The Many Shades of Green: Bringing Zen Into Your Life

Image Credit: The Many Shades of Green

Image Credit: The Many Shades of Green

I'm so honored to have been on The Many Shades of Green radio show for another interview with Maxine Margo. This week, Maxine and I talk post-consumer recycling, BTB feng shui,  environmental psychology and more on the path to zen. Click here to listen to our newest interview on The Many Shades of Green.

Interview transcript:

Hi, I'm Anjie Cho, registered architect and LEED AP, and this is Holistic Spaces, brought to you by The Many Shades of Green.

Today I’d like to talk to you about an exciting topic: post-consumer recycled materials.

It’s actually pretty confusing – what does recycled mean? What does post-consumer recycled mean? What’s the difference? 

Post-consumer recycled content indicates that a portion of the content is made from recycled materials that you or I put in our recycling bins through private or public means. That means this material has gone through the hands of a consumer.  Otherwise, just “recycled” means that it was likely made from virgin material such as leftover scraps from factories and over-produced items.  

Why post-consumer recycled? When you recycle, it eventually needs to be purchased by someone to recycle.  If people like us are purchasing post-consumer recycled products, we create a market demand for those post-consumer materials.  Sadly, if there’s no market for the recycling, all the material we recycle may just end up in a landfill.

Also it wouldn’t hurt to have a good percentage of the paper and plastics that already exist to be salvaged and reused for post-consumer recycled products. 

In conclusion, I encourage you to make a choice for post-consumer recycled materials whenever possible. By creating a market and demand for post consumer recycled products, we can support and grow the infrastructure for more environmentally GREEN living!

MMR: Hi, I’m Maxine Margo Rubin, and welcome to The Many Shades of Green, our program that engages in conversations that move to raise your eco consciousness. My guest this week on The Many Shades of Green is Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces. She’s a LEED certified green architect, a BTB Feng Shui Practitioner. She has written a new book entitled 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces. How do you create functional, sustainable and balanced spaces within your home by using Feng Shui techniques? What steps can you take to enhance the flow of chi? Anjie will give us some ideas and green tips that will make your home more harmonious and set you on a path to Zen. So Anjie, how are you?

AC: I’m so good Maxine. How are you?

We’re on that path to Zen right now. We’re going to get in to your book in a little bit, but I wanted to get in to Feng Shui right off the bat. It didn’t come in to the States until about the ‘60s, is that right? I read that in one of the paragraphs in your book that I actually read, yes.

My mentor must have written that. Yes, it came in to the ‘60s and it got popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s through professor Lin Yun, who is the founder of the BTB Feng Shui School.

Now BTB Feng Shui, how does that differ from another form of Feng Shui, other areas of it?

There are many schools of Feng Shui. There’s BTB Feng Shui, there’s the Compass School, there’s Classical Feng Shui, there’s Form School. There are a lot of different schools, and also every culture has their own form of geomancy, which means looking at the land and the space and the environment and seeing how to best locate yourself.

So the difference with BTB, generally, is that it’s more of a westernized approach to Feng Shui. It’s more recent, and there are 2 main characteristics. It doesn’t really prioritize the cardinal direction, for instance north, south, east, west aren’t the most important thing. What’s more important is where the energy comes into the space, so that would usually be the front door. We call that the mouth of chi.

The mouth of chi is the front door of an apartment or a house. So when you walk in, you’re going to feel in a particular way because of the energy or the way things are placed or what’s in your house. What would you want to have in your front entrance that will make you feel the energy is positive?

Well, the front entry is the first thing that you see. Even if you live in a house that has a garage and you come in through the garage door, your front entry represents your face to the world and how the world sees you and the first thing that people see. So that symbolism says a lot about how opportunities come to you, how the world sees and views you. So some simple things that can improve the energy of your home looking at your front entry…one is to brighten it up. Make sure that the bulbs you have there are very bright. You have the opportunity to bring a lot of brightness in that space. A light bulb represents fire energy. Another thing is to keep it very clean and tidy, By keeping it clean and tidy, you automatically watch what’s happening in that space. You’re mindful of that space; you pay attention to it on a daily basis. Another thing that you can do is make sure that your door can be found. A lot of times, especially in New York City apartments, you don’t even know how to buzz the front door. There’s no buzzer, there’s no number. If your friends can’t find you, how can opportunities find you?

