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What is feng shui?

Q. Some consider feng shui very New Age, but how long has feng shui actually been practiced in the East?
A: – Classical feng shui has been practised in the East for over 4000 years and is based on a keen observation of the energy (Chi/Qi) of the interior and exterior of your space over time. In fact, excavations in the Henan Province in Central China attest to a primitive form of Feng Shui being practised 6,000 Years.

Feng Shui looks at the forces of Heavens energy (time) and earths’ energy (space) and creates a balance between these forces. With balance comes the opportunity for improvement of your health, wealth and relationships.

In fact much of this ancient information is borne out by modern scientists. Einstein understood that time and space were not separate entities but are connected to form a fourth dimension called space-time.

Therefore it can be said that classical feng shui is based in part on modern scientific reasoning – as quantum physics has revealed both people and objects are actually bundles of intertwining energy, which is connected. Albert Einstein’s’ theory of relativity tells us that the paper you are reading and the chair you are sitting in are all forms of energy at rest. Feng Shui provides a formula for harnessing this energy and the energy in the spaces in between, that we cannot see, to enhance our environment so that the space is in harmony with your own energy.

The ancient Chinese perceived a rhythm connecting humanity to nature. They saw that the laws of nature were also the laws of life. Feng shui looks at ways to interpret and co-operate with the powerful forces of nature in order to address life patterns and change them easily, – going with the flow rather than swimming against the tide.

Q. Who is most likely to use the service of a feng shui consultant in their home?
A: –
Feng shui is employed by a wide variety of individuals across the spectrum of busy professionals looking to their home environment to provide balance in their hectic lives, to concerned families trying to create as healthy and nourishing a space as possible to raise their children. It is also employed by businesses, small and large to create a balanced, happy and productive environment for their staff to occupy. Worldwide some more notable commercial interiors employing Feng Shui include Trump Towers in New York City, Sydney Harbour Casino and Hotel and Hong Kong Disneyland, which is currently under construction. In Ireland, companies as diverse as banks, businesses in the IFSC, hotels, retail outlets and busy offices, as well as private dwellings have employed the services of feng shui practitioners. So as you can see, anyone interested in improving their living and working conditions will benefit from the advise of a Feng Shui practitioner.

Q. Yin and Yang are mysterious concepts to most people. Can you say, in an easy to understand way, why arranging your home around feng shui principles does make a difference?
A:
– Actually, far from being mysterious concepts yin and yang are quite simple to understand. Yin and yang are two opposing yet complimentary energies that shape the universe and everything in it. Good or auspicious feng shui can only be created when there is harmony or balance between Yin and Yang. For example an environment that is too yin (heavy, dark, blocked, fixed, cluttered) will result in its occupants complaining of fatigue, depression and lack of motivation. An environment, which is too yang (light, bright, empty, active, open) offers no respite or relaxation for its occupants leading to bad temper and headaches etc. Places that are too yin and lifeless are equally as difficult to thrive in as places that are too yang- busy and noisy

Feng shui strives to create a balance so that the energy of the space reflects the occupants’ needs for shelter and support on every level – mind, body and spirit. Your environment should reflect your aesthetics and values, support your energy, rather than be a source of stress and at the very least remind you of your dreams.

Q. Is it basically a set of common sense guidelines for a healthy home?
A: – Not exactly, feng shui is about more than healthy homes. However, a good dollop of common sense is where any Feng Shui consultation will begin. Unfortunately common sense, in terms of healthy living and working environments, is not common practise! Therefore, in the first stages of application of feng shui to your home or business it is essential to isolate the elements in the environment that contribute to stress by affecting our health and well being. Things like chemical pollution from the material finishes, cleaning agents etc that we introduce into our homes daily, have a huge impact on our health and commonly result in allergies and general dis-ease. We also need to consider electro-magnetic fields, which distort our own electro-magnetic or energy fields when we come in contact with them on an on-going basis. For example: sleeping in an electrically active space, using electric clock radios, electric blankets, sleeping above or adjacent to the fuse board in the house etc. stimulates your nervous system, therefore inhibiting restful sleep. Similarly it is very useful to check the plot of land we live on for geopathic stress, which is disturbed energy within the earth itself, which can have a major impact on our well-being.
We need to look at ways to strip back the layers of these stressors first, before applying feng shui principles, in orderto deal with the energy of our spaces (and how that impacts on us), in a comprehensive manner.

