A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of addressing the attendees at the Feng Shui Society Annual Conference in London. I spoke on the topic of food and nutrition, which isn’t exactly a ‘core’ feng shui topic, but is closely linked (and, as I said on the day, eating is one of the main ways that a human being is influenced by the environment, which is what feng shui is all about!)
Now, I’ll admit I don’t know much about feng shui, so I was glad to be able to spend the day listening, mingling, and learning – I firmly believe that in a field as rich and wide as Chinese medicine, there is always room for further learning and understanding.
I’ve been put off of feng shui in the past by a couple of not-great books, so I was very pleased to hear the first speaker of the day talking what seemed to me to be complete sense. He was none other than William Spear, something of a big name in Feng Shui circles, and he spoke of the heart of Feng Shui – namely, the relationship between us and our environment.
According to Chinese thought, mankind sits between Heaven (Yang) and Earth (Yin) and it is the interplay of the Yin and Yang forces above and below us that gives rise to the earth and everything upon it. Being connected to, and in tune with, these 2 dynamic opposites is the Taoist way to good health and well-being. Feng Shui is the art of understanding the Yin and Yang of the environment and how it effects people.
In his talk William cautioned against the ‘quick-fixes’ of Feng Shui – “Just put a wind-chime in that corner and all your money worries will disappear” – these are exactly the sort of superficial things that put me off of feng shui when I first looked into it some years ago. Actually, this is an ancient art that has much deeper and broader implications. It is about understanding how we effect and influence our planet, and how it effects and influences us.
This understanding is vital for health, and environmental factors should always be considered as part of any disharmony or health problem on any level. This is, after all, the meaning of holistic – looking at the WHOLE – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental. The outside and the inside reflect each other. Too often in medicine, even in Chinese medicine, I see this important aspect completely neglected.
Understanding and developing a relationship with our homes and the land around us is an important part of self-cultivation and wellness. How and where you live is a massive part of your life, and your surroundings will influence you physically, mentally and emotionally. This can cover many aspects – how easy it is to move around your home, how relaxing is it, what is the ‘feel’ of different rooms, are they ‘fit for purpose’, what can you see out of the window, and what does that do for your mood…. and so on.
Of course, there are lots of reasons that we live where and how we live, but I believe this feng shui understanding and consideration of our environments is important. If I learnt one thing at the conference, it was simply that – pay attention to your surroundings, and don’t underestimate their importance – change your environment and you change your life!