About Feng Shui

We offen hear the question: "What is Feng Shui?". The few that have heard of Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) only think of its esoteric type that was very popular in the West in the 90ies, but little do they know what is actually behind the whole system of Feng Shui.

Feng Shui is a Chinese system of balancing our physical environment to promote harmony and a sense of well-being. Through very detailed observations of nature around us, the Chinese created various concepts to make use of what they learned. One is the system of Feng Shui.

It is applied from a home’s natural surroundings down to its furnishings and decor. It can start with finding a suitable property first and planning a whole estate down to modifying apartments and single rooms.

We believe that everything (and everyone) is affected by a life force we call energy, or "chi" (Chinese) / "ki" (Japanese). How we arrange objects, work with colours and materials will affect our lives and how we interact with our surroundings. Based on the three-fold idea that man (human kind) is in the center between heaven and earth (a concept called "San Cai"), we make our best efforts to harmonize both the heaven and earth energies and make the best use of their potentials for our life and us personally.

Feng Shui gives us the opportunity to work with the potentials of creating wealth and health and enhance our careers and relationships. We believe this is a great start... Why don't you start applying its methods today?

2014 - The Year of the Wood Horse

The Year of the Horse is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.

2014 is the Year of the Horse according to Chinese zodiac. The Year of the Horse starts from Jan. 31, 2014 (the Lunar New Year / Spring Festival of China) and lasts to Feb. 18, 2015.

The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos – making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. Ancient people liked to designate an able person as 'Qianli Ma', a horse that covers a thousand li a day (one li equals 500 meters).

2014 Overview

2014 is the year of the Wood Horse (or green horse) and it is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. However you do need to act fast as the Horse is also one that quickly moves on. Trust your instincts, if you are not sure about a decision, then don't do it. 

About the Zodiac Sign: The Horse.

People born in the year of the horse have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are popular among friends, active at work and refuse to be reconciled to failure, although their endeavor cannot last indefinitely. 

They cannot bear too much constraint. However their interest may be only superficial and lacking real substance. They are usually impatient and hot blooded about everything other than their daily work. They are independent and rarely listen to advice. Failure may result in pessimism. They usually have strong endurance but with bad temper. Flamboyant by nature, they are wasteful since they are not good with matters of finance due to a lack of budgetary efficiency. Some of those who are born in the horse like to move in glamorous circles while pursuing high profile careers.  They tend to interfere in many things and frequently fail to finish projects of their own. 

Horoscope and Numerology Elements
Earthly Branch of Birth Year: wu
Wu Xing (The Five Elements): huo (fire) 
Yin Yang: yang
Auspicious Directions: northeast, southwest and northwest
Lucky Colors: brown, yellow, purple; Avoid: blue, white, golden
Lucky Numbers: 2, 3, 7; Avoid 1, 6, 5
Lucky Flowers: calla lily, jasmine, marigold
Zodiac Sign Compatibility - Best match: tiger, sheep, dog; Avoid: rat, ox, rabbit

Persons born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the "year of the Horse," while also bearing the following elemental sign:

Start Date End Date Heavenly Branch
25 January 1906 12 February 1907 Fire Horse
11 February 1918 31 January 1919 Earth Horse
30 January 1930 16 February 1931 Metal Horse
15 February 1942 4 February 1943 Water Horse
3 February 1954 23 February 1955 Wood Horse
21 January 1966 8 February 1967 Fire Horse
7 February 1978 27 January 1979 Earth Horse
27 January 1990 14 February 1991 Metal Horse
12 February 2002 31 January 2003 Water Horse
31 January 2014 18 February 2015 Wood Horse
17 February 2026 5 February 2027 Fire Horse
4 February 2038 23 January 2039 Earth Horse

Sources: Wikipedia, Travel Guide China, Susan Levitt, Astrology.com, Feng Shui Harmony.

Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are famous for its artful realisation of nature. Similar to Chinese gardens the aim is to reproduce the perfect natural landscape. Many Japanese gardens hence use the same or similar techniques that are known of the Chinese garden, where Feng Shui often is an integral part. Within the art of japanese gardens, the following types can be differentiated:

  • the Pond Garden
  • the Dry-Landscape Garden
  • the Tea Garden
  • the Enclosed Garden


The Pond-Garden

The japanese pond garden with the central element of water is very similar to Chinese gardens. The first written reference to Japanese garden was made in the 7th century which means we are now able to look back at a history of garden design for over 1.400 years. The actual design of the garden was always dependent on the inhabitants self-view. A garden with larger water-features and islands for example re-presented the inhabitants living and coming from an island. Pond gardens were especially popular amongst the nobles. It underlines their self-view of an island-people.

