Q&A Sunday: Recommendations for Geopathic Stress

For a long time I have believed our home makes us sick. I was just reading about geopathic stress, and this really resonated with me. As moving is not an option (teens, schools, work) what type of cure do you recommend? I have been space clearing and de-cluttering since New Year and it will probably take me until the end of the year.

Naiomi P., Toronto, Canada

Hi Naiomi

Thank you for your question, and for listening to the podcast

I’m so sorry to hear that your home is causing sickness for your family. I’m not an expert on geopathic stress, however i spoke about it with my mother-in-law, Shabari Bird Lovel, who is familiar with geopathic stress. 

First, it sounds like it may or may not be geopathic stress, but in order to find out, you can work with an expert dowser. Shabari said that many accomplished dowsers can move geopathic stress lines. She also recommends reading The Divining Hand by Christopher Bird. He was my husband’s late stepfather.

Most feng shui practitioners do not have experience with geopathic stress without additional training, but it does relate to the energy of your space. Essentially, geopathic stress results from spending time in a home that is above or near certain factors, including underground streams, mineral concentrations, fault lines, etc., which can disturb the natural energy of the earth through weak electromagnetic fields

I asked my teacher, Katherine Metz, and she did have some recommendations for dealing with this issue. First and foremost, it's important to determine that this is, in fact, the problem. The problems you're experiencing could be caused by geopathic stress, but they could also be caused by bad feng shui, toxins, EMFs themselves or any number of elements. Katherine's first piece of advice is to move step to step to determine what the real cause is. 

To do this, we recommend you activate the Benefactors area of your home's bagua to attract the best helpful people to you to find out what the issue is. You can also work on the Health area to work with the overall health of your family and try to counteract the stress. 

I share ideas on how to activate the Benefactors area on the Holistic Spaces podcast here. You might also look for practitioners who are trained in dowsing, like my friend Beth Grace. You can read more about her here! It may be the case that you don't even have geopathic stress and can actually make some simple adjustments to solve the issue! 

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 Back-To-School Must Haves

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.

As summer is wrapping up, many of us are gearing up to head back to school or double down for the fall season. Of course, it's much easier to take on a busy few months if we're organized and ready for what's ahead. So this month we've curated our top recommendations for getting back into the school season swing with a clear head and a neat space. Be sure to also check out our next podcast, with Diane Lowy from New York at Home. Diane creates "apartment solutions", and she's offered our listeners tips on getting organized!

Focus Mist

Our most recent podcast features my good friend and colleague, Andrea Giordano, who is a feng shui and essential oil expert. She also helped curate the Holistic Spaces Apothecary collection, and the Focus spray is one of my favorites!

A blend of fair trade essential oils and carnelian crystal, our Focus Mist was created to provide grounding, clarity and mental focus, and it's ideal for back-to-school!

Available at: Holistic Spaces

Mini Round Boxes

In our next podcast, I chat with organizer and space designer, Diane Lowy, and ask her advice on getting organized. 

Diane was also kind enough to recommend some of her favorite organizational tools for this month's My Favorite Things, and these mini round boxes made the cut!

"These are great for pretty much anything small that's otherwise tough to find in a drawer or your bag: SIM cards, paper clips, earrings, safety pins, a pair of earplugs, Tic Tacs, Tylenol. 12 clear boxes for $2.29 makes them an easy yes."

Available at: The Container Store

Recycled Notebooks

Notebooks are great for keeping notes and lists, setting goals and even organizing your thoughts through journaling

I love MUJI notebooks! I use these to keep all my notes, from meditation class to client meetings. It makes it easier for me to keep things in one location, and I like to write it down rather than put it in my phone. I love that they're recycled too!

Available at: MUJI

Post-It Tape

Another of Diane's favorites is Post-It tape.

"Post-It Note Tape is a great way to make labels anywhere that just peel off without leaving a residue but stay in place for as long as you need it. It comes in white as well as highlighter colors, and you can write on it just like paper. 

Labels can be super helpful when brainstorming for layouts after a move or renovation. They are also great reminders for that first week or two after moving stuff around and are very helpful when living with roommates!"

