Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Pets

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How do pets, especially their living quarters (crates/pens, etc), factor into the feng shui equation?

Carlissa K., New York City, NY

This is a great question!  I know a lot of people who are curious about how to feng shui their home for their pets. Since I am allergic to most dogs and cats, I’m not sure I’m the best person to respond to this. But a fellow New York City feng shui consultant that I know, Sabine Millauriaux was kind enough to share her knowledge with us. Sabine specializes in feng shui for pets.

Sabine suggests:

Pets should definitely be taken into consideration in the feng shui equation. Concerning their living quarters, you should follow some basics:

  • Crates and beds should not be in a commanding position or in the mouth of qi, which means not facing the door, but in a quiet place where they can relax, except in the case of a guarding dog (this also applies for outdoor pens).
  • Litter box and pads should not be placed in the left area of any entrance door since this area is one of the purest of the feng shui bagua map (Self Knowledge/GEN) and corresponds to the knowledge, self development part of the room. If possible, they should be placed out of view and never in your way (such as pads in front of the door or in the middle of the room).
  • Play areas with items such as scratchers, playing posts, or wheels may be placed in a feng shui bagua map area that you want to activate since they bring life and yang energy. Having an animal in your house usually brings energy to it (good qi), and your pet can be a very good “tool” to pinpoint what areas in your place and in your life should be taking care of.

Remember you are sharing the same energy field as your pet and, being an animal, it can pick up bad energies (such as residual energy from predecessors) or resonate with any unresolved emotions in the members of the household. So watch your pet, consider its crazy or loving behavior and think about what it tells you about you or your family. It will guide you in how to feng shui your place and have a more harmonious life.

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!

Note:  To locate the areas of your home in which you want to activate, please refer to the Feng Shui Bagua Map here.  New blog post to come soon discussing the Feng Shui Bagua Map!


On Meditation with Joseph Mauricio of Shambhala Center

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As an architect and feng shui practitioner, I help my clients create holistic home and work spaces. One of the most important aspects of the feng shui work includes meditation and visualization. I had the honor of taking one of Joseph Mauricio's meditation classes at the Shambhala Center in NYC. His teachings are very approachable and digestable. I believe it is incredibly beneficial to include meditation in everyday life.

AC:  How did you get involved in meditation and with the Shambhala Center -- what's your story?

JM:  I used to run a comedy club years ago in New York, I was a comedian, an actor and that was an exciting lifestyle but it was a little heavy and I was looking for something to help me balance out the pressure. Then I came across meditation. I had always known about Jack Kerouac, the Dharma Bums and Naropa University, founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (also founder of Shambhala Center) along with Allen Ginsberg, Ram Dass and a number of people back in the ‘70s. So it was kind of legendary in my mind, the beat poets. They were an influence in my work as a performing artist. I ended up going in to a Shambhala Center and finding out there was this whole connection. I decided to drop out of the comedy club, moved to a dharma center up in the woods, then ended up at Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center at 8,000 feet in the middle of winter -- which was crazy. I went from being an actor in New York to a cabin with no heat. I met my teacher there, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and I ended up studying with him.

I became intrigued by the mind (my own mind) and the idea that I’d (maybe all of us) create the limitations and disabilities in our own world because of the way we think and the way we perceive the world. So I became really fascinated with that concept. It’s not something that you just pick up and put down, and I gave up my whole life and career to study. I studied in India, Mexico, a number of places for number of years. I was actually studying personally with Sakyong Mipham in 2003 when he suggested I move back to New York and go back to doing performance, which just shocked me. I didn’t expect that at all. I thought I would just be a yogi. I moved back and that’s when I started teaching at the Shambhala Center. I found my calling putting meditation together with performance and comedy. I’m also a life coach, motivating people towards a more healthy balance vision themselves.

So for other people, the way I recommend meditation is not that they drop out of their careers like I did for 17 years, but that they incorporate it in the same way with a good instructor. They study and go to classes and let meditation actually bring stability into their life. I recommend everybody read Sakyong Mipham’s books, particularly The Shambhala Principle. He teaches practical meditation, and it is not particularly religious. I study and teach meditation and training people of all backgrounds. I go in to jails and you can’t even mention Buddhism or any kind of religion. You just teach straight mindfulness training and it helps people. I’m a real believer that meditation can bring a lot of stability and clarity to people, to their lives.

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How would you describe meditation to someone who's not familiar with the concept?  

I would say that it’s a tool whereby you sit in an upright posture, which helps you to wake up and gain confidence. There are tests and studies showing the mind can change brain chemistry in only two minutes when you sit up straight. It starts to lower cortisol and raise testosterone levels. In short, you begin to feel more confident just by sitting in an upright posture. And relaxing down into the earth allows us to open up our heart and begin to feel our feelings and our sense of things. The upright meditation posture is very powerful in re-training the mind into believing that life is possible, that life is workable.

