Make Room for Metal and Clarity with the Autumnal Equinox

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I can't believe it's already time to say goodbye to summer! In two days, we will experience this year's Autumnal Equinox and feel the shift from long, warm summer days to shorter, crisper fall days before we head into winter. Many of our friends have shared incredible ways to adjust to the new season and welcome the equinox. Be sure to check those posts out! We've also pulled together a few tips for this year to make autumn your best season yet!

What is the Autumnal Equinox?

Let's cover the important bases, first. Just what is the equinox, and why is it so important? The September equinox, also referred to as the Autumnal Equinox, marks the point in the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator, a sort of extension of the earth's equator that "sits" above the planet, from north to south. So essentially, the sun is crossing the earth's equator.

The term "equinox" comes from Latin roots "aequus" and "nox", meaning "equal night," which corresponds to the belief that, on an equinox, night and day are equal length. As it turns out, daylight still typically lasts longer than night. The center of the sun sets 12 hours after rising on this day, but each half of the sun still has to travel through the sky, so day and night times will vary. In fact, the equinox is not an all-day event, but the specific moment when the center of the sun reaches this point. This year, in Eastern time, that will happen at 4:02 pm on September 22. 

For everyday purposes, the equinox most notably represents the change from summer to autumn. As some of our holistic experts have noted, this is the time to move from yang energy, high activity and cool foods to more inward, yin energy, self-care and a warming, nourishing diet. And, based on the feng shui bagua map and five elements, autumn is a season of Metal.

Autumn and the Metal Element

In feng shui and the five elements theory, the autumn season corresponds to the Metal element and the Completion area of the bagua, which relates to the color white, the number seven and the element of joy. Metal is also associated with clarity, which is one of my focus words for this year!

If you're looking to update your space for the new season, you might think you should add more Metal. But in fact, for the most part, because this season carries more of this element, there can be an overabundance of Metal. Metal relates to metallic colors (think gold, silver) and the colors white and grey, as well as to joy and the mouth, and governs order and beauty. It's associated with efficiency and organization, circular shapes and a general turning inward. So what does an overabundance of Metal mean? Metal out of balance can be rigid and inflexible, stuck on having everything perfect. Since Metal is related to the mouth and speech, individuals with an excess of this element often speak without precision and boundaries. If this describes you in fall, you may have too much Metal!

Some ways to adjust a Metal imbalance: add Water, which drains Metal, or Wood, which dulls and softens the Metal element. For more Water, try enjoying walks along the water, bringing wavy patterns into your space or incorporating the sound of water into your home, like with music or a fountain. If you'd rather add Wood, add blue and green tones or plants to your space! Check out our My Favorite Things series for more insight on adding Water and Wood

Get Clarity with Metal 

Autumn is also the time for harvest, both in agriculture and metaphorically in life. The planting season is ending, so maybe it's good to look at this in terms of your life and space. What no longer serves you in your home? It could be as literal as summer clothes you haven't worn in three years or letting go of old food in the fridge and composting it. Think about things or people in your life that are no longer serving you, as well. Metal element can also be like a sharp sword, cutting through what's unnecessary. It's time to harvest what's come to fruition, look at why some things didn't grow and think about planning for the next year. 

Take some time as we transition to fall and consider how your "harvest" has turned out. And what do kind of energies do we want invite the next time around?

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Being Overlooked at Work

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I find I get overlooked at work. Can you suggest a feng shui cure for this?

Giuliana G., Lille, France

Hi Giuliana

Thank you for your wonderful questions and support. I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling this way!

Nobody likes to feel overlooked, especially in the workplace. But you're in luck! There are many many ways to approach this concern from the feng shui perspective. The fame and Recognition area is the feng shui bagua map area for you! I think this area came up for you before in a previous Q&A

But before we work on the fame and Recognition area, it's helpful for you to look more closely at why you are feeling overlooked. We can give clarity to a problem by looking at it more carefully in light of the other feng shui bagua areas. Who is doing the overlooking? Why is it happening? Are there ways to work with it? Can you gain more skills and knowledge? Is there a relationship that can be improved? etc etc.

I challenge you to really look closely at that. If this were a consultation, I would of course like to know much more about the situation.

Now getting back to the Recognition and fame area, this would be the best area to address feng shui wise to receive more credit and acknowledgment. My intuition tells me it would be best for you to place a new green plant in the Recognition area of your desk at work, the same area of your desk at home and in the same area of your entire home. Use matching black pots with a red ribbon tied around the pot or plant. The plant adds Wood to feed the fire of Recognition. The color combination creates a powerful feng shui cure as Water (black pot) manifests the Wood (green plant) and culminates with Fire (red ribbon).

