Category Archives: Energy

Climax is Only Half Way of the Journey

In the Yin Yang theory, everything – every process, every transformation, and every object – has both a Yin and a Yang aspect. The Yin and Yang energy roles represent different qualities: Yang energy manifests outwardly, and tends to be aggressive, dynamic, initiating and expansive. Yin energy reflects inward, and tends to be subtle, responsive, unseen and withdrawing.

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Apple, the FBI, and the Five Element Theory

The FBI’s war against Apple’s strong iPhone encryption has recently been much discussed in the United States. The FBI ruled that Apple must help to see what’s on an iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters involved in the mass killings in San Bernadino, California.

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Square Table vs. Round Table

Is it better to have a round or square dining table?” In feng shui consultations, this is a frequently asked question. Naturally, which is better has a lot to do with the space; the surrounding furniture, the family structure, and the setting one is trying to create.

In consideration of any work, we always begin with the fundamental principles of yin and yang. What is dynamic and mobile is yang, while what is static and stable is yin. Hence, round shapes are yang and square or rectangular shapes are yin.

In applying Yin-Yang Principles, there are two considerations: Resonance and Balance.

According to the Principle of Resonance, if you are trying to create a yang environment you would use a round table. For a yin environment, you would use a square table.

In China, round dining tables are favored, while in the West, rectangular tables are more common. At a Chinese party, everything takes place around the dining table during dinner. This can be seen through the dynamic communal eating, the shared lazy susan, the host serving everyone and trying to push guests to eat more; people trying to out-drink each other, and everybody talking to everybody. This loud and lively event is very dynamic, very yang. A round table resonates with this situation, and it makes sense to use one.

In the West, a party begins with formal dining. People sit around a rectangular table, converse quietly with those who are immediately nearby, rather than with the whole table. More often, one helps themselves to food rather than being served. The atmosphere is more formal and calm, more yin. This resonates with the energy of a rectangular table. Funnily enough, Chinese parties often end when dinner is over, while Western parties begin when dinner is over.

For a small dining area, for efficient use of space, if the table has to rest against a solid wall, it’s better to use a square table and push one end against the wall. Since round tables resonate with yang energy, they are used in more open spaces. A square/rectangular table is more stable and calm, and good for long conversations. A round table provides a more dynamic atmosphere, and is better for fast chitchat. If you want your visitors to stay long, sit around a square table, otherwise, use a round table.

The shape of the table should also be taken into consideration when operating a business. Understanding resonance with space is important for business. For example, in a fast food restaurant, it’s good to use more yang features. These include more round and circular forms, as well as open and bright spaces. These yang characteristics affect people to eat quickly and leave quickly. On the other hand, for fine dining, people often wish to take their time to enjoy the food and conversation. In these situations, it is better to use more yin features, such as rectangular tables and dim light.

Balance is the other principle one must consider. It refers to the balance of yin and yang. In this situation we mean the balance of round and square tables. Even for a fast food restaurant, if all tables are round, the quality of the place becomes too yang, which is not ideal. Similarly, in a fancy dining setting, an excessively yin quality means that there is not enough flow in the setting.

Coffee shops like Starbucks use a lot of small round tables because they have solo customers in mind. With this type of set-up, there doesn’t seem to be any “empty” seats. Also, those having coffee alone don’t feel—or appear to be — lonely.

In environmental psychology, the round table is much more comfortable and informal for individuals, as well as groups of people, to sit at,” says Starbucks executive Rubinfeld. However, this is not necessarily true. It very much depends on why people are sitting there. Too many round tables could be excessively yang, and incite a restless, unstable feeling. If all tables in the room were round, the atmosphere will be very dynamic, but chaotic. Any sense of restfulness or comfort will be missing.

The key is balance, the balance of yin and yang. Whether a design should be weighted more in the yin or yang direction, is based on the nature of the business. But it should never be extreme. A restaurant may want to try to provide a comfortable atmosphere, but not so much that customers feel so relaxed and comfortable that they hang around forever.

