Feng shui literally means wind and water. It describes their natural flow along the path of least resistance. Energy can be welcomed or repelled, cultivated or diverted, stagnant or circulating. It can rage like rapids or become as reflective as a lake.
In Asian societies, this law of nature was observed and contemplated for over 3,000 years by the masters: philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, sages and healers. Over millennia, these great minds contemplated, refined, synthesized and processed this information into their Book of Wisdom, the I Ching. They described the flow of energy in all life as C’hi and the sacred natural order to life as feng shui.
The art of feng shui is the process of enhancing the flow of C’hi. It is the art and science of cultivating flow in one’s environments, and thus in one’s life, facilitating change rather than being at the mercy of the chaotic effects of its turbulent forces. At its essence, it is based on a simple truth: all life is interrelated and dynamically changing.
Chinese society developed these principles as it blossomed into one of the most advanced and prosperous cultural and scientific centers in the world. Those families who flourished were esteemed for their understanding and great skill in the practical application of feng shui. Families skillfully employing feng shui established long lineages of valuable tradition and continuity.
We as a society are unfamiliar with these concepts because our history and heritage have been marked by a series of technological, military and cultural upheavals. How many of us can speak our ethnic languages, identify with the cultural customs from a previous generation, know the stories of our family tree or even remember all the street addresses at which we have lived?
We pride ourselves in moving to aspirational cities miles from where we grew up and we treasure the benefits of our upwardly mobile lifestyles. But by jettisoning our family origins in search of lofty dreams of individual accomplishment, we may move too quickly for health, creating what feng shui practitioners call a poison arrow – dangerously accelerated energy.
For example, When the Rhine River’s meanders were bypassed in the industrial revolution to shorten the course, the river became too fast to navigate safely. By straightening and shortening it, the beautiful water’s natural flow became a raging poison arrow of energy. Westerners sometimes struggle to work harder at the expense of well being like boaters rowing upstream against the surging floodwaters of monsoon.
I was first exposed to feng shui in the 70’s, studying T’ai Chi and Tao meditation with the Chinese Master Ni, in Santa Barbara. Immersing myself in ancient literature, collecting antique silk kimonos and attending musical theater and samurai film festivals, I became a student of Eastern culture. I studied Shia-tsu at the Santa Barbara School of Massage and acupressure with the Japanese DoAhn Tsuneo Kaneko (founder of the Tao Healing Arts Center, Santa Monica). The I Ching and feng shui were natural extensions of my Eastern passion.
In those years, feng shui appealed to my sense of design, but I found it hard to incorporate traditional practices like painting the front door red to increase auspicious Chi; It would have been easier to sell avocado green to clients in those years. The Chinese traditional palette of black as the color of wealth, white as the color for grieving and red as the bridal color could not be less appropriate in North America – harlots and brides confused with wealth and death are cultural conflicts we can live without.
The core of feng shui seemed universal, but I found traditional forms of feng shui invoked culturally specific schools of superstitious numerology, negative terminology, and patriarchal astrology. For example, a male head of a household’s auspicious location for a bedroom took priority over his wife, for whom it could be an astrological ‘death room’.
But like the waters of the world, the flows of Feng Shui thought ultimately converged in confluence like rivers becoming one in the ocean, and the commonalities of these apparently dissimilar traditions shone clearly of some essential and natural truths.
And yet, this truth remained inaccessible. The entire cultural context from which Eastern Feng Shui was drawn felt polarized to my North American sensibilities, and the universal truth of Feng Shui was obscured beneath the underpinnings of Chinese tradition.
At the Western School of Feng Shui, I discovered at last the translation for Western society: Essential Feng Shui, based on the C’hi Flow principles from the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, I Ching.
Today, I practice Western Feng Shui, empowering everyone to live and work inspired by inviting and affirming change and growth. I travel throughout the west, spreading the harmonizing influence of ancient Eastern wisdom. This Western Feng Shui is inclusive of everyone, working for the good of the entire family or company, with each individual empowered for the combined greatest good with harm to none.
As a practitioner I am trained to ‘see with Feng Shui eyes’, to identify and remove the blocks in our thoughts by enhancing our homes, landscapes and offices with visual affirmations lifting spirits back into the flow of right action.
Knowledge of feng shui offers us insight into the invisible rivers of energy coursing through and around our lives. The I’Ching has been used as an oracle to understand life through its timelessly prophetic wisdom. Many of its teachings have surprisingly direct applications in modern day to day situations. One can study feng shui for a lifetime or simply observe it without understanding its complexities to become its beneficiary.
Clear the path
Many people are looking for direction and guidance. I have found it is not as important to know where you are going as it is to clear the path. The path will guide you, and removing the physical and emotional debris does wonders for clearing confusion. I often tell an overwhelmed or depressed client to go clean a single drawer, closest or refrigerator before calling me back to talk about the problematic situation and its solutions from a more empowered perspective. Resolution comes by combining doing with being.
Feng shui begins with clearing clutter. Although it is the fun, creative, and inventive aspect of the process, starting with enhancements would only amplify and magnify the problems, causing more chaos. It is better to enhance a clean slate.
Start small when clearing clutter, especially when you have been stuck for a long period staring at the overwhelming layers of papers, dust, and clutter. Tackle one drawer, dish, or corner of a room at a time: small, segmented, short duration tasks. Several small tasks add up to a much larger task’s completion. Feeling burdened sets us up for failure. The pile often started because of our burdening guilt.
Negative emotions are powerful blockages. They can feel like dams holding back an awesome weight of potential. Sometimes we don’t want to unbalance ourselves with over-zealous enthusiasm. Begin with step by step applications like a meditation.
Making choices that transcend obstacles
Our thinking makes us all architects of our environment and lifestyles. Who decides where we live, what furniture we live with or what cars we drive? As adults, we choose. It is easy to bask in the ‘innocent’ ignorance of one’s own mental authority. But it is really easier to take the path of least resistance, moving with awareness of the enhancements and obstacles to our flow. Just as we place obstacles in our path, we can remove them. Seemingly insurmountable odds are overcome every day by the seekers of creative solutions.
When you reach an impasse, all that you see before you can be transformed almost without moving. When you face a wall, simply turn around and begin anew; the obstacles disappear behind you. Your gloomy view of the future evaporates into clouds scudding into the past.
Humans are one of the few animals who will repeatedly bang their heads against a wall instead of moving aside and trying another route. Even a mouse knows to turn and try another avenue when there is no cheese at the end of the maze. Feng Shui helps guide us to the cheese. Follow the fragrant and aromatic path of the wind and become flexible enough to change your perspective and try again.
Many Chinese feng shui practitioners carefully guard their knowledge and will not explain themselves or their process, whereas I teach feng shui as I go, facilitating learning and encouraging clients to participate in changes so that individuals are empowered to continue practicing.
I choose openness as a feng shui consultant. Until I share a miracle or a life-changing thought, my job is not done. It is the “Ahah!” that opens and expands the threshold of positive change which I strive for with feng shui. I’ve been repeatedly advised not to share my trade secrets, but I trust this process is truth-seeking that will provide for all of us.
Feng shui is not about scarcity. It is manifesting a world of peace and harmony that is a birthright for each of us – an evolving cycle of change for the greater good of humankind. We are building a better society by combining the ancient wisdom of our collective cultures with the psychological advancements of the future to create a better place here and now for everyone.