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What is Feng Shui?

A Beginner’s Guide to Feng Shui

Many cultures believe in a vital energy force that flows through the universe, the earth, and all living things. In China, this energy is known as qi or chi. The way this qi flows through the environment around us, like the space we live in, can affect all aspects of our life—from our moods and relationships to our careers and finances.

Practices like acupuncture, shiatsu massage and chakra balancing all help to improve the flow of qi through our bodies. For thousands of years, the Ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui has been helping people improve the flow of qi in their physical environment. Feng means “wind” and Shui means “water”. The wind moves the energy and the water holds it. Feng shui attracts and fosters positive energy into space while deterring and expelling negative energy.

So how does Feng Shui work exactly?

There are different schools of practice when it comes to Feng Shui but they tend to share a common belief in five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, water—and the relationship between them and their associated directions, shapes, and colors.

If a feng shui expert were to evaluate where you live, they’d look at things like the location of your home, its position in the surrounding environment, the direction the rooms face, the shape and placement of furniture, lighting, garden landscaping, and more. They may examine which elements are present in which room (for instance, wood and organic materials are recommended for a baby or child’s room to encourage growth) and what colors are used (choosing cool blue and green tones to slow down busy qi in a study or home office).

But you don’t have to be an expert to bring Feng Shui principles into your home. Here are some tips for supporting good Feng Shui and positive qi:


One of the first steps in creating Feng Shui harmony is to get rid of the excess stuff that takes up space in your home. Do you need it? Do you use it? Do you love it? If not, let it go! Less stuff will help qi flow more freely through your place and make room for positive energy.


Natural light and fresh air make for good energy. Keep curtains and blinds open to let natural light in. In a windowless room, consider full-spectrum lamps. Open the windows whenever possible and keep air-purifying plants around the house, or use an air purifier.


Energy enters the home through the front door, which is considered to be the door you use as your main entrance. If you’re looking for a new home, Feng Shui would suggest avoiding one with a front door that faces a church, temple, cemetery or railway—qi tends to concentrate in these areas, which makes it hard to relax. If the front door location isn’t ideal, you can balance it out with water features, wind chimes, plants or a fence.


To create positive qi in the bedroom, keep the bed a distance from the door and avoid having the head or foot of the bed in line with it. Leave space between the bed and the window (enough for a small table or chair) and make sure the bed isn’t caught in a cross-draft between the door and the window.


A sharp corner jutting into a room can cause negative energy. Similarly, empty corners can lead to a build-up of stale energy, especially if the corner is filled with clutter. Offset both by placing a plant or decorative item there.


If designed to Feng Shui standards, gardens can generate copious amounts of positive energy, whether in a big backyard or a small balcony. When choosing plants, go for a balance of shapes, sizes, and colors. Brightly colored flowers and fragrant plants are especially good, as are spots for contemplation, like benches, sculptures, and ponds. Water attracts and recharges energy so opt for water features to bring extra positivity.


There’s a Chinese belief that goldfish stimulate qi and attract prosperity. A fishbowl kept near the entrance of a business or its cash register can help the money come in. It’s best if they’re grouped in threes, sixes, eights or nines. These colorful creatures can also serve as a soothing point of focus in a room.