How is meditation helpful in everyday life?

Any given meditation session could be wonderful; maybe they feel very clear or calm. Or maybe their back hurts the whole time. But the real power of meditation comes from consistent practice. I recommend that people practice as little as 10 minutes a day, if that keeps them practicing every day. It’s more powerful than just an hour every few days. But to practice at the same time every day, you develop a consistency that brings stability to life. It becomes like a reference point. Every morning you get up, seat yourself up, recharge your confidence, open your heart and face yourself. It can be very powerful to do that in a few minutes.

Obviously, as time goes on, with longer sessions we can go deeper. I’m a believer in consistent practice even if the practice isn’t very long or arduous. I teach that practice doesn’t have to be perfect, great, or good, and not to be hard on themselves. If they’re on a cushion consistently, slowly and in time lengthen their practice up to 20-30 minutes, and settle in to their practice, they will see a profound difference in their life. But as I said, for beginners, I stress that consistent process.

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Now for my holistic space question:  Where do you like to meditate and what makes it sacred to you?

I have a number of altars. When I was single it was really embarrassing! I have one in my kitchen, and my room is basically a huge shrine. But that’s me and that’s not what I recommend for other people, I’m just obsessive and very devoted. And that’s why I teach it, it’s my living, it’s my life. But for other people, according to my teacher Sakyong Mipham, meditation should support your life, not be a burden to it. So I think if people are creeped out by a shrine, they don’t need a shrine.

I do think meditation in their house is helpful because it actually settles the energy of the space. If you start to feel open and calm in your own house, then that really makes you feel open and calm when you come home. A focal point is also helpful.

Meditation with community is good in a different way. If you just meditate at home, you tend to not have the same level of motivation as when you show up in room full of people. You’re not going to slump as readily. So I do recommend both for people. But I do think some kind of a meditation area in the house really empowers the home. And for some of the hardcore meditators, we have that instead of a television…Often the television is the central part of the home, that’s great and that’s fine, but what kind of energy does that create? So I think to balance that, a meditation area is wonderful, especially in New York apartments, where you can’t have the fireplace or a big beautiful kitchen and stove, the kinds of things that bring more warmth and life in to your house.

I think a little meditation area kind of does that, they can. I do also believe that the meditation changes the energy. If you go into a meditation center, it’s easy to meditate because people have been doing it there for years. That starts to happen in your house and it starts to feel a little more contemplative and meditative because of the practice.

I absolutely agree! Thanks Joe!

Read my other blog post where Joe shares his tips for beginning meditators here.

by Anjie Cho


Joseph Mauricio is a speaker, teacher, workshop presenter, and meditation instructor in academic, business and private sectors. A senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Tradition, Joseph began teaching twenty years ago at Karma Choling Buddhist Meditation Center in Vermont, and has subsequently taught in meditation centers, schools, businesses and community centers throughout North America, Canada and Europe. He has served as the Director of Public Programs and Outreach at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York, and has recently become the Executive Director of the Baltimore Shambhala Meditation Center.

Joseph is a close student of Meditation Master, Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche, the Head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. He has studied with renowned teacher and author, Pema Chodren, and many prominent teachers in the meditation and yogic traditions in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. He has completed dozens of solitary and group retreats, including three month-long meditation retreats, two month-long solitary retreats, an eight week silent group retreat, numerous shorter group retreats and years of advanced study. Joseph is a graduate of the Shambhala School of Buddhist studies and advanced meditation instructor and teacher trainings in the Shambhala Tradition.

www.josephmauricio.com


Q&A Sunday: Five Common Feng Shui Mistakes

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What are five common mistakes people make with feng shui?

Jacqueline R., Cleveland, OH

1.  There are mistakes in feng shui! 

I would not necessarily call these mistakes, but rather misinterpretations of feng shui. And sometimes the misinterpretations lead you to what you really needed! My point is: everything you do is right and correct if you do it with the best intentions. But this is a great question, because I always like to share with my clients the meaning and reason for the feng shui concept. If possible, we should strive to do things in the proper way. But mistakes happen and sometimes for a good reason!

2.  Feng shui is simply about moving furniture around

Feng shui is not just about moving furniture around! It’s about creating harmony in our lives by unifying our inner and outer environments. The inner and outer are not separate, because everything that we do to our spaces – positive and negative – affects our daily experience. In BTB feng shui we incorporate many personal chi adjustments (meditations and rituals to change your personal energy), adjusting objects to your space (such as adding plants, mirrors, or crystals), in addition to re-arranging your furniture.

3.  Using items made out of wood for the wood element

The wood element is about new beginnings, family and kindness in feng shui. Sometimes people misinterpret wood as the dead material of wood, like a wood desk. But in fact, objects made of wood do not embody the wood element. To add wood element you can add green plants or objects that are green/teal or tall and expansive. Brown wood objects are actually earth element!

