Oriental medicine and philosophy are based on the premise that along with all the physical aspects of our world there is a movement of a subtle flow of energy. In China this energy is called Chi.
Chi energy flows through our bodies in much the same way as blood, but while your blood carries oxygen and nutrients, Chi energy carries your thoughts, ideas, emotions and dreams. lt is important to realize that your thoughts and emotions affect the quality of your Chi energy, and, as the Chi energy directly affects each of your cells, this can affect you physically. Equally, the quality of your cells influences the Chi energy flowing through them, and this in turn influences your thoughts. Typically, Chi energy extends 10 centimeters to 1 meter outside your skin and mixes with the surrounding Chi energy. This makes your own Chi energy easy to influence.
Every building has its own unique movement of Chi, which determines the atmosphere of a place. Wherever you are, your own flow of Chi energy is constantly being influenced by your surroundings. Other people’s Chi energy can also affect your own, along with the Chi energy of the surrounding land, and the type of Chi energy created by the weather. Feng Shui is primarily concerned with what we can do with in a building to help the occupants’ Chi energy flow in a way that will bring better physical and emotional health. From a much broader perspective, Chi energy flows not only throughout our planet, but through the solar system and galaxy. Our own planet generates a large movement of Chi. At the same time the surrounding planets radiate energy, which travels towards and into the Earth. Therefore, the Earth arid surrounding planets have the ability to influence our own Chi energy. As the position of the Earth, sun and planets changes, so does the way in which Chi energy moves. Nine Ki astrology is the art of understanding these large-scale movements of Chi energy and predicting their effect on a particular person’s energy.
Chi energy moves in the same way as wind and water. Visualize fast flowing water passing a sharp point. As it passes the point, the water begins to swirl. The flow of Chi energy is exactly the same. lt swirls around as it passes a protruding corner in a room. This swirling energy is called cutting Chi. Placing yourself within this swirling spiral of energy will tend to make your own energy swirl around, causing you to fee! disorientated. If you were exposed over a period of time, for example if you were sleeping in front of such a corner, the constant immersion in swirling energy could eventually !lead to iii health. Doors, windows, stairs, the shape of a building, the local landscape and the direction a building faces will all influence the way that Chi moves around your home.
Part of a Feng Shui practitioner’s job is to identify how these features are affecting the flow of Chi within a building and find ways to create a more harmonious flow. Often, some areas of the home will be experiencing fast, turbulent energy, while others are stagnant. Feng Shui aims to create a situation where there is a harmonious flow throughout the home. By enhancing the flow of Chi energy in your own home, you can make positive changes to yourself, which in turn !lead to a greater ability to realize your own dreams
Yin and Yang
The YeIIow Emperor’s Classic of internal Medicine tells us that by 2600Bc the Chinese people already had great interest in the subjective effects of their environment. lt describes how they had evolved the concept of a pair of interactive polarities present throughout nature, which they termed yin and yang. Nothing was seen to be absolutely yin or yang, but simply more yin or more yang when compared to something else. For example, resting is a more yin state than working, but more yang when compared to sleeping.
In the morning people are naturally more active and alert, a more yang characteristic than resting. in contrast, during the afternoon, people generally feel more mentality orientated, physically passive and sometimes even sleepy, which is a more yin characteristic. The classic definition of yin and yang is the shady and sunny side of the mountain, the sunny side being yang. Similarly, the sunny side of your home is considered to be more yang, whereas the shady side is more yin.
When the sun is up, the southern side of a home is constantly being refreshed by the sun’s energy (in the northern hemisphere). People in this side of the home will benefit from this Chi energy. So if you want to have more energy, to be active and inspired, place yourself in a part of your home that benefits from the sunlight. Here you will feel you can do more with less effort. The same principles can be applied to every aspect of our lives, from food to exercise.
