4.            WuXing 五行 and BaGua 八卦

In Fengshui practice, as with our our Daoist internal alchemy practices, we will have to learn how to channel WuXing 五行, the universal Five Elements’ Qi, both physically and spiritually. In order to do so, we need first to remember the physical WuXing arrangement:  the center is Earth, the east is Wood, the west is Metal, the south is Fire and the north is Water. We also need to understand the spiritual WuXing arrangement, which is determined by the facing directions of each individual house or site. In general, no matter what the physical facing direction, the spiritual Five Elements orientation is that the center belongs to the Earth, the left to Wood, the right to Metal, the front to Fire, and the back to Water. We also apply SiShen 四神, the Four Spiritual Animals, in the spiritual WuXing arrangement: Red Bird in the front, Mystical Warrior in the back, Green Dragon on the left, and White Tiger on the right. We often use the spiritual arrangement in Fengshui regarding healing and geographical influences.  Before discuss how WuXing and BaGua 八卦 are related to ShanXiang, let’s take a brief look at the BaGua. 

BaGua means Eight Trigrams. The Eight Trigrams are: Qian 乾 /Heaven, Dui 兌 /Marsh or Lake, Li 離 /Fire, Zhen 震 /Thunder, Xun 巽 /Wind, Kan 坎 /Water, Gen 艮 /Mountain, and Kun 坤 Earth. Each line in a trigram is drawn as either a solid line (—) or a broken line (–). The solid line is called the Yang 陽 line and the broken line is called the Yin 陰 line.[3]

There are two BaGua 八卦 arrangements, the Prenatal Arrangement and the Postnatal Arrangement. I discussed the differentiation between these two arrangements in detail in my book, Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change, in brief, the Prenatal Arrangement represents the great primordial cosmos, the origin of an event/object, or a prenatal state of a person, while the Postnatal Arrangement represents the current and future conditions of the universe, an event/object, or a person. 

Figure 7. The BaGua Postnatal Arrangement Diagram by Master Zhongxian Wu

In Fengshui practice, we apply the Postnatal Arrangement. In this arrangement, Zhen/Thunder represents the Yang Wood Element and corresponds to the Eastern direction and spring equinox. It symbolizes creativity, new life, and power. Xun/Wind is the Yin Wood Element and corresponds to southeastern direction and signifies that things are in order, clean, and neat. Li/Fire is the Fire Element, represents the southern direction and means brightness (clear), maturity, spiritual awakening, and abundance. Kun/Earth is the Yin Earth Element, and represents the southwestern direction and communicates that all things are nourished by the Earth, and symbolizes the source of life, mother nature, and great compassion. Dui/Marsh is the Yin Metal Element and represents the western direction and corresponds to the fall equinox, carrying the connotations of joy, rejoicing, communication, and change. Qian/Heaven is the Yang Metal Element and it is the trigram of the northwestern direction. It represents Yin and Yang approaching and intertwining with one another and the doorway of the universe. Kan/Water is the Water Element. It is the trigram of due north and represents the return (all things returning to their roots or origins), wisdom, storage, and talent. Gen/Mountain is the Yang Earth Element and it is the trigram of the northeastern direction, representing achievement, accomplishment, stability, and consistency. 

Each Trigram takes charge of one trinity ( SanCai 三才) of the twenty-four mountains. SanCai is a classical Daoist concept is that the universe made of three units or layers. The three layers are also known as SanYuan三元, the three sources, orthe three materials (Tian 天 Heaven, Di 地 Earth, and Ren 人 Human Being), which are the key components of the universe of which everything in existence is constructed. Table 2 shows the relationships among the BaGua, SanCai, WuXing, and ShanXian. 

Table 2 BaGua, SanCai, WuXing, and ShanXian

Next, I will share how to apply the above information in healing and inner cultivation practices. 

5.            Fengshui Healing Techniques

I often emphasize that Fengshui is one of the most influential Daoist healing arts and it has many methods. In this article, due to size limitations, I will not introduce the techniques that involve complicated numerological calculations, such as cosmological Fengshui healing, Yijing divination Fengshui healing, or BaZi astrological Fengshui healing. Instead, I will share some of the simplest and most effective methods.

A.    Xue 穴 – the Den 

In section 2, I mentioned that Xue 穴is the most important concept in Fengshui practice. In Chinese, Xue generally means cave, den, or an ancient dwelling. And it is also the Chinese words for acupuncture point. 

In the earth’s landscape and in the landscape of our bodies, we have Fengshui Xue 穴, concentrated areas of energy. These Xue are designed to be in constant regeneration from the source. We can learn to keep the connection between the source and the Xue in our bodies alive, so that the energy in our bodies is healthy and flowing.

