Welcome the Summer Solstice with Feng Shui

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Happy Summer Solstice! Tomorrow is the first day of summer, finally!

What is the summer solstice? A solstice is one of two points at which the path of the sun is either the furthest north or the furthest south it can be during the Earth’s rotation around it. As a solstice causes a change in the amount of daylight we see on Earth, both solstices (summer and winter) are associated with the beginning of a new season, respectively, in the top half of the planet.

During the summer solstice, the sun travels its longest path through our sky all year, which results not only in longer daylight hours, but also warmer weather in our hemisphere due to the direct angle of the sun’s rays. Thus, the name “summer solstice.” Every year, the summer solstice falls on June 21, and its effects will last until mid-September, when we experience the autumnal equinox, thus beginning fall.

What does this mean in terms of feng shui? This means that we are shifting from wood yang energy into a time of more explosive yang fire energy. We will naturally hold more heat in our bodies and be more active. At this time it’s helpful to balance the hot yang energy of fire with cooling water or earth energies. You could add cooler blues, greens, pinks and grays into your home accents and fashion choices. Also take care to eat cooling, raw foods such as melons and salads.

I also just put away my winter clothing and made way for summer clothes. When going through your clothes, make sure to take time and see what items still work for you. If it has not been worn in three years it is time to donate that piece of clothing. If there is a piece that needs mending, make a decision to get it repaired or let it go. Finally, if it does not fit… again, it is time to let it go.

This is my favorite time of year! Be sure to enjoy it! 

by Anjie Cho

The Benefits of Orange Essential Oil

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On a typical day, I start with five drops of orange and one drop of frankincense essential oils in my diffuser. This is my favorite way to clear my work space to begin to create. In feng shui, oranges and orange peels represent vibrant, life affirming yang energy. Yang energy is like the energy at high noon – bright and strong.

It is good practice to clear your space at least once a year. The most auspicious time to do this is on Chinese New Year.  The Lunar new year is symbolically a great time to clear out the old stagnant energy in your home to make space for new positive energy. Changing seasons can also be a great time to practice space clearing!

Fresh orange peels work the best to bring out the good, but you can also use 27 drops of orange essential oil. Place the orange peels (or essential oil) in a spray bottle and fill it with water. Walk around your home and spray this citrus essence all around, paying special attention to dead corners and closets. Orange peel carries with it vibrant life energy to clear space and, in turn, rejuvenates you and your home. This is excellent to do on an annual, or even monthly basis. 

Besides its feng shui applications, the benefits of orange essential oil range from internal to external, from mental to physical. Many of us are looking for a heal-all for modern struggles, and we may all be overlooking the immense benefits of orange essential oil. 

Orange essential oil is almost a miracle substance! It is an organic anti-depressant to some degree. When treating mild depression, orange essential oil works to lighten the mood and reduce anxiety by increasing circulation and cleansing the liver. While orange oil is also safe to use with severe depression requiring medication, it should not be used in place of medication. Some research also supports the use of orange essential oil as an aphrodisiac, as it works to reduce stress and promote relaxation in the body, which is often the cause of sexual issues and frustration. In this same function, orange oil can serve as a natural, non-toxic sedative following a long day.

Physically, orange essential oil goes a long way as well. On a surface level, orange oil can help to reduce inflammation, no matter what the cause. It can also be effective against inflammation for everything from excessive consumption (of food or drink) causing gas or pain to fever, infections and more. In addition, orange oil not only alleviates pain, but also acts a regulator for the body and its functions. Orange essential oil rids the body of excess gas and flushes bodily toxins through urination, which in turn promotes healthier digestion.

Other uses for orange oil are almost endless, from relaxing spasms to acting as a disinfectant to promoting healthy menstruation and alleviating acne. The list goes on, and it’s worth taking a peek. You have little to lose except negative thoughts and unwanted gas!

by Anjie Cho

Let Us Welcome the Winter Solstice

It’s officially winter! Happy (late) Winter Solstice!

Many months after we celebrate the Summer Solstice, our longest day of the year, the Northern Hemisphere observes the Winter Solstice, our shortest day of the year. These celebrations are actually opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter Solstice brings the longest day of the year.

Our earth is tilted on its axis as it revolves around the sun, which means that the different hemispheres experience seasons and solstices (Latin for “sun stands still”) differently. During the Winter Solstice, the Northern part of our planet reaches the furthest point from the sun we will experience during the year.

Feng shui-wise, the winter is considered a yin season, where we start to move inward physically as well as emotionally. The yin concept is also about slowing down, and emptiness. Winter in feng shui is also associated with the water element. In winter it looks like everything is dead outside on the outside, but below the snow there is life (even if it’s dormant). The water element and winter are similar. Imagine the middle of a vast ocean, where it’s very still but there’s so much activity happening if you look beneath the surface.

