This article was originally written for The Dragontree
This article is the third in a series about Qi – the Chinese concept of energy that’s central to practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, martial arts, feng shui, and has parallels in numerous other cultures. (You can read Part One and Part Two, which cover the nature of energy and the profound changeability of the human body.) In learning about Qi, having someone cause your Qi to move and coalesce through acupuncture can be invaluable. But you don’t need another person in order to have an experience of Qi; Qi-based arts such as feng shui and qi gong can help you perceive the energy around and within you.
Feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) means wind and water, the two main flowing forces in the natural world. It is the art of evaluating, structuring, and utilizing spaces in a way that ensures the most harmonious flow of Qi through and around them, for the benefit of their occupants. Thousands of years ago, it was used to orient buildings favorably with regard to the celestial bodies. Over time, it developed into many different schools of thought with innumerable principles governing how buildings and civic infrastructure should be shaped, how they should be oriented with regard to the surrounding landscape, and how they should be decorated. The basic idea is that if the Qi in a living space is optimized, the lives of the inhabitants of the space will work better.
While I appreciate the centuries of investigation that made feng shui the detailed science it is, in my opinion what’s most vital about it are the fundamental ideas on which it is based: we are surrounded by Qi, we can learn to perceive this Qi, and the flow of Qi around and within us has an impact on our lives. If you’re interested in delving into Feng Shui, there are many good books available (I like Nancy SantoPietro’s Feng Shui: Harmony by Design), but I encourage you to hone and follow your own senses. This will do you more good than any particular rules, especially if you’re interested in developing your perception of Qi. Feng shui can be simple and organic, and it’s a fun and practical way to gain a firsthand feel for Qi.
As an exercise, take a slow walk through your living space and see what you pick up. Rather than thinking of yourself as an interior designer, start by considering how wind and water would flow through the space. Feel for where the Qi moves most swiftly, and where it tends not to go. Our living space should feel neither stagnant nor tumultuous.
Consider the following questions – and what might be done to remedy these situations:
There are specific feng shui tools for correcting these things, but you can make many improvements by just using your intuition. Each of the different schools of feng shui has its own nuances, and in my opinion, some of the rules and symbolism are of questionable value, but the following basic principles are most universal and feel right to me:
I realize these lists may leave you with more questions, but I encourage you to try “feeling out” your own responses and solutions before looking them up in a book. And, rather than automatically accepting the symbolic meanings of these various scenarios and interventions, do some experimentation. Tune in and see what you perceive.
Wishing you a space that fully supports you,
Dr. Peter Borten
Copyright 2017 by Peter Borten