Q&A Sunday: Beach Holidays and the Five Elements

Beach Holidays and the Five Elements.jpg

Hi Anjie. I would appreciate some Feng Shui tips for a beach holiday in terms of balancing the seaside environment, which seems to me water, earth (sand, pebbles) and fire (sun). I wondered if one should add the missing elements in order not to be too exhausted and overwhelmed.

Giuliana G., France

Hi Giuliana,

Thank you so much for always sending such wonderful questions! I previously answered this question on this blog post, but you sent me a follow-up and clarified that you were more curious about the five elements. A beach holiday can be at any time of year--a lot of times we go on beach holidays in the summer, but we often go during the winter as well because we want to go somewhere warm for a bit.

So what do we do to balance elements in a seaside environment? First, it’s really important to be in touch with what resonates with you. You can look at your Four Pillars or your Bazi, which is your Chinese astrology. You can see what your Day Master is, if it’s weak or strong, and what element you’re supported by. For instance, I’m a weak yin wood. Since my Day Master is wood, having water around me is really great. I’ve always lived near water; I grew up in Los Angeles, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I lived right on the water in New York City. Because water is really supportive for me, I don’t really need to balance things when I’m by the seaside.

If you don’t know anything about Four Pillars or Bazi, we have some information on the website about how to figure out your Nine Stars. If you look at the Nine Stars and you’re a wood element, for instance, it may mean that the seaside environment is supportive for you.

But what if you are not supported by water? That’s what it sounds like, because your question implies that you become exhausted, overwhelmed, or depleted near the seaside. That’s the main thing to pay attention to; you can look at numerology and astrology, but it’s important to see what you’re personally attracted to. For instance, as I mentioned, I’m always really drawn to the water, whereas my husband is more drawn to the forest and the country. For me, going to the country is neutral, and if I was going to the country, I’d want to be by a lake or another body of water. You usually know yourself, so if you close your eyes and think about your ideal vacation, that would be a good indication of what element you need. If being by the seaside makes you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, and your ideal vacation is in the country, that’s the number one indication that you may not need more water.

You mentioned that at the beach the main element is water, and you also mentioned earth (sand) and fire (sun), so what’s missing is metal and wood. Metal actually creates more water, so if you’re feeling depleted, metal isn’t the best thing to bring in. And if you think about it practically, metal gets hot very easily, so I would recommend you bring more wood into the situation. That could be as simple as carrying more wood-colored things around you. For instance, you could bring blue or green clothing, or a blue or green beach towel or bathing suit. You also see the color blue in the water, so it may be very comforting to look at the water if it’s not too bright. You can also bring the wood element into the place that you’re staying. The wood element is also living green plants, so you may want to bring those into the place where you are staying.

Hopefully this will help you for your seaside beach holiday at any time of year. Thank you so much!

by Anjie Cho

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish. Visit us at mindfuldesignschool.com.

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: Beach Holiday Feng Shui

Beach Holiday Feng Shui.jpg

I would appreciate some Feng Shui tips for a beach holiday (accommodation, beach tote, and so on). Thanks in advance.

Giuliana G., France

Hi Giuliana,

Nice to hear from you again! You always come up with such interesting questions. 🙂 Thank you!

My first thought was…"well I’m not sure if I can answer this one." But, upon reflection, this is very similar to just feng shui travel tips. And I also did take a work vacation to a Greek island in June (I was at teacher a dharma art retreat). I travel quite a bit, especially this year. So, maybe I do have something to share!

For the travel part, whether it be a train, car or especially a plane, there are a few things that I always travel with. First, a hydrating spray. My favorite is Alaska essences Travel Ease, which has essential oils, flower and gem essences to ease with the jet lag. Another wonderful travel aid are hydration tablets. Nuum is currently my favorite. I also carry a feng shui talisman I received from Catherine Woo that is unfortunately unavailable anywhere that I know of…I’ll ask my mentors about it. I always travel with Lotus Wei's Radiant Energy, which works to expand your presence after computer use and travel. It's a MUST for restful sleep while traveling.

When I arrive at my destination, the first thing I do is unpack and make myself at home. Putting your belongings away in a drawer creates a feeling of ownership and relaxation, rather than the chaos of literally living out of a suitcase. Then I tuck the suitcase away. For me, it makes me feel at home and spacious. Your belongings also deserve to stretch out a bit after a long day of traveling. :)

Next, I clear the space, because there can be residual energies from the people who have stayed there before, or just from the people you’re staying with. I think over the holidays, or when you're traveling, you can easily feel sensitive to space as well as foreign energy. By clearing the space, you’re just giving the place a little perk to provide a restful and spacious sleeping situation while traveling. I suggest carrying some space clearing tools with you whenever you travel, such as palo santo, white sage or orange essential oil spray. I prefer room sprays when traveling, because you’re not burning anything. My store sells travel-friendly bottles of each of these.

