointed edges, as well as for increased safety, make sure your tables are round, oval, or octagonal in shape.
Avoid red-colored furniture as it represents fire, a negative energy; the color is also unsuitable for an area meant for calmness and relaxation. Similarly, make sure your furniture does not face the fireplace. Also, bring in some music so that positive energy may be spread throughout your house. Decorate and set up your living room with comforting and soothing colors, fabrics, and spatial fluidity
As with all rooms, keep the kitchen well lit to stimulate good chi which affects the preparation of your food. Also, keep this area clean and free of clutter to allow the flow of chi and as a way to keep away common, sharp kitchen objects.
Try to avoid your stove from being directly next to or opposite from the sink or refrigerator as this represents a clash between fire and water energy; this may also symbolize and lead to conflicts between family members.
For those buying homes or those who can remodel, avoid having a kitchen in the center of a house as it may drain energy from the rest of the home.
Study/Office Like your kitchen and other rooms as well, make sure your study/office area is well-lighted to foster clear-thinking, creativity, and stimulate chi. Make sure the entry to this room is also clear of obstruction as it should be welcoming to people and of chi.
Nevertheless, make sure to never have your back of your desk facing a window, door, or open space; instead, have a solid wall to symbolize and provide a good foundation.
As with bedrooms, try to avoid the study/office room from being near a main entry as this can also lead to anxiety, stress, and not being able to concentrate. For administrative and executives, also make sure offices are located in the command areas of a building, while giving employees and clients accessibility.
Of these suggestions, the most important one to keep in mind is that of keeping your most used rooms free of mess, restriction (i.e.: a cramped space filled with unnecessary items), and negative energy. These rooms comprise your home which should always be a place of comfort, relaxation, and peacefulness.
In addition to these tips for the home, it would be beneficial to keep in mind the basic principles of feng shui when making changes in your home or any other area. Using these basic principles, you may also begin to recognize, on your own, changes that need to made. With this concise introduction to feng shui, Mrs. Lin's Kitchen hopes you'll learn more about the practice which may help you live a more peaceful and prosperous lifestyle. For more information about feng shui and all it has to offer, check out the excellent feng shui books and starter kits featured at Mrs. Lin's Kitchen!
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