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Feng shui has origins in ancient China and is a philosophical system, so its application to modern interior design may not be immediately obvious. But this is a philosophy dedicated to harmonizing all the elements of an environment, such as a room or building. On a practical level, feng shui involves arranging items, like furniture and decorations, in what is considered to be the best possible way to maximize aesthetic appeal but also to balance energy, called qi. While feng shui is now one of several important trends in interior design, it was once used to arrange everything from rooms to entire villages.

Modern interior designers and others often embrace feng shui for indoor spaces for both practical and aesthetic reasons, but they are mimicking a practice that has been in use for thousands of years. There is some evidence that feng shui may have its origins nearly 6, years ago in India, but written evidence places it in China at least a few thousand years ago. There it was originally used to arrange the layout of cities. The main concept behind feng shui is that when objects are arranged correctly, energy, or qi, can flow unobstructed through a space. This in turn is supposed to bring harmony to the environment and between people and the space.

As one of many trends in interior design, feng shui can be used simply to make a room look nicer, but underlying visual appeal is the ancient belief that good energy flow will bring harmony, wellness, and comfort to people in the space. Experts in feng shui use ancient tools to assess the space and what it needs to achieve energy balance and harmony. The bagua, or energy map, is one of these tools, and it maps out the areas in a space using ancient symbols. The feng shui compass is a tool used to accurately measure and read a space. Truly applying all the principles of feng shui requires working with a professional trained in the philosophy and the tool used to arrange objects correctly.

An easier way to bring a little bit of feng shui into interior design is to use the color principles associated with the philosophy. Feng shui is based on five elements, or forces, that make up the world: earth, wood, fire, water, and metal. Each element is associated with certain colors and these can be used strategically in the design of rooms. Using color to practice feng shui can be complex, but it can also be done in a simple way to achieve maximum aesthetic appeal while also considering energy, harmony, and flow.

Unsurprisingly, the element of earth is associated with colors that are described as earthy, like browns, sandy colors, and pale yellow. Depending on the calendar year in which a person was born, an earth element may suit his or her energy and colors associated with earth make good choices for their interior spaces. Earth colors also promote stability and inner balance.

Focusing on the earth elements may include using objects in a room that are made from earth materials, like clay or ceramics and rocks and minerals, as well as earthy colors. To harness the energy associated with fire, a room should contain colors like bright or rich yellow, deep red, orange, purple, and pink. Fire elements also include fireplaces and candles. The fire element and its associated colors are associated with the fire birth years, but also with identity, passion, and internal light and warmth.

Rooms that face the south are good spaces to use fire colors. For rooms focused on fire elements, it is important to avoid water colors because water puts out fire. To harness the element of wood in a space, an interior designer would incorporate actual wood. However, this does not include furniture made of wood that is dead; it must be living wood. Potted plants and trees are very important for this feng shui element, as are the colors associated with it: shades of greens and browns.

Wood colors, especially greens are used in east-facing rooms and to promote health, vitality, and family life. Water is the element associated with the north, so these colors are best for north-facing rooms or for people born in water years. Water colors and elements promote relaxation and abundance. The opposite colors are the earth colors, which should be avoided in rooms harnessing the element of water.

Elements that can be used in a water-focused room include fountains, aquariums, and vases with water and flowers. Water elements support career growth. People who love the coolness of neutral tones of white and gray are well suited to the metal element. Individuals should observe basic building code and fire safety rules when redesigning a home according to feng shui principles.

1. Feng shui is an environmental philosophy.

Feng shui adjustments to living space should not be relied upon as a sole source of treatment for individuals with health problems. Although feng shui principles can be employed as an adjunct, or complementary, treatment, proper diagnosis and treatment from a qualified health-care professional is necessary in treating any chronic or acute physical disorder. Feng shui has been practiced throughout Asia for thousands of years, and has recently grown in popularity in the United States as a tool for home design.

Although considered part of traditional Chinese medicine in Asia, it is not largely regarded as a healthcare tool in the United States , preventative or otherwise. However, there are some national organizations that offer training and certification programs. Henwood, Belinda. Feng Shui: How to create harmony and balance in your living and working environment.

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Pownal, VT: Storey Books, Williams, Tom. Boston, MA: Element Books, Geomancy, the Feng Shui Education Association. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. July 10, Retrieved July 10, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.