The beach tote is an intriguing question and can be feng shui relevant. There’s something called fashion feng shui, and if you haven’t heard of it, basically we can use feng shui colors to support and produce the type of qi we want to cultivate. So, you can coordinate your beach tote (or suit or towel…) with the kind of energy you want to embody on your trip. For instance, green if you want some healing vibrant energy. Purple to attract abundance and success. Earthy colors if you want to take care of yourself and do some self-care. Pink if you want to attract a partner. Red if you want to be really seen and noticed. Dark blue if you want to work on self cultivation, like maybe at a yoga retreat. 

Finally, since you specifically asked about a beach holiday, we can touch upon the water element. In feng shui, moving bodies of water like the ocean and rivers, provide a natural element that can offer your intentions to the universe. If there’s something you want to give up to the world, perhaps your worries about something or a negative energy, you can let it go into the water. Let the water carry it away. One way to do that would be to write it on a red piece of paper, burn it and offer the ashes into the water that’s moving away from you. Then just leave it up to the universe.

by Anjie Cho

If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design feng shui cerfication program. Laura Morris and I are launching our program in September 2018. We have a free webinar “Five Feng Shui Tools Revealed: Must-do business boosters for soulpreneurs and wellness practitioners”  coming up, too! check us out at www.mindfuldesignschool.com

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our a unique training program takes an holistic approach to learning the art of feng shui design. Mindful design is about becoming aware, and attentive, to the energy around you: both inner and outer qi. It is about promoting a better way of living and creating sacred spaces that support, and nourish.

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

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and the start of Earth Week. I encourage each of you to incorporate one green living change into your daily life. Below are five simple, yet impactful changes you can make.

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day - 1.jpg

1.  Adopt or Donate an Indoor Plant

I have a Golden Pothos from when I first moved to New York City in 2003. I can't even remember who gave it to me, but it was a housewarming gift. This plant is so hardy, it's survived and flourished through weeks of forgetful watering and even a dark ground floor apartment. In feng shui, house plants bring life energy into a indoor space. They can create a softer and more vibrant energy in a home or office.  Living plants are wonderful for improving overall indoor air quality. The Goldon Pothos is said to be particularly good for removing formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.  

What I love about the Golden Pothos is that they are easy to propagate. Simply cut off a 3" or longer piece, just below a leaf or a node (or joint). I like to take cuttings and place them in a glass of water. Alternatively, you can plant them, or you can wrap them in a wet paper towel and give them as gifts.

Orchids are also very common houseplants. What most people don't know is that after the flowers die, the remaining plant is still alive! The plant is dormant, and you can keep it. It's such a reward to see my orchids bloom every year.  

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day - 2.jpg

2.  Switch to a Renewable Energy Provider

An easy way to minimize your carbon footprint is to switch to a renewable energy provider. There are many different companies, and it really depends on where you live. It can be overwhelming to weed through all the companies, but it's worth it. The EPA gives some information on where you can find renewable energy companies for residential and commercial locations.  

Switching to Green Power does not typically mean that you need to install solar panels or a windmill on your roof. Although that is sometimes an option, in most urban areas this simply means that you can call your electricity provider and request you switch to a Green or Renewable energy source. In New York City, there are a handful of Energy Supply Companies (ESCOs) that provide a green option. You may see a small increase in your monthly bill, but in my experience it's very minimal. Probably around $10/month for a one bedroom apartment. You can also look into Renewable Energy Certificates RECS to offset your DIRTY electricity usage.

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day - 3.jpg

3.  Reduce Bottled Water Usage

Contrary to popular belief, the National Resources Defense Council NRDC says that bottled water is “subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.”  If health is a concern, plastics are terrible to eat and drink from.  There may be Bisphenol A (BPA)s or other toxic chemicals and substances in plastic containers that will affect water quality.

In New York City, we have excellent quality tap water. I recommend those outside of NYC use a high quality water filter and drink tap water whenever possible. I use reusable glass bottles and my Soda Stream seltzer machine as much as possible at home.

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day - 4.jpg

4.  Buy Post Consumer Recycled Products

Most of us know by now, we need to recycle.  Reduce, reuse and recycle!  Note, recycle is last on that list.  

We put our glass bottles, metal cans, plastic bottles and paper/cardboard in the bins and out on the curb.  But what happens when we recycle? Sadly, not everything gets recycled. The recycling carter or your municipal recycler picks up the waste-- but if no one wants to buy the recyclables, they can put the unsellable material into the landfill. Glass, metals, cardboard and paper are typically easy to recycle. There is a market for these materials. Plastic is another story. Not all plastics are recyclable. The plastics that can be recycled have a shorter lifecycle, require more energy to recycle, and are not as valuable.

