Feng shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy of understanding the energy that surrounds us. It deals with using positive chi or energy to improve a person's good fortune and success. In Chinese, each character can be translated and interpreted differently. Feng shui (pronounced as Fung Shwey) is translated as "the way of wind and water" or "the natural forces of the universe." According to feng shui, these natural forces influence everything in the world. The ancient Chinese led their lives according to these natural forces. Thousands of years ago the Chinese used the principles of feng shui to construct buildings, believing that the right structure and right elements will lead to a more successful life. Now, not only is feng shui believed to channelize positive energy in a correct way, but even architecturally it is used in such a way that even buildings are ready to face natural hazards like strong mountain winds and plains that were prone to flooding. Therefore, before construction, factors like wind and water had to be kept in mind, thus the name feng shui which only means "the way of wind and water'!
In Europe, a similar science was known as geomancy. Native Americans and Hawaiians have their own versions of this form of science. In our day to day life, we are mostly oblivious to the fact that we are constantly affected by different energies. These energies are basically electromagnetic fields that we can neither see nor feel. Therefore unconsciously we create a mesh of energies around us. Using the principles of fen shui, we can control our actions and our lives and attain our goals.
If observed carefully you will notice feng shui ideals everywhere, even before you take notice of them. Feng shui uses the Ba-qua chart or eight-sided shape that is associated with the eight aspects of life: prosperity, relationships, helpful people, new knowledge, family, children and career. Feng shui was introduced to the Americans during the California gold rush in the 1840s, when people from all over the world including China, went to America seeking wealth. Today America is using a simple Western version of fen shui believing that it helps people in optimizing their resources and hence gaining more profit.
Feng shui manipulates chi by evaluating your present natural and artificial environments. Chi is the dragon's celestial breath. The ancient Chinese civilization used this word to name the life force that governs our world. Chi is believed to bring happiness, prosperity, luck and long life if used in a proper manner. Though chi is present everywhere, it is concentrated in some areas which are considered sacred by feng shui. The ancient Chinese classified chi into five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Feng shui studies the distribution of chi and determines the quality of chi by assessing it through time, position and location. Feng shui also guides you on how to place objects so that it brings harmony in to the environment. Feng shui claims that if you arrange things in your house and even build your house according to it you can reap the best benefits out of the already existing energies.