In Palace gardens and gardens for the noble central features included a ceremonial place, soft outlines of hills, a place to worship the ancestors as well as lakes and suitable wild flowers.

A temple garden would ensure that the main hall and the Buddha situated inside would be able to overlook a calmful lake with lotus-flowers.

To ensure that the garden has both space and depth artificial hills, soft valleys and lively peaks would find their place in the classic design of a japanese garden. Plants are planted with large spaces inbetween.

The lake is the central part of the garden. Especially with artificial lakes the form plays a key symbolic role. The form for example would represent:

  • the chinese character for "soul"
  • the chinese character for "water"
  • the form of a river
  • the form of a cubic bottle
  • the form of a cloud

Example lake forms:

Left: character for "soul" | right: character for "water"


Similar to the Chinese garden it is very important on how the garden is perceived by its visitor / viewer. Bridges, platforms and the path-ways have hence a special importance.

The Dry-Landscape Garden

The japanese dry-landscape garden is the most famous garden-type from Japan. It is known as Zen-Garden. Water is replaced by sand and pebbles.

We first find notes on this type of garden back in the 14th century when famous Zen-Masters created this form to transport important Zen-Teachings and Buddhist wisdom. Especially the arrangements of the rock has a special meaning.

Before the 17th century temple gardens required a water feature for ritual use. It was only with a change of Tempel rules that this requirement due to scarceness of water was made obsolete. It is from then on that the dry-garden became the dominant one.

Due to scarce water, moss, bushes and pine trees were included in an artificial langscape of hills and rivers in abstract and round forms.  Rock formations are used to represent water falls and stilised raked sand and pepples represent water streams. The gardens hence represent Zen Teachings. The abstract forms underline and support the mental excercises and medtation on time, space, change and duration.

In those gardens where access to water exists, an interwoven play between real and artificial water is created. A great example of this can be seen in the Japanese Garden in Berlin-Marzahn where not only real and artificial water contrast each other but all kinds of feng shui mastery find its application - like for example the game between master and servant. (for more details visit: An Introduction to Landscape and Garden Feng Shui).

A Zen-Garden is always a game of contrast and harmony between the dry features and that of plants and their colours.

Elements of a Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens are created full of symbolic meaning. The following elements are used to convey the special meaning and none of the placements and creations are left to chance:

  • form of the lake / pond (see above)
  • bridges and viewing platforms
  • paths and stepping stone and their direction
  • sand and pepples and their raked shape and form
  • rocks and rock formations
  • Plants and their (partly artificially creatd) form (e.g. bonsai-form)
  • lanterns (see below)
  • bamboo fences and stone walls
  • gates

Examples of japanese laterns and their shape:

Pictures left to right: Lanterns with legs can often be found between bushes around the lake, Tachi-Gata were originally used in Shrines and Temples and Okigata is placed on flat stones.

De-clutter and de-junk your mind

When you clear clutter you are not just clearing out old unwanted material things but you are actually de-cluttering your mind.

It is only in the process of throwing out material things that we actually realized that many of them (if not all) don't actually mean anything - they themselves definitely don't bring us happiness. And the more we think about it the more we realize how much clutter we have accumulated in our lifes already. And it is only then that we realize that clearing clutter is also a mental matter.

To clear out our mind we need to tune inwards. Cleansing our mind means cleansing ourselves of impurities, afflictions and negative thoughts. The process can be very painful especially with our ego constantly interfering. Our ego of course is tuning into surivival mode and will do all its can to ensure that none of the negative attachments and prejudices leaves us as - should we ever - come to the full realization that all that binds us in our current society is actually not real, then the ego would have died as it has no reason of existance anymore. So naturally it puts up a big fight.

Cleansing yourself is like washing yourself of all the dirt you have accumulated, you start by rubbing yourself and the water surrounding us turns grey and muddy from all the dirt we wash off. The process usually goes with pain and aches; your ego is resisting. You feel like giving up... but when you don't and you hang in there until the water clears you feel so much lighter, so much fresher. 

Your mind develops an acute sensitivity to the energy of space and time.

You all of a sudden see things you never saw before, you enjoy things you never even noticed before. Your mind all of a sudden develops an acute sensitivity to the energy of space and time that not just surrounds you but is part of you.

This process helps to de-clutter your mind and once you have felt the result of this dejunking you know you will do it again and again and again. Don't let the red dust settle too much again, keep that feeling of feeling lighter and brighter. Keep clearing away all the clutter you accumulate on your mind ... try and do this at least once a year.