Hence, in Fengshui, Xue means a spot or an area that the environmental Yin and Yang Qi work together in creating a certain quality of life energy and harmonious Qi. The function of a Fengshui Xue in nature and in your life is similar to that of an acupuncture Xue in the body. A good acupuncturist can help a client experience relief from their suffering, or even save the person’s life, simply by working with a suitable Xue, an acupuncture point of the body.  Likewise, a Fengshui expert would be able to help you to improve your health, wealth, romantic relationship, or a feeling of inner peace by working with your body or dwelling Xue. 

An ideal Xue should be ShanHuanShuiBao 山環水抱, or surrounded by the mountain and embraced by the water. The most powerful Xue is created by a high mountain to the north, behind, with smaller ridges with flowing water surrounding it, from the left and right, and in some distance to the south, a larger body of fresh, moving water.  

In 2014, my wife and I took a group of students on a Fengshui cultivation trip to southern China. We visited a Buddhist temple in my hometown region, with some structures there being over 1,400 years old. It was built this kind of a perfect Fengshui spot, and was a very powerful place for us all to practice!

A small Xue of good quality is typically suitable for a small family while a large Xue is more suitable for developing a big city. For the purposes of healing, it would be ideal if you could have a healing center or your home located on an optimal Xue site. Of course, it is not easy for most modern people, especially those living in cities, to be able to find a dwelling that is set up in the Fengshui spot. Perhaps even more transformative than working to perfect your external environment is learning to access and work with the Fengshui of your internal environment. Let’s take a look at how to do this using healing principles of WuXing Fengshui.

Figure 8. An ideal Xue landscape

B.             He 和 – Harmonize

We apply both physical and spiritual WuXing arrangements in Fengshui healing practice. The healing principle for either of these arrangements is He 和, the harmonizing method. The goal of this method is to harmonize WuXing, the Five Elements energies of a house or a room, which generates healing Qi for whoever resides within. Harmonizing the physical WuXing of the space dictates that the Earth Element should align with the Fire Element, by having the main gate/entry to the building face south and have three key features: First, MingTangKaiKuo 明堂開闊 – the front/Fire of the building should be open and clear, with no tall objects, such as a tree, pole, or other construction within 300 feet from the front door; Second, XuanWuZhenZhai 玄武鎮宅 – the back/Water of the building should have some kind of solid and stable object, like a hill, mountain, stone wall, or a nicely shaped building, in order to hold the Water Element; Third, ZuoGaoYouDi 左高右低 – the land the building is on should be higher on the left/Wood side than it is on the right/Metal side. If the opposite is true, and the left is lower than right, please try to plant some tall trees, place a tall sculpture, or somehow elevate the landscape on the left side. When it is too difficult to find this kind of perfect physical Fengshui site, we can apply the spiritual WuXing arrangement to the site, in which we could apply above three features to the front entry, the back of the building and the left/right of the space, regardless of the actual physical direction. This spiritual method will still generate strong healing Qi for the occupants. If creating this kind of physical or spiritual WuXing site is just not feasible, you may like to try the next method.

C.             Heng 衡 – Balance

Balance is my most favorite, most practical method to help clients and students. The Balance Method is the use of the Lucky Element to balance an individual or family’s WuXing energies to improve their health and wealth. In general, I uncover a client’s Lucky Element through analysis of their GanZhi BaZi astrology chart, and give Fengshui guidance (such as building orientation, the best sleeping direction, colors for room or house, and so on). 

For example, I had a client who was suffering from severe insomnia, only sleeping 2-3 hours a day, a miserable pattern she could not escape for over 10 years.  After reading her BaZi chart, I advised her to sleep with her BaiHui 百會 (an important acupuncture point, GV 20, located on the top of the head) head pointing in the northern direction.  From the very next day, after simply changing her sleeping direction, she has been able to sleep a solid 5 hours in one stretch, and is so relieved!

I cannot introduce the science of GanZhi astrology here, as it is a topic complicated enough to fill several books. For those of you who are interested in taking the first steps on this path, please check out Dr. Karin Taylor Wu’s (my wife) book, Calculating the BaZi.

In the meantime, I will share a simple balancing method to help you to figure out your Lucky Element:

Please try to sleep with your BaiHui 百會 pointed to a certain direction for about one week. Make note of the direction, sleeping pattern, your mood, your health and general well-being for the week. Then, change your sleeping direction and repeat the above process. If you are able to feel a noticeable difference, either positively or negatively, in your sleeping quality and general health with the four cardinal directions, then try sleeping in the southwestern, northeastern, southeastern and northwestern directions, each for one week and take notes on any experience you have. I believe that most of you should be able to find your body’s preferred sleeping direction in this way, and that this direction indicate which element is indeed your Lucky Element. Once you determine your ideal sleeping direction, Table 3 will help you identify your Lucky Element.

Table 3. Lucky Element Index

Once you discovered your Lucky Element, you can use the related direction, color, and flavors to improve your health. There is a miniscule percentage of exceedingly sensitive people who may not be able to find their Lucky Element using the eight directions experiment described above. If you are one of those few, try changing your sleeping direction in the same manner, but changing only by 15 degrees every week, so that you will be searching for your Lucky Mountain (each of the 24 Mountains are associated with a specific direction).