4.  Fountains flowing wealth away from the home

Fountains can be used as feng shui adjustments to bring more wealth into the home. The best way to do this is to position the fountain so that the water flows into the home, rather than right out the door. So just turn that fountain around.

5.  What direction your door faces is very important

In BTB feng shui, it is not critical if your door faces north, south, east or west. We look at the relationship of the space to the formal entry to the room, home or property. We call this the “mouth of chi,” where the energy comes into the space. There are other schools of feng shui that use the compass directions. The other schools are as valid and equal to BTB feng shui. But the feng shui I practice does not follow this particular discipline. We care more about where the energy enters the environment, and how to look at the flow of chi. 

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!


9 Amazeballs Ways to Fit In All Your Teen Needs in the Bedroom

featured this month on Houzz by Eva Byrne 

A teen bedroom is a place of refuge, a private retreat from family life. You’ll need to provide somewhere to sleep, somewhere to study and somewhere to store clothes. With clever planning, you can accommodate these needs in even the tiniest of spaces. Think in terms of a ship’s cabin to squeeze the most out of every available centimetre.

8. Max the make-up

A teen girl will always appreciate even the tiniest of dressing tables. Your bathroom will thank you, too, with one less demand on its use.

Slip a narrow table within the run of wardrobes, perhaps near the window to maximise that all-important light. Add strong artificial light for night-time use, and, of course, a large mirror. A drawer beneath the dressing table would be handy for lotions and potions.

...read full article


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Q&A Sunday: Feng Shui for Love?

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A friend of mine is not having any success in finding love and has been down about it lately. Is there any Feng Shui that can help her?

Kristina O., New York City, NY

I’m sorry to hear about your friend, and it’s kind of you to ask for her. Feng shui can definitely help with finding love, but I need to know more about the situation. Based on my intuition about this given situation, and as a general suggestion, take a look at KUN which is the Relationship area of the feng shui bagua map. Then look diagonally across from it, you will find GEN which represents KNOWLEDGE, specifically self-cultivation. The first suggestion I would make is that if she works on improving the GEN/self-cultivation area, it indirectly improves KUN/relationships. This is actually more effective than going directly to KUN/relationships.  

Feng shui is not a magic pill, but it can help improve areas like love, relationships, and “feeling down." It requires some work! My suggestion in this case is to work on self-cultivation by placing a feng shui crystal in the GEN/Knowledge area of her home to enhance, clarify and focus self-love and self-care. 

In addition the what I’ve mentioned above, there are some other basic feng shui adjustments your friend can do in her bedroom. I was actually single when I started learning about Feng Shui, and it absolutely helped me to bag my husband! The first thing I did was make sure I had open space on both sides of my bed. It’s also important to have a nightstand and lamp on each side, if she has the room.  This tells the universe that she’s ready to create some space for an equal partner to come into her life.  

Good luck to your friend!

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!

Note:  To locate the KNOWLEDGE or RELATIONSHIPS areas of your home, please refer to the Feng Shui Bagua Map here.  New blog post to come soon discussing the Feng Shui Bagua Map!


Feng Shui and Mother's Day

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Mother’s Day is an annually and widely celebrated holiday in America and in other countries as well, but few of us know when or why we began this celebration.

Though ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated their “mother goddesses” with festivals and parties, and European Catholics celebrated “Mothering Sunday,” a specific Sunday during Lent dedicated to “mother churches,” the American version of Mother’s Day originated in the 1900’s as the brainchild of Anna Jarvis. Anna created Mother’s Day in tribute to her deceased mother and as a way to praise the act of motherhood in general.

Originally, Mother’s Day was an intimate celebration between a family with no gifts or monetary focus. Individuals simply visited their mothers or church in honor of all that moms do. After Mother’s Day was added to the official holiday calendar at Anna’s insistence, Mother’s Day gradually picked up the traditions of gifting and celebration we observe today.

So where does feng shui fit into Mother’s Day? There's actually an area of the feng shui bagua map that's related to the mother. This area is related to relationships, partnerships, the mother, marriage, the color pink, the number two, square and flat shapes, and the element of yin earth. This area is probably the second most popular because it can also activate attracting a primary relationship.  

BUT you can also use the Relationship area to honor, call upon, or heal the relationship with your mother. The element of earth is associated with nourishment and support – just like “mother earth”. To honor or call upon the energy of your mother on Mother’s day in the style of feng shui, you could place something with positive memories of your mother in the Relationship area of your desk or bedroom. If you want to heal the connection, you could place a plant in the same area to represent growth and change for your relationship.