The shape of a table is not only important for dining, it is also important for a business office. It affects efficiency and creativity.

Once I was invited to consult with an airplane company about the design of its new headquarters. I recommended using more yang features, such as round tables and more windows for spaces designated more for discussion and brain storming. For spaces designated for formal discussions, ceremonies, and signing of contracts, I recommended using rectangular tables and having fewer windows.

In summary, in any design, it is important to follow the highest guiding principles of Resonance and Balance with yin and yang.. And remember, the precise application of these principles depends on the effect one is trying to achieve.

Shan-tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Institute


Flag of Ukraine

map of Ukraine

The recent unrest in Ukraine over its president Viktor Yanukovish backing out of a trade deal with the European Union, prompted one of my students in Kiev, to ask me about the national flag of Ukraine. How does the flag of Ukraine reflect the fate of the country? The flag is composed two equal sized blue and yellow bands. Originally, yellow on the top, now it is reversed and blue sits on top. Does this make any difference?

As we know, any successful company in the world has a good logo; such as, Apple computer, Facebook, Google, Nike, Mercedes Benz, and Twitter, to name a few. Likewise, any strong country in the world has a good flag design.

The most common national flag design is the combination of colored bands in either a horizontal pattern (German, Russia, and Netherlands) or vertical pattern (France, and Italy). Flags could also have different design patterns such as the flag of USA, England, China and Japan.

Good design is reflected by the color combination and the form of the pattern. For the flag with color bands, ideally it should have a three-color combination such as the flags of Germany (black, red, yellow), France and Russia (blue, white, red), and Italy (green, white, red). If there are only two colors, it should have three bands such as the Austrian and Canadian flags. Three (either color or band) represents a Yang number with more dynamic energy. Two (color and band) is a yin number. It is static and has less momentum such as flags of Libya, Monaco, Poland, and Indonesia. (Indonesia, in spite of its largest population and big territory, does not play any important role in the world stage).

Ukraine’s national flag of blue and yellow was officially adopted for the first time in 1918 by a short lived Ukraine People’s Republic and then was restored in 1992. There were times when yellow was on the top and blue was on the bottom. There are some who argue that maybe it’s better to have yellow on top instead of blue. The real issue is that it has two-colors and two-bands. Both are Yin in number (even number), and the lack of Yang energy from the numerology in the flag reflects stagnation, conflict, and indecision for the fate of the country.

Good design follows Natural Laws; Yin Yang Theory and Five Element Theory. From the Five Element theory point of view, Blue (Wood element) and Yellow (Earth element) are in direct conflict. What is more, even though Wood controls Earth, the light blue is a weak Wood, which means it does not have a strong control over Earth. This reflects stagnation and indecision. Also, from a Yin-Yang theory point of view, Blue is a yin color, Yellow is a neutral color, thus the flag energy also leans more toward yin. The flag of strong and rich countries such as USA, China, Russia, Japan, German, France, Italy, Netherland, and Canada all have the color red, the Yang color, in their national flag.

Ideally, Ukraine should add a Yang element in its flag. This can be done by simply adding a red band to the flag. If there is a concern of being too similar with other countries, it can also consider inserting an emblem, of which reflects the historical and cultural identity in the center of flag to bridge the Blue and Yellow colors. But make the blue, a darker blue for strength.

To change a national flag is not an easy task. It will require much national debate. However, all manifestations begin with a simple thought of a simple person. Time will come when people’s energy will change, to a stronger energy and inspire the change of the flag, for the better future of the country.

