Feng Shui for Modern Times

By Erica Sofrina, Author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World

At its essence, Feng Shui is a collection of practical, tried and true ideas about how to create living and working environments that support, nurture and guide our lives in a direction that promotes optimum well being.

Who wouldn’t want that?

To the westerner who lives in the modern world, the word Feng Shui seems foreign. However, the term in Chinese simply means wind and water. Among other things, it refers to the observation that the elements have an impact upon us and therefore should be strongly considered when we are choosing the best site for a building. It acknowledges something that most of us intuit already: the more we live in harmony with nature, the happier our lives are.

A case in point might be a city built below sea level, right on top of a fault line or on top of an active volcano.  Eventually this poor decision on the part of the original city planners will come back to roost, as we have seen in some recent disasters in the past few years.

There are different schools of Feng Shui that can be effectively used for different things. Classical Compass School Feng Shui is the best one to use when determining how to place a building on the land. It is a more complex type of Feng Shui involving Chinese astrology, a Chinese Compass and other factors, including numerology. It brings in cures from the Chinese culture, incorporating wind chimes, crystals and other objects. All of which come out of the Chinese culture and traditions.

If you are confused by Classical Compass School Feng Shui, Western Form School Feng Shui offers a more logical, practical alternative. It is simpler to learn and less esoteric.

The language in Western Form School Feng Shui is positive and seeks to show the logic in these simple, tried and true teachings. It leaves out the cultural piece, allowing for the client to bring in objects that have a personal meaning to them. Chinese Fu dogs as greeters at your front door may not be your thing. Western Feng Shui recognized the importance of having a wonderful entryway, but leaves the choice of how to get there up to the client. They may prefer a pot of colorful flowers, a sparkling water fountain, or a welcoming sign. The point is to have it be lovely and welcoming, the choice of how to get there is up to them.

Rather than recommending Chinese red for the color of the front door, Western Feng Shui recommends the client chooses the color that they love the most. The point being that this will lift your personal chi much more than Chinese red, especially if you dislike this color.

Rather than saying something is bad or negative, Western Feng Shui points out the practical reasons why the teaching makes sense. As we know, what is negative in one culture may have no meaning in another culture. Case in point: in China the number 4 is considered very negative, and sounds like the word death. The number that might have a negative connotation in the U.S. might be the number 13. Having all westerners avoid having the number 4 in their home address because this means something negative in China does not make any sense, and is part of what has contributed to people feeling like Feng Shui is a superstition.Western Feng Shui throws that part out and sticks with the practical and simple concepts at the essence of Feng Shui.

One of Feng Shui’s teachings is that small things in our space impact us in a big way, because of the  amount of time we spend in our homes. Like water dripping on a stone, over time a hole is created. This metaphorically is what happens to our energy when we continuously live with things in our homes that grate on us.

The things that bring our energy down are defined as clutter, disorganization, objects with negative connotations, things that are unsafe, such as weapons and furniture with sharp edges that can injure, artwork or any object that is overtly negative or invokes a negative message.

I have never heard anyone say they loved clutter or that having a cluttered home made them feel wonderful. Clutter is considered stuck energy or chi in Feng Shui. By eliminating it in our living spaces we feel better and our lives tend to flow better.

Another big part of Feng Shui has to do with what we call environmental affirmations, which you can read more about in my article about the Home Energy Centers. It teaches that everything on the planet is comprised of life-source energy or chi and that all of the objects in our living space are interacting with us, either negatively or positively. The goal is to surround ourselves with things that make our hearts sing rather than those that bring us down. Again, an obvious no-brainer.

A sofa from a past relationship that ended badly might be a continuous reminder of a negative time in our life and is therefore not considered a friendly object in our space. The sofa itself is neither positive nor negative, but the association we have to it is what affects us. You might do well to sell the sofa and replace it with one that you do love. Once you do, this corner of the room will make your spirit sing rather than bring you down.