Available at: Amazon

Saraswati Yantra Mandala for Knowledge and Creativity

I love the Saraswati mandala because it is useful in so many ways! This yantra is associated with the Knowledge area of the bagua, since Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of wisdom and the arts. 

For inspiration in these areas, place the Saraswati yantra mandala in the Knowledge area of your space. 

Saraswati can also be used to cultivate abundance! Deepak Chopra shared a story about this in his book, Creating Affluence. You can read more about it in my blog post on attracting abundance

Available at: Holistic Spaces

Q&A Sunday: Colors and Meanings of Crystals

I was wondering if you could talk a little about crystals, what colors they are and where to place them for the effects wanted in your life.

Andrea S., MA

Hi Andrea, 

What a great question! I love to use crystals in feng shui adjustments as I find many people are attracted to them. Here are some suggestions for how to apply crystals for feng shui adjustments. In the Holistic Spaces store, we have crystal sets for the seven chakras and the nine areas of the bagua map as well as rose quartz for love, citrine for abundance and black tourmaline for grounding. There are many types of crystals, and I can recommend some reference books if you are interested in other types.

As for the stones we sell at the Holistic Spaces Store, I've provided some information about each below!

Green Quartz

We offer green quartz to represent the New Beginnings area of the feng shui bagua, thanks to its color. This crystal may inspire new beginnings and help sprout projects of all kinds. To get the best results from green quartz, place it on your desk for help with projects or in your home to work on inspiring new beginnings with your family


Amethyst is a purple or lavender stone we associate with the Abundance area of the feng shui bagua map. The colors of amethyst echo the royal colors associated with Abundance area which attract abundance of all kinds. For best results, place amethyst in the Abundance area of your desk or bedroom.

Tiger's Eye

A natural Tiger's Eye crystal is offered to resonate with the energies of the earth and the Health area of the feng shui map. It is typically a collection of earthy hues. These earthy colors, coupled with the ability of this stone to provide grounding, make this crystal a great addition to any holistic space. Tiger's Eye is also said to anchor change in the body, balance yin and yang energies and heal issues of self-worth and self-criticism. To activate this crystal, place it in the center of your home or bedroom. 

Smoky Quartz

The darker shades of smoky quartz relate to the Benefactors area of the feng shui bagua. Smoky quartz is beneficial in your home, as it provides protection (like benefactors) and is a stone of cooperation. This means it may stimulate energies to work together toward the same goal, and it can attract helpful people to your life. Smoky quartz may also assist in tolerating difficult times. This stone may also be effective in the Benefactors area of your home or desk, depending on where you need help. 

Clear Quartz

Clear quartz is a perfect addition to the Completion area, as it is said to provide clarity and the precision of the Metal element. Clear quartz may aid in concentration and unlocks memory and can be used to transform thoughts in sounds, thus bringing ideas to completion in the world.  If you're using a clear quartz, place it anywhere in your home or bedroom for optimal results. 

Blue Sodalite

We love Blue sodalite to work with the Knowledge gua, which may unite logic with intuition and brings information from the higher mind down to the physical level. This crystal may also be used to deepen meditation, eliminate mental confusion and encourage rational thought. Blue sodalite is best used as a pendant near the throat or placed in the Knowledge area of your desk. 


Carnelian, a crystal of a red color, is helpful in bringing fame and recognition, much like other adjustments in the Recognition gua. Carnelian gives courage, promotes positive life choices, motivates for success and is used in dramatic pursuits (like taking that huge leap of faith). To get the best outcome, place Carnelian in the Recognition gua of your home or desk. 

Black Tourmaline

Black is the color of wisdom and relates to the Path in Life area of the bagua. Black Tourmaline works to absorb negative energy and transmute it into wisdom, making it a wonderful addition to a holistic space. In addition, Black Tourmaline is very effective in spiritually grounding and providing protection from EMFs. For this reason, placement between yourself and EMF sources is also very helpful. 

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz is one of the most useful crystals in feng shui, as it is known as the stone of unconditional love and peace. Rose Quartz teaches the true essence of love, purifies and opens the heart at all levels and brings deep inner healing and self-love. This crystal is also known for its power in helping to attract love, and you can place a pair on your nightstand or in the Relationship gua for this effect. If you're looking for self-love, opt for one stone!


