Top Feng Shui Principles: Understand the Basics of the Ancient Chinese Philosophy
INSIDE: Without a definitive history or origin, Feng Shui embodies the true essence of itself to flow in harmony. Feng Shui principles help define order in our lives by encouraging balance, surrender, and acceptance in our bodies and spaces.
While we tend to think of Feng Shui in terms of how we decorate a room or our homes, its long history indicates that Feng Shui principles influenced communities and societies on a much larger scale.
Although its origins remain somewhat in mystery, we know that this philosophy came from Taoist thought, helping, not just individuals, but also entire cities find balance, harmony, and flow.
For more than 4,000 years, evidence has suggested that in China cities were planned and designed around Feng Shui. Even grave sites and cemeteries held signs of Feng Shui. This makes perfect sense when we come to understand what this philosophy entails, so let’s dive into its core principles and practices.
What Are the Top Feng Shui Principles?
To begin, we need to establish a foundational definition of Feng Shui. Many schools of thought exist around Feng Shui, each one following different patterns and traditions, but at the roots, they all rely on the same concept.
The words mean wind (Feng) and water (Shui). The idea of Tao in the Taoist tradition has roots in ancient China and refers to the way of nature. Understanding the necessity of wind (air) and water to survival, we can define Feng Shui as a flow of energy, the path of wind and water, that maintains the balance of nature.
The flow or energy at the core of Feng Shui is called chi. By implementing Feng Shui in the way we decorate or arrange furniture, buildings, and more, we aim to manifest stronger energy, or chi, that resonates from and through a space.
When we abide by Feng Shui rules, it supports better flow in our physical space, which then translates to more calm and harmony felt in our bodies.
The principles of Feng Shui rely on the five elements: earth, wood, water, metal, and fire.
To shift chi, we look at what elements exist, need to be added, or have to be removed in order to harness optimal flow. It is possible for us to overstimulate particular areas of our lives that impact flow. So Feng Shui focuses on removing blockages and finding an equilibrium of energy.
The key to Feng Shui is duality, the Yin and Yang of life. Therefore, as we treat a particular aspect of flow, we want to focus on the balance of Yin and Yang.
Yin, which is considered to be a feminine energy, seeks stillness, darkness, and comfort because it is an energy of renewal and healing. Yang, a masculine energy, thrives on light, heat, and boldness because it generates passion, creativity, and action.
Bringing the Yin and Yang together highlights another top principle of Feng Shui. It is crucial not to address the entire energetic system all at once. We must attend to areas of our lives either individually or in duality with another area so that we establish a strong balance. Only then can we move on to another area to ease it into harmony.
The Feng Shui Bagua Map
When we referred above to the areas of life that we "fix" with chi, we didn’t mention the specifics because this is a paramount Feng Shui principle. The eight areas are best explained with the Bagua Map, which guides the way we arrange objects in a space for flow.
Bagua: The 8 Areas
The word bagua actually means “8 areas,” and in Feng Shui, a map or grid diagrams how certain spaces emanate energy that impacts each of these areas.
The bagua in Feng Shui principles corresponds to specific life circumstances:
- Xun – wealth and prosperity
- Li – fame and reputation
- Kun – love and relationships
- Zhen – family and health
- Dui – children and creativity
- Gen – knowledge and wisdom
- Kan – career and life journey
- Qian – helpful people and travel
The actual rendering of a bagua map can seem confusing since there actually seem to be 9 areas. That’s because the Tai Qi area at the center refers to the person and how all 8 areas influence the health and wellbeing of our core selves.
To work with the chi in each area, we can consider the colors, shapes, elements, and number of objects we introduce to the space.
The seasons also impact different parts of our lives and can be a helpful indicator of the areas we should focus on at a certain time.
We’ll explore each life area below according to the seasons they fall within.
Spring: Family & Wealth
This season heralds in new growth, warmer weather, and budding strength. It opens the doors for us to consider areas of our lives in which we can start fresh to make room for more abundance.
This happens in Zhen and Xun, the areas of Family and Wealth, both supported by the shape of a rectangle.
Family refers to the health of our formative, base relationships – our ancestors, parents, children, and close friends. Fed by vibrant colors of green and blue and the number 4, Zhen rests in the eastern portion of the bagua map. Balance work here involves healing past resentments and solidifying our sense of heritage and roots.