In Feng Shui we go through every room, clearing the things that bring us down and replacing them with objects that lift us up. In doing so we work with safety issues (i.e. sharp-edged furniture, heavy objects hanging over-head, etc.) We then add things that inspire us as well as objects that invoke the natural world. We also clear the clutter and create a sense of organization, serenity, and balance. The goal is not to have the house that looks like the perfect model home, but one that reflects our personal taste, style, and aspirations.

Given the amount of time we spend in both our homes and workplaces, we are more powerfully affected by them than we realize. This affects our mood. As a result, our lives and the lives of our loved ones are affected as well.  Having an entire house that makes our heart sing can’t help but make us happier people. Happier people are more enjoyable to be around; therefore they attract opportunities to them. The opposite is also true.  It is that simple.

Feng Shui is not about magic or superstition or hanging crystals and wind chimes in strategic places that mysteriously bring us good fortune. It is a powerful teaching about how to focus and direct energy in our physical environments to produce the maximum benefit in our lives. By creating beautiful, organized and safe living (and work) spaces we create happier people who live more productive and happy lives.

I encourage you to consider trying out the simple, practical and useful principles of the western versions of Feng Shui and see if it makes a difference in your lives!

The Anatomy of Clutter
Applying the Feng Shui 5 Elements to Your Home
6 Feng Shui Don’ts


Kirsten B.
Past Member 6 years ago

This was a great summary and I enjoyed reading it. Lifted my eyes around the study and went 'uh-huh ... uh-huh ... uh-huh ...' Back to work at it next week. ;)

Dot A.
Dot A6 years ago

I think your album idea is great, Erica! It establishes the value of the people as well as helps the living space be the uplifting area that you inspire with your advice! Great response! Thanks so much!!! And thanks for it being provided here for all to read~

Michael Kirkby
.6 years ago

Me, I like high places with lots of sun and space.

Erica Sofrina
Erica Sofrina6 years ago

Thank you all for the great comments. Dot A, as for the family photos that are not uplifting but you have to keep for some reason, how about putting them all in a photo album. I had a client I worked with whose family photos took over the hall way. She said she had tons of relatives and when one picture went up, the others asked where theirs were, so she felt obligated to put up one of them, and on it went. I told her to take them all out of frames, put them in a wonderful family album, and when they asked, show them the album. Tell them you had to paint and take them all down, or what ever makes sense. Or, yes, put them away in a corner of a room you don't spent a lot of time in. All of our art work and pictures take up important real estate on our walls, make sure they uplift you and make you happy, after all it is your home, and you are the important person here. If it is because it is relatives of a spouse or partner, then you need to negotiate where their family photos go. Perhaps they can go in their personal space, like their office, etc.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola6 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

emily Jean
emily Jean6 years ago

As long as there's something water in every room..blue, pictures, water feature, fish tank

Emma Rose
Emma Rose6 years ago

yes my house upside down renovation...CLUTTER everywhere......but I try my best to have patience I figure eventually things will get fix.....sometimes I don't let the clutter get to me...no point of fighting the clutter..just go with the flow......

a             y m.
g d c6 years ago

Always find your articles realistic and insightful...
Thank you for the periodic and uplifting reminders...

Lynn C.
Past Member 6 years ago

Wonderful article - wonderful comments. Thank you one and all.

Dot A.
Dot A6 years ago

All great guidance and information from you as usual Erica! Love the 'favorite colors' being good Feng Shui! However, here's a Q: What's the best place for photos which cannot be discarded for family reasons, but aren't 'uplifting' to be in the living environment either??? No reason to get specific here, as perhaps other readers could use some of your considerable knowledge regarding this personal issue,.... (?) Hope you can post a wonderfully diplomatic and Feng Shui wise response, Erica~ The only thing I can come up with is hiding them in a box and stuffing them in a dark corner in the closet, kind of 'weirdness' ~ [for a kind of weird problem, LOL]