Feng Shui Core Concepts: CHI (Part 2)
In the last post, I discussed how Chi is an integral part of our environments. Our perception of our surroundings, and thus how we experience Chi, is taken in through our physical and subtle senses. Chi greatly affects us and influences how we act, react, and interact. It can add vitality to our spaces and life.
However, not all Chi is considered good Chi. Sometimes, we find ourselves in potentially troublesome conditions that create negative energy (also known as Sha Chi). If allowed into our spaces, Sha Chi can create suboptimal conditions in our physical surroundings and negatively influence our mental and emotional health. A crucial aspect of feng shui is minimizing the ability of Sha Chi to enter our spaces and impact our lives.
Where Does Sha Chi Come From?
Sha Chi can be caused by a variety of conditions and comes from a few different sources:
Natural Sha Chi is caused by fissures in the earth. During times of tension, these fissures are the routes through which the earth’s pent-up energy is released in the form of earthquakes. To identify Sha Chi areas in nature, look for places where water runs off, anywhere the earth is cracked, where there is an accumulation of stones or rocks, or patches of ground where the earth does not appear to support as much vegetation as in the surrounding area.
Cracks, holes, and broken windows in our homes are also fissures that hold the potential for Sha Chi to enter (in the form of rodents, cold weather, cuts and bruises, etc.). It’s important to find these disrepairs and either fix the issue or steer activity away from them.
Sha Chi can be created when too much Chi accumulates excessively. We see this when there is too much Chi in overcrowded trains, planes, or elevators. It also expresses itself when we develop indigestion after we’ve eaten (and are trying to digest) too much food.
Chi can become negative when it gets stuck, like when a person has to squeeze through a pathway behind furniture that’s placed too close to a wall. These furniture arrangements that are too close or seem closed tend to make us feel angry and constrained, and unexpressed anger ("stuck" within us) is a good example of Sha Chi. Clutter can also create stuck energy because it’s very difficult for positive energy to flow easily and healthfully in a space where there’s too much stuff.
Sha Chi can be created by acceleration along straight lines. People tend to perceive straight lines at a distance as narrowing and moving faster, like how water flows faster as it travels down a narrowing riverbed. This situation can be beneficial in a school hallway, for instance, when administrators want students to move quickly from class to class, but in a different atmosphere, like a hospital, where patients feel as though their movements are inordinately slow, it can serve as a negative influence and impair recovery.
Another way that Sha Chi can be created is when actual or perceived movement is aimed towards a house or at someone in a space. This movement is referred to as a “poison arrow” in traditional feng shui. Poison arrows make us feel vulnerable or threatened, and the Sha Chi created by these conditions negatively impact our sense of well-being and our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. To give you a classic example of a poison arrow, imagine a house that is located at the foot of a “T” juncture of two roads. Traffic is speeding directly towards the house before turning either left or right, and even though traffic is not actually crashing into the home, residents may feel assaulted from a visual perspective. Other examples of poison arrows are listed below.
Edges: Corners of buildings or rooms created by architectural details such as wall beams, lighting, or furniture.
Height: Tall buildings next to low ones, rampant plants growing overhead, or a child’s bed that is adult height.
Fallen Objects: Trees that have been felled, debris on a floor, or a bike lying on its side across a pathway.
Massive Objects: Boulders or overgrown trees near an entrance to a home, large sofas near a dining table, or heavy bookcases in a child’s room.
Hidden Areas: Spaces that are not totally observable from the main area of the room (we need to feel secure in our spaces, and when we are exposed from behind – because we can’t see what might be going on behind us – our Chi is unnerved).
Behavior: A teacher’s reprimanding gaze, sharp tones of raised voices during an argument, or subtly threatening face or body language.
It’s important to keep in mind that while these are general rules that probably apply to most situations, they might not ring true for every instance. Just like mostly everything else in feng shui, blanket rules don’t always work for poison arrows. For instance, a massive public building that sits at the end of a “T” juncture might actually benefit from the speeding traffic that approaches it. Likewise, a bookcase that is over 8 feet tall but is visibly and securely attached to a wall or located in an expansive room probably won’t make anyone feel uneasy or threatened. Be sure to use your discretion when examining your spaces for possible negative influences.
Like Tao and Yin/Yang, Chi is at the heart of feng shui. These three components serve as the foundation for the practice, and without them, nothing else makes sense. Another crucial component of feng shui (and Chinese philosophy in general) is the concept of the Five Elements, which you can read about next!