Yeah, if your friends can’t find you, you’re definitely in a bit of trouble. Now, you mentioned tidy, and I know there’s a lot of different thoughts about tidy. They say geniuses have clutter and then they create through their clutter, I mean, or the clutter just builds up around them but they still can focus. Yet clutter also can present problems in terms of how you’re organized, how your life is, so if something’s cluttered, do you need to work on it forever? Are there steps you can take to start doing it in increments and what is behind that theory of de-cluttering your space?

Well, clutter is really a modern day phenomenon. We didn’t have clutter in ancient times. We didn’t have so much stuff, and that’s one thing that, when we think about green initiatives, we think about reducing, reusing and recycling, but we often forget the first one is reduce. How do we reduce the amount of extra objects that we have in our homes? There’s actually an Einstein quote that says “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Right, that’s where my genius reference came in. Thank you Einstein.

Those were actually two extremes. If you have a very cluttered desk where you can’t find anything, of course that impacts how well you work, how clearly you think. But if you have an empty desk, and nothing is going on, then it also means that there’s also nothing going on in your mind, nothing going on in your work, you don’t have anything happening, so that we would say it’s very yin. 

So you need balance, actually.

You need to be in the middle. Maybe it needs to be a process of clutter and removing. Because maybe if you take snapshots of the desk at certain times, it might look cluttered, it might look empty, but life isn’t static like that. We’re constantly moving. So when you approach clutter in your home, I think the first thing to think about is: is it really representing a block in your life? Is it really causing angst in your life? For instance, for a while, I had a lot of magazines piling up, and every time I saw them, I thought, “Those magazines that I keep meaning to read and I’m not going to read and they keep piling up.” It becomes a source of guilt and it weighs on you, and that takes up a lot of energy to ignore that. So if it’s representing a block in your life, then it’s definitely something you should address but if it’s not bothering you, you don’t need to worry about it.

I have that with mail. It just piles. The mail I need, I address. The mail I don’t need, which is from anything and any place, it just stays there. We started keeping mail in the mailbox that we didn’t want to bring in, or mail that we didn’t need to address, certain catalogs, certain things. I think we drove our mail lady crazy. Sorry! But again, the clutter issue is definitely a problem, and achieving that balance is the way to go.

Well, there’s that one approach where you only handle it once. Like for your mail, if you touch it, you need to deal with it. So make sure you only have to deal with it one time, so if you touch it, you throw it away or you address it.

That’s one way to approach it. And also it’s okay, like I said, it’s okay to have some clutter. For instance, my sister has 2 daughters and she has a table that’s her homework table. It’s a clutter table. You just throw everything on there, and you make a space in your life to accommodate things that are messy and that you can’t address right away. So maybe it goes in that area and eventually, you clean off that area when you got sick of it.

In achieving this balance, also, it’s, I think, important (and I read) that you take time to meditate and have some space to do that, and if you have a little tiny apartment in New York City, a studio, I mean, how do you figure spots to do that? I mean, where would you go in such a small space?

One of my meditation teachers, he says it’s really great to have a spot that you always go back to. For instance, if you had to make your bed area, for instance you have to create a bed every time you went to sleep, it would be very challenging, and you might just sleep on the floor sometimes. So same thing with meditation; if you don’t have a designated spot, you may not do it very often, because it’s not there. I hear you’re saying, not a lot of people have room, but the space could be while you’re sitting at the edge of your bed, or it could be sitting on your sofa or could be sitting at your desk, because when they talk about space and meditation, it’s not just physical space but also creating space in your mind and creating space between your thoughts and creating space within yourself.

