Q&A Sunday: Mirrors and Spirits

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I have recently been getting into feng shui with the background of the I Ching and qi gong and have been enjoying your podcast. I am wondering if you had heard the same thing as I have, that mirrors only reflect energy but they are doorways for spirits to walk between the world. I have personally experienced a dark spirit walking through a mirror while I was sleeping, which is very dangerous and disturbing. Have you heard of this? What are your thoughts?

Samantha B., Bellevue, WA

Hi Samantha

Thank you for your question. For this one, I thought I’d have one of my beloved feng shui mentors, Barry Gordon, provide an answer. It may be more than you expected and not what you were looking for, but I think it’s a thorough and enlightening response :)

From Barry Gordon:

There's more than one answer to this question, depending upon whether you’re looking at it from the personal viewpoint or the universal viewpoint of natural mind. I’m a physicist, Feng Shui Master, and shaman.

There is a lot of confusion about mirrors in the more traditional forms of Chinese Feng Shui. The ultimate purpose of Feng Shui is to change that Qi of the person being helped. So from that viewpoint, we need to look at the effect of the mirror on the person’s mind. When I look at a mirror, I do not experience energy coming towards me. I experience the increase in spaciousness created by the mirror effect. So mirrors do not push energy away, they actually pull energy in, because they pull your mind in.

Since mirrors create the effect of enlarging a space, they also have a feeling that one is being pulled into or could move into the mirror. So metaphorically and perhaps neurologically, mirrors can appear to be a doorway. They are not a physical doorway. They're a mental doorway.

So, in your dreams, when you’re totally in your mind, the mirror can become a doorway. Your subconscious mind cannot distinguish very well between physical imagery, your experience of the physical world through the gates of your perception, and mental imagery which has much broader and more gates of perception available. That’s why so many healing techniques and methods to create a new future use visualization.

You have personally experienced a spirit in a mirror during a dream. I’ve also experienced them in mirrors and many other objects in the waking state. There are spirits all around us all the time, but our gates of perception have been trained not to allow them into our consciousness. They are sentient beings just like us. They just have less physical substance, so they're less physically real. But just like us, they have different levels of trauma and wounding. The more wounded ones are the ones we usually think of as dark. Their structure is created from the resonant magnetic gravity of lots of negative emotional energies that were never resolved or reintegrated into their creators before their death and are now floating around in the Tao, the zero point energy.

From another viewpoint, they are you. We have been taught and trained so deeply that there is an outside and an inside, that is, a you and other than you, that we totally believe it into reality. But the teachings of so many spiritual traditions say the opposite. And quantum mechanics says the opposite. There is no separation. There’s no real boundary, only an imaginary boundary between you and anything you experience as other. We only have mental emotional boundaries.

The bedroom, the bed, your body, your thoughts and emotions, your sense of identity, your "I" are all experienced in your mind, which, according to the last paragraph, is not really yours. It’s like when you look at one of those paintings that looks like a particular image, but the longer you look, you realize that there is also a different image than the first one seen, another way to look at it.

When you believe the ghost in the mirror to be real, you are caught in your personal addictive relative reality trance. When you step back and witness the trance through meditation or other method, you are free and fearless.

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!

My Favorite Things: 5 Meaningful Mother's Day Gifts

Welcome to My Favorite Things! Each month, we highlight products to help you create a holistic lifestyle that inspires and nurtures you, so that you can be happier and feel supported.

This month is the month of moms, since Mother's Day is this weekend! If you're still wondering about the perfect gift for the perfect mom, we've got some great ideas for meaningful options that go past a beautiful bouquet (but check out our suggestions if you prefer flowers!). From spiritual art to sustainable beauty products, there is something here for almost any mom!

Abundant Tranquility Mala

One of my friends and favorite clients, Satya Scainetti, has a beautiful collection of jewelry, any piece of which makes an amazing gift. 

Satya does mala workshops, which I highly recommend as a wonderful experience, but if you missed last week's, you can still find meaningful, beautiful malas online. This one represents unconditional love, joy, good fortune and creativity and is one of Satya's choices for Gifts of Love!

Available at: Satya Jewelry

Moon II Yantra Mandala for Nourishment and Creativity

The Moon II yantra, which depicts feminine colors like light blues, pinks and purples, is associated with femininity, nourishment, creativity and emotions. 

This mandala represents self-nourishment and self-care and corresponds to the Relationship area of the feng shui bagua, which is also related to the Mother, making it an ideal gift for the upcoming holiday!

Available at: Holistic Spaces

Warming Herbal Neck Wrap

Being a mom can be tough work, and it's not always easy to find time or money to relax or take a spa day. These warming herbal neck wraps from Savor Beauty, sustainably created from flax seeds, are an easy way to get a little relaxation without having to take an entire day!

They come in various designs, can be used as hot or cold and are great with essential oils! Just pop in the microwave or freezer and soothe stress! You can order wraps online or check in at their newest location in the Upper West Side, designed by Anjie Cho Architect, PLLC!

