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The author offers simple ways to turn over each room of the house to its proper uses. Guidelines for ...
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The author offers simple ways to turn over each room of the house to its proper uses. Guidelines for creating the most effective storage and living spaces for relaxing, working, socializing, and dining are presented in jargonless text and illustrative photos. Emphasized throughout is how to develop and maintain an ambience completely cleansed of clutter. The importance of employing feng shui principles in the garden, the workspace, the new house, and the retirement home make this book unique and invaluable.
The practice of Feng Shui can help us to improve our lives simply by increasing awareness of our surroundings and the energy we let into our bodies. Energy is present everywhere, from the atmosphere surrounding us to the food we eat. If we decide to live on a diet of doughnuts and soda, for example, it will affect our physical well-being. Likewise, if we accept second best in our choice of living arrangements, the atmosphere surrounding us will be second rate, and perhaps even detrimental to our physical and emotional health.
WHY YOU NEED FENG SHUI
Those of us who have taken time out to understand the energetics of food are already in a position to make certain choices. We know, for example, that it is better to cut the amount of saturated fat in our diet, and to increase our consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. We know our diet makes a difference to our energy levels, health, performance at work and at home—in short, to our happiness levels and what we may read as our good luck. So it is important to become more aware of what we are taking into our system.
Now, try to extend this awareness of energy into your surroundings. What do you see, smell, hear, and feel happening around you? Try to sense what kind of energy is surrounding you. For example, we all know that being in a place where we remember having an argument with a loved one reminds us of feeling bad, but what about less obvious connections—a long time spent in a cold room, say? Bad experiences, even seemingly trivialones, will not help our emotional and physical well-being, so it is important both to be aware of them and, wherever possible, to take control of them.
In order to improve our lives, we need to take responsibility for initiating change. If we decide that there is nothing much we can do to become happier, more successful, more content, then these things are unlikely to occur. We need to be able to see why things happen, and how events and our environment affect us.
We can start by looking at our environment for clues about what is going on in our lives and why. In order to do this, we need to examine why certain features have a particular effect on us. Instead of simply saying things like "I don't like red rooms," we should try to clarify our feelings further. For example, we could say, "I don't like red rooms because I can't relax in them." Once we realize that red makes it more difficult for us to relax, we may begin to see the advantages of using red in a situation where we need more energy. For example, if you need to boost your confidence at work in order to impress a new boss, you could add a few touches of red to your bathroom, which will invigorate you before a day's work.
By learning to read your environment, you can begin to understand how it influences your life, and then you can decide whether or not you would like to make changes.
So Feng Shui can be applied every day. Very often it gives us the life-changing insight that allows things to fall into their rightful place.
BASIC FENG SHUI
Feng Shui involves increasing our awareness of our surroundings, taking more responsibility for improving our lives, knowing when to take action, and learning how to enjoy the best of things. Practicing the art of Feng Shui is an ongoing process of learning to live with your space. This process is sometimes slow and sometimes fast but, like choosing what to wear, or whom to see, it is an exciting and rewarding part of being alive.
WHO USES FENG SHUI?
To a greater or lesser degree, everybody already practices Feng Shui. For example, if you step onto a train and choose where to sit, or if you walk into your office and rearrange some files so that you can sit down more comfortably, you are negotiating your space. If you watch people getting onto a bus or a train, you will notice that most of the passengers will be actively choosing their seats and their positions in relation to each other.
If you know exactly why you are making particular movements and are aware of their repercussions, then you are consciously practicing Feng Shui. Here are some of the low-level adjustments we commonly make to our space:
* "I want to sit alone so that I can work."
* "I want to sit among people so that I have something to watch and listen to; I need some stimulation."
* "I need more room on my desk so that I can think more clearly."
These are all low-level Feng Shui adjustments. Some people take it a step further:
* "In a meeting, which chair should I pick to increase my power?"
* "Where should I eat my lunch today, because I need to relax?"
Practicing Feng Shui at this level is clearly appropriate for everybody everyday—perhaps exams have been passed, or deals clinched, on the strength of choosing the right chair.
THE NEXT STEP
Once we appreciate the powerful connections between features of our living space and the impact they have on our lives, we can progress from the realms of low-level Feng Shui to level two, Keynote Feng Shui, where we ask ourselves questions such as:
"How can I rearrange my house so that more people come to see me, or so that I sleep better?"
"How can I set up my office so that I feel less tired?"
Keynote Feng Shui is using Feng Shui to set up a beneficial environment, which will change your life at a deeper level. Everyone can use Feng Shui successfully in this way.