There’s so much stress, and I know people do not take time to meditate which is something they should do. How would you get the message across the people to take that time and as a part of the Feng Shui practice to do that and how would they do that? What message would you tell them?

Well I feel that meditation is definitely an important thing to incorporate in your life, but if you’re not called to do it, maybe that’s not the right thing for you. But if you are called to it, you could go take a class at a meditation center. I go to Shambhala center, and they’ll teach you ways to incorporate it in to your life. I think one of the biggest benefits of meditation for me, is that I rarely take the time to be compassionate enough to myself to give myself a break and just be present and think. I’m always thinking about the next thing I need to do or the next person I need to take care of or the next meal I’m going to have, and that’s all okay, but if I can sit down and just be with my thoughts, then I can let all those thoughts happen and absorb them and watch them, then it creates space in my mind to really be able to focus on things. Otherwise my mind just, without the meditation, your mind just becomes like a wild animal.

Right. Well, people need to take a chill time in their crazy workday, and it’s kind of hard to do, but maybe even connecting to nature, go outside, go to a park. I know there’s eco-psychology which is something that seems to be sprouting up, and again, I saw that in the book, a reference to it. What is that about?

Oh, Environmental Psychology?

Yeah, Environmental Eco Psychology.

There’s one book I was reading where there have been some studies done where people are in hospital spaces, and they heal faster when they see green space or they have access to green space. You can start to see that someone’s actually healing when they begin to look outside of themselves and worry about things besides themselves, so maybe about their environment. So one of the amazing studies they did was, I think they studied the same amount of people with the same surgery, and the ones that had a view to green space and trees healed much faster, and they needed fewer pain killers than the other group.

So the study was in a hospital setting or…

In a hospital setting.

Wow. So the people who saw greenery felt better even looking out a window, not necessarily being outside, but just seeing it, and the people that didn’t weren’t healing as fast. So that really shows you that we need to get outside, and we need to have space outside. Now, how could you bring some of that green inside?

Well, we’ve talked a lot about plants before in these interviews, bringing in plants, but even bringing in the color green. So, you forgot to ask me…

We’re going to get to that in the next half now. We’re really going to get green in the next half, because I want to hear all these shades that I don’t even know about.

Well, you can definitely bring in some plants, and not just small, little, dinky forage plants but bring in a big, 3 foot fern or ficus tree or something. Bring in some living plants. Not only does that bring greenery in to your space, it improves the air quality, and it improves your ability to take are of something outside of yourself. It works in a lot of ways. And also bringing in the color green, because the colors of nature are much more soothing to the eye. We’ve just evolved that way, and that’s another thing that these environmental psychologists have studied: how colors affect our eyes, how it affects our wellbeing and our emotions.

So we’re going to talk about more green because I’m very interested in various shades of green, or the many shades of green.

We’re here with Anjie Cho. We’re talking about green things and Feng Shui and the relationship with color and space and energy. There’s something called the bagua map which has 8 trigrams. We’re going to learn now what that is, and then we’ll focus on some of the colors, one of them being one of my favorites, well, my favorite color, which is green. So can you give us a little background on that bagua map?

Sure. The bagua map is the Feng Shui map, and it’s a conceptual grid. It’s a 3 by 3 grid, and it creates 9 different areas, although there are 8 trigrams, but that’s for another conversation. The 9 areas represent 9 different areas of your life, and it has different connections. For instance, the first one we’ll probably talk about is new beginnings, which is related to green, and it’s related to wood, the element of wood. It’s related to a certain area of your home, it’s related to family, it’s related to the spring. It’s also related to Chinese medicine, the meridians. They also use the 5 elements in Daoism; it’s the same thing. 

What are the 5 elements again, so the people know?

The 5 elements are wood, fire, water, metal and earth. 

Okay. There’s a group called Earth, Wind and Fire so they’re pretty close.

They’re close, they’re missing one...

I love their group,

… the metal. They’re a metal group, right?

They use metal, right. So in terms of the colors and the numbers, there’s a number associated with each color as well. So let’s start with green. Also, how many shades of green are represented? Tell me about that.

