1. What is Feng Shui?

“Feng” means “Wind” and “Shui” means “Water,” two words that have come to describe a set of design principles for living in harmony with both nature and our artificially constructed living environments.  The key to understanding Feng Shui is that everything is composed of energy, and these design principles are meant to maximize the harmonious flow of that energy in order to support our well-being.

2. Is Feng Shui a religion?

Feng Shui is not in and of itself a “religion.”  With roots spanning 3000+ years in China and Tibet, Feng Shui was considered sacred and primarily kept secret by Buddhist monks.  They did so on behalf of the longevity and prosperity of the Chinese emperors.  With this history, it was inevitable that Feng Shui should be steeped in Buddhist traditions.  However, thanks to the principles being made widely available to Westerners by modern masters like the late H.H. Grand Master Lin Yun Rinpoche, anyone from any spiritual or cultural background can use Feng Shui principles to bring harmony to their lives without having to specifically espouse Buddhism.  I myself respect Feng Shui’s Buddhist roots, but am not a Buddhist and I have found that the Universal truths about harmony fit in quite well with Judeo-Christian and other beliefs.

3. I’ve read several Feng Shui books and they don’t seem to agree with each other—why is it so confusing?

The books you have read are confusing because they are written from the perspective of differing schools of Feng Shui.  Though most of the schools share certain aspects, they do clash over some very important points.  Most Feng Shui schools you have probably read about branch off from what is known as “Form School”—a system in which the “form” or “shape” of landscape and architectural features was key.  A majority of books available fall roughly into two camps:  “Compass School” or “Black Hat School”.  The main difference between them is that Compass School uses the compass directions (North, South, East, West) to determine the placement of furniture and objects within a structure (or the placement of landscaping on the exterior).   Black Hat School uses the physical doorway or entry into a space as the determining factor for placement and analysis.  In the past decade or so things have become even more confusing as books featuring modern “fusions” combining elements of pre-existing schools with newer elements have been published.  My training and this website are from a Black Hat perspective.  If you wish to diminish confusion in your reading, try to decide which of the two major styles resonates most with you personally and then seek out books written from that school’s perspective.

4. Do you have to “believe” in Feng Shui in order for it to work?

One does not have to believe in Feng Shui. The energy of an environment exists in whatever state it is currently in, whether you are aware of it or not, whether you believe in the principles that govern it or not.  You don’t have to believe in gravity to keep yourself from flying off into space, and this is a similar situation where different energy principles are at work.  It is dubious whether scientists will ever study the particulars of Feng Shui and why it works, but it is encouraging that scientists and medical professionals have finally begun to study acupuncture and found it is indeed effective in treating a variety of ailments.  I often use the analogy that Feng Shui is like acupuncture for our living environment, so the studies done regarding acupuncture are probably the closest thing to “scientific” validation I’ll probably see supporting what my personal experiences and my clients’ experiences have shown to be true.  That said, if your thoughts and beliefs are positively in tune with the good you seek in life or the harmony you wish to experience, then this accelerates the effects of the good Feng Shui you have created around you.

5. Will I suddenly get rich if I straighten up my Wealth corner or meet my soul mate if I fix up the Relationship area of my room?

Feng Shui is not a “magic bullet” or “hocus pocus” that will make things happen for you—if they weren’t meant to happen in your lifetime otherwise.  Essentially what Feng Shui does is that it clears away any energetic obstacles that may have been blocking the path for your good (whatever may be) and help uplift the positive energy that will help that good be drawn into your life (like a magnetic pull) more easily.  For instance, adjusting your Wealth area may not win you Lotto if that is not part of your “destiny” (for lack of a better word), but if you are a sales professional and you have made the necessary adjustments at home and at your office, you may find that it is easier for you to make more sales. Remember there is a practical human aspect as well as the energetic aspect:  if you fix up your Relationship corner, but you are a recluse who never goes out where your soul mate might bump into you, your chances of finding that special partner are slim to none unless your soul mate works for UPS or the US Postal Service!

 6. I’ve heard about “Chi”—what is it?

“Chi” (or “Qi”) is a Chinese word that is used to refer to “Life Force,” “life energy” or simply “energy.”  In Feng Shui circles we tend to use these terms interchangeably.

