Feng shui is a Chinese frame of mind for organizing and arranging one’s environment in such a way as to best promote the flow of chi, or positive energy. There are a wide range of principles from feng shui that can be used to improve your living experience in a small space.
Implementing feng shui techniques
There is no central authority overseeing the beliefs of feng shui – this is a philosophy that has emerged over thousands of years, not a rigid religion. There are countless variants of feng shui practices, some of them conflicting.
In your own home, you can really apply feng shui as deeply as you want, from following the main concepts to bagua room layout charts to highly accurate Chinese compasses, or luo pan. The basic principle behind feng shui is to achieve a smooth, positive harmony in every room in your home. And whether or not you believe in yin and yang, or the interdependence of the elements, or the importance of geographic poles and directions, in our opinion, feng shui’s end goal of a peaceful home is an important goal, whether you are living in a small space or a large one.
The two core tenets of feng shui
The entire basis of feng shui stems from the belief and goal of creating vital harmony in one’s environment. Two underlying concepts underlie this most basic definition: 1) the balance of yin and yang, and 2) the balance of the five natural elements.
Yin and yang
- Yin is the relaxing, dark, restful energy of relaxation and replenishment. Black and other dark colors normally represent yin.
- Yang is the energy of movement, strength, vibrancy, and passion. It is traditionally portrayed by white and other light colors.
The overarching goal is to keep representations of both halves in your home, with an emphasis toward certain elements depending on the room’s purpose. You would want more yin energy in the bedroom, for example, and more yang energy in the home office.
There are certain colors, objects, and materials associated with each of the energies, so the two different emphases are visible if you know what to look for. You can use this concept to see the effects a few feng shui changes can make have on your room. However, you should never have only one type of energy in a room; just as you only appreciate light because you have experienced darkness, you can only experience yin or yang properly in context of the other.
The five elements
The other main tenet of feng shui is the idea of the five elements:
- Wood (color: green, aspect: family)
- Fire (color: red, aspect: fame)
- Earth (color: tan, aspect: health)
- Metal (color: white, aspect: creativity)
- Water (color: black, aspect: career)
These elements bring added depth and complexity to the ideal flow of chi energy throughout your home. They employ a more spiritual or philosophical perspective, with the practitioners believing that these elements, properly implemented in your home, can be used as tools to shape your life’s goals and ambitions.
Bagua diagrams can be used to determine which elements to place in your home and where. Traditionally, the chart would be aligned with south, and from there you would mentally overlay the diagram over your floor plan to determine which areas are ideal for which elements and which desires in your life.
Attention should be paid to every area on the diagram, but you can choose to focus on regions that reflect the desires and problems currently happening in your own life, such as moving a water fountain to the northern, black section to promote career advancement.
Additionally, some items are “judgment calls”, and you will have to decide if you need them more in one area or the other, like an object that corresponds to one area on basis of color and another on basis of element.
Feng shui is not designed to be used as an exact science, and the best way you can use it is to shape your home around upon the unique priorities and problems of your own (and, if applicable, your family’s) life.