The Chinese practice of feng shui has been around for thousands of years and cannot be adequately boiled down to a few sentences. At its core, it's about the correlation of the human to the universe and how our built environment can support the free flow of "qi" or energy between humans and the universe.
The five elements of feng shui are water, wood, fire, earth/soil and metal and provide a precise balance of yin and yang (opposing forces connecting) when maintained in proper balance. In the Western world, the art and practice of feng shui has become more of a decorative concept than a way of life and most of us really do not understand its core concepts. But, if the shelves of books in your local bookstore are any indication, we keep trying. Whether one believes that there are positive and negative energies that flow between us and the universe and they can be harnessed or not, there are some excellent commonsense applications of feng shui that believers and non-believers alike can benefit from.
Attracting positive energy
A straight path or walkway into the home provides easy access for good energy. However, if once in the home, there is also a straight path directly out the back door, one can lose it as quickly as it came. Clearly, we can't just reconfigure the architecture of the home, but adding items such as plants that will deter the energy will help. A mirror, however, will do the opposite and send it back out the front door! On a practical level, an easily accessible entrance — a straight line — is the most welcoming to friends and family, which is positive in and of itself.
Clean the clutter, put away the laundry
Have you ever spent several days, or weeks, looking past a pile of mail that needs sorting or laundry that needs to be put away? There is always a little sense of guilt at a project not being taken care of and once it's done, we immediately feel better and wonder why we didn't do it 10 minutes earlier. This unfinished pile of whatever has been storing bad energy. Whether it's bad cosmic energy or just bad mental energy, it chips away at our sense of wellbeing. This same is true when it comes to holding onto reminders of bad relationships, failed hobbies or business enterprises. Get rid of them and they will stop dragging you down.
Being attuned to nature is a great way to maintain a healthy balance in life. The five natural elements in feng shui can easily be incorporated into anyone's daily existence. They are: water, wood, fire, earth/soil and metal. Simple houseplants are a combination of earth/soil, wood and water. They take in carbon dioxide, expel oxygen and promote a healthy amount of moisture in the air. If you've ever found yourself rubbing your hands along a beautiful piece of wood furniture, you will know the tactile attraction of wood. If you've ever sat and daydreamed to the sound of a water fountain, or stared at its flow of water, then you know how peaceful the element of water can be. Is this "qi"? Or simply an elemental human need to be a part of the earth?
Energy flows. Regardless of one's belief system, most of us understand that when things are in order and we're open to it, we feel the benefits of positive energy.