The green area of the Feng Shui map is called, the Chinese name is Zhun, and it’s related to new beginnings and family, and also it relates to the season of spring, like I mentioned before. It’s interesting we’re talking about the many shades of green, because there are many shades of green. What do they represent? I would say very light green would be a very yang green. When you think about light green, you think of a sprout pushing out of the ground and there’s that very forceful energy…

To push it out.

… to push it out, yeah, to come out of the shell, to push through the soil and to really grow. That’s why sprouts are so nutritious, because they have all those enzymes, and they’re really full of life energy, so that would be lighter green. As you get medium green, that’s more neutral. You remember earlier we’re talking about balance, you can go to one extreme with other. Medium green would be in the middle. Dark green would be more related to a mature tree. Think of a huge…

A redwood or something?

… a redwood, yeah! That deep dark green relates more to knowledge. The greens, in general, are all very healing and supportive, because the color is really comforting to us, and it also reminds us of growth and trees and expansion and change and moving on to a better place from where we are now, so it represents new beginnings as well.

New beginnings and plants and trees and grass, but there are also blue-green waters. There are deep green waters, so that’s another thing. That’s a flow. You need water for anything to live. So is there a water sign? Is there a water color? Is there a water number?

Well actually, green and blue are both related to wood in Feng Shui system. Wood element is related to plants and greenery and life and that cycle of life. Water is actually related to the color black, which is depth of wisdom. If you think about an ocean, if you’re out in the middle of the ocean and you’re looking at the water, you actually see black. There’s so much going on underneath, and you can’t see what’s happening underneath but there’s a lot of motion and a lot of activity deep in the ocean, so that’s where black comes from.

Now, these were all from the Chinese Feng Shui, ancient…how far back does this map go? I mean, just curious about the origins of it and what the thoughts of the ancient Chinese people were when they, whoever, developed this.

Well this Feng Shui bagua map that I use is a newer map so it’s I don’t know how many thousands of years, but it is quite old, but there was one before that called the former heaven bagua, and I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about it today, because it’s really complicated, but it’s a little bit different. It’s a little bit different, but water is also related to this black area of the bagua map which is related to your career and your path in life and how you move through the world.

It’s interesting because when we think black...people dress in black at funerals, people, black…

In China, they wear white and they wear black at weddings, or they used to.

Interesting. So it’s kind of a different, an Asian culture thing that brings different colors to different things so I would imagine that white at a wedding…

Well black is also…

Black in the wedding?

So black is the absorption of all colors, and white is actually the reflection of all colors, so white is almost absence of color where black incorporates all color. So it makes sense that it’s knowledge and depth of knowledge because it’s absorbing all the energies to create that black.

What about red?

So red. Red is…

Got to get red in there, fiery and cool…

Exactly. Red is very fiery, it’s passionate, it’s related to fame, the fame area of the Feng Shui bagua map and...

Fame? So all the celebs have like red things in their…

They have good fire chi, yeah. It’s how the world sees you and how people recognize you. It’s your reputation and how you appear to others.

I also saw in the book to get red sheets, get red lingerie so…

Yes. Are you wearing any red lingerie today?

I’m not even, I’m actually wearing black and blue. I don’t know.

Actually there’s fashion Feng Shui too, how it affects your clothes. So the blue is actually very, it’s like a royal blue, but I would say with the black, you’re dressed very water.

I’m water? I like the water. Born in August, I like the water. So this information is in the book and there’s also a lot of tips in the book. Could we go over a couple of tips for people to be conscious of saving and reducing and things that they should be looking out for in terms of what they need to do to make their carbon footprint a little less as well?

Sure. My book is about really simple things to incorporate Feng Shui and green design in to your home. So one is that you could stop using bottled water and to get a filter in your home. I love to get the seltzer machines so you don’t have all those seltzer bottles. That’s one really easy way. Another is to look in to getting a green energy provider into your home so you’re not just getting the regular dirty energy but you’re putting your dollars towards renewable energy like wind energy.