My meditation instructor, Joe Mauricio, called me out earlier this month on my “speediness”. I spent all year running around, never stopping to be mindful. I can’t just blame it on the year of the Horse (Chinese astrology)! Meditation can help you find that space that many of us fear. During this winter season, I encourage each of you to accept the slower pace and pause to find emptiness and space. Even five minutes a day is enough! Let yourself slow down and feel…. Bored? Empty? Quiet? Rest. Peace. And love for yourself.

Fun facts about the Winter Solstice:

Usually occurring between December 21st and 23rd, longstanding Winter Solstice activities have been combined with the popular Christmas holidays, but many of our traditions began as ancient celebrations for surviving another year! In earlier times, winter was a welcome break from hard work during the rest of the year, and almost every culture celebrates the Winter Solstice in some way.

Some of our most mysterious world wonders, including the Irish Newgrange tomb and Stonehenge, were constructed in a way that perfectly captures the sun’s light at the moment of Winter Solstice.  The Yule log also originated as a celebratory festival for the Winter Solstice. Romans even celebrated the solstice for an entire week!

by Anjie Cho

The Ultimate Autumn Essential Oil Collection

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As we settle into the cooler season, it's increasingly important to take care of ourselves, inside and out. We've shared plenty of tips here for updating your holistic spaces for the new season, and we've also spoken with many health experts on how to ease your body and mind into autumn. In addition to watching your diet and taking care to listen to your body, these essential oils can work wonders in making the switch from warm summer to cool fall. 

Eucalyptus - This essential oil is an amazing tool in treating a variety of respiratory symptoms, including coughs, runny noses, sore throats and more. It's also shown to be highly effective in reducing stress (holiday season, anyone?), and is a generally warming, calming scent.

Nutmeg - Speaking of pleasant smells, nutmeg essential oil is another option with great results in treating cold and cough symptoms. It can also help to alleviate some depression and act as a sleep aid, both helpful in the change to cooler weather! Maybe the best perk of this essential oil is the token autumn scent that acts as a mood setter as well!

Rosemary - This powerhouse essential oil has a wide range of uses for heading into the fall season, including helping to improve respiratory function, reduce stress, support a healthy immune system and prevent dry skin. Talk about a must-have!

Lavender One of the most popular essential oils, lavender is excellent at healing skin irritations (think dry skin from all that wind and cool weather) and is also a wonderful way to reduce stress. Final perk? It helps boost your immune system! 

Frankincense - Another essential oil with many healing properties perfect for fall, frankincense is known to help tighten and tone skin in addition to fighting coughs and colds and soothing anxiety. 

Lemongrass - Lemongrass can help to give your skin that glow that cooler weather often steals from summer's bright days. It's great as a skin toner and can also help to fight depression that comes with colder months!

Sandalwood Sandalwood is yet another all-around perfect essential oil for fall, as it helps heal dry skin and keep skin smooth, while also working to fight colds and coughs and boost the immune system. 

Rose - Rose oil is touted as one of the most effective for reducing depression, stress and anxiety, all of which can unfortunately accompany the change in weather. Not only can this oil uplift your mood, it's great for dry skin as well!

Vetiver - This is a grounding essential oil, perfect for the new fall season, when we look toward rooting ourselves to gear up for the cold, yin winter. 

Chamomile - Another essential oil worth having any time of year, chamomile offers a calming scent that helps us return to inner harmony, much needed as we head into the often stressful holiday season!

Of course, this list isn't all inclusive, but if you're looking for a great fall lineup, these oils fit the bill. You could also add fall-scented oils, like orange, cinnamon, clove and wood oils like pine, cedarwood and many more. Be sure to also try your hand at oil blends too! Check out this post from Fresh Mommy Blog for some great ideas for fall!

by Anjie Cho

5 Simple Steps To Creating A Zen Bed For Your Best Ever Sleep

featured this week on MindBodyGreen

image credit:  Stocksy via  MindBodyGreen

image credit: Stocksy via MindBodyGreen

When I think of a Zen bedroom, I imagine a beautiful and nurturing space that supports sleep and revitalization. One of the best ways to lose weight and improve your skin and energy levels is to get enough restful sleep!

In feng shui philosophy, the bedroom represents you and deeply affects your body and soul. At the very least we spend a handful of hours sleeping in this room. Most of that time, we're asleep, in a passive "yin" state, so what we have around us greatly shapes how restful and restorative sleep can be. Here are five simple ways to create a Zen sleeping space to maximize your beauty sleep!

What's under the bed?

As I previously noted, we spend all these hours sleeping in bed. So let's check to see what you have underneath you while you're sleeping. Some things I've seen: old tax records, love letters from ex-boyfriends, shoes, electronics, and the list goes on. Best is to have nothing under the bed, so the chi can flow smoothly. But if you must, the rule of thumb here is to have only soft sleep-related items such as pillows or blankets. Old tax records may have you stressed about money. Love letters from the one that got away may block you from new lovers. And shoes may keep your mind walking in circles.

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by Anjie Cho