Unless you are Chinese, of Chinese descent or otherwise acquainted with Chinese culture, feng shui may seem like an Oriental mystery - romantic and elusive, mind-boggling with its many branches and roots, impossible to learn, and perhaps a little far-fetched.
THE SCIENCE OF FENG SHUI
Practitioners avow it is not a "philosophy" but a science and an art creating much beauty, tranquility and harmony with your surroundings, indoors and out, promoting health, well-being, love and wealth. We won't try to explain the entire "science" but we will talk about a few of the principles which, as you will see, most of us practice in our every day lives without crediting to feng shui. By the way, feng shui is not a simplistic science - hence, "Basic" Feng Shui may be a little misleading! You will see that feng shui is based on mathematical science - according to the numbers.
"CHI" BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL "CHI" OR "QI" OR "TANE" OR ...
Quite literally, Chi (or Qi) encompasses all energy: air we breathe, nature, earth and its magnetic field, light, the spirit of life (as in Esprit), luck, and fate. Chi controls our wealth and our health. The goal of feng shui is to control and, thereby, direct Chi itself by channeling positive influences into those areas of our lives. We all want to enjoy healthy, long lives, and financial security in a comfortable environment.
Chi is believed to consist of three fundamental forces (or energy): human energy, earth's energy, and cosmic energy. Interestingly, the Chinese are not the only society that practices or believes in Chi. You'll find the Japanese well acquainted with the concept calling it "Ki," the Greeks call it "Pneuma," Hebrews - "Ruah," Iroquois - "Orenda," Egyptians - "Ankh," Hawaiians - "Tane," Hindus - "Prana." There are probably many more that I'm not familiar with.
UP AGAINST THE WALL
Being "up against the wall" is not a bad thing! Don't you feel a little more vulnerable if you are sitting with your back to a window? Unless you are in a high-rise office building, most of us tend to place desks and chairs in front of a wall, not a window. It's a security thing. We feel uneasy with the sense that someone or something could be looking over our shoulder with dubious intentions. We are more comfortable with our backs protected.
The exception to the "window rule" is at home where you may place easy chairs or sofas in front of a large picture window so that you can enjoy a view of your landscaping or the neighborhood. However, we almost always use chairs or sofas with high backs that "protect" us and give the feeling of being safe and secure. Then, as night falls, the blinds come down and the drapes are closed removing the exposure of the window and providing security.
In bedrooms, we sleep easier with beds against a solid wall. Animal instinct - without advocating Darwin's theory of evolution, human beings share some animal characteristics - we like the security and comfort of a den. We don't nest or rest well in openness. Therefore (unless it's just not possible), we put beds against walls, not in front of, against or under windows.
If you have a home with more than one floor, it's advisable to have bedrooms located on the 2nd floor (or 3rd, etc.) instead of ground level. You are less concerned about an invasion of your sanctuary if it's not easily accessible by prowlers. This is especially a concern if you live in a city.
THE MODERN COUNTRY MOUSE VS. CITY MOUSE
Rural or country dwellers enjoy the freedom of leaving windows wide open on hot days and nights with curtains waving in the breeze. City dwellers are somewhat restricted in this area because of physical safety concerns. So, try to choose an abode where you do not need to sleep at ground-level or below. Basement or below ground-level bedrooms/apartments are not considered healthy environments because air (Chi energy) is not allowed to flow freely, consequently unhealthy germs, bacteria, molds and fungus may grow.
PRACTICE COMMON SENSE - NOT COMMON NONSENSE
By now you probably see similarities between feng shui and your own common sense and instinct. Common sense is not new, but it seems like blessed few people possess the quality. Feng shui draws inclinations and subconscious opinions out into the open and reveals them for all to assimilate, digest and then determine if it's a worthy action or not. As a "for instance," practitioners believe that having your front door in line with your back door causes "Chi" or energy to run in one end and out the other. I'd have to agree that it causes a pretty good draft and you're probably going to lose a lot of heat that way - especially in the winter (certainly a drain on your financial resources). If you can't remodel the house, you can use "shoji" screens, room dividers and large floor plants as obstacles to reroute the draft or air flow.
Many older homes were designed for you to open the front door, walk into the living area, look down the hall, and go right out the back door. Today, we tend not to design homes that way for privacy and for esthetic value as well. Used to drive me nuts in our old family home - you could be momentarily sitting on the "throne" and, if you happened to not close the door properly, anyone standing in the doorway between the kitchen and living room could look right down the hall and see you! Situations like this may be remedied by strategically placing large house plants to block views.