Shan-Tung Hsu, Ph. D.
Blue Mountain Institute
Seattle, Washington USA

A Country of Miracles

There is a country with a land size of 35,900 Km square, 0.37 % of USA. It has a population of 23 million (7.35% USA). This country has no oil, iron, coal, gold, or mineral deposit, nor does it have any other noticeable natural resources.
Yet this country has accomplished:

GDP per capita: $37,000 (USA $49.800)
Foreign Reserve: 408 billion. It ranks No. 6 in the world, next to China, Japan, European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Electronic Industry: rank No. 4
Steel industry: No. 4
Petro-chemical Industry: No.4
Import/export Volume: No. 12
Mass transit quality: No.5
Literacy rate: > 96%
Health Care service quality: No. 5

National Health Insurance is administrated by the Ministry of Health, and has a population coverage of 100%. The average premium is around $30 per month and there is easy access to very good health care service. Its per capita health expenditure is $750 (less than 1/10 of USA)
Literacy rate: >96%
The cost of water, electricity, gasoline, school tuition, tax rate are among the lowest in the world.
Political system: Democratic, with strong opposition political party.
Religious/worship areas: one for every 1,500 of the population.
It’s amazing! Isn’t it?
So, what is this country?
–Taiwan (Republic of China)
Pay a visit to this beautiful island. Enjoy the picturesque landscape, friendly people, most abundant variety of fruit and vegetables, and the best of Chinese food.
Shan-Tung Hsu
Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute

Chi and the Higgs Boson-God Particle

On July 4th, while America celebrated their national Independence Day, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) physicists celebrated the discovery of a new particle, Higgs boson, also known as the God particle; the long sought elementary particle that gives mass to the universe, the possible missing piece of the Standard Model of physics.  CERN physicists hailed this discovery as the biggest advance in knowledge about the cosmos of over 30 years.  From the point of view of future physics, this may be the end of an era, yet this historic milestone may be just the beginning of future discovery.

In the West, in the 5th century BC, the Greek philosophers Democritus and Leucippus proposed that matter was made up of tiny, indivisible particles they called atoms. Around 1803, John Dalton (1766-1844) developed the first useful atomic theory of matter. Then in 1897, Thompson discovered the first component part of the atom: the electron, a particle with a negative electric charge. The research continues the discovery of quarks, leptons in modern physics. Western scientist continues to look for the smallest “particle” to make sense of how the universe works.

Over five thousand years ago, the Chinese have actually “discovered” the smallest “thing”, the very essence that constitutes the universe, and called it chi (qi).  Instead of analysis from a physical level, the Chinese use this assumption that chi exists.  They developed this theory into a useful working model applying it to all aspects of human living.   So much so, that chi has permeated all Chinese culture; everything is related and expressed in terms of chi.

Here are a few examples of how chi is used in Chinese culture. Chi has been the theoretical basis of Chinese medicine, as health is related to the flow and balance of chi in the human body. Feng shui, the knowledge of living environmental design, is based on the chi of the space.  An ideal living environment is a place with abundant chi.  In the old days, assessing warfare was through the chi of the people and military.

Chi is also naturally integrated into daily living for Chinese.  If we take away the word chi, many Chinese phrases will not exist. For example, complexion is called chi-se (chi color); a person’s disposition or quality is called chi-zhi (chi quality); atmosphere of a place called chi-fen (chi place); energy of a place is called  chi chuan (chi field); a person’s tolerance is called chidu (chi capacity). Even though people do not know what chi is, they are all aware of its existence; with awareness, comes an energy or information component that associates with a physical manifestation.

Although people from many different cultures also associate “chi” with other terms such as “life force”, “breath of life”,” living energy”,” ki”,” prana”,  the term  “chi” is actually beyond these expressions. Ancient Chinese metaphysics regards chi as the very essence of the universe, and this essence is a unified matter and spirit.  These two are inseparable.   Thus, physicists will never succeed in finding the smallest particle, as there is no such a thing. One day, scientists will explore into the deepest of micro fields and they will most likely find the converging of matter and spirit.

Curiosity and wonder give life and living added meaning, the drive for new discovery, enriching human life.  While we may admire the spirit of physicists continuing the search for the smallest particle, we also wonder what is its significance in our life.

