Often my clients and students admit – even though they may have read quite a few Feng Shui books – that they are confused. The information in one book doesn’t seem to jive with the teachings in the next.
Let’s sort through this dilemma by comparing Feng Shui to cooking. Pretend you know nothing about cooking. You sign up for a cooking class. In it you are presented with the intricacies of Italian cooking. There is a bit of the basics thrown in but you are also shown how to make complicated sauces and raviolis.
Intrigued by this Italian cooking class you sign up for another class. This one offers complicated demonstrations of the use of various spices such as cardamom, cloves and how to make curries. Your Indian cooking class, although delicious and intriguing, has left you with a few specific recipes but no further basic understanding of cooking. You are still intrigued and take yet another class.
With each new instructor you add recipes and gain some general understanding of cooking but you still haven’t been taught the basics. You can’t go to the refrigerator and make a dish from what is there.
This situation reflects what has happened with people’s pursuit of the understanding of Feng Shui. A subject as deep and rich as cooking – and just as sustaining – Feng Shui has become a hot topic. There are now hundreds of books, magazine articles, websites and other information available to us. Much of it seems contradictory and confusion ensues.
Additionally, Feng Shui became better know in the United States only in the 1960s. Since then Americans and many other Westerners, particularly Europeans, have gotten their hands on experiencing and experimenting with this ancient art. People have developed new approaches to Feng Shui, sometimes combining it with other modalities, and they are writing about it. Adding things to a 3000 year old practice can readjust it to the needs of the current users or cloud the waters. In either case, it makes things more complex .
Let’s get back to basics. I practice Form School Feng Shui. When the Chinese started to observe and develop Feng Shui they used this approach. It is the foundation of Feng Shui. The relationship of one item to another, and the subsequent Ch’i flow that results, is the basis of this system. Items observed can be land masses, pieces of furniture, plants and vegetation or anything else that fills up our environment. Everything counts in Feng Shui.
Take a look at the incredible vista in this photo taken on a trip I took to New Zealand. The extreme pitch of the hill and the rocky ocean bottom could pose some Feng Shui challenges to humans if they interact with it. The flock of sheep that were left to graze there seemed to have adapted quite nicely however!
Conversely, this tranquil wooded area offers a pathway that is easier to navigate but the actual route in the distance is undefined and blocked with vegetation. Neither of the situations shown in either photo are ideal so Feng Shui offers guidance on how to evaluate and mitigate the effects of each unique location. Take these same types of observations indoors and you’ll start to understand that an uncomfortable bed or chair is as challenging as the hillside and that clutter in the garage blocks your path just as much as this wooded passageway.
If you want to read just one book on Feng Shui, I recommend The Western Guide to Feng Shui by Terah Kathryn Collins. She was my first Feng Shui teacher and founded the Western School of Feng Shui where I trained. This is the book that got me interested in Feng Shui. It will give you a sound foundation in the basics.