feng shui and the benefit of good color use
Feng shui is an ancient oriental philosophy that studies the interaction between man and its environment.
The words literally mean Wind (Feng) and Water (Shui); two elements that greatly influence life on earth and which we cannot do without. The force that underlies the workings of feng shui is “Chi”, the life-giving energy. Feng shui operates on the principle that we are subconsciously influenced by the energies (Chi) of our surroundings for our feelings of safety, wellness, happiness, and good fortune. The practice of feng shui lets us examine these energies and learn how to use them to our benefit. It allows us to build a better balance in our surroundings, to create the right space to relax and recharge our batteries.
In feng shui, we look at how energies flow in and around spaces. These energies originate from the interaction between the two polarities that form the basis of all life: the Yin – symbolizing the feminine, the moon and the night, and the Yang – symbolizing the masculine, the sun and the day. Together, Yin and Yang create a cycle of five archetypal elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These elements relate more directly to the natural flow of life and the earth itself, and each element carries a different meaning and interacts with the other elements in special ways. The element of “wood”, for example, is an archetype of spring, the beginning of life and growth, but “wood” also stands for networking and creativity, for our family roots, and it forms the basis for where we come from and how we grow.
The five elements of feng shui are inextricably linked to colour. Colour is not only an important part of feng shui but of interior decoration in general. After all, humans respond to colours in surprising ways. Our biorhythm is directed by colour: the blues in morning light wake us up and the red sunset lulls us to sleep. Experiments show that pink “drunk tanks” reduce aggressiveness in arrested individuals, blue street lights in Glasgow and Japan are said to reduce crime rates, and athletes wearing red colours are shown to win more often than those wearing blue.
There are many colour therapies in the world to help us heal, and all ascribe certain powers to colour. For instance, red is a colour that grounds us and gives us strength. Orange can heal our body and soul, it is an uplifting and optimistic colour that boosts our mood. Yellow is a colour that helps us see more clearly, whereas green gives us peace, and blue is good for communication. Purple is a spiritual colour, and white is the ultimate light.
The five elements of feng shui all have their own colours and materials that represent them. For instance, green colours and wooden furniture represent “wood”; red colours, candles, and fireplaces represent “fire”; and yellows and browns signify “earth”. Greys and pure whites stand for “metal”, but so do metallic paints and wallpapers. Finally, “water” is represented by blues and black, an aquarium brings water but be careful with placing real water in the house, as it is a powerful tool.
In feng shui, working with colours and materials allows us to attune the energetic flow in spaces to the needs of their inhabitants. We use colours and materials to influence and harmonize the flow of energies. We look at what the underlying energies in the space are, and how colours and materials can be used to give a space the right “feel”.
For example, a south-facing room that is decorated with lots of blues would create conflicting energies. In feng shui, south is the direction of “fire”, the element of enthusiasm, passion, and pride in your work – it is very excitable energy that is related to summer and the sun. Blue, meanwhile, is a colour for “water”, winter, and the moon. Too much blue or water in this room might create energy that dulls your inner fire and makes you overemotional. With the right balance, however, the Water element might just have a pleasant calming effect on the more forceful, unpleasant parts of the room’s “fire” energy.
The philosophy behind the elements, colours, and materials of feng shui helps to explain how it can be possible to completely redecorate a space to your liking and still not have it feel “right”. Even though space looks fantastic, you might have just used the “wrong” colour energies at the wrong place. By playing with colours and materials, feng shui can help balance the space into something that feels good again.
After all, the goal of feng shui is to harmonize the space to (re-)create balance, to enable the “Chi” energy to flow freely, and to make you feel supported in many aspects of your life. This translates itself into a greater feeling of wellbeing and more vitality. It gives you more time and energy to be comfortable and be yourself!