Q … and is it also helpful to de-clutter our spaces?
A: – Absolutely! Clutter accumulates where energy stagnates. It is extreme Yin or tired, stale energy. When you live surrounded by clutter, your life will be stuck or stagnant in the same way. It is like a form of self-sabotage, keeping you stuck surrounded by your past rather than allowing you to be open to new possibilities and opportunities. Every time you encounter clutter in your environment you lower your energy level. On a purely practical level it gets in the way of your forward momentum. The book ‘Clear your Desk’ by Declan Treacy tells us that office workers spend on average 22 minutes a day looking for lost documents – what a waste of your time! If you imagine that you are connected to everything you own by invisible strands of energy, then it makes it much easier to lighten the load when it comes to having a clear out in your home or office. Take a look at everything in your space and ask yourself “Is this useful, or do I find it beautiful to look at?” if the answer is no, then it can be reclassified as clutter and removed from your space. The sense if freedom, lightness and mental clarity that comes from clearing your space of clutter is an excellent first step on the road to employing good feng shui in both living and working spaces.                                    

Q. What are the most common pollutants in the average home?
A: – You can get overwhelmed by looking at pollutants in the home but it is important to do this a little at a time and remove as many toxins as possible from your environment. In looking at pollutants in the home look at the following 4 elements: –

1. Water Quality

2. Energy – e.m.f’s – electromagnetic fields from electrical appliances and lighting etc.

3. Air – Voc’s – substances that readily release vapours at room temperature are known as volatile organic compounds.

4. Materials – for building such as pvc, soc’s – synthetic organic compounds in water based paints etc.

The main factors affecting indoor air quality are hermetically sealed buildings, synthetic furnishings and reduced ventilation. Combined, these have created a much more hazardous environment in terms of pollution indoors, than outdoors. This is because nowadays, in this part of the world we spend 95% of our time indoors.

Some of the more commonly found pollutants are Formaldehyde, Xylene, toluene and Benzene.

For example formaldehyde is a binder and is out-gassed from chipboard furnishings such as kitchen cabinet frames and much of our modern furniture, glue backing on carpets, rubber underlay, draperies, fabrics, facial tissues, paper towels, mdf., chemically treated wooden floors Etc. New Car Smell is actually formaldehyde and takes 8- 10 yrs to fully out-gas! Therefore, new homes in particular and those undergoing a great degree of refurbishment are sources of concentrated formaldehyde.

Dry cleaning clothes and draperies etc. – Xylene, benzene and Toluene.

Floor coverings – formaldehyde, xylene/toluene, benzene.

Paints, stains and varnishes – formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene and alcohols. Odour free paints have an extra chemical added to mask the odour of the other chemicals and are therefore not necessarily healthier!

Scotchguard, flame-retardant etc –and most of our cleaning products are also sources of indoor air pollution.

Q. So what can you do to counter this? It is simple common sense that we can put into practice –

A. If you must dry clean your clothes, at the very least, take the plastic wrapper off them and hang them outdoors on a clothes line or by an open window to let the chemicals outgas – don’t bring them straight to your bedroom where you will be breathing in these chemicals as you sleep!

*Make healthier choices, choose natural materials where you have a choice, read labels on cleaning materials, choose more natural options, throw open your doors and windows daily – especially when re-decorating and finally add lots of healthy green plants. Plants can be a mitigating factor in combating indoor pollution as they have an amazing ability to reduce voc’s and emf’s in our environment as well as adding life force and vibrant energy to our spaces. For example the Boston fern, the aloe vera and the rubber plant all have the ability to reduce formaldehyde, the spider plant can reduce carbon monoxide, the areca palm can reduce xylene and toluene and English ivy can absorb benzene from the air.

For more information on plants: – “How to grow Fresh Air” by B. C. Wolverton.

Symptoms caused by effects of pollutants – irritability, fatigue, anxiety, rashes, headaches, eye irritation, chronic cough, chronic sinus infections, joint/muscle pain, memory loss or inability to concentrate.

Q Does creating a home around feng shui principles entail a massive change from the more traditional “Irish” way ofhome making?
A: – No, employing feng shui in your home need not result in a space that looks like a Chinese Restaurant! Feng shui involves looking at the harmony found in nature and reflecting that in the layout, orientation and decoration of our homes. In employing feng shui therefore, we look at yin and yang, and the five elements found in nature and use colour and shape, imagery etc to balance the flow of the elements and encourage good energy-flow throughout the space.

Every traditional culture, not least our own Celtic/Irish culture embraced this information in some form or other, therefore, much of the information does not feel alien at all. In fact when you employ feng shui properly to your space it makes it feel much more like “home” – a place of shelter and comfort, than ever before. Aligning your space to benefit from the healing energy of the earth and the heavens, positioning your bed, desk, kitchen etc to benefit from this healing energy and at the same time reducing stressors is the most natural thing in the world, when you think about it.