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Feng Shui Basics

Feng Shui is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Feng Shui has evolved over the millennia in response to cultural and geographic influences. The basic concepts of Feng Shui have survived, and apply to our life situations today.


There are different approaches to Feng Shui. One, the Pyramid School, incorporates traditional Feng Shui knowledge with social, psychological, and biological science. Feng Shui Psychology uses traditional Feng Shui tools combined with the Pyramid School's approach and depth psychology. Depth psychology looks  at unconscious influences, synchronistic events, and symbolic or archetypal aspects of actions and items.


Chi is the primal energy that animates life and growth and manifests in many forms. Just as with Western science, which categorizes energy by type - electrical, mechanical, mitochondrial, kinetic, etc., the Chinese concept of 'chi' is described by type - yin, yang, fire, water, earth, etc.


 A Feng Shui consultation includes assessing how the chi or a person is interacting with the chi of the space, or the chi of other people and balancing these. The state of one's chi is expressed in our language, such as "I feel blocked", which translates into stuck chi or energy, and will often be mirrored in one's environment. By moving the "blockage" in the environment, the inner state of feeling block can shift.



The complement of Yang, Yin applies to environment, personalities, moods, our autonomic nervous system, situations and tasks. Dark, cold, quiet, low, curving, small, feminine, slow, receptive, relaxing, inward, soft, still, autumnal, wintery, downward movement all refer to yin energy.

In this photo, you get the feeling of relaxation. Note the dominance of dark muted colors on the wall and furnishings, the dim lighting, low-sitting soft furniture, and curved back on the chair. While the bedroom is an obvious choice for yin style decor, yin elements can be used wherever more calm is desired. ​


Yang energy also applies to the environment, personalities, our autonomic nervous system, moods, situations and tasks. Bright, warm, vibrant sound, tall, straight, large, masculine, fast, energetic, outward, active, hyper, upward movement, hard are qualities of yang energy.

The photo captures the yang nature of this space: bright lighting and colors, shiny hard surfaces, strong vertical orientation, and wide open doors to let in lots of chi. A yang environment stimulates us and incites mental and/or physical movement. Most shoppers will come in and out quickly, not staying to buy anything. Shop employees would do well to be yin, to add a calming inviting element to the space and slow shoppers enough so they'll buy.

The 5 Elements

The 5 Elements are the visible materials that make up the physical world. They have associated shapes, colors, and influence on our environment.  Each element represents a personality type.

Each element corresponds to a mood, attitude, behavior, feeling, and cognitive style in people.  Humans are made up energetically of the qualities/metaphors associated with the five elements and are most comfortable when all five are represented in their environment. When they get out of balance, we do too. ​Too much fire, anxiety; too much metal, perfectionistic...

We align the elements in the environment to support the person, the task at hand, and their longer term goals.

The Bagua

The bagua is an octagonal interpretive template divided into eight archetypal life situations—marriage, fame, wealth, family, knowledge, career, helpful people, and children. When superimposed on a room, a building, a desktop, the bagua can reveal the story (or stories) of the setting. The bagua maps the movement of ch’i (or qi), defined as the life force of all animate things. 

When we change our surroundings, we change. The person we are in the bedroom is different from the person we are in the boardroom; with a friend vs. an employer; in a group or alone; tired vs. well-rested; early morning vs. late night...The Bagua reflects this.

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