by Kathryn Weber
Getting started in feng shui can present you with a lot of terms and information that can seem confusing, and many times, overwhelming for beginners and anyone trying to understand or undertake applying feng shui to their home. Taking it slowly and going step by step is the best way to understand feng shui and for getting it right, and most importantly, seeing results, such as greater opportunity, happier relationships, or feeling like you’re unstuck and that life is flowing again.
The concept of feng shui
The basis of feng shui is that there is energy all around us, with rivers of flowing energy moving throughout our homes. When harmonious, this river flows smoothly and so does life. This idea of energy flow, or chi, is based on the premise that the way our homes and offices are arranged can directly impact our health, wealth and relationships. However, this arrangement follows a particular pattern, or map.
The feng shui map
Feng shui follows a map called the bagua. The bagua is an octagon that covers eight different compass directions, which correspond to the directions of a building, or your home, for example. Each direction of the bagua relates to an aspiration such as wisdom, health, wealth, love or income.
The directions also relate to a number (1-9), an element (water, wood, fire, earth and metal), a shape (circle, arc, rectangle, triangle) a person (oldest son, mother, father), and a body part (hands, mouth, legs, abdomen).
The bagua helps us to understand how each corner of your home affects your life, your health, and each person who lives in the home with you.
Feng shui styles
Another important step in understanding feng shui is to recognize that there are two basic styles: Western and classical Chinese. There is a western style feng shui that is commonly called Black Hat feng shui and it is practiced mostly in the west, such as America or Europe.
This style of feng shui posits that the door or entrance to the home is always north, whether that’s the door to a bedroom or the door at the front of the house. The house is divided into eight corners that correspond with the compass directions, but again, you would always orient the entrance with north, making the rear left corner the wealth corner, the right rear corner the southwest corner, the rear center corner is south. These directions never change.
Of course, we know that not all houses or rooms are oriented north, but Black Hat feng shui prescribes the same corners in the same way to all homes or rooms. Despite this, Black Hat feng shui is extremely popular for its ease of use and application.
The second style of feng shui is called classical Chinese feng shui. This is the type of feng shui that is practiced in Asian, in countries such as Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong. It relies on the use of actual compass directions to determine the type and quality of energy that enters a home. However, this style of feng shui relies on the use of a compass to assign the eight directions, or corners, of a home or building.
No matter which style of feng shui you practice, it’s important to have an accurate diagram of your home. This will help you to understand exactly where the corners fall. Once you can see exactly where all the corners are and what is there, such as a kitchen, living room or bathroom, you’ll have a clearer understanding about your home and how to add feng shui enhancements or remedies according to their productive or reducing nature.
The 5 Elements
Feng shui is made up of five elements. Each element has a cycle of destructive, productive/generating or reducing. As an example, the east is a wood element. Adding water to a plant helps the plant grow, so by adding water in the east direction in the form of a fountain or an aquarium, you will be strengthening the east element with its productive or generating energy. This has an impact on your health, growth, family relationships and the oldest son, if you have one.
These elements and the interactions with each other are usually shown in rather complex diagrams like this one.
However, I prefer this much simpler version:
Time element feng shui
There is also another dimension to classical Chinese feng shui that’s an important element and that is the element of time. Every year is a new year and brings with it a set of new energies. This is true for our lives and for our homes. This time element feng shui is called flying star.
Time element feng shui, or flying star, suggests that in some years, certain directions and elements will be more favorable than others. That’s why there is a yearly animal change, such as the rat, ox or tiger. However, this feng shui becomes more complicated, but it’s worth trying because of its accuracy. But for starting out, using the following suggestions for applying feng shui if you are new to it.
Applying feng shui
When you’re ready to apply feng shui, follow these steps.
- Diagram your home. Get an accurate diagram of your home’s floor plan. Make several copies.
- Find the facing direction. This is done by standing in the door to your home and facing the street and taking a compass reading to determine the direction your home faces. Avoid using the sun as your guide. If your door isn’t in the center of your house, read this article. If you live in an apartment, you can take a reading from the center of your apartment to determine where the directions and corners are. Be sure to use a regular magnetic compass and not a compass app on your smartphone because the electronics in the phone interfere with taking a magnetic reading.
- Draw a 9 square grid on your floorplan. If your home is L-shaped, there may be some parts of the grid that don’t have any sections.
- Assign each square on the grid according to the directions of your home. If your home has a centered front door, note the direction in the center square at the front of the house. Then follow with the remaining corners.
- Look at what is in each corner. Use your bagua map and 5 Element theory to guide you about what elements to place in this room. Is your living room in the southwest? Then your element is earth. Enhance the earth sector with harmonious colors, such as beige or yellow. Add some productive element colors, like red throw pillows here to give this sector a boost. Avoid adding elements that reduce earth, such as metal or wood, like tall plants.
- Follow feng shui rules. For instance, it’s not a good idea to activate or enhance bathrooms or add certain elements to bedrooms, like plants, fire elements or water elements. In bathrooms, use the exhausting element to decorate with. That would mean using blue (water) colors in a west (metal) bathroom, for example.