So.. what can we do? Purchase more Post Consumer Recycled products! "Recycled" typically means that the content is made from pre-consumer materials, such as the leftover waste from manufacturing. It's good, but not the same as Post Consumer. "Post Consumer Recycled" indicates that the recycled portion is from the recycled waste that you and I have put into our recycling bins. If we make an effort to purchase more post consumer recycled plastics, we in turn create a demand for the recyclable plastics. This will also cut down the creation of new plastics. 

5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day - 5.jpg

5.  DIY Water Saving Toilet

My final tip is for those of us with a tank toilet. This is a toilet where there is a tank behind, rather than in the wall or with a flush-o-meter. It's super simple to make your own water saving toilet. Take an old plastic bottle (the ones you're no longer using!), and fill it up with water. Open the toilet tank cover, and place the plastic bottle inside. Be sure to avoid and not obstruct the toilet flap, ball, handles, etc., inside the tank. Voila! The water filled bottle will displace water in the toilet tank and reduce the water usage each time you flush.

As a final feng shui tip - be sure to keep your toilet bowl cover shut. The bathroom is a place where water is always coming in and out of the home. In feng shui, water represents wealth and money flow. Make sure you keep the toilet seat closed, as well as the bathroom door. This will keep the wealth from flowing away from you!

by Anjie Cho 

Q&A Sunday: Goldfish for Feng Shui

Goldfish for Feng Shui.jpg

A few months ago I bought fish tank. I started with nine goldfish. Last week, three died, and I replaced them. After two more have died, one orange and one black, I now have four goldfish left. According to Vaastu/Feng Shui, are we supposed to keep nine goldfish and one black fish, or eight goldfish and one black fish? I was also told to keep my 37 gallon tank in the North corner of my house. Can I keep fewer fish or get an extra, smaller tank and put three fish in that tank to make total of nine?

Vana R., Brampton, Ont.

Hi Vana, 

Thank you for your question! Before we begin, it might be helpful for you to look at two of our previous answers, Question of the Month: What About Goldfish? and Q&A Sunday: A Feng Shui Aquarium. You may find useful information there as well.

In your specific situation, my intuition tells me the true issue isn't necessarily about how many goldfish you have or how big your tank is. Life isn't isn't always about following rules tightly or too loosely. In Buddhism and in feng shui, we have the concepts of being tight and loose. If you're too tight, you follow things too closely. If you're too loose, you don't follow closely enough. I am feeling that you are too tight.

Fortunately, you can take a lesson from the flow of the water in the aquarium and be a little looser in your life. It's good that these questions are coming up, because you're curious and dedicated to shifting things. But there is also a tightness coming across. I can be a very tight person too, but just like with the strings of an instrument, if they're too taut, the music isn't right. If they're too slack, the music isn't right either. It's about finding and feeling the balance.

One of the reasons one may want to use an aquarium in the home, at least in BTB feng shui, is to add more flexibility, flow and openness, like water. This is the feeling I'm getting from your question, so I encourage you to look at what is appropriate for you, rather than what the "rules" dictate. In an aquarium, the water is always circulating and moving. It's a metaphor for creating a flow and resisting getting stuck or creating solid rules.

Another thought, ask yourself why those fish died. Did they die because you weren't taking care of them, or was it an accident? Did they die randomly, or were they perhaps not high quality fish? I think it's important to really consider these factors.

The answers to that question will help with the next part, which is figuring out what's best for you and your lifestyle. What size aquarium works best for YOUR space? If you've worked with a Vaastu or feng shui practitioner, and they recommended keeping the tank in the North corner, go with what they advised. It is worth noting that 37 gallons is considered a medium size tank, so if it seems like it's a bit much for you to keep up with, you might want to try a smaller option. It may help to go back to your practitioner and ask why they made the original recommendation and if you can downsize. I can't really advise on this, since practitioners are all very different, but I recommend looking at whether this size is appropriate for you. Keeping fish in your space can be good feng shui, but if you can't maintain them, it could defeat the purpose. 

In your case, it seems that you actually want to try a smaller tank. You can definitely keep fewer than nine fish. In one of the previous questions about goldfish mentioned above, I do share that three is also a good number for fish, but I can't give you a solid answer here, because I feel it's something you need to challenge yourself with. Don't try to just follow the rules and be super tight; really look at what works best for you and add some looseness. Return to the practitioner you originally saw for advice. What was the reasoning behind their recommendations? I also suggest looking for a bit more openness, looseness and flow in your life. That could help you to find the answer you're looking for.