You can check out some of our posts on green plants and the Wood element for insight on what kind of plants to choose based on feng shui, indoor air quality and much more. Please keep us updated and feel free to share photos of your new green friends!

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: 5 Accessories for Getting Cozy

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.

Next week is already fall! I can't believe it! We've had a long, warm summer, but the weather is beginning to get cooler and crisper, and soon we'll be switching walks in the park for snuggling up indoors. That's why this month's My Favorite Things is all about getting cozy! We put some thought into the necessities for a staying warm in the fall air, and here's what we came up with.


Sun Yantra Mandala for Radiance & Warmth

I love mandalas as a way to add a certain energy or intention to a room. This Sun yantra mandala is perfect for warming up your space as the weather cools off!

The Sun is associated with individuality, radiance and yang energy. It depicts yellows and oranges and radiating lotus petals, and looks similar to the sun itself! As it represents warmth and radiance, this mandala is perfect for seasons when we see less sun. 

Yellows and oranges are representative of nature, which is appropriate for autumn, and the bright colors are also a helpful dose of optimism and positive qi during fall and winter months

Available at: Holistic Spaces


Wool Angled Front Wrap Cardigan

I love Eileen Fisher clothing. I probably wear at least one piece from her designs every day! They're so minimal, easy to match, high quality and incredibly eco-friendly. Eileen Fisher supports sustainable sourcing, fair trade, domestic production and much more!

This front wrap cardigan is no different. The sweater is made of Eileen Fisher signature washable, chlorine-free wool, which means it doesn't contain as many harmful chemicals, and you don't have to take it to the dry cleaners every time you spill tea! 

Its versatility also means it's perfect for wearing out or cuddling up inside with a good book. It's a must-have for cooler weather!

Available at: Eileen Fisher


Indian Cardamom Chai Tea

I am a huge fan of tea, and these days I cannot stop drinking Kalustyan's Indian Cardamom Chai! It's a blend of Darjeeling and Assam teas with cardamom flavor, milk and sugar to make it the perfect tea for a chilly afternoon.

I also like to add turmeric to my tea. Both turmeric and cardamom are powerful herbs used for years to aid in digestion, fight depression, build anti-oxidants and so much more. Plus, as members of the ginger family, they offer a warming sensation!

Since many of us get busier during the last part of the year, the Kalustyan's chai mix is instant, which means you just add hot water and enjoy! 

Available at: Kalustyan's


Wool Rug

When it comes to making your holistic space warmer, a wool rug is a no-brainer, and I love this neutral rug from Organic Looms!

Most rugs can help to reduce the cool temperature beneath your feet, especially here in NYC where everything is wood flooring, but wool rugs are especially warm!

This wool rug is suitable for any room, organic, non-dyed and allows for customization of shape, size and more. It's also ethically sourced and hand-woven, and it improves indoor air quality!

Available at: Organic Looms


Sandalwood Essential Oil

My favorite things for warming up wouldn't be a complete list without essential oils! Fall is a great time to utilize these incredible healing tools, and sandalwood is on our ultimate fall list

My good friend, Andrea Giordano, of Aromatherachi, specializes in using essential oils to make amazing products like soap and bath salts, but she also sells the oil itself! Her sandalwood oil is sustainable and eco-friendly, sourced in Hawaii! Can you think of a warmer place?!

Available at: Aromatherachi



Holistic Spaces Podcast, Episode 050: Kid-Smart Spaces with Magalie René-Hayes

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Q&A Sunday: Interior Doors - Should They Open Out or In?

I'm looking at an office space where the door opens out, rather than into the space. I have the option to change the door swing. But someone told me once that if the door opens it is "bad feng shui". It is confusing to me! Also, is it ok that the doors of office 1 and 2 (on my plan) are facing each other?

Teri G., New York, NY

Hi Teri, 

This is a great question. It all depends on the person and their floor plan, but in general it is better feng shui to have the door swing into your office. 

In feng shui, doors represent the "mouth of qi", where the life force energy comes into the space. If the door swings into your space, the flow of qi is smoother. For an office or business this is important, because you want clients and opportunities to be attracted and easily connect with you. When you open the door towards you as you walk into any room, there is a feeling of pulling back rather than a natural movement forward.

