In ancient China, wind and water were associated with good health. Feng shui translates as wind-water. Feng shui has been around for millennia. It was banned for many years during the communist regime, but continued to flourish in Hong Kong and has since made a comeback in China and spread throughout the world. Feng shui has influenced many buildings in China. In Hong Kong, contractors build bank buildings with feng shui in mind, and even Disneyland had to change their designs to ensure the gates fit feng shui principles.

What is Feng Shui?

Feng shui aims to promote good energy or chi in one's environment. It does this by dictating the best places to build houses and situate furniture and other household items. It balances different elements including the male and female, or yin and yang, and the five elements of Taoism: wood, fire, earth metal, and water, which are said to make up everything in the world. Balancing these elements helps promote harmony within the home.

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The History of Feng Shui

Dwellings and graves dating from 4000 BC contain elements of feng shui. Around 3,500 years ago, people began developing techniques and instruments, and placing buildings, based on the stars. Early instruments included astrolabes, used to measure the position of the stars. The magnetic compass was invented in China around 206 BC and has been used in feng shui ever since. Feng shui compasses, known as Luo-Pan, have details around the edges that help practitioners place buildings and other objects.

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What Does Feng Shui Do?

Feng shui is based on the principle that everything has a life force, known as qi or chi. Chi flows through everything, including the body, the natural environment, and man-made environments. Feng shui can alter elements of man-made environments in the home and office to help the energy flow more smoothly. Supporters believe this can promote good luck, harmonious relationships, and better finances.

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Types of Feng Shui

There are multiple schools of feng shui. The traditional schools are based on observing heavenly time and earthly space. The Form School looks at the forms of natural elements such as mountains and rivers. The Compass School concentrates more on the eight cardinal directions. The contemporary school of feng shui aims to make the practice more accessible to less wealthy and western enthusiasts. Symbolic feng shui was promoted in a book by Lillian Too and uses inexpensive substitutes to represent the elements in the house.

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Criticisms of Feng Shui

Like many ancient practices, feng shui faces many critiques. Some call it a pseudoscience and a lot of people are simply skeptical of the practice. Evidence of its effectiveness comes from anecdotes and advice and often differs depending on the practitioner. Despite this, the practice remains popular in Asia and is growing in popularity in the West. The principles of feng shui can bring benefits to the home, even for the skeptics.

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Feng Shui in the Home: Light

The first principle of feng shui to incorporate into the home is light. Natural light is important as it promotes the natural flow of chi. If you're designing your own home, make sure there are plenty of windows and skylights to bring in the sunshine. After dark, use lamps to illuminate the dark corners. Also, use dimmers and multiple light sources so you can adjust light levels depending on your mood and situation.

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Feng Shui in the Home: Space

Bring more space to your home by removing clutter and keeping your house clean. Clutter can create stagnant spaces that stop the flow of energy. Ensuring that the energy has plenty of room to move around brings positive energy to the whole house. The placement of furniture can also help create a harmonious space. Make sure there's plenty of room to more around furniture. Keep electronics, especially televisions, out of bedrooms to ensure they remain spaces dedicated to sleeping.

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Feng Shui in the Home: Function

Think about the function of everything in your home. Make sure you have a reason to keep each item. Everything should also be working properly, including squeaky doors and electronic gadgets. Repair what you can and throw out anything else. Followers of feng shui believe negative energy leaves through the drains, so keep them clear.

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Feng Shui in the Home: Tips and Tricks

Many small tips and tricks can help people promote good energy in the home easily and without too much expense. Adding good luck charms is one such trick. Fish are a symbol of prosperity, so think about adding a goldfish to your living space. Houseplants keep air clean and, if added to dead corners, can keep energy moving through these stagnant places. Some people use lucky coins and crystals to help direct where energy moves in the house.

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Health Benefits of Feng Shui

A home designed around feng shui principles can bring practical benefits. Living less clutter can help people feel less stressed and also ensures there is less to trip over. Removing clutter and keeping an abundance of fresh air from plants helps improve sleep. Just living in a beautiful space you've designed yourself can make you feel better about life and more energetic when you enter your home.

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