 7. What is a Feng Shui “Adjustment” or “Cure”?

If we consider the analogy that Feng Shui is like acupuncture for our living  and working environments, then “adjustments” and “cures” are the “needles” that are used to regulate and harmonize the flow of energy in that space.   Adjustments and cures can range from things that seem more mundane or seem to make sense on some level (clear your clutter, repair broken items in the home) to what we call “transcendental”—those cures that make no logical sense (hanging a wind chime where there is no wind to move it) but which years of experience show have an ability to impact the surrounding energy.

8. With so many books out there, why should I hire a Feng Shui consultant and what should I look for in a consultant?

There are many great resources available and I encourage you to experiment on your own!  That is exactly how I got started on my Feng Shui journey.  In 1996, I read a couple of books.  I implemented a few adjustments based on what I read and got some good results (one of my sisters got a better job right away!).  That gave me confidence that there really was something to this stuff!  I went on to take formal training which fascinated me — I just had to keep learning more!  That led me to take the many advanced courses needed to become a professional so I could help others.  Not everyone will choose to pursue training after just reading a few books.  But once you have read some books, it will allow you to choose which school of Feng Shui you feel more comfortable with.

Then you may choose to hire a consultant trained from that perspective because:

  1. The books are still a bit confusing and you’re still not sure you are reading the floor plan correctly or placing the Bagua the right way
  2. You simply realize that the books seldom give you all the details and possible cures for your situation
  3. the process seems overwhelming (change can be daunting) and you need some guidance and support to motivate you
  4.  You realize that sometimes someone else can see or sense what you don’t, simply because you are too familiar with your own surroundings, and finally
  5. Maybe you are not much of a do-it-yourself type and rather than read books and figure it all out on your own you want to leave it in the hands of a professional.

This brings me to the second part of the question.  In hiring a Feng Shui consultant you should ask about the person’s credentials:

  1. With whom has the consultant trained?
  2. How much training was received?
  3. What is the consultant’s experience level? How long has the consultant been in practice?
  4. What types of clients does the consultant typically assist (residential, business)?
  5. Is a list of references available?

It is also helpful to get a sense of the consultant’s personality and philosophy about what they do, since this is bound to influence how you interact with him or her during the consultation.  Recommendations from people you know who have used a consultant can also be valuable.  What I have said above applies to hiring a consultant who is charging more than a nominal amount for their services.  If you should encounter someone who is training or apprenticing to be a Feng Shui professional and they offer to do a consultation for $9 or less, then by all means help this student and give him or her a chance to use you as part of their learning curve.  You’ll both benefit!  I can attest to that, since I had to hand in Feng Shui “homework assignments” to my teacher and complete a certain number of consultations before taking each advanced course.  Those apprenticeship clients only had to pay me a nominal amount to honor the red envelope tradition, but were priceless to my development.  In return I gave those clients the highest level of service of which I was capable at the time and many of those clients reported success stories to me.  However, if you are experiencing some serious health or other major challenges, you may want to consider hiring a more experienced consultant to assist you.

9. How soon can I expect results after a Feng Shui consultation?

Results and the speed with which they happen depend on many factors, so there is no one answer to this question.  I like to say that things happen in “Divine Timing”—when it is time for you to experience something it will happen for you.  I have had clients who got results in a week, others in a month, while for some it can take 6 months or possibly more!  It is an individual thing—just like Feng Shui shouldn’t be practiced in a cookie-cutter way where all clients are given the exact same advice.  Remember also that the results depend on what you as the client are committed to doing.  How many of the consultant’s suggestions are you willing to actually implement and how quickly are you willing to make the changes?  We need to be careful as to how we define “results.”  Sometimes what we think of as the result we want is not the best result for us and we get something else that turns out to be better!  Or an initial result can have the appearance of being “negative” but in time shows itself to be a blessing in disguise.  One example of that: a month after a Feng Shui consultation, someone who was seeking an increase in prosperity (expecting a better job) experienced an accident.  Didn’t seem positive at the time!  But that person was able to get a 5-figure settlement from a lawsuit and that financial windfall was in addition to the person also finding the new job soon after they completed physical therapy!  Do not be overly concerned with specific expectations as to the results you seek or timing—if your Feng Shui has been adjusted for the better, then ultimately great things will happen in their own perfect time.