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How Feng Shui Works And Where It Comes From

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How Feng Shui Works And Where It Comes From

Davina MacKail gives you the lowdown on the ancient Chinese art
Davina  MacKail
Davina MacKail More by this author
Feb 09, 2016 at 03:30 AM

Feng shui evolved from the basic realization that we are affected by our surroundings and have an innate understanding of how our environments affect us.

We immediately get a good feeling when we enter some houses and a bad feeling when we enter others. We know instinctively if an argument has taken place. Our language supports our understanding, hence the common expressions, ‘You could cut the atmosphere with a knife’ or ‘That place had really bad vibes’.

The ancient Chinese had a whole area of study devoted to this subject known as feng shui. Pronounced, ‘fung shway’ or, as I prefer, ‘fun and play’ because this is the best approach – to have fun and play with it. It’s good to put a bit of feng shui in your life but don’t put your life in feng shui!


Feng shui is a system for creating balance and harmony in our lives through the cultivation of the chi or energy flow around our homes. It is also about connecting us to the Spirit of Place we call home.

It allows us to move with the tides of life rather than against them. It teaches us how to transform and harmonize our environments to achieve more of what we want in life by harnessing the beneficial energies; and at the same time reducing what we don’t want by limiting or transmuting the harmful or stagnant energies.

It is a wonderful way for us to become more conscious of our co-creative abilities, empowering us to take full responsibility for our lives.

Moreover it is a powerful tool in helping us to master one of our greatest fears – the fear of change. Feng shui teaches us that nothing stays the same. The state of impermanence is the only truth. Within this state of change, we are working with the totality of parts to create a  constantly mutating, holistic harmony in our homes and lives.

It’s all about the chi: how feng shui works

Feng shui is based on the same principles as quantum physics: everything in the universe is connected and made of energy at the subatomic level. If two photons fly off in different directions at the speed of light and something is done to one of them, the other immediately reacts. Yet nothing can move faster than the speed of light. Between Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and developments in Quantum Theory, science has begun to prove and accept what mystics and philosophers have been saying for thousands of years: that everything in the world is energetically connected. Therefore, everything in our homes has a corresponding impact on our lives either positive or negative because we are energetically connected with them.


It is relatively easy to see how colour in a room or natural light, the style of furniture, type of art, ornaments, living plants and so on can affect our experience of a place, and determine whether or not we feel comfortable. What perhaps is more difficult to grasp immediately is the notion that invisible energy flows around us all the time and anything that affects that flow will also affect our lives.

We cannot see or understand electricity, yet we don’t question its effectiveness in providing light and power when we need it. This is a good attitude to adopt with feng shui. You may not be able to see the chi energy but you will certainly feel the effects of it. Similarly, we cannot see the wind but we become aware of its presence when we hear the leaves rustling. When the winds are benevolent they can help us navigate from shore to shore and when the winds are angry we’re left in no doubt of their destructive power.

Exercise: Experiencing chi

Pause for a moment and rub your hands together vigorously several times. Now bring your facing palms close together but not touching. You should be able to feel a ball of invisible energy between them. An indefinable but definitely tangible sensation – that’s chi (pronounced, chee) in China. If you can’t feel it, rub your hands together longer and harder, and try again.


We don’t have an exact word for this invisible energy known as chi or qi, in English. Probably the closest is life force or vital energy. Certainly many cultures are aware of its existence. It is known in India as prana, in Japan as ki and in Egypt as ankh. Whatever we call it, it is that vital force or energy that permeates all things: feng meaning wind and shui meaning water because the breath of chi carries both.

In the Q’ero shamanic tradition, in which I’m also trained, it is referred to as the ‘animating essence’. Getting to know chi – identifying it, understanding how it moves, how to harmonize it, transform it and direct it – is what feng shui is all about. In essence it is the philosophy of the cosmic dance between heaven and earth.

Editor's Note: Read more in Davina MacKail's Hay House Basics book on Feng Shui:

About Author
Davina  MacKail
Davina MacKail is a master practitioner of hypnosis and a practising shaman. She makes regular TV appearances and has gained huge popularity as the Dream Whisperer on Five’s The Wright Stuff. She has spent many years practising Peruvian shamanism and Continue reading