A Brief History of Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an incredible gift from the spiritual realm whose goal is to improve and empower the lives of those who employ it.

It is not a religion although it incorporates much from the spiritual riches of the Eastern religions and practices. It even borrows from our most valuable and trusted asset, nature.

Feng Shui literally translated from Chinese means "wind-water." Herein lives a clue to Feng Shui's connection to Nature and the mysterious and essential elements that pervade our life's tapestry. Feng Shui seeks to balance opposites and to harmonize the interaction and amount of elemental energy in our lives, therefore the wind and the water interplay and are necessary for the thriving and movement of each other, as are wood, fire, metal, and Earth.

Sunset through the trees. Photo by Stephen Benton. Everything connects with everything else. We can see this clearly in our environment and its impact on our life quality here in the dawning of the 21st century. The ancient people who lived thousands of years ago in China and the Orient knew the importance of keeping in touch with nature and lived in nature: bathing in the living stream waters, fashioning poetry and songs based on inspiration which came directly from nature, observing the seasons and their affect upon life. Homes were often sited from auspicious natural forms which could be seen in the rock and curves of the land.

These forms would often be in the shape of animals believed to be protective and positive like the dragon or turtle, tiger or a flying bird. Once a good site was found building would incorporate nature into the process. Many of you are familiar with the oriental design of building which has a central open air garden and living spaces on the perimeter, thus lending the central place of honor to nature itself.

This inclusion of nature into the living environment is the first point in Feng Shui and it provides solid ground for higher levels above. When we, in our living spaces begin to include nature through the use of fountains and plants and the other elements, we have invited nature to interact with us, to bathe and soothe us in balancing our personal energies. Then, when we are more fully balanced and vibrantly alive, our choices and energy will reflect that aliveness and our lives will improve.

Stephen Benton in the Redwoods of California. Photo by Tricia Morgan. All rights reserved. The second point I wish to touch upon is the realization that our living spaces are alive and are continuously sending messages to the infinite universe and to us, its occupants. Our homes are bodies in which our energies and lives unfold. What kind of messages are our homes putting out? This begins with our foundation in nature and recognizes the feeling aspect of our space.

Ultimately we want our homes and offices to transmit the most empowering, uplifting messages for our lives. Since our home is the large body for our lives, it has power to shape us and our energies. Through intelligent Feng Shui, we can transform the effect our space has upon us and upon the universe. Remember that the collective message our living spaces puts into the universe goes out in a form likened to a seed, and all of these seeds come back to us bearing the fruit of their original energies. Through Feng Shui, we begin to receive different energy because our homes and our inner selves are putting out different energy.

Boats at sunset. Photo by Stephen Benton. As our home empowers us more and more, we grow stronger and more supported in thinking new thoughts that bear greater fruit for our lives. I'll share an example to illustrate the importance of the best messages circulating in our homes. A couple of years ago, I was working for some clients and we were in the master bedroom. My gaze immediately fell upon a very well done piece of art on the wall. The artist had no doubt been painstaking in the creation of this painting, yet when I looked to what messages were coming off the canvas, I was amazed that the painting found its way to the bedroom.

The painting depicted a woman from the circus with terrible, excruciating pain written across her face and body. The implication is that she fell from her horse and her clown boyfriend sits, tremendous concern covering his face, waiting for a very stern doctor to write what must be a prescription. This message , in the most intimate of rooms, the bedroom, is inappropriate. Imagine going to bed and the last thing you see before slumber is this image! Sweet dreams! Perhaps this image of a woman in pain appealed to this couple in some way. The wife did, in fact, spend time in bed with minor ailments. they now have beautiful pictures of their three children in this area. The wife has recently run a marathon and their health is strong.

Another beautiful sunset captured by Stephen Benton. Feng Shui looks for the messages our living spaces are generating and transforms them into your goals, whether enhancing prosperity, health, inner peace, loving relationships, opportunities or other qualities.

The third point in Feng Shui I will touch upon is the idea of energy flow. Energy is circulating in our bodies, in nature and in our living spaces continuously. For many of us we only feet energy when it is blocked and we experience pain. This gets our attention that something is off. Likewise it is with our living spaces. When our living space gets blocked, our lives get blocked.

In the realm of energy flow, we first want a sufficient amount of quality energy to reach our front door and enter our home. Then, we want it to meander and circulate like the blood, water or breath in our bodies, filling all spaces with life-affirming positive energy.

The glow of the sun. Photo by Stephen Benton. In Feng Shui, energy is called Chi, in yoga it is called prana, and in Hawaii it is called mana. It's an all universal life-force energy. Feng Shui aims to correct energy flow problems and blockages through many means from the physical placement of objects, furnishings, colors and pathways of movement to transcendental house blessing rituals to shift energy to the positive.

Energy flow may be directed consciously through the use of environmental cues and elements as well. In yoga it is said that the mind is like the breath flow. If the breath flow of our home's energy is fun and deep so too will be the spiritual mind and energy of our home. If the breath flow of our home's energy is shallow, labored or partially blocked and unflowing, so too will be the spiritual mind and energy of our home. Perhaps this is why wind and water were chosen as the elements in Feng Shui. They, of all the elements, have the most flowing presence and remind us continually of the need for life-sustaining energy, both seen and unseen.

The Oregon coast. Photo by Tricia Morgan. All rights reserved. The fourth and final point I will touch upon is the idea that everything in the universe is connected. Nothing is separate from anything else. The planets and their energies impact us and this is known as astrology. Our land and homes and offices and all living spaces interact with us directly and their energies have potentially beneficial or detrimental effects. I have heard it said that Feng Shui is known as Earth luck and astrology is called Heavenly luck. We may not be able to shift the energies of the planets at our birth but we are certainly able to shift the energies that our Earthly homes provide us until such time as we return again to the stars.

Feng Shui works so well because everything is connected and interwoven. Placing specific objects, elements and colors with specific intention in certain areas of the home to empower various needs and goals would probably not be effective if the universe were not so connected, where all the parts have an affect on the whole. In truth, the universe is another incredibly vast body in which we live and breathe.

By empowering our own little comer of the universe with vibrant energy and messages we empower the whole universe. Any movement in our part of the infinite universal ocean ripples out infinitely in every direction affecting the water where we live and beyond. The cricket that chirps at the exact instant that an inspiring thought arouses within us some sort of change may be speaking to us from another level, that of spiritual connectiveness. The universe is speaking to us, thus it lends its voice in the form of the cricket.

Stephen Benton on the Oregon coast. Photo by Tricia Morgan. All rights reserved. This universe to which we live is not dead, but a living, vibrant being that enfolds us in love and support. In Feng Shui, it is always fascinating to note the degree of connectedness present in our universe. I have experienced firsthand the disappearance of toothaches by simply fixing my front door's hinge. The door in Feng Shui corresponds to the mouth in the body.

I have seen numerous instances of headaches healed by clearing the clutter from around the front entryway. I have seen relationships improve dramatically by prohibiting energy drainage in critical areas of the home. I have seen wealth increase from the proper application of elements and wealth-affirming messages in prosperity-designated areas of the home or office. I have seen prosperity slip away from people proportionate to the sloping of their land that drove energy away from their home and lives. Even the beds in which we sleep connect to a deeper part of our lives and relationships with self and others, a put that is deeper than simply our need for rest.

With the inclusion of nature, the most vibrant messages and energy and the deep understanding of the connectivity of everything, Feng Shui has built an incredible home on a solid foundation that will provide great blessings and happiness to its occupants. As we evolve and change so may our Feng Shui. It is not static but dynamic, empowering and improving the lives of those who employ it in all times and places. May your dreams come true!