New Beginnings with the Vernal Equinox

It may not seem like it, with our recent blizzards, snowstorms and cold temperatures, but it is finally spring! As of March 20, we have experienced the Vernal Equinox and are moving toward warmer weather and new beginnings. 

In fact, though we often associate the change of seasons with temperature, the equinoxes and solstices are actually all about sunlight! On the Vernal Equinox, the sun crosses the celestial equator heading north, and all around the world, regardless of time zone, the day and night are roughly the same length. Once the equinox (which is Latin for "equal nights") passes, the Northern hemisphere can finally look forward to longer days of sunlight and yang energy. In ancient times, these changes in the sun's position were the only way of determining the new seasons and calendar days! 

Practically, and in feng shui terms, the arrival of spring is symbolic of the new beginnings of life and growth throughout. Worms begin tunnel their way out of the earth, trees and plants show foliage once more, and the extra sunlight even makes birds sing more! With such positive energy, spring is a wonderful season for starting anew in any aspect of life. Renew your space with a good spring cleaning and/or space clearing, clean out your closet to make way for beautiful new pieces you love, or just move nine things around in your space to stir up new energy. Now is also a great time to add new plant life to your home, open your windows to fresh air and sunlight and consider bringing additional wood element pieces into your space. If you're starting a particular project or hoping to make changes, you may even want to add a new beginnings mandala to your space! 

Whatever steps you may take to welcome the spring season, be sure to express gratitude for the chance to start anew and offer thanks to your space for providing shelter and warmth throughout the colder months!

by Anjie Cho


Astrology & Feng Shui, Episode 001: April 2017 Venus and Mercury Retrogrades

 
 

I’m so excited to introduce the first episode of our mini-series called Astrology & Feng Shui!

Listen at holisticspaces.com/podcast

Available on iTunes as part of Holistic Spaces Podcast

Tune in every first Monday as we visit with guest astrologers to connect eastern and western astrology to feng shui!

Tune in April 3 for the next episode!

Q&A Sunday: Kickstarting a New Beginning, Energetically and Spiritually

My family and I are moving into a new home, and I am looking to start it on the right path. Our current home, in my feeling, has not brought good energy, and life here has been a bit tough spiritually. I am looking to restart our life in the right direction for my children and for my husband and I. 

Yuliya O., Arlington, VA

Dear Yuliya:

Congratulations on your new home! And how wonderful that you want to restart on a positive path for your family. It was brave of you to leave a home that was not supportive energetically and spiritually. Working with my clients on their homes and work spaces, I know just how important it is to have environments that nurture and nourish you. It’s really quite essential. I want to share a quote I recently re-read that sums things up exactly! 

Implicit in an understanding of the mind-body connection is an assumption that physical places that set the mind at ease can contribute to well-being, and those that trouble the emotions might foster illness
— Esther Sternberg, Healing Spaces

This is really the first step, to realize the mind-body-space connection! I think that already by leaving your home you have embarked on a new beginning. So kudos!

In addition, I wanted to share some feng shui tips for creating a new path for your life, at any time. You don’t need to move into a new home to use these tips. There is an area of the feng shui bagua map called New Beginnings, which is also related to family and spring. I think this is a wonderful area to activate to kick start your fresh beginning. You can place a new green house plant or a water feature in this area of your entire home.

A green plant promotes growth and kindness and adds more positive life energy. A water feature adds water that feeds wood, because this area of the bagua is wood. Water feeds wood and allows it to flourish and grow. Another bonus is that this area is related to family, so by working with the New Beginnings area you can also support harmony in your family.

We also have a slew of posts you can check out that give other feng shui tips for moving into a new home!

There are so many ways, big and small, to build a fresh, positive start in a new home with feng shui, from the way you arrange your furniture to the colors you use in each room and more. As always, the intention behind your adjustments and choices will be the most important part, and since you're already making such a big change to seek a new start for your family, I'd say you're already on the right track!

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


My Favorite Things: 6 Space Clearing tools

Welcome to My Favorite Things! Each month, we highlight products to help you create a holistic lifestyle that inspires and nurtures you, so that you can be happier and feel supported.

March is a month of new beginnings as we welcome Spring (finally!). One of my favorite ways to welcome the new season is to clear my space. Space clearing is useful almost any time of year, but it can be especially beneficial during new beginnings to provide a fresh slate and welcome new, positive energy. In fact, we even have an upcoming podcast where I'll talk more in depth about space clearing. Be sure to check it out on March 27! For now, here are my favorite space clearing tools! 


Palo Santo for Space Clearing

Though it isn't traditionally used in feng shui, palo santo is one of my absolute favorite ways to clear space. 

Derived from the palo santo tree (but only after it dies!), palo santo has a much more pleasant smell than traditional sage and is a lovely, effective space clearing tool. 

Just light the sticks until they produce a thick smoke, and circumambulate! Here are more tips on using palo santo.

Available at: Holistic Spaces


Handmade Pottery Bowl

Another of my favorite ways to clear space, which is often used in feng shui adjustments, especially around the Chinese New Year, is orange peels! 

