For more than 3,000 years, the Chinese philosophers have observed energy in the ebb and flow of nature. They witnessed patterns in life expressed by animals and the five elements.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) evolved over the millennia as an energy medicine because it paid attention to the cycles of Nature. Various branches of specialization grew out of the overall study of energy, known as “chi” or “qi.” Feng Shui arose as the awareness of how “qi” moves through our environment and the balance —yin/yang — of this energy.
I believe the flow of energy in our environment supports our overall energetic wellness. All of us live in a sea of energy, constantly interacting with our surroundings. Can the ancient wisdom of Feng Shui help me understand my energetic nature and how to live a more harmonious life? For answers, I interviewed Grace Ho, internationally recognized best-selling author and Feng Shui expert.
When I asked Grace what attracted her to Feng Shui, she professed that at first, she was skeptical. Her background as a science major and USC graduate precluded giving credence to mythical (airy-fairy), unseen energies. Yet, two transformative events, which she details in her book One Minute Feng Shui for Prosperity, propelled her to learn more about the art and science of Feng Shui.
Initially, she discovered three major schools of Feng Shui practice: Black Hat, Form, and Flying Star.
1. The Black Hat School was named after the hats worn by its originators, the Buddhist monks. In the 1980′s, this traditional school introduced its practices to Westerners, essentially putting the philosophy of Feng Shui on Western radar. Many of the folk beliefs, such as using rock salt for purification, came from the monks. Have you ever watched Oriental wrestlers throwing salt into the corner of the ring? They are applying the principles of the Black Hat School.
2. The Form School, favored amongst interior designers, sees shapes as specific objects. If you want to attract a specific energy into your life, then you use that form to manifest that energy. For example, to attract money, you would create your space with symbolic representations, i.e. coins, rounded bed headboards, golden tokens, etc. Certain inanimate objects, such as a rock, could be attributed with animal qualities if their form looked like that animal. A dragon shaped rock is deemed to radiate “dragon” essence and therefore attracts corresponding energies.
3. Flying Star, is based on the logical assessment of the five elements —water, wood, fire, earth, and metal—the concept of yin and yang, and the relationship between heaven (time), earth (place) and the person. Grace embraces this school’s philosophy as it appealed to her logical, scientific background. Grace’s website banner declares, “Feng Shui is not only moving your furniture around, but Feng Shui is all about shifting your mind.”
Each major school promotes balance and wellness. When I asked Grace about the merits of each school, she used the analogy of a visit to Disneyland. You go to Disneyland to have fun and feel good. The park offers venues with themes that cater to different experiences. The Black Hat School is like Frontier Land as it draws from folk wisdom. The Form School is similar to Fantasy Land, as it imagines correspondences and anthropomorphizes. The Flying Star School is Tomorrow Land as it is based on precise, logical patterns.
According to Grace, Feng Shui is the Chinese Way of Life—a mind-set that assists you to become aware of your life’s purpose and attract what you need to fulfill your purpose. It guides you to listen to your inner intelligence and to discover the best of yourself.
Feng Shui examines your life in two phases — Pre-Heaven, or destiny and Post-Heaven, or Chance. Destiny is all about those elements of your life that you cannot change, i.e. the date and place of your birth, your parents and ancestral heritage. Chance is about the future, i.e. the unlimited choices and potentials you have before you. Depending on your purpose, you decide on what and how to manifest your future.
Perhaps you are born into a musical family. You have the gift of music and sharing it is your purpose. If you honor this energetic signature, you have the potential to express this gift in many ways. It’s your choice. When you live in harmony with your purpose, you also balance love, health and prosperity in your life. This is Grace’s basic Happiness Recipe: Balancing Love, Health and Prosperity.
We met on February 4th, 2014, which Grace said is the Feng Shui first day of the Chinese New Year. I asked about the potential energy of the coming year and its benefit. In the traditional Chinese calendar system of ten heavenly stems and twelve earthly branches, this is a “Yang Wood Horse” year. The horse, which symbolizes summer’s energy, combined with the strong, unyielding qualities of Yang wood, could be a recipe for stubbornness and conflict. Think of an unbroken, wild stallion combined with the rigidity of the oak tree.
To benefit from this Yang Wood Horse year, Feng Shui advises us to evoke the “qi” of Yin Wood. Yin Wood’s qualities are more yielding, like bamboo or a willow tree. Since the element wood involves action, Grace says it’s the right time to renew friendships and meet other people. When you get to know others on a personal basis, you are open to compromise and reconciliation. Take advantage of every opportunity to interface with people in your community and get to know them. Reach out and touch someone. The potential for conflict this year is diffused if each one of us becomes a grass roots ambassador for understanding.
Editor’s Note from Carolyn White: What is Feng Shui? Feng Shui is the Traditional Chinese Medicine study of the ebb and flow of energy in your environment. If the movement of this energy is harmonious, then health and happiness flows as well. Many concepts in Energy Medicine originated with this ancient wisdom and philosophy. Recently, I talked with international Feng Shui expert, Grace Ho, about Feng Shui, its ancient traditions and modern applications. Grace also discusses how to deal with the energies of this Year of the Horse.