Some people seem to have all the luck. But what if their success or failure wasn’t down to chance? What if good luck could be created by the food you eat, the colour of the goods you display or the energetic flows surrounding your workplace or home?
Sydney-based Chinese feng shui master, Mina Zheng, believes that the ancient art of placement – feng shui – can be used to enhance your health, life and wealth.
While some people disregard these age-old ways as nothing more than superstitious beliefs, Zheng insists there’s a lot more to feng shui than that.
“Superstitions are based on belief and imagination but feng shui is not,” says Zheng.
Feng Shui is a pseudoscience originating from China, dating back thousands of years. Currently, it’s practised all throughout Asia, from Thailand to Singapore, Vietnam to China and Hong Kong.
Translating to ‘wind’ and ‘water’, feng shui aims to help you generate good luck, health and fortune. Underlying the practice is the principle that the life-force energy (or chi) that flows through a property or space can influence the way you think and feel.
As Zheng explains, a lot of feng shui advice details what and how we eat.
“As a Chinese feng shui master and practitioner, I look at the elements and see how food relates to these elements. That has a great deal to do with our health.”
The five elements in feng shui are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The colour of each food relates to a different element and each element corresponds to a different body function or organ.
“Earth foods relates to our stomach and digestive system,” she says. “Metal is associated with our lung and nervous systems while water governs our plumbing – our kidneys – and wood refers to our liver.”
Using this deduction, Zheng says red chilli is considered to be a fire food. “Because of its nature, it is very hot. It stimulates the circulation of our blood and our heart. If people are feeling weak and they are missing fire, they may need more fire in their food to improve that area [so they can eat red meat].
“Wholegrains or beige foods are earth foods, and water foods are black like black fungus mushrooms.
“Chinese radish and some mushrooms are metal foods because they are white. If we have a chest blockage, you need to eat more white food to clear your lungs.”
Feng shui: a natural business booster?
If you’ve ever travelled through parts of Asia, you may have noticed a few commonalities with the way markets are decorated or displayed. Zheng explains that this is probably because the owners are adopting feng shui philosophies to maximise their chance of business success.
“A fruit shop that is very colourful is very good,” she says. “Most of the shops are doing quite well because they are colourful so it stands out.
If you can see the back door or exit when you walk into a shop or enter a market stall, it is bad for business.
“To set up a shop, it’s important that the entry also has a good energy flow. We should be able to see spacious frontage and have easy access into the shop. Inside must not be too busy or have goods piled up on top of each other as that would create a blockage. Too little stock is also no good because it means not many things are for sale and it is a poor presentation of your business.”
The front door shouldn’t face the back door
As far as energy flows go, if you can see the back door or exit when you walk into a shop or enter a market stall, it is bad for business.
“It’s no good for the shop because the energy is too straight and it affects people’s thinking,” says Zheng. “They will come in and want to go out again straight away.”
Don’t ask the price
In episode six of Luke Nguyen’s Food Trail, airing on SBS on Thursday 19 April at 8pm, Luke Nguyen visits a food market in Vietnam. He quickly learns that local beliefs out-rule Western methods of bargaining when it comes to shopping for fresh produce.
“A bit of a tip when you come to some of these fresh food markets,” Luke says in the show. “Never ask for the price and never pick up the produce unless you are actually going to buy it. Because the stallholders are quite superstitious and if you do that, it means they won’t have good luck or sales all day.”
Hang a mandarin out front for good luck
Zheng says that in many Asian cultures, gold represents good luck and prosperity. This is why many shops throughout the region may be decorated with golden objects or strings of oranges or mandarins.
“In Asia, gold is believed to be a very auspicious colour. It’s a lucky colour. Gold colour means money rolls in so people like to hang lots of oranges.”
The attractive scent of garlic
“Hanging reeds of garlic around your store may also help to grow your business,” says Zheng.
“Garlic represents prosperity, as there are many parts [cloves] which form one bulb. One bulb garlic with all the cloves is like a reunion.”
Adorn your shop with chilli
“Sometimes people hang some chilli outside their stall because red chilli is good to ward off evil intentions. Some people even believe it wards off burglars. In Chinese tradition, red means good luck and is the colour of celebration.”
Simple apples and bananas
Both bananas and apples help to generate good luck but even more importantly, they represent safety.
Banana is considered good for safety because it’s shaped like a boat. Meanwhile, apples are said to also generate a sense of security. “Apples are round but in Chinese, the name for apple is ‘píngguǒ, which means safety."
Zheng stresses: if you use chopsticks to eat, don’t use them to point at people as this can be offensive and bring bad luck.
“You can also see the character of a person by the way you hold a chopstick. Some people hold them very high and some low.
“People who hold them low are more stable in their current life stage. Those who hold them medium – in the middle of the chopstick – are normal. People who hold their chopsticks very high are thinking of travelling and are at an unstable stage of their life.”
This week on Luke Nguyen's Food Trail, Luke explores Vung Tau a coastal town in Vietnam and finds different delicacies on each corner. He walks through the market ordering the morning’s seafood to cook dishes for locals. Back in Saigon, Luke meets an old apprentice who’s adding a Vietnamese twist to Italian cuisine before exploring Saigon’s night dinner scene.