Citrine is known as one of the stones of abundance, and rightfully so. It teaches how to manifest and attracts wealth, prosperity, success and all good things. Citrine also encourages sharing what you have and simultaneously helps you hold onto your wealth, a concept that we are very familiar with in feng shui! Citrine is helpful in your holistic space or even in your wallet!

As I mentioned, these are just the few of the many crystals available for healing work. I would recommend The Crystal Bible and Love Is In the Earth if you are interested in learning about more crystals and how they work. As a note, when you purchase sets for feng shui, like the Feng Shui Bagua Natural Crystal Set, it's best to only use the three you need the most. Use the crystals as you need them, but don't just place them in all nine baguas, since you'll likely forget about them there. Choose the three most important areas for work, and consciously place the stones there. 

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!

Visit the Holistic Spaces Store

The Basics of Decorative Hardwood Plywood for Cabinetry and Custom Furniture

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If you're working on home renovations for the first time, you may be surprised at the number of options for some aspects of the process. One common choice some home-owners find overwhelming is the type of material to use on cabinets, custom furniture, engineered wood flooring, solid hardwood, etc. A popular choice for these projects is decorative plywood hardwood, which consists of a solid core laminated with decorative veneer. The various types of core and veneer material can make selection a bit confusing. If you're considering using decorative hardwood plywood in your renovations, these tips should help ease the process. 

Choose a Core

There are a number of options available for the material used within the core of decorative hardwood plywood. There are even specific woods used for particular types of structures. But for basic indoor architecture needs, the options are Veneer Core, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), Particleboard and Combi Core. 

Veneer core is composed of thin strips of wood laminated together to form a solid core. Materials used for this type of core can vary depending on where the panels are made. In the United States, veneer core is often composed of White Fir, Douglass Fir, Ponderosa Pine or Poplar. Veneer is stronger than many other options, holds screws well and looks the closest to real wood. However, it is around 15% more expensive and often has variations in thickness. 

One of the most popular options for core material is particleboard. Particleboard is the cheapest core type, features a smooth, uniform surface and thickness and can hold screws reasonably well. It is a bit heavier than veneer, and a typical panel can weigh around 90 - 100 pounds. 

Medium Density Fiberboard, also known as MDF, is very similar to particleboard. Both materials are composites, meaning they are composed of fibers glued together to form the solid core. The main difference between MDF and particleboard is fiber size. Where particleboard uses larger wood fibers, MDF is composed of smaller, finer fibers. Like particleboard, it features a smooth uniform surface and reasonable screw hold, but it is heavy as well and a bit more expensive. 

Finally, there is the option of Combi Core. This material is a sort of hybrid core, and it can be a little expensive, but it is lighter than the composite cores, which can make a significant difference in some situations. 

Choose a Veneer

Once you've chosen a core for your decorative hardwood plywood, the next step is choosing a veneer to cover it. The most popular options for veneer species are Birch, Maple and Red Oak. These three woods are the most widely available and generally the least expensive. 

However, there are other options, like Cherry and Walnut, which are pricier woods but offer a different quality and appearance. You can even choose some more exotic woods, opt for softwood options or even go with bamboo (which isn't actually wood at all!). 

Choose a Cut

Aside from your choice of veneer wood, the cutting style you choose will make a difference in appearance as well. There are four ways to cut the veneer for decorative hardwood plywood. For some woods, like Red Oak and White Oak, you can most likely find what you need in any of the cut styles, but for other options, certain styles tend to look more pleasing than others. 

One style of cutting is rotary style. Simply put, panels cut rotary style are cut in the same way you would peel paper towels from a roll. This style is the most environmentally friendly way to cut and can be used for most of the popular woods in decorative hardwood plywood.

The other types of cutting panels involve cutting from only a portion of the log, rather than the entire circumference. For instance, plain slicing consists of paring down the log, then taking slices from the top lengthwise. This method is more expensive and less environmentally friendly than rotary style, but many people prefer this due to aesthetics.

