What is Feng Shui?

There’s often a lot of confusion around what feng shui is.  In this article, I will share with you some information about what feng shui is and where the philosophy came from.

Let’s begin with the name “feng shui". The name “feng shui” is translated as “wind” and “water”, and comes from an ancient Chinese poem, describing the ideal living conditions:

The winds are mild,

The sun is bright,

The water is clear,

The trees are lush.

This poem describes the environment we want to live in where the winds are mild and the temperature is moderate and the air is clean.  We want to reside in a location where the sun is bright so we can grow our food.  A place where the water is pure and clear rather than polluted is ideal.  Finally, where the trees and plants can grow abundantly. 

Interesting how this ancient poem especially rings true now where these basic living conditions are still essential to a healthy life. This poem is really about how to live in harmony with nature, so that we can have positive and successful lives. 

We’ve sadly lost touch with nature with our fast paced lifestyles.  We’re polluting our air, the water, the land, and ultimately our lives.  Feng shui is really about getting back in touch with nature.  Feng shui, is wind and water.  This highlights the essentials of what we need to survive.  Wind is our breath. Water, what are humans made of but 75% water?  We cannot live without air and water.  We are a part of nature.


Stepping back a bit, I’ll speak about the history and background of feng shui.  Feng shui is the asian art of placement.  It was developed thousands of years ago in Asia, specifically China.  But feng shui is practiced all over Asia, as well as in practically every other culture.  It just goes by different names.  All cultures have a form of feng shui, which is looking at how you can live in harmony with your environment to create a positive life.  Even within the Chinese version of feng shui, there are many different schools dependent on the particular circumstances of the culture, the time, and the specific geographical location.

In ancient times, it was critically important to look at your location and “feng shui”. For instance it was best to be located slightly elevated with a mountain behind you, so an enemy could not easily come up from behind.  It was best to have an open expanse in front and below you so you can see if any enemies were approaching. 

Here as present day New Yorkers, we learned during Superstorm Sandy that it’s advantageous to be located higher in elevation like in the Upper West Side, rather than down near sea level like where I live in the Lower East Side.  We also learned that our efforts are very small compared to what mother nature can do.  We also researched the cycles of nature, namely the full moon and how that affects the tides…and in turn how that affects our lively hood and safety.  Feng shui looks at where and how you can position yourself (and objects) within a given space to achieve the best and positive flow of energy.  

In conclusion, feng shui seeks to improve and enhance the flow of energy through your environment, to maximize the positive potential for your life.  Because your environment is a mirror of your inner self.  Change your home, change your life.

by Anjie Cho