PS: If you feel lost on how you can do this, what technique might suit you best, try and find a meditation retreat. A simple one like a zen retreat or a retreat at Kopan Monastry in Kathmandu will help you get through the clutter of your mind.

How to re-energize small rooms

Small rooms easily tend to become clutters, crowded and stuffed up with things. It is difficult to move in them and no one really enjoys spending any time in them. However, sometimes it is necessary to use a small room as a home office, kids or guest room. So what is the best strategy to re-energize these cramped in spaces?

Make sure that at least once a month you let fresh energy circle in all your small and cramped spaces. These could be the aforementioned small room but could also be storage places and spaces underneath stairways. Any energy that circulates smoothly promotes health and positiveness. Any stale non-circulating energy is negative for your health and your spiritual and emotional being.

Ikea BookshelvesThe easiest way to promote this fresh flow of energy is by opening up all your windows and doors and let good fresh air from outside sweep through your house or apartement.

Other methods to improve fresh energy in your place is to avoid leaving newspapers and magazines piled up in corners, near the stairs or other prominent places. They tend to attrack negative energy because they tend to contain so many negative stories of crime, rape, war and worse. Seeing these brings your attention back to what you read and this in return keeps circulating negative thoughts and images. Of course glossy fashion magazines are not as bad, but they still tend to clutter up if you don't regularly sweep them into the bin.

One of the best remedies for small, cramped places is LIGHT. Use light whereever possible. Concentrate on 5.000 calvin light which is near daylight, not quite as light and cold but has a warmer tint to it. If you have plants in your small places make sure they are well. Don't keep any left-over plants that have previously died. 

By changing decoration and paintings regularly you keep a place alive too. Also when using part of the wall for storage, for example as a bookshelve, ensure it is behind closed doors or a curtain as especially books tend to draw attention and as long as there are not uniform looking will bring clutter and confusion to the room.

And where possible keep your walls bright, fresh and clean.

Cleansing Antique Furniture

For many an antique furniture is usually attached to with memories. It is the old cupboard from my grandfather. Do you remember how grandmother used to sit at the old desk and take us through her photographs?

For many others antiques are standing for a time long gone, for a more homely style that they so miss in modern furniture design. And for others yet it is a way of investing money.

Whatever your reason for buying and bringing in antique furniture to your life, make sure to cleanse it of any energy it has attracted over time. Especially when the purchase comes with an unknown history.

The easiest way to cleanse antique furnitures is by salt. Salt dissolves negative energy and neutralizes the harmful and negative qi (energy).

Do not use the cooking salt available in your next-door supermarket. These have often been created by artificial production processes or have been cleaned by additional chemicals. Make sure the mixture is one of natural rock salt with natural sea salt of equal proportion.

Take the salt into your hand. Familiarize yourself with the salt in your palms by for example scooping up your hands with an up and down motion. Now, stroke the piece of furniture with the salt. Use something like a brushing motion as if to clean the surface of your furniture from dirt. If you like you can make a ritual out of this cleansing process by chanting a mantra. If you prefer not to use your naked hands you can also use a damp cloth.

Alternatively if the weather allows in your area you can also let the old furniture stand in the hot sun for ten to fifteen minutes. Sunshine is very powerful to eliminate negative energy.

Working at home? How do you position your desk?

Similar to our post on how to best position your bed, we will now look at your home office. Again we are making use of the form school. We are looking for a protected area within the room so we can be concentrated and work. Even though generally a home office is well placed in a yang (e.g. warmer, lighter, more active) area of the house we are still looking for Qi collection to place our desk. Why? Well when we work, we like to be concentrated and not be distracted.

At the same time, we would like to know what's going on outside: Damn, the cat has just thrown down the vase again... Oh well, at least we saw it was the cat and not some burglar... The facing direction is important to have piece of mind, which in return helps concentration on the work at hand.

The office will benefit from more yang, uplifting and creative colours, after all we want to achieve something. In this case red (fire element) and green (wood element) colours will help our creativity while white (metal element) colours will bring us structure and clarity. Experience with the colours you like best. To learn more about the Five Elements visit our article: Five Phases (Five Elements).

In a full Feng Shui consultation we will give advice on the best colours suited to you. We will also advice which room is the best for work. Both will be determined through various methods that take a look at the earthly, heavenly and human elements present in the given situation and environment. This is why Feng Shui is so excited and this is why only a consultation will give you advice for you, today and for your task at hand. It is individual and cannot be generalized.
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