You are welcome to explore some more specific guidance through the symbolic meanings of the Trigrams, GanZhi or Mountains (see Figure 6 and Table 2). I have written more extensively about the Eight Trigrams in my book, Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change, and about the GanZhi in my book, TianGan DiZhi

6.            The Body Fengshui

Overall, I find that the Body Fengshui Methods are the most powerful, effective, and easy healing tools that are appropriate for anyone to use. It takes only a little time to activate your Xue every day, which will renew your life energy. In my tradition, we have many different Body Fengshui healing practices. In this section, I would like to share the body Fengshui healing principle and the Standing Tiger Talisman Qigong form, so that you may experience your body’s self-healing power.

A.   The perfect Fengshui of our body

In the Daoist tradition, where the body is a microcosmic manifestation of the macrocosm of the universe, the backside of our body is also regarded as a high Mountain in the northern direction. Our back is also associated with the Water Element and the Spiritual Warrior.

Our arms are regarded as the ridges of the Mountain, the left arm represents the Wood Element and the Green Dragon whilst the right arm represents the Metal Element and the White Tiger.

The whole open space in your front body belongs to the Fire Element and embodies the Red Bird. The greatest Xue of your body is located in your lower belly, a great pool of pure moving energy named DanTian 丹田, the Elixir Field. 

B. Body Fengshui healing

In Body Fengshui healing, the primary principle is connecting to the DanTian in order to activate the hibernating healing Qi within. From there, we learn to channel the healing power of universal Qi by mindfully applying different Feng skills (breathing patterns) and Shui methods (body postures).

No matter what chaos is happening in the external world, please remember that every time you connect your breathing to your lower belly, you access the universal power of peace, healing and harmony, bringing peace to yourself and to others.

For those who would like explore this idea more deeply, there are 365 Xue points in your body. If you find a resource of these bodily locations, you can focus your practice on one specific Xue, in order to address a very specific certain kind of health challenge. 

Figure 9. Tiger talisman drew by Master Zhongxian Wu. In Chinese tradition, we often hang a Tiger talisman or a tiger painting in the central spot of a house or building to help creating great Fengshui energy to protect the family or a center. The standing posture here resembles this talisman.

C. Strengthening your ZhengQi 正炁 – the protective Qi in your body

Next, lets exam the Fengshui healing principle through the practice of the Standing Tiger Qigong form. In Daoist tradition, the Tiger Talisman embodies the spiritual Tiger, which represents the vital breath of the Dao, the spirit of the West, and the lungs of our bodies. Daily practice of this form bolsters our ZhengQi 正炁 (our protective Qi), strengthens our life force, and improves the spiritual and physical functions of our lungs.

Figure 10. Standing Tiger Talisman Qigong with the back stable like a mountain and arms open as the mountain ridges containing the healing Qi.

D. Standing Tiger Taliman Qigong form

1.              Posture, solid as a mountain:

  • Stand with feet parallel, shoulder width apart
  • Grip the ground with the toes
  • Feel the body root deep into the earth
  • Knees are slightly bent and open so that your thighs and crotch form an arch
  • The head and upper body are in an upright position
  • The back and neck are straight and stable like a mountain

2.              Energy, flows like water:

  • The chest is open
  • The shoulders are down and relaxed
  • Both forearms and hands are at chest level with fingers pointing towards each other, as if they are two ridges embracing a giant lake
  • The lower abdomen is tucked in
  • Your body is held in an empty and relaxed manner

3.              Breath, ­­­like harmonious wind:

  • Adjust your breath to be slow, smooth, deep, and even
  • Envision golden light Qi entering your body through all the pores of your skin with each inhale, nourishing your organs
  • Condense the Qi into your DanTian with each exhale
Figure 11. Fingers pointing towards each other, as if embracing a giant lake

4.              Practice Tips

  • Try this practice in the morning and/or evening
  • Do your best to build up to the point where you can hold the form for at least 30 minutes
  • If you have any difficulty with standing, you are welcome to modify the form and taking a seated position
  • It is totally normal to feel challenged holding the posture, with either pains in your physical body and/or by experiencing uncomfortable emotions during your first few days of practice. Stick with it, this will shift after a few days of unbroken practice!

I hope this daily practice will help you find your joy, ignite your inner healing power, strengthen your life energy, maintain your health and wellbeing. With each day of your dedicated practice you will feel your life force growing stronger!


Fengshui is a complex subject involving Daoist cosmology, geography, and the humanities. In order to craft precise Fengshui analyses or to offer effective Fengshui healing guidance, one must master the Daoist principles and cultivation practices related to YinYang, WuXing, GanZhi, BaZi and the Yijing. I hope this article will inspire you to delve more deeply into the art and science of Fengshui so that you may help yourself and be of service to others.

[3] Wu, Zhongxian. Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change. Singing Dragon. London: 2009, 67.

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