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!

Holistic Spaces Podcast, Episode 051: Creativity and Feng Shui with Laura Morris








5 Ways to Embrace the Summer Solstice

It's officially summer! As of today, the 2017 summer solstice, we've moved from spring to summer and are welcoming the fire season after a cold winter! The earth will travel its closest to the sun today, bringing longer days, warmer weather and the official beginning of a new season in the northern hemisphere. We're always fans of the summer season, and in feng shui terms, it's a great time to refresh your space and prepare the coming fire element. Here are our favorite ways to switch to summer in a holistic space!

Clear Your Space

I recommend space clearings on a regular basis to my feng shui clients. They are great ways to refresh the energy in your home, send stagnant energy on its way and welcome positive qi to your space. There are any number of ways to clear the space, but I prefer the BTB feng shui orange peels method or our Holistic Spaces white sage mist during the summer months! The Space white sage spray is finally back in stock, and it's also perfect to travel with during the summer. You don't always want to burn sage when you're staying away from home, so the mist is a brilliant way to clear the space of that guest room without setting off any alarms!

Clean Out Your Closet

We all know the value of closet space, and though it might be necessary to leave out a few warmer pieces for the spring season, summer is hot and vibrant, and it's the ideal time to pack away those winter clothes and make space for light, comfortable summer clothes. You may even find there are clothes you haven't worn that you can get rid of! Each piece of clothing that leaves your space leaves room for a new, quality piece you love. Check out some of our past posts about cleaning out the closet!

Stock Up on Fruits and Veggies

Just as we change our eating habits at the beginning of fall, winter and spring, the summer season brings with it a new list of optimal foods, most notably raw fruits and veggies. With the rise of the heat, fruits and veggies offer a healthy, nutritious way to cool the body, and many (think lettuce, watermelon) even contain a high amount of water to help combat the fire season! My favorite thing is to make watermelon juice. Be sure to juice the rind, too! Watermelon rind contains a wealth of nutrients not found in other fruits and can even help improve blood circulation! 

Swap Out Design Accessories

If you changed up your holistic space to get cozy during the cooler months, it's time to switch back to breezy, cooling accessories for your space. Replace darker colors with light blues, greens and pastels; swap heavy drapes for thin curtains; opt for airy, organic linens and maybe even throw in a few summer-themed pillows! Check out our next My Favorite Things post for our favorite summer design accessories.

Add the Water Element

June is the peak of the fire season, and the best way to balance out excess fire is to add water. You can do this by adding actual water, kidney shaped items, dark blues and blacks and representations of water. Check out my favorite ways to add water to a space!

by Anjie Cho

Q&A Sunday: Can a Mirror Face a Window?

I wanted to verify something with you if you're willing. Is it bad placement to have a mirror face a window? Thank you!

Lisa R., NYC


Hi Lisa

Thanks for writing in, and what a great question! Mirrors are used a lot in feng shui, and there’s often much confusion as to how to use them. In this case, no it is not “bad” or unfavorable to have a mirror face a window. In fact, it can be an auspicious placement.

In general, mirrors can symbolize and bring in water energy in areas of your spaces that lack water. An example would be if you have a fireplace (fire energy) in the Abundance (earth) area. Adding a mirror is one of the numerous ways to add water energy to tone down the fire. 

Another use for mirrors is that they can expand, extend space. For instance, if you have a toilet or bathroom in an inauspicious location such as the Fame gua (fire), then you can place a mirror on the outside of the door so that the bathroom energetically “disappears”. The reflection in the mirror expands or extends what’s reflected into the Fame area where the toilet sits.

Another example that answers your question specifically is an adjustment I personally have in my office. I have a convex mirror above the Abundance area of my desk. It reflects the image of my window, where there is a view of the East River. I have the mirror specifically reflecting the window and image of water, to bring that water (Wealth & Abundance) energy across the Knowledge, New Beginnings and Abundance areas of my desk. This brings in so much auspicious qi for my business. I also have something similar in the kitchen, where a convex mirror reflects the window and view of water over my stove. The stove represents wealth so this increases that energy of prosperity, as well as adjusting my stove location!

So, no it's not "bad" for a mirror to face a window! 

As in many cases with feng shui, the adjustment really just depends on the person and situation. If the circumstances mentioned above are similar to yours, the choice to face a mirror towards a window may well be auspicious, but if you aren't sure or have doubts, feel free to follow up or book a 15-minute consultation call!

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!

Holistic Spaces Podcast, Episode 042: Clutter and Five Elements with Katherine Metz, Part 1








Holistic Spaces Podcast, Episode 031: Nine Star Holiday Dynamics with Rosalie Prinzivalli