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Finding Balance with Feng Shui

Even if you don###t know yin from yang, you can understand and benefit from Feng Shui, one of today###s hottest trends. More than just an interior decorating style, Feng Shui is a life philosophy.

The Basic Idea:
Feng Shui is based on the idea that the universe is filled with invisible, cosmic energy, called chi. Chi is in constant motion, flowing around us and our surroundings. The goal of Feng Sui is to harness this life force and encourage it to flow in beneficial ways. Good chi can promote happiness, health and prosperity. Bad chi can cause sickness, strained relationships, and financial problems.

Schools of Feng Shui Thought:
Most modern methods of Feng Shui are combinations or variations of, three basic schools: the Land School, the Compass School, and the Black Hat Sect Tantric Tibetan Buddhist School (BTB). The Land School was developed by farmers in ancient China. In order to harmonize their lives with the forces of nature, the farmers evaluated a landscape and its natural features -- trees, rivers, mountains -- to determine the best placement for buildings
and crops.

The Compass School, as the name implies, utilizes compass points, astrology and mathematics rather than landscape features for orientation. This system developed the ba-gua, an eight-sided chart that has become an essential Feng Shui tool.

The BTB school was founded by a Chinese-American Feng-Shui master, Thomas Lin Yun Yun around fifty years ago. It uses the room of a door or building as the main point of reference.

How it Works:
Using the ba-gua chart, modern practitioners of Feng Shui can select and arrange objects in a room to create harmony and encourage the proper flow of chi. Each of the eight directions on the ba-gua is believed to govern a
different aspect of life: health, wealth, fame, marriage, children, helpful people, career and knowledge. And each of these aspects is influenced by the five elements: earth, fire, wood, metal and water. Colors, seasons, and animals important to Chinese mythology like the dragon, tiger and turtle are also important. Every object is characterized by a certain element. The way objects and their elements interact influences the environment.

Suppose you are thinking of placing a fountain in your living room to calm your jangled nerves. According to the principles of Feng Shui, you would want to avoid putting that fountain against a south wall. The south is
associated with fire, and water would symbolically extinguish the benefits of fire###s influence. A lamp would be a better bet for that spot, because it would harmonize with fire.

So before you put that table next to a window, hone up on your Feng Shui and consult a ba-gua chart. The goal of every decorator is to create harmony, and being aware of the relationships of objects to one another and
to their surroundings is key to achieving that goal.

To read more of this article and for other decorating tips, visit the Sheffield School of Interior Design Website and click on "Decorator Monthly." Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield
School of Interior Design.