The Basic Principles of Feng Shui

feng shui lucky bamboo

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The philosophy of feng shui is a practice of looking at our living spaces and working environment and striking a balance with the natural world. The Chinese words "feng" and "shui" translate to mean “wind” and “water," respectively. This concept derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it.

In Asian culture, this philosophy is called the Tao, which translates to mean “the way." Taoism is the way of nature and all the basic principles of feng shui reflect nature. Take a look at the essential principles of feng shui: the commanding position, the bagua, and the five elements. 

The Commanding Position

The commanding position is the spot in a room that is the furthest from the door and not in direct line with it. It puts you diagonal to the door. Ideally, you should have a clear line of sight to the door.

The commanding position is where you want to spend most of your time when you are in that room. Feng shui guidelines suggest you determine this dominant position in the room, then place your bed, your desk, or your stove in diagonal alignment, if you can. These three parts of your house are critical since each represents an essential part of your life. The bed stands for you, the desk is an extension of your career, and the stove represents your wealth and nourishment.

bed commanding position diagram for good feng shui
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The Feng Shui Bagua Map

A bagua is the feng shui energy map superimposed on the floor plan of your home. The Chinese word "bagua" translates to mean “eight areas.” Each of the eight areas relates to a different life circumstance, such as family, wealth, or career. And, each of these areas has corresponding shapes, colors, seasons, number, and earthly elements. At the center of the bagua—a ninth area—is you, representing your overall health and wellness.

There are several feng shui schools of thought. All of them use baguas when analyzing your home; however, some may apply the bagua in different ways. The Western and BTB (Black Sect) schools usually lay the bagua so that the knowledge, career, and helpful people areas align with the front door of the home. The Flying Stars and other classical schools may orient the bagua based on the energy of the year or the compass.

Feng shui bagua map with Chinese names
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The Bagua Areas

The easiest way to incorporate the bagua in your life is to identify one to three areas that need the most attention. Do not attempt to work on all areas at once. To strengthen your energy or improve flow in those areas, incorporate feng shui suggestions in that particular area. For example, if you want to encourage fertility, you might add a metallic, circular table in the part of your house representing children. 

Family (Zhen)

  • Representing: Family, new beginnings
  • Shape: Columnar, rectangular
  • Colors: Green, blues, teal
  • Season: Spring
  • Number: 4
  • Element: Yang wood

Wealth (Xun)

  • Representing: Wealth, abundance, prosperity
  • Shape: Columnar, rectangular
  • Colors: Purple
  • Season: Spring
  • Number: 5
  • Element: Yin wood

Health (Tai Qi)

  • Representing: Health, overall wellness, the center
  • Shape: Flat, square
  • Colors: Brown, orange, yellow
  • Season: Transitions between the seasons
  • Number: 5
  • Element: Earth

Helpful People (Qian)

  • Representing: Helpful people, benefactors, travel
  • Shape: Circular, spherical
  • Colors:  Gray, metallics
  • Season:  Autumn
  • Number:  6
  • Element:  Yang metal

Children (Dui)

  • Representing: Children, completion, joy
  • Shape: Circular, spherical
  • Colors: White, metallics
  • Season: Autumn
  • Number: 7
  • Element: Yin metal

Knowledge (Gen)

  • Representing: Knowledge, self-cultivation, skillfulness
  • Shape: Flat, square
  • Colors: Dark blue
  • Season: Transitions between the seasons
  • Number: 8
  • Element: Yang earth

Fame (Li)

  • Representing: Fame, reputation, passion, visibility
  • Shape: Triangle, pointy
  • Colors: Red
  • Season: Summer
  • Number: 9
  • Element: Fire

Career (Kan)

  • Representing: Career, path in life
  • Shape: Wavy, curvy
  • Colors: Black
  • Season: Winter
  • Number: 1
  • Element: Water

Partnerships (Kun)

  • Representing: Partnerships, marriage, self-care
  • Shape: Flat, square
  • Colors: Pink
  • Season: Transitions between the seasons
  • Number: 2
  • Element: Yin earth

The Five Elements

the five elements of earth, metal, water, wood and fire
Mindful Design Feng Shui School

The five elements—earth, metal, water, wood, and fire—come from the Taoist tradition. The elements are five interrelated phases in life that work together to create a complete system. Typically, the practice of feng shui works to balance these five facets in your home and each of your life areas or bagua.

To incorporate the elements in your life and your home, you have to define where you want to focus your energy. Much like the bagua, you choose the one to three areas of your life you want to improve. Then, you strengthen your energy and your home's energy by adding the suggested colors or shapes in that room.

For example, your bagua shows that your bedroom aligns with your health, overall wellness, and the place where you rejuvenate. It ties into the earth element. Consider ways to incorporate earth tones, ceramic or clay pottery, stones, or crystals in that room. After you have made improvements there, focus on a couple of other rooms or areas of your life. Look at the corresponding elements in those rooms and welcome that positive change into your life by adding those elements. The intent is to bring positive energy to those rooms, those areas of your life, and, ultimately, your entire home.

Earth

  • Qualities: Grounded, self-care, stable
  • Shape: Flat, square
  • Colors: Brown, orange, yellow
  • Season: Transitions between the seasons
  • Areas: Health, knowledge, partnerships 

Metal

  • Qualities: Efficient, precise, beauty 
  • Shape: Circular, spherical
  • Colors: White, metallics
  • Season: Autumn
  • Areas: Helpful people, children

Water

  • Qualities: Downward, flowing, shifting
  • Shape: Wavy, curvy
  • Colors: Black
  • Season: Winter
  • Area: Career

Wood

  • Qualities: Expansive, vitality, upward
  • Shape: Columnar, rectangular
  • Colors: Green, blues
  • Season: Spring
  • Areas: Family, wealth

Fire

  • Qualities: Passion, illuminating, brilliant
  • Shape: Triangle, pointy
  • Colors: Red
  • Season: Summer
  • Area: Fame