We have green energy, I have them, I use them so…

Great.

Anything like them, they have similar companies out there so that’s really important. What other tip can we have for the spring? One more.

One more. To refresh your space by getting rid of 9 things in your closet.

9 things in your closet?

Yes, 9 things. Can you do it?

Can I do it? You come to my house, oh God, I can’t even imagine what is going to happen over there but…

Once you move 9 things out of your closet, I promise you, things will start moving in your life.

Okay, I’m going to start doing that, because I need to be moving. So those were some tips. I hope everyone jotted all those things down and we’ll jot them down, and Anjie, thanks for being here.

You’re welcome, thank you for having me.

Okay. We’ve been talking with Anjie Chi, founder of Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui practitioner and designer as well as a LEED certified architect. Anjie has written a new book entitled 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces which is available on amazon.com and you could also go to, what’s your web?

AnjieCho.com with a J, A – N – J – I – E – C – H – O.com or holisticspaces.com.

Okay, I wanted to get that in there. So this book will definitely help you lead a greener and more balanced life, which is good for the soul. So thanks for joining us for The Many Shades of Green.

by Anjie Cho


About the host

Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.


Adjusting to Fall Equinox: Angela Mastoris

Just in time for fall equinox, my bestie and esteemed Chinese Medicine expert, Angela Mastoris, is back with another set of tips, this time for dealing with the physical and emotional stress put on us by the changing seasons from summer to fall. 

Check out her advice on meditation, yoga and dietary changes to ease transition into our next season! 

AC: Can you tell us a little about fall equinox?

AM: In Chinese Medicine, there is a school of thought called Five Elements Theory. The general idea is that each of us has, within our own body, a microcosm, like our planet. Each element has its own set of meridians and special qualities associated with it.

The fall season is part of the Metal Element. Metal rules the Lung and Large Intestine meridians, as well as the skin, which is not a meridian, but very important, because if you have a skin issue- it is not easily ignored. 

How does the fall equinox affect us as humans?

Think about what happens to the earth at this time: she begins her process of death, so she can come back to life in the spring. This also happens in our own bodies. There is a bit of grief always associated with change. People inherently have difficulty with transition; they have trouble letting go.

Do you have any tips for dealing with that transition?

If someone is having a hard time with a change or transition, or any other emotion in excess, mysterious physical symptoms show up and a person may not know why.

In general, at this time of year, meditation, yoga, eating appropriate foods and treating your body gently is a great place for all of us to begin preparing ourselves for the great introspection and internal growth of Winter

Does the fall equinox affect us physically?

Absolutely. This time of year is almost as much of an assault on our immune system as the springtime. The environmental change causes a change in your body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system.

What sort of dietary changes can assist in adjusting to the fall equinox?

The diet should get heavier and more cooked, less raw, as it gets colder. Omnivores- you’ll be eating more meats and dairy products. Vegetarians- lots of grains, some nuts, beans, seeds, as well as more dairy and eggs if you are lacto-ovo vegetarian. Vegetarians can warm it up. If you want to warm up the body, root veggies are great- ginger works wonders in food and as a tea.

As it gets colder, you want to eat heavier foods. You can all eat in accordance with how you want to live, but some great additions to the fall diet are: baked squash, pumpkin, wild rice, brown rice, mushrooms, soups in general, vegetable barley soup, root vegetables: carrot, turnip, onion and garlic; cooked greens: celery, comfrey, dandelion, kale, watercress, and spinach; sea vegetables: dulse, kelp or nori seaweed; miso paste for broth base; seasonings: rosemary, cayenne, and ginger. Pumpkin seeds are really good for the intestines. 

Detoxing is good this time of year. You can wean yourself off sugars easier because they become less a part of the diet when it gets colder; you have less fruit in your diet normally, because it's not as available.

Cutting back on caffeine, sugar, and alcohol is also helpful, as these substances aggravate irritated skin. They also cause changes in our metabolism that our body has to readjust to afterwards, which further taxes the immune system. If you drink less caffeine and eat less sugar temporarily, you will give your body a break, so your immune system can go on fighting off the new Autumn pathogens in the air. It helps your skin and immune system to clean up your diet temporarily, or forever!