A step up from plain slicing, quarter slicing comes from taking the lengthwise slices from the edge of one quarter of the log. This produces a pattern like plain slicing, but it is worth nothing that there can be what's called flaking, which some find unappealing. If this is the case for you, opt for rift cutting, which is close to quarter slicing but with minimal flaking. 

Choose a Shade

Finally, when deciding the composition of your veneer, note that there are two different shades of wood, based on the location within the tree. Wood in the center of the tree, called heartwood, has a darker appearance, like you'd see if you cut down a tree. Likewise, the outer layers of wood, called sapwood, are lighter. There is an extra charge to have either of these shades exclusively, and most panels include both colors of wood.

There are a number of other options for decorative hardwood plywood, and whatever your renovation, your contractor and designer should be able to provide guidance regarding the best choice for your space, but it will help to have some idea what they're talking about! Did you have similar questions during a recent renovation? We'd love to hear feedback from the other side of the table!

by Anjie Cho

Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Dorm Rooms (And Other Tiny Spaces)

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First off I want to say that I truly love your podcast and have learned a great deal of knowledge from listening! I have a question: what are some tips for making a dorm room (small space) in college feel more open & aligned to feng shui principles? It sometimes hard in the dorm rooms because you do almost everything (sleep, eat, study, etc) basically all in the same space since the dorm rooms typically just have a bed, desk, chair and small closet.

Jenna F., Long Island, NY


Hi Jenna

Thanks so much for listening to my podcast! That makes me happy!

And thank you for offering your question about feng shui for a dorm room for a Q&A post.

Dorm rooms are similar to studio apartments, albeit smaller! And it is seemingly a challenge for the reasons you listed: it’s tiny and you do everything (sleep, eat, study) in one small space. I would add some other considerations: it’s temporary and many others have occupied the space. 

First plan of attack, laying the feng shui bagua map. It’s just as easy to lay the bagua map on the dorm room as it would be any other room or space. You can lay the bagua on the whole room, and don’t forget your desk. You’re living in a dorm room because you’re studying, so your desk represents your knowledge and studies. Perhaps it could be beneficial to activate the Knowledge area of your room, desk and bed to support your skills and education. You can use a dark blue piece of lapis lazuli, because it’s small but also it can stimulate the mind. Blue fluorite would also be great to help with focus and orderly thought.

You do a lot of different activities in a small dorm room, such as sleeping and studying, and while you’re studying this makes sense that the life areas are intertwined. When you’re in school, the focus is your education, and it will permeate all aspects of your life. But it’s still important to locate your bed and desk in the commanding position. If you can’t you set up a mirror, be sure to read or listen to our other information on the commanding position.

Lastly, since dorm rooms are transitory and there have been many other occupants as well as the energy of others, a regular space clearing may be helpful when feeling overwhelmed. I would suggest our No. 3 Space spray so you don’t need to burn anything, and it’s less intrusive for your dorm neighbors. I also think the temporal nature of the space is a wonderful reminder of the impermanence of life as well. So as challenges come up, it’s reassuring to remember this too shall pass.

Going to college is such an exciting experience, and I'm happy to hear you want to incorporate positive feng shui in this space. It can be so helpful with settling into a new space, especially a small one for studying! Good luck!

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!

Why Your Holistic Space Needs Art

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Art may not be the first thing you think of when designing your holistic space, but it actually plays a very important role on many levels. Art, by nature, is very subjective, but its effects in design are much more objective and global. Adding the perfect pieces to your home can bring your area together in various ways. 

Balance The Five Elements

We've mentioned art many times as one of the easiest ways to balance out the five elements in any space. As each element relates to a certain area of the feng shui bagua, symbolized by certain shapes, colors and subjects, selecting a piece of art can bring in one or more of the five elements. For Earth you can add earthy colors like brown, orange and yellow and square shapes. For Metal, look for metallic colors, whites, grays and circular shapes. For Water, choose the colors dark blue and black and wavy shapes. For Wood, opt for green, blue and columnar shapes, and finally, for Fire, look for the color red and triangular shapes.


