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Feng Shui Uses

­Once again, depending on whom you ask, feng shui can be applied strictly to ar­chitecture and design -- or it can pertain to anything from choosing your house site to increasing your wealth or choosing the name of your business.

Architecture and city planning

Architecture and city planning were clearly a part of the origins of the Chinese tradition. The basic premise is that our homes and offices should be built with nature rather than against it.

In city planning, grids with courtyards at the center of town allow the chi to move without "rushing" it.

In architecture, a horseshoe-shaped structure, with the entrance facing a courtyard, allows chi to flow in. According to the Form School, a house should be built on slightly elevated ground with its back protected from the wind by trees, another building or earth (like a hill). Building on a dead-end street or an irregular piece of land is not desirable because it stops the energy from flowing. A rectangular plot of land is ideal.

Offices

The earliest adopters of feng shui in the West were hospitals, and businesses have been quick to follow. Hospitals were among the first to recognize the benefit of applying feng shui to hallways. In the past, hospital corridors were long, narrow and straight. Feng shui experts say this makes energy accelerate unnaturally, which causes stress. Now many hospitals -- and offices -- break up the straight lines by widening hallways and placing plants and paintings to create a more soothing energy.

Chinese artwork isn't considered particularly helpful to an office's chi -- despite what some art dealers might say -- but artwork in general can affect the atmosphere. A painting of a sinking ship, for example, wouldn't bode well for a business trying to stay afloat. Many who criticize Black Hat feng shui point out that people are paying handsomely for often common-sense advice, such as keeping the environment clutter-free and using incandescent lighting instead of harsh fluorescent bulbs.

However, many businesspeople, including Donald Trump, Virgin Atlantic Airways founder Sir Richard Branson and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say they use feng shui in some form or another. In the past, they have used consultants for advice on everything from door placement to the use of aquariums (which bring water energy to the office environment).

Next, we'll learn about feng shui in interior design.