The idea of balance is fundamental to yin and yang thinking. Everything naturally strives towards balance. However, to be more balanced may require unhealthy extremes of either yin or yang. For example, a long period of severe stress, which is more yang, might be balanced by a nervous breakdown, which is more yin. Lots of fruits, salads and drinks, which are more yin, will create a craving for salty, savory foods, which are more yang. This constant flow can be seen throughout our natural environment. The day (yang) changes to night (yin). After we rest (yin) we go to work (yang).
People can also be more yin or yang. A more yin person tends to be relaxed, physically supple, sensitive, creative and imaginative. However, if this person is too yin they could become lethargic, slow and depressed. The opposite is true of someone more yang. A more yang person tends to be alert, quick, more physically active, able to concentrate and pay attention to detail. But if the person becomes too yang they would become tense, irritable, angry or physically stiff. Often a health problem can be attributed to an extreme of yin or yang. With a simple understanding of yin and yang one can easily tailor one’s diet, exercise and lifestyle to one’s own individual needs.
In terms of a house, buildings that have straight lines and sharp corners and are very angular are more yang than those that are more rounded, irregular and curved. You can make your home more yin by adding soft surfaces such as tapestries, big cushions and long curtains. In contrast, tiles, metal surfaces and glass create a more yang atmosphere. Colors also have a great influence. Bright, strong, stimulating colors make us feel more yang, whereas soft, relaxing colors make us more yin.
So, each person has more yin or yang characteristics and our environment has the ability to make us more yin or more yang. The idea is that if you can recognize whether you are too yin or too yang, you can then decide if you need to become more yin or more yang in order to feel more balanced. Once you know this, you can change your environment in a way that helps you.
The five elements
There are five different types of Chi energy, and each type is associated with one of the Chinese elements of fire, soil, metal, water or tree. Each element is further identified with one of five seasons of the year, the additional season being early autumn. To discover the characteristics of each type of Chi energy, think of the atmosphere at that time of year.
For example, imagine looking at a tree as the sun rises on a spring day (tree). The overriding feeling is of energy moving up. Contrast this with watching a beautiful sunset reflecting off metal railway tracks in the autumn (metal). The feeling is of Chi moving inwards and becoming solid. Take yourself to the middle of a bright, hot, summer day (fire). Now the Chi energy feels as though lt is expanding, radiating heat. Next jump to the opposite (water): a freezing, foggy mid-winter night. Everything is quiet and still. Finally, think of an early autumn afternoon. Imagine soil beneath your feet: heavy, solid and substantial. These are the qualities associated with soil Chi.
The quality of Chi energy in your home will vary through the day as the sun moves through different phases. In the morning the part of your home facing east, where the sun rises, will soak up the upward Chi energy (tree). As the day progresses, the sun will move to the south and charge up the southern part of your home with fire Chi energy, and so on until finally, during the night, the north benefits from water Chi energy. Soil Chi energy is associated with the centre of your home.
Think about your home and how each room is affected by the movement of the sun. This will help you decide which activities are best suited to which parts of your home. Generally, the east is ideal for activities that require more ‘up’ energy. The south, fire energy, is better for parties and social events. The more settled energy of the south-west and centre makes this a better place for practical projects. The west of your home is a romantic place to relax and conclude your day. The north, being winter and night, is an obvious place to sleep. Fire supports soil, which supports metal which in turn supports water, which supports tree. Tree supports fire, and so we return to the beginning of the cycle. If, however, the cycle is broken and one of the elements is missing, the influence of the preceding energy becomes destructive. Hence fire can have a destructive effect on metal, metal can have a destructive effect on tree, tree can have a destructive effect on soil, Soil can have a destructive effect on water, and water can have a destructive effect on fire.
In Feng Shui both the supportive and destructive cycles can be used to help balance energy. Actual water, fire or metal are used to encourage changes in the movement of Chi energy. For example, lt is considered auspicious to have water to the east of your home. This places water in a direction that relates to the tree element. The water Chi energy supports tree Chi energy. Therefore water to the east will enhance the energy found in the east. The support cycle can also be used to calm Chi energy. If there is too much Chi in the south-west, which is associated with soil, placing something made of metal in this location will absorb some of the soil Chi energy, as soil supports metal.