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!


Q&A Sunday: Sun Moon Mirror

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I am very interested in purchasing your Sun Moon Mirror; however, I was hoping you could provide me with a few more examples of how I may use it. I have been trying to research it a bit on the Internet but have not found any valuable information on the topic. I appreciate any assistance that you can provide regarding the item.

Teneale S., Alberta, Canada

Hi Teneale,

Thanks for your interest in the Sun Moon Mirror.

Sun Moon Mirrors are sacred ritual objects used for many purposes in BTB Feng Shui. Mirrors are quite useful in feng shui adjustments, but these Sun Moon Mirrors can be used as a more powerful version in most feng shui cures that require mirrors. They are double sided and are powerful because the sun side of a Sun Moon Mirror has been exposed to 24 hours of sunlight and the moon side to 24 hours of moonlight. They’re a challenge to make, because your attention to the process is important, and can also take a great deal of time, as cloudy days are not effective for empowering the mirror(s). You don’t want the sun side to accidentally receive energy from moon or vice versa. The Sun Moon Mirrors that we sell at Holistic Spaces have been created by my feng shui teacher, Katherine Metz

There is a wide variety of uses for a Sun Moon Mirror, but you won’t find them on the Internet. This list is something you receive when appropriate from a feng shui consultant or a teacher. The teachings are traditionally most effective when transmitted orally and at just the right time and place. When you purchase the mirror through Holistic Spaces, you’ll receive a document that Katherine created listing over 20 ways to use this incredible feng shui ritual object. 

Some examples are:

  • You can carry this tool around at all times for protection. I carry one with me in my purse.
  • For clarity, you can place a Sun Moon Mirror in your pillow and sleep on it.
  • For clarity and focus in your career, fasten it on the ceiling above your head at your desk.
  • If you are making a feng shui adjustment using one of the feng shui mirrors we have, you can use this Sun Moon Mirror as a more powerful option. For example if there is a missing feng shui bagua area in your home, you can use the mirror to bring back the area energetically.

I'm excited to hear that you're interested in the Sun Moon Mirror. It is such a powerful feng shui tool, and I recommend it when possible. I would love to hear how you choose to use yours!

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!


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Nine Star Ki for the Earth Dog Year 2018

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Happy Chinese New Year!

This Friday, we celebrate the Chinese New Year! I'll be at my local Shambhala Center celebrating our version, called Shambhala Day, which honors the Tibetan New Year (Losar). The traditions are similar and all welcome the year of the Earth Dog.

The energy has already begun to shift for the new year; the official transition was actually on February 4th. That means, it's time for yearly Nine Star Ki forecasts! Be sure to check out the blog post with Beth Grace for individual zodiac horoscopes, as well as what kind of energy to expect from the Year of the Dog. 

In combination with the Chinese zodiac astrology system, I also like to use the numerology of the Nine Star Ki to prepare for the coming year and stay energetically balanced. This practice was developed in ancient China, so it only makes sense that it goes so well with feng shui, and is based on a number system of nine rather than the animal system. It also closely aligns with the five element principles and the I-Ching. 

Holistic Spaces has worked with Andrea Giordano, from AromatheraChi, again this year to create custom aromatherapy blends for each Nine Star Ki number in the Year of the Dog. Each aromastick is created to provide support and enhance the energy for your individual number in the coming lunar year, and they can be used in conjunction with feng shui!

Now let's figure out your number and what's in store!

You can calculate your principle number by using your year of birth. Beware: this requires a little elementary math ;)

As an example, if you were born in 1986:

  • Add:  1+9+8+6 = 24
  • Reduce to a single digit:  2+4 = 6
  • Subtract from 11:  11-6 = 5

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-6 = 6

If you were born in 1940:

  • Add:  1+9+4+0 = 14
  • Reduce to a single digit:  1+4 = 5
  • Subtract from 11:  11-5 = 6

*if you were born between January 1 and February 4, subtract from 12:  12-5 = 7

Here's what all that calculating means for the Year of the Earth Dog in 2018:

If your principle number is 1, in 2018 you will be in the year of Prosperity. This year will feel strong and prosperous. You will begin to feel confident and be recognized for your knowledge and skills. There will still be a lot of effort, but you shall finally be harvesting the fruits of your labor. As a 1 Water person, you will feel supported in this 6 Metal year. Make the most of it!

If your principle number is 2, in 2018 you will be in the year of Celebration. This year will feel celebratory and playful. It is a great time to relax and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work that you put in the last few years. Enjoy yourself, rejoice and have some fun. As a 2 earth person, you may feel depleted from time to time in this 7 metal year. Be sure to also take care of yourself so you don't get burnt out from too much partying!

If your principle number is 3, in 2018 you will be in the year of Stillness. This year will be much quieter than the last. It will be a time of stillness, like climbing up a mountain to meditate in isolation. This is a great time to focus inward and do some self-cultivation. As a 3 Wood person, you will feel a bit slowed down in this 8 Earth year. But remember, this is a time to ground yourself and go deep.