Available at: Savor Beauty

Feng Shui Consultation

Sometimes the best gifts are actually experiences, and feng shui can be a wonderful, guiding experience for any mom! Feng shui can be helpful on many levels in matters spiritual and mundane. 

I offer a variety of feng shui consultations, including online services, so even if you're not in NYC or LA, helping your mom improve her feng shui and create a personalized holistic space is a possibility!

Available at: AnjieCho.com

7-Free Vegan Nail Polish Set

Another popular gift for Mother's Day is a trip to the nearest salon for a manicure and pedicure. Nothing quite relaxes like being treated to a massage and some nail upkeep!

This year, instead of relying on traditional nail polish, opt for ella + milla, an eco-friendly nail polish option free of seven nasty chemicals in addition to being vegan and animal cruelty-free. ella + milla comes in many colors and is even PETA approved! 

Available at: ella + milla

Turn Your Home Into a Sacred Space

featured this week on Over the Moon 

image credit: Svyatoslava Vladzimirska/Shutterstock via  Over the Moon

image credit: Svyatoslava Vladzimirska/Shutterstock via Over the Moon

All of us deserve to have a sacred space that supports and nurtures—mind, body and soul. We all require homes that help regenerate and restore us, and it’s something we can share with others.

Chögyam Trungpa wrote,

“You should regard your home as sacred, as a golden opportunity to experience nowness. Appreciating sacredness begins very simply by taking an interest in all the details of your life.”

When you come home, recognize it as a sacred space for you to inhabit and take care of. Sometimes there are spaces in your home that you don’t dust, use or take care of. You can transform your home into a sacred space by taking notice of the sometimes ignored spaces in your home: the dark corners, the backs of closets or even dining room tables. These disregarded spaces tend to collect dead qi, or life force energy. It’s a good idea to take some time to regularly attend to these areas of your home. You can stir up the energy by dusting, shining a light, adding a plant, or even ringing a bell can create energetic vibrations to lift the qi.

Someone recently told me that it’s almost rude to not engage your sacred spaces, such as an altar. Pay special attention to the special areas that you forget about as well. Is your shrine collecting dust? It may reflect upon your spiritual life. Since stoves represent wealth and health, if yours has not been used in months, that may mean that your wealth and nourishment is not as healthy as it can be. Even a vase of dead, wilted flowers may signal sadness and lack of joy.

Taking an interest in the mundane details of your home may require you to let things go. When an object has fallen to disarray and no longer can serve its role, thank that item and let it go!

Remember—everyone deserves to have a sacred space. Simply pay attention and be conscious, especially of the smallest details. 

by Anjie Cho

Type A Zen and Other Dawnsense


This week Holistic Spaces caught up with Dawn Gluskin, from Dawnsense.com. Dawn is one of my favorite twitter personalities and is dedicated to living a successful life full of zen and peace. Check out our chat below, where we talk Type A Zen, meditation, daily gratitude and more!

AC: You talk a lot about Type A Zen in your social media posts. What does that mean?

DG: I’ve been a ‘Type-A’ all my life, which, to me, means highly driven, motivated, with big goals and willing to put in the time and work hard.  But, from the outside, this same personality type can also be considered a workaholic or someone that has blinders on to all the rest of the beauty that life has to offer outside of work and achievement. At some point, I came to terms with my own perfectionist traits and realized that I never stopped to celebrate my successes, and frankly, wasn’t happy.  My life was a constant focus of one big goal to the next.  

In recent years, I’ve counter-acted that with lots of introspection, yoga, meditation, self-care and just an overall deepened spiritual practice. Now, I am still super-driven, but not so attached to the outcome.  I find happiness in just be-ing and not artificially through achievement.  Type-A Zen is also the title of my forthcoming book, where I talk in more detail about my own life experience, offer jewels of inspiration, and share the stories of some other amazing women who’ve lived their own Type-A Zen stories that go from chaos to clarity and love.

You're very involved in yoga and meditation. Do you think one of these would work as well without the other? How do they relate to you?

Sure, you could do one without the other, but they really do go hand in hand. Both involve focus on breathe and cultivate mindfulness.  The difference is in meditation, you are completely still, and in yoga you are syncing movement with your breathe.  Both practices allow you to connect more deeply to yourself, find your center, and your peace, which are all such beautiful and lovely things and why I incorporate them into my daily practices.  For me, they are what help to fuel the ‘zen’ and ‘spiritual’ aspects of my being.

What led you down the path you're currently on, of taking care of your body inside and out?

I’ve also been into fitness, but I think it used to be fueled by the wrong motivation: vanity and my perfectionism (you know — gotta get that perfect body and be in shape).  But, since I’ve deepened my spiritual practices, my motivation behind everything has changed.  I look at wellness from a holistic perspective: mind, body, and soul working in harmony.  Now, I work out to feel good and to take care of the temple that is my body.  The ‘vanity’ portion doesn’t really play into it, and the perfectionism is out the window. I feel better than ever from the inside out. 

What does it mean to be a Zen Rebel?