Very soon you will get to the stage where, as well as assessing your house to see how it impacts on your life, you will take much broader landscape features into account—perhaps you will look out of your window and wonder just why you are living so close to a big oak tree or looming high-rise apartments. At this point you will have arrived at level three.
At level three, we can ask wider-ranging questions:
"Why am I in this space rather than any other?"
"How is this location affecting me and what would happen if I changed it—and how would I change it?"
Looking at your location will answer some of your broader questions about your life, and matching your location to your specific needs will open up completely new horizons.
Countless people have learned how to do this and the fact that you have picked up this book and are reading it right now means that, should you wish to, you can do it too.
WHAT IS CHI?
The Chinese regard chi (pronounced "chee") as the most important aspect of Feng Shui. Chi is an invisible energy that runs through all things. In order to live well, we need to encourage a healthy flow of this force around us, and prevent it from stagnating. How we arrange our homes and workplaces is therefore very important.
Find out about the state of the chi in your environment by asking yourself some simple questions. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell and taste? Different spaces can actually create different tastes in your mouth. Make sure you are breathing freely and naturally. Aim to interact with the environment, but allow yourself to be open-minded and learn what the place has to tell you. Ask yourself: "What could I happily do here? Could I relax, celebrate, do a day's work, make love?" In other words, what sort of energy does this space have?
TUNING INTO CHI
Energy is not a vague, unidentifiable happening—it has real impact. It makes its mark and is there for everyone to read. Getting information about chi energy is simply a matter of learning to ask the right questions.
Every time we use the word "chi" we are talking about energy specifically in the way it moves through our world as a motivating force. We can describe the energy, or chi, of a room (or a place, an object of even a person) by talking in terms of colors or feelings or shapes. By trying to describe the energy in this way, we can attempt to gain a more accurate understanding of it. For example, we could describe a space and its energy by saying:
"It's got a kind of morning feel to it."
"It's a very lively place where lots of people get together for a good time, like a perpetual summer vacation."
"It's very self-contained; it would be easy for me to concentrate on any task there."
"It's not the sort of place where I could stay for long; it's very abrasive and bright; the energy's too high, all sharp angles and bright colors. Certainly no place to sleep, but maybe good for getting an idea for a project."
Making lists of observations about places and how colors, shapes, times, and space affect the environment and combine to create certain types of chi can help us to map all of this information. We can use the information to make sense of our surroundings and create the spaces that we need.
Fortunately, earlier Feng Shui practitioners have already done a huge amount of the mapping for us, and at a time in history when the complications of modern living were not there to create a barrier between ourselves and a proper awareness of nature and the movement of chi.
In the art of Feng Shui, we have at our disposal a charting of the chi that so intimately and profoundly affects our lives. It remains for us to keep this body of knowledge alive and growing.
YIN AND YANG
Yin and Yang are another Chinese concept fundamental to Feng Shui. Broadly speaking, Yin and Yang are a way of describing forces at work in the world. Yin and Yang are opposing energies, present in all things in life; some things are predominantly Yin, and some are more Yang. Everything is relative and constantly changing.
Yin and Yang are as two parts of a whole. Yang rains down from the heavens, contracting, heating, gaining direction and purpose as it moves toward the open cup of Yin's acceptance from deep within the Earth. At its most extreme moment, the thrust and gathered passion of Yang's creative force is given space to manifest itself by the deep, dark, and cool reception of an all-nurturing, all-allowing Yin energy. Yin opens to yield a movement of rising growth, which disperses upward to be reunited at its moment of broadest pause with the Heaven's force. Thus at its extreme it returns to Yang.
Another ancient Chinese way of describing natural energies in the world is the system of the five elements, or five transformations. The elements are earth, fire, water, wood, and metal, and each has various associations and affinities.
Once we have learned how to identify with a space and think about the quality of chi there, many things become possible. We can ask ourselves, for instance, whether it is a predominantly Yin or Yang space. If it is a cool, quiet place where you can feel safe and nurtured, somewhere to retreat to at the end of the day, it is a Yin space, especially if it feels open and sprawling, maybe irregularly shaped with low-level furnishings and soft contours. If it is a predominantly Yang space, it will be a place for clear thought and direct action, a space that will help you to get things done, where you can organize yourself and increase your concentration. It may be a tight, upright space, perhaps a narrow room with high windows and bare floors.
GETTING THE PICTURE
Asking yourself direct questions about shapes, functions, and the capabilities of a space will give very specific answers about the energy quality and the Yin/Yang balance. Get as complete a picture as possible, working through a list of observations about overall room shape, ceiling height, window location, and type. Look at window frames and other joinery in the room such as baseboards and doors. Then look at the wall, floor, and window coverings, furniture type and placement, and all other contents and decoration. Think also in terms of acoustics—how the room sounds. A Yang room will sound clear and bright, a Yin room will be muffled and muted.