How do these changes help?

In between seasons, you always want to eat foods that are gentle. They tell us in Chinese Medicine that you always want to return to the earth element, our earth, our digestive system, between the seasons, because our bodies are literally weakened by the environmental change. If you eat gentle, easy to digest foods (cooked and not too cold or too spicy) you make the body’s job easier and more energy can go to balancing out your immune system and adjusting to environmental changes.

by Anjie Cho


Transient

Angela Mastoris is a certified Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, health educator, writer, research assistant and lecturer. She is a Diplomat of Asian Bodywork Therapy (NCCAOM). Health education and acupressure was the approach of her private practice in the past, as well as creating self-care routines that match her client’s bodies specifically. Angela facilitates the healing of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues using Traditional Chinese Medicine, Five Element Theory, Indigenous medicine, and shamanism.

Her career goal is to participate in projects that include Chinese Medicine and scientific research, combining and utilizing her experience as a holistic medicine practitioner, a western medical research assistant, and her writing skills, honed at the University of California at Berkeley as an English department graduate.

Contact her at:  sevensistersha@gmail.com

Find her on Facebook at:  Seven Sisters Healing Arts


Acupressure and Chinese Medicine Tips for the Spring Equinox

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Angela Mastoris of Seven Sisters Healing Arts is one of my best friends and a gifted Chinese Medicine and Acupressure practitioner. Feng shui and acupressure have much in common and both focus on moving chi smoothly.  Feng shui looks at chi in your environment whereas acupressure seeks to unblock and balance the chi in your body. So in essence, Angela works with the feng shui of your body!  As she says below in the interview, "human touch is a master healer".

In light of the Spring Equinox which falls on March 20th this year, Angela generously shared some of her knowledge with us about acupressure and considerations for Spring!

AC:  What is Acupressure and what are the benefits?

AM:  "Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities,” in the words of Michael Reed Gach, author and founder of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, CA, which I attended.  We are working with acupuncture points (reservoirs of energy in the spaces between the muscles, bones and connective tissue) and meridians (rivers of energy on which the points exist).  We hold a point until we feel the point ‘pulse’, which indicates the chi is moving. When chi does not move, we have pain and pathology.

An acupressure practitioner works with the same body of knowledge as acupuncturists; it is acupuncture without needles. For example, a practitioner would hold a point on the back called a shu point, that connects directly to a point between the vertebrae corresponding with the meridian one chooses to bring into balance. With the other hand, the practitioner would hold remote points on a meridian to affect whatever purpose he is looking to achieve. I find that it is a great place to start for people who are interested in Chinese Medicine, but are afraid of needles. It is also extremely effective in people suffering from emotional trauma. Human touch is a master healer, and it is underutilized in the United States and many other places.

How do you look at the Spring Equinox from your Chinese medicine background?

I look at the Spring Equinox from the Five Element Theory point of view. I consider it to be the most difficult transition for us in every area: mind, body and spirit, because one is making the transition from being very internal to very external, and rather abruptly. It can shock the immune system. In Five Element Theory, we experience five seasons. Winter is the Water Element. It is very internal, deep, and emotional. Its emotion is fear or anxiety (out of balance) and wisdom (in balance). We retreat in winter.  Spring or the Wood Element is the exact opposite.  It is external: wood grows and expands. Wood is associated with anger and creativity; it achieves goals and is out in the world creating. It’s the very opposite of winter, the Water Element. Winter is time to recharge our batteries before bursting forth in spring, with the Wood Element.

What simple tips can you offer the readers in consideration for the upcoming Spring Equinox and this difficult transition?

