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Feng Shui: the basics

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By Samantha Wong

Formalised as an art and science over 3,000 years ago in China, feng shui’s aim is to improve quality of life. Feng means ‘wind’ and shui means ‘water,’ and we Chinese associate wind and water with good health, so if you get the feng shui in your home right, you can expect good things to follow.

Feng shui contains elements of various branches of study, including physics, philosophy, astronomy and astrology. It’s a complex body of knowledge but you don’t have to be a feng shui master or own a luopan (a feng shui compass with 24 directions marked on it) to benefit.

Practical magic

The first thing you need to know is that according to feng shui everyone and everything is interconnected, and everything is filled with chi, or energy. For this reason, the placement of yourself and objects within a room affects your well-being. Feng shui teaches us simple ways to balance the energies in any given space. One basic tip is that the bed, desk and stove need to be placed in the ‘command position’ – facing the door

Feng shui is all about mindfulness too – slowing down and noticing the details in your life and living space so that you can create harmony. Dusty corners represent  areas of your life that are stagnant and ignored, so clean them up. Get rid of or fix any broken objects because they are obstacles in your life, causing stress that holds you back. And create space in your wardrobe. If it’s overstuffed, you’re giving out the message that your life is complete and you don’t need anything else.

We often intuitively know when something is not quite right in our homes, so work out where you feel uneasy and sit there, quieting the mind. You may be able to energise the space simply by moving things around, for instance placing an armchair in front of a  window, but if that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to look to a core feng-shui principle, the theory of the five elements.

If something is lacking in your life or in the chi of your home introducing more earth, metal, water, wood or fire into your decor can help. The easiest way to do this is with colour.

Let’s say you lack stability and don’t take good enough care of yourself. Chances are you need more of the earth element (yellow, orange, and brown) in your home. If you’re looking for more clarity, self-discipline or structure, look to the metal element and surround yourself with grey, white, cream and metallic tones. Silver photo frames are a quick fix.

By calling on the element of water, you can invite tranquillity and wisdom into your life. Try sitting on a black or dark-blue cushion when you’re at your computer or placing a plug-in table fountain on your desk. Wood energy, associated with the colour green, can help kickstart new beginnings and increase your vitality.

Finally, if you’re looking for passion or recognition, play around with red fire energy. Light some candles – fire is symbolised by real flames – or place red peonies in a favourite vase. Adopting a pet will also do the trick because having an animal in your home immediately fires things up.

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