Some types of sacred art can be viewed and contemplated in meditation. For instance, the yantra mandalas are created through meditation in action but also can be a visual focal point of a meditation practice. Sacred art is often created with mantra and symbolism. I once attended and event at the Rubin Museum of Art called a "Dream Over". The museum hosts this event in which attendees are assigned a piece of art that you contemplate overnight. Participants meditate, are read bedtime stories and are invited to sleep and dream under their selected piece of art. Art can be a wonderful way to guide meditation and open your mind to inspiration and creativity. What moves you? Look for that in your art pieces.

Add Nature

While the best way to add nature to a space for feng shui adjustments is with living plants, there are times when that option isn't feasible. Maybe your thumb is charcoal black or you have boisterous pets (or children). In this case, choosing artwork that depicts nature can be a great alternative. Be sure to pay attention to the colors in your art and match them to your feng shui needs for the specific room.

Add Color Without Paint

On a similar note, there are often occasions when painting a space is not an option, such as when renting an apartment. In this case, artwork can serve as a way to add color and brighten a room without breaking terms of a lease. Images can add a healthy dose of color on their own, or you can grab a blank canvas and paint it one solid color for a big pop. 

Nurture Inspiration

Part of what makes a space holistic is that it provides nourishment and inspiration to its residents. We've even done a few posts and a podcast on how to make your space inspirational. One easy way to do this is with art. One of the best things about art is that it can be interpreted in so many ways and boosts creative thinking. Find a piece that inspires you to work toward your goals, make more art, spend more time on creative outlets, etc. 

Strengthen a Room's Purpose

I mentioned earlier that it's important to keep each room's needs in mind when selecting art. This can also be used to your advantage! In design, we often aim for a certain feeling or aura in specific rooms. For instance, the bathroom is often meant to be a place for relaxation and the bedroom for passion. Adding curated artwork can help establish these purposes. Before you look at art, take stock of what you want each room in your space to inspire and find a piece that matches that feeling!

Whether you make your own art, find art that speaks to you or commission a personal piece, bringing artwork into your space can go a long way in making a house into a holistic home. If you're on the lookout for artwork now, consider a Holistic Spaces mandala or reach out to some of our favorite artists below:

Amy T. Won
Mavis Gewant
Carmen Mensink
Karl Lorenzen

by Anjie Cho

Astrology & Feng Shui 006: August 2017 Mercury Retrograde


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



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


Q&A Sunday: Bagua Layout Basics

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I was just wondering what would be the best way to use feng shui in a living/dining room combo. My front door enters into the Career area of the bagua, with the dining room to the left and the living room to the right of it. Also I have a patio door on the east wall of the living room and a fireplace in the northeast corner next to it. I am struggling with the layout and accuracy. Please help.

Kay R., Oak Park, CA


Hi Kay

Thanks for your question about the best way to use feng shui for a living and dining room that is combined. It would be very helpful if you sent along a floor plan (it’s not clear where your patio door or fireplace is exactly). If you sent it along we could do a follow-up. 

There are many situations where rooms are combined. I don’t know the layout of your entire home, but you can lay the feng shui bagua map on just the room in question, the living-dining room. From your description, the Path in Life (career) area is where your front door is, and it’s also the Path in Life area of your living-dining room. Then you would divide the entire room in a 3x3 grid. Each of the 9 areas you’ve created would then correspond to a bagua map area. 

The feng shui bagua map is conceptual, and it can stretch and shrink to fit different spaces. You can lay it on your entire home, a single room (like your living-dining room combination), on a piece of furniture like your bed, or even your palm. In turn, it can expand to include your entire property, your neighborhood, city, country and so on. We have a few other blog posts where we discuss this, be sure to check them out.

As far as what you want to work on, well that’s up to you! I would look at 1-3 areas of your life that need the most attention and see if any match up with the feng shui bagua map areas. It’s also helpful to have a consultant look at your plan so you can see the correct bagua layout.

I recommend checking out other bagua-related posts on the blog to get a feel of how unique each floor plan is. Ultimately, BTB feng shui focuses more on intention than getting everything perfectly correct, but it would benefit you to submit your floor plan, schedule a call or contact a practitioner you like. Past that, the best option here is to apply the bagua only to the living-dining combo in your space and go from there!

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!

Visit the Holistic Spaces Store