An ancient art that was developed in China more than 3,000 years ago, feng shui is a complex field that focuses on the relationships between humans and their environment and how to best live in or occupy any space to maximize the flow of positive energy.
In Chinese, feng means wind and shui means water – two potent life forces that symbolize good fortune. The idea behind feng shui is that the world is full of chi (or energy) and our job when building or organizing spaces is to "unblock" the way so the energy can move freely. On a macro level, feng shui can be used in architecture and city planning, but its principles can also be used in interior design, even in something as minute as placing objects in your office cubicle.
So what are the principles of feng shui? It's complicated. There are three main schools of feng shui – the Form School, the Compass School and the Black Hat School. Developed in southern China thousands of years ago, the Form School is classic feng shui, and is based on environment and building placement in relation to topography and the location of water. It is founded upon the ancient need (that still exists today) to find a safe place to live. The Compass School is based on a magnetic compass and the Earth’s relationship to seasons. It originated in northern China, where the topography of the land (it is flatter and more uniform that the hilly southern landscape) was less important. Finally, the Black Hat School was founded by Thomas Lin Yun in the 1980s. Far from ancient, this school relies on placement of objects within the environment. It doesn't use any complicated tools, relying just on the bagua, otherwise known as the feng shui road map.
The bagua consists of eight different sections that represent different aspects of one's life, such as family, wealth and blessings, relationships, and knowledge. If you place the bagua over the sections of your house and the bathroom falls in the wealth section, for example, it is said that your money may be "going down the drain." Everything needs to be in the right section to maximize the positive energy flow.
So what are the practical applications of this ancient, yet nouveau, art?
Donald Trump once said, "I don't have to believe in feng shui. I use it because it makes me money." He used feng shui when designing and building the Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. He built the structure facing Central Park to increase prosperity and success and also placed a globe outside the front of the building, to block the "killing" energy from the fast-paced street.
Other (rich) celebrity fans of feng shui include Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Tommy Hilfiger.
You don't have to be a multimillionaire to benefit from feng shui principles, though. For example, something as simple as placing a plant in your office space can increase the positive energy flow. Check out some feng shui concepts you can use to enhance the positive energy in your home. And if you'd like, you can even feng shui your next family get-together!
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