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Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. The Taoist art and science of creating balanced and harmonious surroundings, sometimes associated with geomancy, has been practiced for centuries in China. Feng-shui has been used by the Chinese to build homes and business offices, design cities and villages, and construct tombs for the dead.

In recent years Westerners have begun to study and practice feng-shui. Practitioners of feng-shui claim that the layout and arrangement of a home greatly influences the lives of all its occupants. The alignment of furniture, color schemes, and accessories all play a part in creating an environment that both relaxes and invigorates those who live there. Simply moving a few objects or repainting a room can have a significant impact. On the other hand, misfortunes such as poor health, financial problems, marital or relationship troubles, and infertility can be attributed to a house in which feng-shui principles have been ignored.

Feng-shui is also concerned with the location of a building because its position in an area may be adversely affected by the surroundings unless appropriate countermeasures are taken to deflect negative energy. The Chinese developed feng-shui principles about four thousand years ago.

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The ancient Chinese recognized how the elements, particularly wind feng and water shui , impacted life: gently flowing winds meant good harvests, stagnant water led to disease; buildings facing the north bore the brunt of dust storms that blew from Mongolia, while southern facing homes maximized the warmth of the sun. Likewise they realized how living harmoniously with surroundings made life easier: villages built among the hills were both protected from the elements and easier to defend from attackers.

Legends says that the actual practice of feng-shui began with the shaman-kings who led the early Chinese tribes and understood the powers of wind and water, the changes in earth and sky, and the cycle of the seasons. Over the centuries and throughout successive dynasties feng-shui organized and eventually was recognized as a professional skill during the Han dynasty B.

It was known then as K'an-yu. During the prosperous T'ang dynasty B. Various schools of thought in K'anyu also developed during this dynasty. The practice underwent a resurgence during the Ming dynasty B. The feng-shui that is practiced today is most similar to that practiced during the Ch'ing dynasty B. Chi is the key component of feng-shui. It is roughly translated as the invisible energy that circulates through the earth and sky. Chi travels best when it imitates nature by flowing in gentle curves, rather than along straight lines, where it can move too quickly, or against sharp edges, where it can be blocked, and cause sha, or bad chi.

The eight directions of the compass north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest and the center, known together as the Nine Palaces, are basic components of feng-shui. Each direction is associated with a different kind of chi energy. Knowing the characteristics of these directions and their spheres of influence allows the creation of good feng-shui.

It also used in making adjustments needed to correct bad fengshui. Each of the eight directions and the center is linked to at least one of what is known as the Five Elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. The Chinese are able to group all things into one of these five categories. Contact with the elements is a major part of feng-shui and the interactive nature of these elements is used in enhancing positive energies and reducing negative energies.

Each of the Five Elements is related to the other in a cycle of creation and destruction. When the elements are used to enhance one another, they follow the creation cycle.

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For instance in the creative cycle, metal in the earth nourishes water in the ground. Water sustains vegetation that creates wood. Wood feeds fire. Fire produces ashes, forming the earth. The cycle is completed when the earth forms ore, which becomes metal. Conversely, in the destructive cycle, fire melts metal; metal cuts wood; tree roots, or wood, choke the earth; earth muddies water; water extinguishes fire.

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In practicing feng-shui, one of the most effective ways to create positive energy or remedy bad energy is to make good use of the five elements. Feng-shui is easily adjusted by mixing, separating and arranging the five elements at suitable compass points within the home. The elements interact in either a creative or destructive cycle and their presentation affects the balance of the environment.

Color is yet another important aspect of balance in fengshui. Color has an effect on the look and feel of a room, but colors also have associations linked to them. For example, to the Chinese red is a lucky color, associated with life, happiness, and warmth. Green and blue are associated with new beginnings, growth and family life. Numbers also have meaning and some are more favorable than others.

Nine is considered the luckiest, partially due to apparent mystical qualities: when 9 is multiplied by an single-digit number, the sum of the two digits of the product is 9. The number 4 is considered bad-luck because its Chinese pronunciation, "si," sounds similar to the word for death. As with the elements, color and numbers are also associated with the eight compass points. Eitel, E. Bristol, England : Pentacle Books, Lagatree, Kirsten M. New York : Villard Books,