If your principle number is 4, in 2018 you will be in the year of Recognition. This year you will be in the house of fire, where you have the best opportunities to be seen and recognized by others. It is a great time to receive any promotions or any other projects that you want publicity for. Be careful, as all things, good or bad, may be unveiled to the public. As a 4 Wood person, you may be prone to burn out in this 9 Fire year. Add some water and go with the flow to tone down the flames.

If your principle number is 5, in 2018 you will be in the year of Planning. This year will feel quiet and is a time for planning. In the winter, it may appear that everything is dead on the surface, but underneath there is much life and activity. Similarly, it may feel slow, but take this time to reflect, review and plan for the future. As a 5 Earth person, you will may feel a little muddy in this 1 Water year. Take advantage of the quietness and rest up!

If your principle number is 6, in 2018 you will be in the year of Germination. This year will be the time to plant seeds. When you plant a garden, you germinate many more seeds than you need. Do the same this year. Put all your ideas out there into the universe and share them with others. Plant the seeds and see what comes up! As a 6 Metal person, you will feel supported in this 2 Earth year. Enjoy, and let this year take care of you.

If your principle number is 7, in 2018 you will be in the year of Sprouting. This year will be energetic and full of new beginnings as you catch sight of seeds that you planted last year begin to sprout and grow. Be open to new ideas and cultivate the projects that you start at this time. As a 7 Metal person, you may feel a little overwhelmed in this 3 Wood year. Remember that this is a time to sharpen and expand.

If your principle number is 8, in 2018 you will be in the year of Rapid Growth. This year will be a continuation of last year where you see your sprouts grow into strong, grounded trees. This year will be busy and active, so please take care of yourself and be careful not to get burnt out. As an 8 Earth person, you may sense some upheaval in this 4 Wood year, but remember that it's about creating movement and change for the better!

If your principle number is 9, in 2018 you will be in the year of Fluctuation. This year will feel a little chaotic, as this is a time of renewal and rebirth. You many need to reinvent yourself this year. It’s a great time to let things go that are no longer serving you. As a 9 Fire person, you may feel depleted in this 5 Earth year. Emphasize some self-love and care this year.

How is the coming year looking for you? Are you excited? If you're interested in learning more about Nine Star Ki, check out this Holistic Spaces podcast, and take a peek at the blog, too, for ideas on how to celebrate the Chinese New Year! No matter what your number or animal, don't forget to take care of yourself during the Year of the Earth Dog! One great way is to grab a three-dimensional rabbit charm to carry with you at all times for protection and support. Since the Rabbit is the Dog's best friend, carrying this charm will keep you in their good graces. :)

by Anjie Cho


Q&A Sunday: Encouraging Change in the Home

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Are there some simple things I can do to change the energy and encourage my dad to de-clutter the place?

Jane H., Bronx, NY

Hi Jane, 

Thank you so much for submitting your question to the Holistic Spaces blog. It's a great question! So, you're wondering if there are some simple things you can do to change the energy in your home and encourage your father to declutter the space. 

My first thought: If you've read or are familiar with Marie Kondo, in her book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, she actually suggests working on yourself first. Take a look at your own personal space, start with decluttering that area and, by example, you'll encourage others (your dad) to do the same. If your personal areas aren't particularly cluttered, you can even work on clearing out shared public areas, like the kitchen or living room. So, my first suggestion here is to work on changing the energy of the space for yourself.

My second recommendation is to move a few things around in your home. Moving nine things with intention in your space can help to change the energy in your home, not just for your father, but for you as well. These don't have to be big adjustments. They can actually be rather small, even a matter of inches. You could move a lamp nine inches in one direction or move your dishes from one cabinet to another. Or you could completely remove an item from one room or from the home completely. As long as you take the time to stir the energy in your space by moving these nine things with thoughtfulness, you will begin to create changes for you and your dad. 

Finally, use space clearing techniques to promote change and more peace in your home! Space clearing can shake up the energy in your space and clear out stagnant energy so positive qi has room to flow. And it's really easy to do! Check out our post on using orange peels to clear space, or you can use orange essential oil to make an orange spray. Alternatively, you can buy an orange mist or try palo santo, both of which we offer at the Holistic Spaces store. You could also grab a bottle of our white sage spray, which I love. In fact, my intuition here tells me that the white sage spray would be best for you, and I feel it would really help . If the sage spray isn't within your reach, you might try buying sage and smudging like you would with palo santo. As a note, if allergies are an issue, opt for one of the sprays or palo santo, as they tend to be less irritant.

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!


Autumn Is Finally (Actually) Here!

New York City isn't usually associated with warm fall weather, but this year the sunshine stuck around a bit longer than usual. Some of us (me!) enjoyed it, and others waited patiently for real autumn temperatures. They're finally starting to drop down, so I'd thought I'd share my favorite blog posts from over the years to help us all get adjusted to fall, no matter how late it showed up!


Astrology & Feng Shui 008: October 2017 Self-Care and Knowledge

 
 

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

LISTEN AT HOLISTICSPACES.COM/PODCAST

AVAILABLE ON ITUNES AS PART OF HOLISTIC SPACES PODCAST

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

TUNE IN NOVEMBER 1 FOR THE NEXT EPISODE!

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!