In your case, since you have the option, DEFINITELY change the door swings of the neighbor and #2. Besides attracting more clients and opportunities, you have a situation where your doors are hitting each other. When the doors hit in this situtaion, it may cause or exacerbate possible conflict between you and your neighbor. And we don't want that if we can help it. Based on your floor plan, if you can put the hinge opposite side even better (so when you open the door it covers the closet).

It's actually not as easy as it would seem to reverse the door swing of an existing door. It is always best if you can change the door swing, so I would recommend talking to a contractor. If this is not possible for whatever reason, unfortunately it's not really correctable. It's best just to accept the door as is with its faults and work with a feng shui consultant to compensate for this and improve the feng shui in other ways. Again though, if possible change the door swing!

Finally, the doors of office 1 and 2 are aligned but that's not a problem. Let us know how it goes!!!

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!


Choosing Quartz Composite Countertops

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Quartz is one of my favorite healing crystals to use in feng shui and other holistic adjustments, but its usefulness doesn't stop at providing balance and amplifying nourishing energy . Actually, quartz is a great option for kitchen and bathroom remodeling, which are included in most renovation projects!

What is Quartz?

Quartz is actually one of the most abundant (the second most common) minerals found on Earth and dates back to ancient times. It was used for jewelry during China's Ming Dynasty and has been found in Aztec graves, also used as jewelry. This comes as no surprise, since quartz is a durable, useful and available substance. This durability and seemingly endless stock are primarily why quartz is such a great choice for renovation projects in kitchens and bathrooms. 

Quartz, which we use often in pure crystal form, is the hardest known non-gem material in the world and compares to diamonds and sapphires in strength. In fact, when renovations include granite countertops or other granite features, quartz is generally the reason these options are so durable. Typical granite consists of a mixed makeup of minerals, including about 20-35% quartz; however, it is possible to increase the percentage of quartz to 93% for optimum performance. This is what we call quartz composite surfacing. 

How is Quartz Used?

One typical feature of both kitchens and bathrooms is countertop. From sinks in bathrooms to prep space in kitchens, homeowners often choose to refurbish or replace the surfacing material for their countertops to keep up with modern trends or guarantee sturdy, long-lasting counters. This last feature is one of the most compelling reasons to opt for quartz surfacing material and is where we commonly see it used in homes. 

One of the most popular ways to use quartz in renovations is through the Breton method, which combines varieties of quartz and other aggregate materials with crushed mineral powders, binding resin and pigment to create a customizable, uniform, sturdy, slab of stone.

Why Choose Quartz Composites?

Aside from its durability and ready availability, quartz has plenty of perks that granite or stone countertops don't offer. Most notably, quartz is almost non-porous, which means that it resists staining and requires less upkeep than typical granite or stone options. Most stone counters are porous, which results in easy stains and means that the countertops need to be sealed, both initially and repeatedly throughout their lives. In contrast, quartz never needs to be sealed and is much harder to stain. 

Since it is one of the hardest minerals on the planet, quartz is also scratch resistant and heat scorch resistant. It also offers four to five times the flexural strength of stone, making it more likely to bend, less likely to break. All of these perks make quartz surfacing nearly maintenance free, and thanks to modern processes, it is available in a wide color palette to match any design scheme. Finally, quartz is naturally anti-bacterial as a non-porous surface, and adding additional anti-bacterial to the quartz surface composition is an option as well. 

Have you ever considered using quartz surfacing in your home renovations instead of stone countertops? I'd love to hear about your past or upcoming projects and how you choose your materials!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Chinese Astrology for a Horse in a Rooster Year

This year of the Fire Rooster has been really tough for me so far. Big snow making getting to work difficult, 3 squirrel infestations in my new Nissan Rogue (wires chewed...in shop three times). I'm a Wood Horse. Please advise me how to improve my luck. Maybe a dragon in the entryway?

Shauna R., Abbotsford , British Columbia, Canada

Hi Shauna

I’m so very sorry that you have been having such a challenging year. It’s actually been a quite challenging year for many others as well. As far as the relationship between Horse and Rooster, it’s actually neutral. It may be useful for you to consult directly with a Chinese Astrology expert as it sounds like this is where your interests lie, and there are great astrologers I can recommend. Beth Grace, Doris Ingber and Yasha Jampolsky are all Chinese Astrologers you can hire. They can look at your specific natal chart, based on the time of your birth, in relationship with the energies of this specific year. Without seeing your actual birth information, there’s not much more I can advise in terms of your astrology.