Xun, wealth and prosperity, responds to hues of purple and the number 5. Located in the southeast area of a space, Wealth helps us manifest comfort and luxury. We can work to find financial stability that enables us to enjoy life free of constant worry.
Since summer is the season of the radiating sun, we can focus on the area of Fame, or Li. In this south region of the map, we should incorporate red colors and the number 9. We can work on gaining confidence that is balanced with humility and embracing our true gifts as we let them shine into the world.
Transitions: Knowledge & Love
Now is a good time to talk about the transitions in the Feng Shui principles. These represent crucial times when we should focus on how to bring the energy of yin and yang together to nourish two key areas. Powered by square geometry, knowledge and love can offer us true stability when put in balance.
Knowledge and wisdom, or Gen, involves finding stillness and quiet to reflect and synthesize the information we have gained in healing other areas of our lives. Soothed by dark blue and the number 8, meditation and study helps activate this northeast zone.
In the area of love and relationships, Kun, spending time bolstering healthy connections on every level brings balance.
Pink, a color associated with the heart chakra, and the number 2 establishes the equilibrium we need for true partnership. Exploring sensuality and pleasure with a partner brings energy to the southwest area of the bagua map.
Autumn: Travel & Children
The cooling weather of autumn invites opportunities for exploration and adventure. That’s why the areas of travel and children, or Qian and Dui respectively, respond in this season.
Circular shapes bring meaning to orbital or cyclical existence in these zones.
Qian, the life area that corresponds to helpful people and travel, includes another aspect of our position in relation to others. To encourage balance here, we can loosen our tight grip on our rooted, grounded space and take the chance to travel and see new places.
This northwest area gets energy from grey metallics and the number 6 and serves to remind us to trust other people and expect trust in return.
The children and creativity component of the bagua map, Dui, encourages us to add playfulness and joy in our spaces. Through white metallics and the number 7, this west area inspires a connection to younger beings, children or animals, that reveal innocent creativity.
Finally, in the north area we focus on Career and Life Journey, Kan, the space of winter. Winter provides us with the time to contemplate and focus. Although associated with hibernation, this season allows time for us to truly tap into our authentic selves to reveal passion and drive.
Kan responds to black and the number 1, setting our own selves and our growth as priorities.
The Commanding Position
Another central idea of Feng Shui principles refers to the commanding position. Since much of Feng Shui deals with the inclusion and arrangement of objects in a space, we need to understand where to start in order to lay our bagua map.
Different schools of thought believe in different placements, but generally the commanding position remains a focal point to work from.
We determine the commanding position of a room, home, or city by the point opposite to a door or gateway. However, this spot is not directly opposite and should have a diagonal alignment to the entrance.
In the commanding position, we place key pieces of furniture or appliances that epitomize different areas of our lives.
In a bedroom, the bed serves as the key to put in the commanding position, a representation of you and your resting state. In an office, which would focus largely on the career area, the desk should sit in the commanding position.
The Five Elements
Earlier we mentioned how important the five elements are to attaining balance and harmony. In line with Feng Shui principles, the elements represent phases of our lives that combine to sustain the whole system.
Let’s briefly look at each element and where the bagua fit with them.
This element suggests growth sprouting from the trunk of a tree. Thus, it fuels the areas of spring – family and wealth – that encourage vitality. Having bamboo or driftwood as decorative Feng Shui pieces helps add wood in the balance.
Fire fits perfectly with the blazing sun of summer. By creating the spotlight, it inspires brilliance and passion. That’s why candles, lamps, and special lighting energize this element.
To bring the earth element into the space, ceramics and crystals give off grounding, stabilizing vibrations that help us feel secure. In line with times of transition in the Feng Shui principles, earth supports the pursuit of knowledge and loving relationships.
Water never remains exactly the same in its constant flow. Thus, this element inspires the changes we need to take to honor our true callings in the career area. Fountains are one of the best ways to invite flow into a space.
Finally, the metal element links to travel and children. As a dynamic element for autumn, metal urges creativity. That’s why there are incredibly beautiful ways to include metal objects in these spaces.
With this comprehensive exploration of key Feng Shui principles, we can begin to practice ways to foster balance and harmony in the 8 areas of living. However, there is so much more to learn and deeper levels to explore to understand how Feng Shui can change the flow of your life.