Q&A Sunday: Water-Themed Art in the Bedroom

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I read somewhere that paintings of water were bad feng shui. Is this true?

Magalie R., Los Angeles, CA

I have been taught that there are no feng shui issues with having images of water in the bedroom. Actually, I personally have a photograph of water in my bedroom above my bed. I am a water person and love being near and seeing water. It is calming. In four pillars I am yin wood, so water also nourishes me in five element theory.

I have been taught that water elements like fountains and fish aquariums are not ideal in the bedroom. Perhaps this is where the question comes from. The moving water may be too active for some people, and a bedroom is a yin space where we seek out rest and relaxation.

As with most objects in the bedroom, be thoughtful about what the images represent. If you have trouble sleeping, a painting of a rushing river or surfers riding waves might not be so calming. Use your intuition to determine if that piece of art is appropriate for the type of mood you want for your bedroom. A bedroom is there to support and nourish you while you sleep in a passive yin state.

If there is a particular piece of art you are looking to add to your bedroom, please feel free to submit it for Q&A Sunday!

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 launched our program in September 2018. 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!

Q&A Sunday: Beach Holiday Feng Shui

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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!

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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 

Greenwashing and How to Avoid It


With the increased focus worldwide on taking better care of our planet and preserving our natural resources, marketing campaigns have started to focus on sustainability as a selling point in many fields. This is an awesome move if the company really is an active advocate for preserving water, energy and the like; however, many times companies toss a green marketing claim to consumers based on little to no actual action. Customers who fall for these claims and purchase advertised products from companies who aren't actually green are doing little to help save our planet and, in reality, may be unwillingly doing more harm than good. We call this "greenwashing."

Fortunately, greenwashing is a villain that can be stopped relatively easily if consumers are careful and pay close attention to products they purchase. The most accurate way to avoid being greenwashed is to properly research "green" products before purchasing. If your favorite detergent company has just launched a green cleaner, take the time to check facts about what exactly makes this new detergent qualify as green.

On this same note, avoiding greenwashing is about more than just ensuring that you buy holistic products. The idea behind going green requires that we do everything in our power to reduce the carbon footprint each of us leaves on the world. In this way, we can directly save many of the non-renewable resources we're currently flying through. That said, even if a product really is "green" on the consumer side, if the company is required to use more energy and produce more waste in order to create the product, perhaps promoting its production isn't the best thing for our planet. Just like you research your products, research the companies who make them. Are they really following a green initiative or just trying to make a buck off the good efforts of others?

I'm very happy to see the overwhelming number of new environmentally friendly options on the market, but remember the reason for these products. If we aren't actually conserving the earth's resources, perhaps these campaigns are less "green" and more "greenwash."

by Anjie Cho

Why Save Water?


If you live in this century, and let’s face it, you do, you’ve undoubtedly been encouraged to save water in any way possible to you. One obvious reason for preserving our water supply is that, contrary to popular belief, water is not a renewable resource. Our planet has a finite amount of water, and only 1% of this resource is even available for human consumption. In addition to this very obvious reason to be wary of water use, there are numerous other factors influencing the mission to reduce our nation’s, and our planet’s, use of this precious resource.

As previously mentioned, of the finite amount of water available to us on Earth, only a stunning 1% is potable, and this number is rapidly decreasing due to excessive pollutants and litter being dumped into our clean water supply almost daily. We absolutely cannot live without clean drinking water, and neither can any other species supported by Earth. Every living creature needs water, which means that even if we redirect our pollution into water sources that humans do not currently use, we are still actively killing various species of the animal kingdom, many of which are already endangered. Even for advocates of animal consumption, this is an issue. What will you eat if we eradicate all existing species? Inability to conserve our water for later use ultimately means extinction of all life on our planet.

Aside from keeping the entire planet alive, conservation of water is beneficial for that other green substance we love: money. Taking care to monitor your water usage and preserve as much as possible directly influences the amount of money we spend each month, each year on utility bills. These equations are simple. Many of us are charged based on water consumption, as we are with any other energy source. The fewer gallons we utilize, the less money we pay. As a side note, popular methods for conserving water can save thousands of gallons of water annually. Conserving water doesn’t just decrease water utility bills, though. It also directly affects the cost of other energy bills including gas. The fewer gallons of water you heat for various reasons, from showering to washing clothes to washing dishes, the less gas you use to heat this water, which results in immediately lower gas bills.

Other reasons for conserving water include reducing state and national funds (to which we contribute) spent on public structure aimed at keeping our water supply flowing and fresh, reducing expenditures on sewage and wastewater processes and even reduction of the occurrence of sinkholes in some states.

by Anjie Cho