FENG shui, the 6,000-year-old Chinese art or practice of geomancy, is said to utilize the laws of heaven and earth to improve by increasing positive energy or qi and avoiding the negative energy.
In practice, feng shui (literally "wind, water") deals with positioning objects, especially buildings, graves and furnishings, based on the power of yin and yang (cold and hot energy) and the flow of qi that can have positive or negative effects.
As the Chinese Lunar New Year approaches, so do the yearly feng shui updates on the "good" and the "bad" energies according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
"Feng shui is a science and a practical system to adjust the movement of the qi. We can improve our life by channeling the flow of qi correctly and properly, thus making the best use of feng shui," says Su Baicheng, a full-time feng shui consultant, who has studied the I Ching (Book of Changes) for more than 20 years.
The goal is to achieve harmony with one's environment, and good things are said to flow from concord with the cosmos. We are all supposed to be in balance.
The Year of the Dragon brings a whole new set of energies to the universe and to your home and personal space.
In the Year of the Dragon that starts on the January 23 and ends on February 9, Taisui, actually the powerful planet Jupiter, is located at the southeast relative to the earth; moving from the east in the previous Year of the Rabbit.
Beware of the southeast, northwest, southwest and north.
But the east, west, northeast, south and the centers are all auspicious directions in the Year of the Dragon.
As Taisui always carries the strongest sha qi (destructive energy) of the year, the southeast is thus the most negative direction this year, Do not disturb this sector; do not sit facing Taisui; do not exercise in your southeastern room.
"There is too much energy radiating from the Jupiter and we cannot hold it any more. The energy from human activities can make it explode, thus bad things would happen," Su explains.
The feng shui consultant suggests placing a pair of brass toads or dragons in the southeastern part of a house, with their mouths facing inward, because according to the Chinese Five Elements Theory (metal, wood, water, fire and soil), the metal can kill or counteract wood (Jupitar in Chinese is also called the planet of wood.) The toad and dragon are both auspicious animals that can combat poison and evil.
Anything red or made of wood should not be placed in this direction or sector because the strong yang (positive energy) of the color and the wood can strengthen the bad qi from Jupiter.
Opposite to Taisui in the northwest is Suipo, the direction where the energy from Jupiter disappears, literally meaning a place that breaks Taisui. This is also a bad direction because the energy flows from Taisui to Suipo.
"Too much activity in the northwest will block the exit of the energy flow," Su says. "Exercise should be avoided in this area. The more you exercise in your northwestern room, the more your health will decline." In addition, items such as electric fans should be moved away. Swords, scissors and knives must not be placed in the northwest direction because accidents can easily happen there.
It is advised to hang a black and green Taiji Diagram (the yin-yang scheme) in the northwest, because the diagram has a constant energy field and it can turn the energy around and away.
In the northwest you can also place a round fish bowl containing 11 black fish. In March or April in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the fish might die one after another because the destructive qi will be quite strong during that period.
You can add new fish, but keep the number at 11.
People born in the Year of the Dragon and living in a northwestern room should wear a Taoism amulet to turn the bad qi away.
The southwest is the third-worst direction this year because it is a location where disputes, fights and conflicts can easily take place. People with liver, stomach and spleen ailments should take extra precautions. A red and green Taiji Diagram and 12 round red lanterns are a good choice here.
The north this year is a location of illness and bad luck. People spending too much time facing north are vulnerable to ailments. Women spending a lot of time in a north-facing room are vulnerable to kidney and cardiovascular diseases, especially if they are the second child in the family or were born in the Year of Mouse.
Su suggests placing a double-gourd (calabash) in this room or area. According to the theory of five basic elements, illness derives from the earth element but metal subdues the earth and heals. In ancient Chinese culture, a gourd cup was used by a god to catch evil things.
The east, west, northeast, south and the center are all auspicious directions.
The east is good for students. Studying in the eastern room can promote mental ability. Children's bookshelves, desks and computers should be placed here.
The west is the location of the Fortune God. Business people can put their desks here, store financial papers or put a statue of the Fortune God and golden ingots in this part of the house to bring luck.
The northeast is a place of happiness. Anything in red are good, such as red lanterns, carpets or pictures.
The south is a lucky direction for those who are looking for love or want to improve their relationships. To attract love energies, one can decorate a southern room with flowers. But don't overdo it because married people might get into trouble.
The center is a good place for officials, who are seeking promotion. An official seal or golden ingots are suggested here in the center of a house.