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Feng Shui vs Western Practicalities

The aspect of this philosophy that I have found hard to get my head around is that of global references. Feng Shui, I am led to believe, is based on direction defined by the magnetic compass. Whereas I am "down-under" in Australia, the author of the book I read lived in the UK. From either country, magnetic North will always be the same, but many of the reasons for a particular part of a building being more suitable for a certain activity than another are said to be influenced by climatic changes. In the Northern hemisphere, especially in the author's homeland, the north face of a building would receive the coolest temperatures and a softer light, these said to be associated with "sex, spirituality and isolation". A room in this location, the book claimed, would be ideal for an artist's studio. I had mine in the south, exactly the opposite, because that was the best, most consistent natural light and the room didn't become like an oven when the temperature outside was 35 C or more, as it is here for a good part of the summer. So, I thought, if I am going to do the principles of Feng Shui justice, I have to reverse all references to the compass points. Wrong! Irrespective of the Sun's relative position to a building in the middle of the day when it is at its brightest and hottest, wherever one is in the world it always rises in the east and sets in the west. Accepting this, I've had to adopt a kind-of top-to-bottom transposition as if standing on my head, leaving east and west unchanged.

What, you are probably wondering, does any of this have to do with you? Surprisingly, this Chinese philosophy which you may know absolutely nothing about does feature in your everyday life; that is to say you utilise some of its principles whether you realise it or not. When you move into a new residence, one of the first jobs is to set up the furniture. If the property is rental or pre-owned, those who lived there before you would have allocated certain areas for specific usage suitable to their own tastes. Bedrooms might have fitted or walk-in robes, the lounge room could have a fixed heater or fireplace on one wall, with sockets for the TV and Hi-fi set into another. For the sake of convenience, you may initially go with your predecessor's choices, putting beds in the obvious bedrooms, couch and chairs in the lounge, and your dining setting in what was most likely a dining area; but once you have begun to settle in, you could discover that someone else's preferences either don't fit your lifestyle, or simply just don't feel right. If you are anything like us, you won't be able to put up with the discomfort for long and will soon be in the throes of shifting furniture around, possibly in a bid to emulate the set-up of your old home which had worked well for you in the past. Unless you are extremely lucky, it won't have the desired effect and you will be moving stuff from one location to the next until you manage to blunder on an answer that is as close to satisfactory as you can make it. When you have, you'll know it instinctively, so perhaps it was worth the effort of all that trial and error. The same solution, however, perhaps even a better one, could have been arrived at minus the stress and strain by applying some of the Feng Shui principles.

They do seem to work. Placing a favourite chair in a part of the room where it is likely to attract negative energy, then facing it in a direction not conducive to relaxation tends to make the sitter uncomfortable and prone to frequent distraction. An office or computer desk set against the wrong wall might affect concentration and focus. An individual could have disturbed sleep in one bedroom, whereas their insomnia and nightmares may not be a problem if they moved to a different one. Even the position of the bed and which way it faces can be influential. Colour is another aspect of living conditions that can influence mood and comfort. The right hue of surrounding paintwork and soft furnishings can mean the difference between a room that is suggestive of the reason for being there, or at odds with it. Feng Shui is a guide to this consideration and many others. We've proved over and again that the principles of this alternative philosophy are an amazingly accurate guide to better living, albeit in hindsight - because our choices were made without it and were based purely on past experience and practicalities. They just happened to produce very similar results which were fortunately happy ones.

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