Zen Rebel is a little movement I’ve started and wish to grow in the years to come.  It’s about living a healthy, spiritual life, being of service to others, living your truth … but without any pretension.  In other words, you can drink green juice in the morning and still have a glass of wine at night.  It’s permission to do no harm, but also take no sh*t!  It’s a concept to make spirituality and expanded consciousness accessible to all.  You can strive to live a purpose-driven life and make a positive difference in this world … and still leave room to be perfectly imperfectly human too! Right now, I’m getting together with a few designers and experimenting with different distribution and e-commerce platforms to sell yoga-inspired clothing and jewelry and raise money for causes near & dear to my heart.

You're a huge advocate of daily gratitude. Tell us a bit about what gratitude does for you in life. 

I believe that by acknowledging all that we have to be grateful for, we not only increase our happiness, but also attract more abundance into our lives.  When I’m having a bad day or a rough time, I remind myself that it can always be worse. For any of us that are blessed enough to have our health, food, water, a roof over our heads, clothes on our back …. we’re better off than many others in the world.  In fact, just putting our two feet on the ground in the morning and taking in a deep breath is a major blessing. When we can truly and deeply appreciate what we have and how far we’ve come, we send the Universe a message that we are willing and able to receive more.  It’s really hard to be unhappy when you are counting all of your blessings.  (Try it next time you’re in a funk)

What tips would you give my readers to lead a holistic, healthy and happy life? 

It all starts within.  Go inward to discover your true passions and purpose in life. We can only give from an overflowing cup (not an empty one).  So, fully love, accept, and take care of yourself first and everything else will fall into place. 

How have you created your own holistic space?

This is a constant work-in-progress for me.  I like to keep the house as de-cluttered as possible with free-flowing energy, but with two young children and a ‘pack-rat’ husband, it can be a bit of a challenge sometimes!  I do keep my own space nice and tidy and clean out my closets often. Cluttered space to me is a cluttered mind.  I also use all-natural products & essential oils for cleaning & making the house smell nice & fresh!  I do have my own little altar/spiritual space where I keep all of my favorite things from beautiful candles, my buddha statues, angel cards, to sweet, personal notes, chakra stones, etc. This is the space I go to mediate each morning.  It’s very peaceful & beautiful to me. (And, of course, clean!)

by Anjie Cho

Dawn Gluskin is author of forthcoming book, “Type A Zen.”  Formerly founder & CEO of a 7-figure technology company that she founded in her living room, Dawn is no stranger to hustle, but was also no stranger to high-stress living.  In working with so many other women in business, she quickly learned that the modern day super woman’s “having it all” can come with a high price tag.  Through mindfulness practices: yoga, meditation, journaling and a lot of self-reflection, Dawn has found much joy & peace in her own life … while still keeping her business chops & motivation.  She teaches and inspires others how to do the same by redefining ‘success,' turning inwards and living life from the inside out!

Create a Meditation Space with Feng Shui

Feng shui is a philosophy developed in ancient China that outlines positive ways in which to organize yourself in your environment. Meditation is a practice in which you can learn to become familiar with your inner landscape. Both feng shui and meditation are used to generate harmony and peace within your life.

Why not use feng shui to create a sacred space in which to meditate that can support and improve your meditation practice?

Define a Space

Select a dedicated space that you can routinely go back to for your meditation practice. It can be the corner of your bed, a room in your home, or a place outside in your backyard. My meditation space is a quiet section of my living room that faces a river view. Since it's not in the commanding position, I've set up a mirror so I can see behind me to put me in a relaxing and calm mental space. It is okay if you cannot find a perfectly quiet spot. Life is full of distraction, and part of meditation is to learn to accept the interruptions.

You can further differentiate your space by sitting on a special pillow, cushion or blanket to define your place. I have a couple of buckwheat zafu cushions specifically designed for meditation. This can help you to dedicate and define your special “spot.”

Dedicate and Clear the Space

After you have selected your meditation space and defined it physically, it is of utter importance to clear and dedicate the area energetically. Space clearing dedicates the invisible energy of space so you can start fresh and set your intention for the space, the particular moment and for your life.

In feng shui, oranges and orange peels represent vibrant, life-affirming energy. Orange essence is refreshing, happy and contributes positive, fresh, and brightening energy to our inner and outer environments. You can use 9 drops of orange essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser to transform your area into a space with vibrant, life-giving, positive energy. Remember, when you clear the space of the existing energy, be sure to replace it with positive intention.

Add a Crystal for Clarity

Feng shui crystals are used to adjust the flow of energy in a space. They are particularly effective for bringing light, brilliance and clarity to your meditation practice. Feng shui crystal balls are made of faceted, leaded glass. For this application, purchase a crystal that is a minimum of 40mm and place in the center of your meditation space, above your head where you’re sitting or just in front of you so you can see it. The ball should be hung with a red string in a length that is a multiple of 9, for example 18”, 27”, 36”, etc. You can find crystals and red strings at the Holistic Spaces store here.

Use these three simple feng shui tips to create your own sacred meditation place to create harmony and peace in your inner and outer spaces.

by Anjie Cho