THE RIGHT MIX
Once we have identified the Yin and Yang features, we can decide if the room is predominately Yin or Yang and assess the space for its possible function and potential. If it is a very Yin space, it will be more suited to a Yin activity such as sleeping or reading a book, than a Yang activity such as a lively meeting. On the other hand, if it is a very Yang space, it will be more suitable for a Yang function, such as a children's playroom or home office, than a Yin activity such as enjoying a massage or watching an artistic film.
Learning to get the balance right in terms of creating more Yin spaces for Yin activities, and more Yang spaces for Yang activities, is a good starting point for anyone beginning to work with chi.
action; angels; closeness; narrow shapes; clarity and precision of style; shiny and compound surfaces; dense materials; bright shapes and colors; easily accessible spaces; long, straight corridors, easy exists.
nurturing; soft, curvy shapes; sensuous fabrics in muted colors; low furnishings; sprawling layouts; hidden details; comfort and items to encourage relaxation; layers of floor and window coverings; safety.
A MATTER OF BALANCE
There is no such thing as a totally Yin or a totally Yang space; the energies tend to move toward or away from each other. If you try to create the most Yang environment possible in the hope that it will motivate your partner to do her accounts, you may find she becomes so energized that she rushes off to pack a bag to go to China, or she may simply overload and turn from Yang to Yin and fall asleep. So—create a sense of balance in your environment.
TOP 10 QUESTIONS
Which areas of my life can Feng Shui help?
Practicing Feng Shui is like using holistic medicine: the entirety of a situation is addressed, with everything seen as a part of the whole. You can work on key issues, of course, but the long-term aim is to create overall balance and harmony.
How long will it be before I begin to get results?
I have seen Feng Shui have immediate and dramatic effects, but it can also take time. Possibly the process is connected to our ability to adapt to change. Feng Shui can help you get the most from your life, but just as glowing good health needs careful attention to diet, exercise, and lifestyle, Feng Shui will require a little time and care before you see dramatic results.
Will what I do affect just me or everybody who uses the space?
It will make a difference to everyone who lives in the space, including any animals. The adjustments you make will also affect guests and visitors, but to a lesser extent.
Should I try to sort out all the Feng Shui in the home at once, or should I aim to do it gradually, a room at a time?
Start by doing a room at a time, and start with the one that concerns you the most. If you want to focus on energy levels for instance, tackle your bedroom first. If your career is your priority, then look at your hall (see page 125).
We live in a very tall town house. Is it a Yin or Yang property? What would it be suitable for?
It sounds like a Yang house, and would suit an ambitious family or couple who want to get on in life. You can achieve things here, but you will have to work hard. It will not be restful.
Are there some spaces that are equally Yin and Yang, or wholly Yin or Yang?
No. There will always be an emphasis of one quality over the other, and there will always be some Yin within a Yang space, and some Yang within Yin. This is shown in the Yin/Yang symbol (see page 13), which reflects constant movement and balance between Yin and Yang within a perfect whole.
Could I make Feng Shui mistakes that would produce major problems for my home and family?
No, as long as you trust your instinct and always monitor the effects of the changes you make. For example, before redecorating a room in a new color, try introducing some accessories in that color first and see how they contribute to the energy of the room.
Can Feng Shui help people who do not believe in it?
I have seen some immediate and powerful effects rewarding the work of self-confessed unbelievers. Feng Shui is not a form of mysticism or magic, it works directly with the chi or energy of a space, and will have an effect whether or not people can feel it or know that it is being used.
I need to create a workspace in my bedroom. Will this mess up the Yin/Yang energy?
It will alter the energy and the Yin/Yang balance, making the bedroom more Yang and active. Aim to keep your work and leisure activities separate, and arrange the room so that you cannot see the workspace from the bed.
How will I know if the Feng Shui is working?
Things will start to change. They may happen on a subtle level; for example, your happiness may increase or your attitude to life may alter. Things may also happen in a more tangible way, such as an unexpected phone call with a job offer, or an invitation to a party.
|Chapter 1||Grasping the Basics||8|
|Chapter 2||Redirecting Your Chi||18|
|Chapter 3||Feng Shui Outside the Home||32|
|Chapter 4||Clearing Clutter||42|
|Chapter 5||Tuning Your Space||56|
|Chapter 6||Basic Rules for the Workplace||70|
|Chapter 7||Feng Shui and Other People||82|
|Chapter 8||Feng Shui and Gardening||96|
|Chapter 9||Dealing with Major Changes in Life||110|
|Chapter 10||Choosing a New Home||122|