Focus on immune system support with diet, supplements and activities. I view the Spring Equinox as difficult for the body because of external, environmental changes. As the weather warms up, one should change their diet; it should become more raw, more alkaline, and vegetable based. In winter, we eat the roots of vegetables and hot energy spices (like cayenne) to move the blood and generate heat in the body to combat the external cold, which is an environmental creator of pathology in Chinese Medicine. Also, a concern with the environment is the onslaught of allergies due to nature becoming alive and awake. The allergies we get from dust and pollen lowers the immune system. Most people will get allergies, and then get sick, because the body is compromised. A practitioner would focus on something called Wei chi, the body’s defensive chi connecting to the Lung meridian and the nose, the first frontier for the body and the outside world. Also, it is a great time for Spring-cleaning. Clean the slate in your environment to bring in new energy, which is symbiotic with nature’s process.  Restart and recalibrate your self-care routine to match nature.

My acupuncture point selection for the transition from Water to Wood, or winter to spring, is a group of special points called the Four Gates

Large Intestine Meridian LI 4

Large Intestine Meridian LI 4

The Four Gates are exactly what you think they are: points that move energy around or out of the body. They are the points between the webbing between the first and second digits of your hands and feet. The first set of two gates is Large Intestine Meridian/ LI 4, which is located at the web of your thumb and first finger. LI 4 is one of the most well known points in the acupuncture system. It moves things down and out of the body, much like the large intestine organ itself.  It’s a good thing for the body to “let go” of toxins and things that built up emotionally or physically over the winter.  This detoxification of the body helps boost the immune system. The Lung meridian is the Large Intestine’s partner that faces the outside world. You are letting go of heat and external evils you don’t need in your body. The Lung Meridian is closely connected with Wei Chi or the body’s defensive chi, or immune system.

The two points remaining in the Four Gates are: Liver 3. Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4 are also called ‘Source Points”. Source points are the most powerful reservoirs of energy on a meridian and can help move the chi in other closed points on the meridians. Liver 3 is source point for the deep, yin, internal, and masterful Liver meridian. The Liver Meridian’s chi is the most powerful in the body. It is also one of the most powerful points for Spring! Spring or the Wood Element is concerned with new beginnings. That is why it is popular to do juice cleanses and detox diets during the spring. Liver 3 is located in the webbing between your big toe and second toe.

Those are the Four Gates: to let out the old and bring in the new. Applying daily pressure to these four points (LI 4 and L3) will help ease the transition from winter to spring.  See images.

Liver Meridian L 3

Liver Meridian L 3

Finally, how do you create a relaxing "holistic space" to practice on your clients?

It would be the same approach one would have in Feng Shui. I find that a womb like environment works really well for patients. A pale pink or peach wall, with soft lighting is comforting. You want the client to relax so that their chi will move easily, so that they are receptive to touch and change. Then you have created an environment where blocked or closed acupuncture points easily open for chi to move. I liken treatments to spiritual surgery. You want to create a comforting environment for the patient, a safe, supportive environment. You also want to make sure the room is warm, as the body temperature will drop during a treatment, so we use hot packs and heat lamps. Plants bring a nice energy into the room, as do other prizes from nature: stones (the Metal Element), plants (the Wood Element), a fountain (the Water Element), maybe a bee’s wax candle (the Fire Element), and an offering to the patient of Chamomile tea (harmonizing for the Earth Element). It is nice to have all of the Five Elements represented to honor nature and our body, our earth.

Read my other articles about the Spring Equinox and Spring Cleaning here

by Anjie Cho


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Angela Mastoris is a certified Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, health educator, writer, research assistant and lecturer. She is a Diplomat of Asian Bodywork Therapy (NCCAOM). Health education and acupressure was the approach of her private practice in the past, as well as creating self-care routines that match her client’s bodies specifically. Angela facilitates the healing of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues using Traditional Chinese Medicine, Five Element Theory, Indigenous medicine, and shamanism.

Her career goal is to participate in projects that include Chinese Medicine and scientific research, combining and utilizing her experience as a holistic medicine practitioner, a western medical research assistant, and her writing skills, honed at the University of California at Berkeley as an English department graduate.

Contact her at:  sevensistersha@gmail.com

Find her on Facebook at:  Seven Sisters Healing Arts