As people look for the invisible, they may be blind from the visible.  If ultimately matter and spirit are one, could we then see everything as a living thing?  We all learn to take care of living things; our body, people, and animals.  What if we see everything as a living thing?  Maybe then we would be more likely to take care of the things we live with, such as the clothes we wear, the chair and desk we use, the room and house we live in, the garden, car, roads…They are all composed of chi.

It will be great if we pay as much attention and interest in the concept of chi as to the Higgs boson. Remember, we are composed of chi. Thus, for good health and happy feelings —practice chi exercise, and for success and prosperity—live in a place with good chi.

Bring abundant chi to your life!

The Secret of Successful Fasting

No riceTwo years ago, I used fasting to cleanse my body as a way to celebrate my birthday.  The fasting resulted in more energy, better mental clarity, and boosted spirits—as well as weight loss. I felt so good during the fast and hoped to continue as long as I could. However an important consulting mission in the Ukraine ended the fasting on the 24th day. Today, I still maintain the weight I achieved at the end of fasting.

Most people find that one day without food is their limit. People who are able to fast for 1-2 weeks often find that days 3 and 4 of the fast are the most difficult period to overcome.  However, in my case, I did not experience any physical or emotional uneasiness from the first day onwards.  My fasting experience was simple, easy, and even enjoyable. Yes, there is a secret! The secret to fasting is to bring the full body on board.

When the president of a country wants to implement a policy for the good of country, not only will he need the support of all of his cabinet members, he will also need the support of all the citizens.  He needs to clearly explain to the citizens the necessity and benefit of implementing a particular policy. With the majority of citizens voting in support, the policy could then be successfully implemented.  This is the same way with fasting.  Deciding to fast with only your head, the president, is not good enough; we must lobby for and obtain support from all of the body’s  cabinet members—the  12 major organs—and all of the citizens, or cells.

Here is how to do it: the night before fasting, lie on the bed with your body relaxed and your mind clear. Then visualize all of your organs and talk to each one, explaining the necessity and benefits of fasting. These benefits could include cleansing the body, rejuvenating the metabolism, removing a block for better energy flow, and/or your own personal reasons. Once you have explained these benefits, feel all of your organs happily agreeing and move on to the cells. Visualize all of your body’s cells, from toe to head, and talk to each of them. Explain to the millions of cells how this fast will benefit the whole body.  As your cells agree, you will feel the body relax and warm a bit. Give thanks to your organs and cells, and then use abdominal breathing to go to sleep.

When you wake up the following day, follow the fasting routine you have chosen. You will not experience any hunger or emotional disturbance. I base my fast loosely on the lemon-juice method, and I also drink tea. You do not need to make life too complicated by strictly following any one system to fine detail.  As long as you have the support of your whole body, you will find the fasting is simple and easy.

Remember, the natural way is the simple and easy way.  Fasting should not require “suffering”. Simply follow the method above for a good surprise.

Happy fasting!

Is The Office Cubicle Driving You Mad?

Herman Miller invented the cubicle in 1956, with the idea of creating more privacy and helping to reduce distraction and increase concentration.  Since then, the  cubicle has become a standard feature of modern office design in the American workplace.  Offices designed using this modular unit, often called mouse mazes or cube farms, have become the symbol of human conditioning, and of the reduction of  individuality to uniformity and blandness.

One thing we know is that most people do not want to work in a “cube world”.  A common report from those working in cubicles is that they find themselves frequently checking the time, anxious for their workday to end so they can get out of the space.  After all, a cubicle design is similar to a prison cell.  Staring at a partition wall in such close proximity to one’s field of vision, throughout the long work day, replaces feelings of openness and comfort with a sense of being trapped.  This feeling, and the resulting impact on creativity, can lead to anxiety and agitation, and even make you feel that you might be going mad. How much of the work-related stress and low productivity of corporate America is due to this working environment?  Is this one of the reasons Americans seem to need to work longer hours in the office to finish their work?