Part of this ritual involves placing the peelings of nine oranges in a beautiful, clean bowl. This bowl from NellHazinskiPottery is a great example! I stumbled across Nell's pottery on etsy and love all her ikebana vases.

Not only is this a beautiful, handmade piece of art, its glaze is non-toxic as well!

Available at: NellHazinskiPottery


Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp

I've mentioned the lovely ladies at FlowLife NYC before. I met them a few years ago and love their wonderful online shop.

There, you can find Himalayan salt lamps, which are incredible for clearing the air of negative ions and EMFS (we could all use that!). 

Tammy and Maria offer square shaped lamps and pyramid shaped lamps for whatever suits your style (or if you need to add Earth or Fire element to your space!).

Available at: FlowLife NYC


Tibetan Buddhist Tingsha Bells

You can also clear your space, as well as welcome the Metal element, by using Tibetan tingsha, which are small metal cymbals. 

As you walk around the exterior of your space, gently ring tingsha or bells. The vibrations cut through darkness and invite joy into your life. 

Make sure the sound of your bells is pleasing to you and your intentions are clear!

Available at: TerrapinRed


Radiant Energy Mist

Of course you can clear your space at any time, but there are some situations that can be much more draining of our energy. For this, I love to carry Lotus Wei Radiant Energy Mist!

This aura mist is great to use after flying, traveling or spending a length of time near computers and other technology, including x-rays!

Radiant Energy Mist stimulates the immune system, revives energy and even helps to clear your personal space of energy you may have accumulated from others. 

Available at: Lotus Wei


no.3 Space Mist

Holistic Spaces also has a spray made just for space clearing. Our newest mist, called no.3 Space, has been very popular and can be incredibly helpful in clearing spaces where you may not have the luxury of using palo santo, sage or orange peels. 

This clearing blend contains white sage and amethyst and is created with fair trade essential oils to be extremely effective as aromatherapy.

Grab a bottle for your travel bag, office space, car...anywhere, really!

Available at: Holistic Spaces



Q&A Sunday: Is a Spiky Cactus Good Feng Shui?

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A business colleague gave me this lovely little cacti garden in a little earthen ware pot as a “thank you” present. It is a gift that really touched me. I’ve had it in my little office on a bookshelf. It’s doing really well there in that corner, but I wondered if I could ask you where optimum placement would be. That seems to be "Relationship area" for the office, and I suddenly thought probably not great placement! It's got two spiky cacti, two succulents that I think are aloes, and one that I think is a little jade plant.

Sharon R., New York, NY

Hi Sharon,

This is a wonderful question to share on Q&A Sundays, because the question about spiky cactus plants comes up often. The general rule of thumb is that if you use a plant for feng shui purposes, it’s better if the leaves are rounded and smooth, rather than spiky and sharp. 

In your situation, the sharpness of the cactus may cause spiky and touchy relationships in your business life, because it’s in the Relationship area of your office. Of course this isn’t ideal. But does this seem like this is something that is arising in your career relationships? A plant doesn’t always have to be a feng shui adjustment, and it doesn’t always necessarily affect your feng shui, especially if you have very strong and pleasant business relationships. And this might be the case since you receive this as a gift from a business relationship.

Another aspect to consider is that if you have very deep fondness for it, it may be okay. Or if you are especially attracted to this cactus, maybe you do need some spikiness in your business relationships to protect yourself. Maybe you can be a pushover and let people walk over you.

Also you mentioned that there are some aloe plants, which are spiky, yet very healing. So it really depends. If you really love this plant and the placement, you could also manicure it very carefully, maybe trim the sharp points from time to time, which can be a metaphor for giving attention to those difficult business relationships. Depending on your situation, there’s not necessarily a “better” place to put it, but I think all of this gives you many things to ponder on. 

My intuition is telling me you should keep it there and remember that although the plant is sharp and spikey, you can offer it special attention and love to make it a positive thing. Sometimes being a little tough is good when it comes to business relationships, isn’t it? 

by Anjie Cho


Thanks for reading our "Q&A Sunday".  We will be answering questions submitted by our readers. Click here to submit any Feng Shui or Green Design questions!


Creating Your Personal Altar

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There are a variety of factors that contribute to creating a holistic, sacred space, but one theme we see over and over is altars. Some of our amazing guests, including Joe Mauricio, Rebecca Casciano, Katie Dalebout and more have all mentioned special areas in their spaces that they dedicate as altars, and I have a Buddhist altar in my own home! I have also used altars as feng shui treatments

What's so special about an altar, and why is it such an integral part of creating a nurturing, mindful space?

In many cultures, altars can serve as a powerful aid to spirituality, offering a dedicated place for meditation and focus. They are helpful reminders in our spaces to take time for centering ourselves and practice gratitude. Altars can help us tap into and re-align with the flow and cadence of nature and the spirituality of the universe to keep us grounded and balanced. The presence of altars can actually be seen in many cultures and religious environments, and each has its own way of creating and paying tribute to the universe and / or gods.