Either way, be sure to recognize the nourishment and support that your mother has provided today! Happy Mother’s Day!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Herbal Plants

I am interested in purchasing herb plants to put in my window sill, which is sort of in between Prosperity and Health guas. My local farmer's market sells them in small round plant pots. I also have another window sill located in my prosperity corner. Would you suggest plants instead? If the herb plants are ok, could you offer suggestions on which ones I should buy? Also, what is the minimum or maximum should I place on the window sill, which is 42 in. L and 5 in. W?

Cynthia H., Chicago, IL

Dear Cynthia,

What a lovely idea to have edible plants as a feng shui adjustment! I think herbs from the local farmer’s market are great.

I would select the herbs that you would most likely use, and that will survive with the natural light that’s available. You can also look at the meanings behind the plants and see what is most relevant to you.

Basil: Good wishes

Rosemary: Remembrance 

Thyme: Courage, Strength

Italian parsley: Festivity

Mint: Virtue

Chives: Usefulness

From http://www.almanac.com/content/meaning-flowers

For the size of your windows, I would suggest 3 on one sill and 2 on the other, for a total of 5. And 5 is a great number because it relates to the five elements!

Send us a photo of how it turns out!

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!


Change Your Color, Change Your Life

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Your home environment has a huge impact on your mood and your life. In order for your space to truly nourish you, you need to consider all the details in your interior design. And among the most important elements of design is color.

Color has the power to transform not only spaces, but also the people in them, by changing the flow of energy, evoking specific emotions and producing physiological changes in the body. Color has a profound influence on our mood, perceptions and actions.

If you make conscious decisions on the colors you choose to surround yourself with in your home, you can deliberately create a healthy and balanced environment and life for you and your family.

How do you want to live? How do you want to FEEL? Choose your colors accordingly.

This article reveals the emotional power of five popular colors:

1. Red

Red is a powerful color that evokes strong emotions.  It stimulates the body and mind.  Red increases your metabolism and your blood pressure and makes you more alert. Because red stimulates appetite, food tastes better when surrounded by red (so it is a popular color for dining rooms). Red can make a person feel passionate and excited.  But beware – too much red can evoke anger and lead to anxiety.

2. Blue

Blue acts as red’s opposite. It is serene and mentally calming. It decreases the pulse rate, lowers body temperature, and reduces appetite. Strong blues stimulate clear thought, and lighter blues calm the mind, aiding concentration. Thus, people are often more productive in blue rooms. If you need a little kick in the pants, try blue for your home office.

3. Yellow

Yellow is emotionally energizing and uplifting. It has been proven to stimulate the brain. This stimulation can make you more alert and decisive. It helps memory and promotes clear thinking. With a yellow kitchen, you just might not need that extra cup of coffee in the morning!

4. Green

Green is often used in decorating for its calming effect. It helps balance and soothe emotions. Green relaxes our muscles and helps us breathe deeper and slower. Studies show that those who have a green work environment experience fewer stomachaches. But watch out! Although green creates feelings of comfort, it can also cause laziness.

5. Purple

Purple is a mysterious color. It is the combination of two complete opposites – red and blue. Purple can be invigorating or calming, depending on how much red or blue is in the shade. Pure purple takes awareness to a higher spiritual level of thought. It encourages deep contemplation or meditation. Consider bringing purple into rooms where you want to feel creative or spiritual.

Remember that color has a far-reaching effect on emotion and behavior. Decide how you want to feel and the actions you want to take in a specific space, and use color to achieve your goal.

To read more about colors and feng shui, read here!

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Are Fake Plants Good Feng Shui?


 

Are fake plants good feng shui?

DeeJay A., Brooklyn, NY

Hi DeeJay, thanks for your question!

Green plants are used for many feng shui adjustments. They represent growth and new beginning and cultivate human kindness and compassion. They are related to the wood element and the area of New Beginnings on the feng shui bagua map.

While it is preferable to use living green plants for feng shui applications, my teachers have taught me that faux green plants are also acceptable. The faux plants should be of high quality and as realistic as possible. It is fairly easy now to find good looking fake plants. I believe it is much better to have a realistic fake plant over a dying real one. There are often locations where a plant could improve the feng shui of a space, however the natural light is lacking. In this case, I think it is good feng shui to use a fake plant.

On the other hand, a friend recently asked me about getting some colored orbs for her kitchen. She wanted to know what color was better feng shui-wise. We discussed her intentions, and then I suggested real fruit rather than orbs. She said it was too much of a hassle because fruit spoils and needs frequent replacement. That seems very practical, but you can also be mindful that if the intention for the colored orbs is to add more growth and wood element for example, then it would be all the more powerful to use something like real fruit that needs refreshing. The attention and care involved in replenishing fresh fruit, or caring for a living green plant, cultivates the desired qualities and only strengthens the intention and effects of the feng shui adjustment.

That said, a fake plant is okay for low light locations or for seriously black thumbs. But, there is something to gain from the care and nurturing you give to a living green plant that makes your feng shui adjustment more effective.

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!