Corporations at times try to save money by resisting change that benefit employees. The irony is, such changes in the long term actually benefit the corporation, as they can increase employee productivity, reduce stress levels, and increase overall morale.  But often enough, even if a company wants to move away from the cubicle work space; it is hard for most designers to know what to change to.

There have been few attempts to liberate workers from these constricting cell since the cubicle was invented.  Most changes have been superficial updates that meet technological and aesthetic advances. Over a decade ago, Knoll took on the challenge of reinventing this modular office unit, and hired a well-known architectural firm to take on the task.  However, after two years and millions of dollars spent on research, development, and engineering, they only managed to create a more expensive design that did little to resolve the core issue.

The fundamental reason for this impasse is that industrial designers have not been able to identify the real issue behind the cubicle problem. When you do not feel good in the box, you cannot argue with the feeling.  Although the cause may not be clear, the feeling itself is real and valid.

Naturally, when architects, interior designers, and furniture designers make any attempt to “improve” the design, they tend to understand and approach it from a purely physical point of view.  As I have often commented, the blind spot for designers throughout history has been that they only see a building or object as a physical body, but not as an energy body –  nor as an information carrier. There is much to learn from the wisdom of the traditional Form School feng shui in which all objects and manifestations are seen on all three levels:  as a physical body, an energy body, and as an information carrier. Designing with this in mind will naturally create functional, economical and beautiful designs.

God created the human body with a strong spine at the back to hold up the entire body, and  with openings in front, such as our eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.  Therefore, to live in resonance with our physical body, our living environment should follow this same pattern. In our daily lives, we always feel better when we position ourselves with some protection behind our back with a nice open space in front of us.

Throughout the history of world, people have followed their instincts and built their houses with the backs against a mountain, hill or more protective objects and the front doors facing bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, oceans or facing a nice field or other open space.  This is also how we should build our work spaces.  The innate flaw of the cubicle office is that it violates this feng shui design principle  which is based on natural laws.

In the terminology of Form School feng shui, we need to have Water (for expansion) in front andMountain (for support) at back. Why is this more ideal? In simple language, when we are protected from behind, (for example with a wall closely behind us), we feel more secure, and when we feel more secure, we are more relaxed.  When our bodies and minds are more relaxed, the energy in our body flows better, and contributes to a higher spirit, happier feeling and more productivity in our work. Furthermore, having a nice open space in front of us allows an extension of view and vision.  This not only helps release our stress, it also frees and expands our thoughts, enhancing creativity.  (This is why people nowadays need to have more windows as life becomes more stressful.)

The cubicle design turns this whole principle upside-down.  The computer is placed on the working counter against the partition wall (facing a mountain); co-workers pass or approach from behind, causing one to feel vulnerable.
Regardless whether one is aware this impact or not, it builds internal invisible stress. To help mitigate the problem, and in an attempt to bring life to an unexciting space, people who work in cubicles put photos, plants and even mini-fountains in their work spaces.  Some workers place small mirrors in front so that they can see reflections from behind without turning.  All these design maneuvers may help to some extent, but they do not fundamentally fix the problem.  As long as there is no Mountain behind the chair, the insecure feeling remains.

Most bosses would not feel comfortable working in cubicles; in fact, they have the luxury of well-protected private offices. It’s hard not to wonder why bosses would put their employees into spaces that they themselves would not feel comfortable in.  Without increasing the space, it is still possible to create a working environment making people feel much more comfortable.

Some office designs do have cubicle partitions that fully protect the worker, with the opening to the side, so that people pass or approach that side.  Many people who work in cubicles do this intuitively, when they have the space to do so, by orienting their computer or other work activities toward a side wall rather than toward the back wall.  Physically, this is not as comfortable, but emotionally it will be less stressful. This is a definite improvement. If this cannot be done, it may possible to put some large plant at one’s back, as a buffer between one’s back and the world outside the cubicle.

Imaging how much better it will be, when architects, interior designers, furniture designers — and all designers! — understand the traditional Form School feng shui.