Hindu altars serve as a place of worship for families and individuals to pray to their respective gods and are very specifically set up. They should be created from sandalwood, if possible, placed in a separate room or space facing East or West and include items symbolic of all five senses in addition to a representation of the desired deity. Each morning, worshipers are expected to replace all the previous day's offerings (flowers, incense, fruit, etc.) with a fresh new supply. 

In Taoism, altars serve as a physical representation of the path each of us takes to immortality. Taoist altars can vary highly from practice to practice and person to person, but most all include a few common items including a sacred lamp, two candles, three cups, five plates of fruit and an incense burner. 

A Buddhist altar serves as a place to invoke holy beings to dwell in and enhance your space. As in Hindu altars, Buddhist altars often include items that symbolize each of the five senses as a way to ensure that all senses are involved in the Buddhist practice. Not only do Buddhist altars provide a place of worship, their presence helps to establish a habitual practice by providing a constant space for worship. A Buddhist altar serves as a demonstration of faith in addition to providing a place for guests to practice. If you have more than one story in your space, it is ideal to locate a Buddhist altar on a higher floor. 

Altars can even be found in the Christian religion, dating back to biblical days; however, in this realm, they are most often confined to churches and places of worship. 

Most altars include a selection of meaningful items in addition to incense, flowers or other small offerings, and you don't have to practice any specific religion to find an altar useful. Many meditators and mindfulness practitioners find that having altars in their spaces provides, as in Buddhism, a useful, constant space to create positive, life-affirming habits. If you're interested in seeing how one works for you, follow the easy steps below to create your own personal altar!

  1. Choose a Space - Choose a special place in your home or area that you can dedicate to your altar and / or meditation. Ideally, this place is the same all the time and does not move. 

  2. Clear the Space - As in many feng shui adjustments, it is imperative to clear your space of any negative and pre-existing energy before dedicating it to such an important purpose. Use orange peels, palo santo, sage or even our Space mist, and remember to take this step with positive intention. 

  3. Set up a Table - Since you will be placing items that are meaningful to you in this altar space, you'll need to find a small table, bench or or sturdy surface where you can place these objects without fear that they'll fall or be easily disturbed. If you'd like, you can also choose a beautiful piece of fabric to lay over your table before adding your items!

  4. Choose Your Items - To make your own personal spiritual altar, not necessarily associated with any specific belief system, choose items that are meaningful to you and represent positive aspects of your life. Items can include, but are not limited to, incense burners, space clearing tools, candles, photographs, statues, writing, crystals, mantras, symbols, etc.

  5. Arrange the Items - Arrange each of these items in a way that makes sense and is nourishing to you. Ideally, you'll be leaving them in this location, so take care to ensure they're set up so that they won't fall or cause problems (don't leave incense burning when you're out!).

  6. Create a Habit - Establish a daily habit of spending time in your altar. This can include meditation, chanting mantras and other spiritual practices that help you to make space in each day for your soul!

If you're creating a new altar for your space, or if you already have a beautiful area dedicated to your spiritual growth, let us know what items you include and what makes your altar so meaningful for you. We welcome pictures, too! If we receive enough, we'll share them as a photo essay!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Choosing a Yantra

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I would like to buy a yantra canvas from your site, but I'm having a bit of trouble choosing which one would be right for me. I want to focus on health for myself and my family, and I would like to put it in the center of the house to coordinate with the feng shui bagua. Would the most appropriate be the Sun yantra? If not, could you please make a suggestion?

Charmaine B., NJ

 

Dear Charmaine,

Thank you so much for your email and question about yantras. One of the reasons why we developed the “Mandala Matchmaker” is because a lot of people ask me similar questions regarding which yantra is right for them! There are a few different ways to approach the mandala selection.

When I painted my first yantra, I was asked to select which one I was most drawn to. First thought, best thought. This is tapping into your intuition. That’s a wonderful way to select a yantra mandala, because we are often intuitively attracted to what we need. 

As I began to learn more about painting yantras and mandalas, my teachers started teaching me about Vedic numerology - which is also an excellent way to work with things that you need. You can explore your own number and see what challenges and what successes arise from this.

With my Vedic studies, I began to connect the concepts to feng shui. I created a section of the Mandala Matchmaker that relates to your intention. This is also, of course, very useful. I connected it to the feng shui bagua map, because there was a lot of interconnectedness in the two modalities. 

This leads us to your question. You would like to select one based on what you need — which is health for your family, to be located in the center of your home

If there is need of great healing, the Mahāmṛtyuṃjaya yantra, on the top right is the best. 

If it's health in general the Ketu yantra, on the bottom right is better.

For both:

The blues/greens are Wood element, which is great for the health/Earth area. It gives a ground for the Wood to root and can break up the stagnation in any Earth.

I hope this helps!

Also, if you need more assistance I’m available for consultations where we can pinpoint and focus on what is best for you based on our specific circumstances.

by Anjie Cho