Literally translating to ‘windwater’, feng shui (pronounced ‘fung shuay’) is the ancient Chinese practice of negotiating the elements and natural environment around you to improve your lifestyle. Although it has been a part of Chinese culture for over three millennia, the practice has in recent decades come into its own globally, often without full appreciation or understanding of its significance.
Vibrant colours, water features and indoor plants not only have an aesthetic appeal, but when used in accordance with feng shui they can be conducive to overall health and prosperity. On the other hand, furniture arrangement and decorative objects can sometimes disrupt the flow of positive energy in your home if not placed according to feng shui principles. This is said to contribute to poor health, disharmony and have an unfavourable effect on your finances.
As many expats live in non-landed properties that usually come fully-furnished, redecorating may not be feasible. The first thing every feng shui expert emphasises is the importance of de-cluttering. Clutter, including old newspapers, clothes and keepsakes, causes chi (life force) or the natural flow of energy to stagnate preventing you from accommodating new opportunities and experiences.
By following the simple rule of ‘out with the old, and in with the new’ you can keep the clutter at bay, especially if curtailing your shopping habit is not an option.
It’s also important to take note of the three main rooms in your home – your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. They’re known as the feng shui trinity and are the energy centres that influence the overall attributes, making them a good place to start your newfound hobby. If this seems like too much effort, then identify and focus on the rooms that you don’t feel comfortable or good in. Try introducing simple feng shui elements such as a potted plant and oil burners in that space.
Pay attention to neglected areas such as the laundry room, storage areas, closets and nursery. Feng shui can also be applied to your children’s rooms and play areas. The same principles involving good flow of chi and clutter apply, although this may not be easy to maintain. You can start with monitoring air quality by leaving windows open to allow for circulation and fresh air. Store everything in boxes or baskets to dispel a chaotic atmosphere, which in turn will strengthen your children’s energy.
Essential oils are also useful and a few drops of chamomile and lavender in an oil burner or diffuser can calm everyone in the room. Do remember though, that the art of feng shui can be a complex astronomical science involving energy maps, compass readings, kua (simply explained as your personal lucky number) and such for those who take it seriously and apply it to every aspect of their life. For the uninitiated, there are some easy and practical ways to improve the ambience of one’s home, quality of life and relationships.
Let There Be Light
Light and air are essential for good feng shui, so keep your windows open as much as possible during the day. The natural light and breeze invites positive new chi in. Air purifiers are recommended if you can’t have plants indoors. Use table lamps to brighten up a room, a sculpture or statues depicting something peaceful is also encouraged.
Introduce wood elements in your home in the form of ornaments, statues and plants, and use colours like green and brown. Wood represents healing, vitality and growth, and signifies abundance which is synonymous with wealth and prosperity. Wood carvings are a subtle way to add good vibes to your home and a popular choice are serene Buddha images.
Mirrors are an important aspect of feng shui, bringing a sense of calm and shifting the flow of chi to draw positive energy. Practically speaking, it also makes a space look larger. Be aware that as mirrors are reflective of what is projected into them, get advice on where to place them.
It’s All About Colours
Colour is an important aspect of feng shui and is a simple way to manipulate the energy in your home. Each colour represents one of the five elements – earth, water, fire, metal and wood. Earth is a strong and harmonious element with colours such as light yellow, beige and sand, creating stability and protecting relationships.
A bagua is a feng shui energy map that identifies specific areas in your home that the elements can apply to. You can then colour coordinate and decorate according to the energy you need in that space.
Water symbolises wealth and prosperity and having a water feature or fountain indoors can diffuse negative elements. Consult the bagua for the best location and be aware that having a water element in the bedroom or under the staircase is not advisable as it can introduce worry and sorrow in that space.
• Dry your clothes in the sun so the fabric absorbs purifying yang energy, which will enhance your appearance.
• Use essential oils to clear the air and create good feng shui energy. Stay clear of synthetic oils as they do not have the same healing properties.
• Hang wind chimes around your home especially in the garden, patio or balcony as they can ward off negative energy.
• A bright candle holder serves two purposes with the vibrant colour elevating positive vibes in the room.
• Get a miniature bamboo plant as they signify good luck and are low maintenance.