As far the feng shui aspects to improve your luck, the founder of BTB feng shui, H.H. Professor Lin Yun always advised to first take of the mundane issues. That simply means what are the practical things you can do to improve the situation. Luckily the winter has passed, but as far as the squirrels, is there something you can do to prevent this happening again in the future? Then, I have a sense that you should start with the most basic feng shui adjustment of making sure your bed, desk and stove are in the commanding position. You can find more information about that here, here and here.

As far as the car damage, you can look at the feng shui of your car. It represents how you connect to the world, right? And the electrical wires are akin to your blood and nervous system. It maybe helpful for you to check that out. It might be interesting to also look at symbology of the squirrel. The squirrel is associated with playfulness but also preparation. The presence of so many squirrels may be a sign to take life a little less seriously and have more fun. However, it can also be a note to take a look at your preparations in life and ensure they are all in place. On a less obvious level, the squirrel can also be a reminder to remain mindful. Squirrels only find 10% of the nuts they hide for winter, but all of these unfound nuts do develop into larger plants and trees. So be mindful of what you "plant", because it will inevitably come back up!

Since the damage was carried out by nature, you can also create a shrine to invite the nature spirits to appease them. You can create a special place, ideally outdoors, where you make a humble offering to the nature spirits so they are happy and feel invited into your home. This would include water, liquor, rice and a small rock or statue. Do this to dedicate a small space for magic from the universe in your life, and be sure to ask nature to visit your home! There's more on that here

Finally, you inquired about a dragon in the entryway. I’m assuming you’re suggesting this because the Dragon is the best friend of the Rooster. In BTB feng shui we advise you carry on your body a three-dimensional dragon in the Year of the Rooster. So this is the adjustment, to carry it on you. It’s not the same to have it in the entryway. If you had another reason, let us know so we can comment on it. You can purchase the charm in the Holistic Spaces shop, and it will definitely help you have a more auspicious year. Since the Dragon is the best friend of the Rooster, the Rooster will see the dragon charm and bestow good luck and protection. 

Thank you for submitting your question, and I hope the rest of your year improves! 

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!


Astrology & Feng Shui 007: September 2017 Mental Ideas Into Action

 
 

Welcome back for the seventh episode of our mini-series, Astrology & Feng Shui!

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

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How to Grow Fresh Air

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I've always been a fan of incorporating green houseplants into holistic spaces, as feng shui adjustments or just as a a way to brighten and liven up a room. As it turns out, there is actually science behind why we should all be aiming to bring a little nature into our spaces

In How to Grow Fresh Air, Dr. B. C. Wolverton goes in depth on how keeping certain plants indoors can help to alleviate some of the toxic materials we bring into our spaces on a regular basis. Wolverton gets pretty scientific, and his book is a fascinating read - I would definitely recommend it! In the meantime, we've cut out the basics for you. 

As we've discussed before, many of the items we bring into our households and workspaces can give off toxic gases, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In fact, combined with our own respiratory process and the trend of sealing spaces tightly to conserve energy, these gases have contributed to the fact that indoor air is now one of the top five major health concerns according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Fortunately, the respiration processes of plants actually absorb and use these toxic chemicals and give off the fresh oxygen we need to survive. Plants use the chemicals that are dangerous to us in their processes of making food, so they pull these gases into their soil ecosystems and out of our way. They also create air flow where there is none, which can help to clean our air as well. In fact, adding plants to our spaces actually mimics the way nature cleans our external air. 

Plants have actually been shown to relieve stress and clean the environment and have a measurable positive effect on indoor spaces and their inhabitants. NASA even created a "biohome", sealed for top energy-efficiency and stocked with houseplants. In comparing this space to a similar home without houseplants, scientists found that the presence of plants significantly reduced VOCs in the atmosphere and symptoms of sick building syndrome in occupants.  

In the winter, plants can even heighten room humidity to combat dry air, which can lead to colds, viruses and more, and they give off certain chemicals that help to reduce the instance of mold spores and bacteria. There is actually a six to eight cubic foot area of space known as a "personal breathing zone," and adding plants within this space can significantly improve the quality of air we breathe in. 

Fifty plants have been studied so far to determine their effects on air quality and indoor spaces, so there is quite a variety of options for welcoming green into your home. We've mentioned some of these before, like the snake plant, the Golden pothos, orchids and more. The list in How to Grow Fresh Air also includes classics like English Ivy, indoor tree options such as the Ficus Alii and the Dwarf Date Palm, flowering plants like Florist's Mum and Wax Begonias and more! You should check out the full list for your space, but here are our top eight choices!