Feng Shui Demystified
by Manu Butterworth

There is little mystical or esoteric about classical feng shui. In many cases it confirms our own instinctive ideas about what makes a happy and productive environment. Feng Shui builds on this intuition through the understanding of sound principles, allowing us to maximize beneficial energy flow, ideally in a way that is harmonious with our own unique culture and beliefs.

The Taoists' elegant yet scientific approach to looking at nature allowed them to formulate some profoundly rational principles. One major principle we work with in feng shui is the concept of sheng chi and sha chi. The best way that sheng chi can be translated is that it embodies everything that has to do with vital life force. This concept when carried out into modern living involves more than just rearranging our physical space, it leads us to make choices to increase the vitality in our lives, like using natural building materials, and bringing in good quality water, air, and light sources because they're more energizing to us as human beings. More and more in this wonderful age of technology we are disconnecting ourselves from nature; one thing we love to do in feng shui is reconnect with what is natural to us.

The opposite of sheng chi is called sha chi, and its qualities are more aggressive and turbulent. I much prefer putting this concept into Western language and use words like 'uncomfortable' or even 'more negative physically or psychologically' to better describe this energy-'physically negative' meaning energy that is either moving too fast, like living next to a highway, or moving too slowly, like an environmental swamp, and 'psychologically negative' could refer to an example as simple as the vibrational disturbances that we experience by living next to a noisy neighbor. These descriptions serve us much better than 'the secret arrows' that the Chinese would use to describe this type of chi because it brings these concepts into our culture and our language. It is always very interesting to look at what Chinese people are doing in regards to feng shui and then to look at the underlying principle and translate it into our aesthetic and cultural background.

One essential job of the feng shui practitioner is to maximize sheng chi and minimize sha chi. This does not need to involve the use of Chinese artifacts unless of course you are Chinese or they match the décor of your home. We work with these principles so they can be expressed in ways that fit the lives of people and their environments rather than asking people to adopt concepts or superstitions that do not feel right to them.

William Spear exemplifies this in his best selling book Feng Shui Made Easy,

    'A highly cultured lady lived in a beautiful Victorian home filled with fine period furnishings. A friend informed her that her front door was being bombarded by negative forces known as cutting chi because she lived at the top of a T junction. Eager to correct the problem she hung a Chinese bagua mirror on her front door, at her friend's instruction. A few weeks later, very perturbed and not at all convinced that the mirror was having any effect, she sought out the advice of an intuitive feng shui consultant. Upon seeing the mirror, the consultant asked her why she had placed it there. "Well, I have cutting chi coming right in my front door," she replied. "Yes, I can see that," he responded, "but what has happened since you placed it there?" The woman confessed, "Well, to be perfectly honest with you, the only thing that I 've noticed is that everyone who comes now asks, "What is that thing doing here?" The consultant then noted how completely out of character this cure was for the woman. He advised her to remove the mirror and in its place put a shiny, brass door knocker, convex and polished, which would harmonize with and protect her lovely home. The lady was delighted at the elegant new fixture on her front door, a cure that matched her lifestyle and resonated in her world.'
    "All healing forces must be within, not without!
    The applications from without are to create within a coordinating mental and spiritual force."
    -Edgar Cayce

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