Mindful Design Feng Shui: Simple Feng Shui Tips for the Winter Blues

Listen in for tips from Mindful Design on battling the winter blues!

Are you dreading a long, cold Winter?

Let’s start by understanding the energy of Winter.

For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, the energy of the seasons is shifting from Fall to Winter on December 21st. In Feng Shui, Autumn is connected to the metal element, the energy of inward movement, completion, and contraction. Leaves fall to the ground and the nutrients return to the soil. Trees become dormant and draw their energy inward and down to the roots. As we shift into Winter, the soil cools and hardens.

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If you’d like to learn more about feng shui check out the Mindful Design Feng Shui certification program. Laura Morris and I launched our program in September 2018. To get on the list about it, sign up at: www.mindfuldesignschool.com.

Mindful Design is a new way to learn feng shui. Our 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.


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


Prep Your Holistic Space for Winter with Feng Shui

As the seasons continue to change, from summer to fall, and fall to winter, design in our homes is likely to change along with them. In the feng shui philosophy, there is a theme and science to changing up this decor as you transition from warm, bright weather to colder weather that promotes staying indoors. Feng shui philosophy embraces the same sort of changes in fall and winter as the agricultural world, in which the planting and harvest are done, and it's time for rest and planning. So how do you make your space reflect this?

One great way is to change the color scheme up a bit. Adding earthy colors (like brown, orange, yellow) to your space promotes nourishment and brings the qualities of nature indoors. Natural colors are more soothing and nurturing, meshing perfectly with the idea of turning inward and providing the support we need to stay grounded during cooler seasons.

Bringing actual nature indoors is another excellent way to balance out your space and welcome nourishing energy. You can opt for seasonal decor, like gourds, pumpkins and the like, or turn to traditional green plants, which add life energy and help clean the air in our indoor spaces, a great benefit considering we'll be spending more time indoors!

One design update that definitely adds to your comfort level is swapping out linens and blankets from thinner, lighter summer options to thicker, cozier and more warming blankets and duvets. Opting for organic and Fair Trade takes this a level further, as you're adding warmth in addition to removing harmful chemicals that conventionally produced materials can bring inside.

It's also a good idea to ensure that all your furniture is in the commanding position, regardless of the season. In the feng shui tradition, sitting without a clear line of sight to the door, or directly in line with the door, makes the flow of positive chi difficult. With our backs to the doors, we are not able to see what may be coming at us, and if we sit directly in front of the door, we are hit with all the chi coming into our space at once. Neither is good! Instead, aim to kitty corner your most important furniture so that you can comfortably see the door, while you aren't directly in line. If this isn't a possibility, use mirrors or feng shui crystals to adjust. Both are available here in the Holistic Spaces shop!

Finally, check your lighting! When we're spending lots of time out in the summer sun, lighting in our spaces isn't as important, as we're taking in Fire energy while outdoors. When we begin to turn inward and stay indoors, it's important to ensure that the lighting in our spaces is ample for all our activities, from reading to cooking to preparing for sleep, and that it benefits us where possible (think full-spectrum lighting to imitate the sun).

by Anjie Cho


Everything You Need to Know About Thieves Essential Oil

We're fans of essential oils, especially in the cooler seasons, when the change of weather and increase in stressful situations can wreak havoc on immune systems. You can check out our list of fall favorites here, but one oil that deserves a post of its own is Thieves. Thieves is a combination of several other oils and has an interesting back story as well as a laundry list of uses for both the body and the home. So why the name "Thieves"? The story goes like this:

When the Black Plague hit Europe, four spice traders found themselves forbidden to trade and had to find another way to generate income. Since the plague was claiming many victims, and most were afraid to touch the bodies of those who had died or were dying, these spice traders began to enter homes and loot the bodies and homes of the victims. To prevent themselves from becoming casualties as well, the four thieves rubbed a mixture of vinegar, oils and spices on their feet and bodies before entering the homes. 

When the king found out about these four thieves who had somehow managed to find immunity, he threatened to have them killed if they didn't share their recipe, which they did. Once the king had the recipe, he shared it with the kingdom and it eventually made its way all the way here!

Of course, we don't have to worry about the Black Plague in our modern day, but we do still get the sniffles and have to watch our immune systems closely when the weather begins to get chilly! Just like in days past, Thieves oil can help us to fight off sickness and maintain a healthy body

While there are many recipes for Thieves oil, depending on who you ask, the ratio of oils is generally very similar. 

For a small amount of oil, try:

10 drops of Clove oil
9 drops of Lemon oil
5 drops of Cinnamon oil
4 drops of Eucalyptus oil
3 drops of Rosemary oil

If you need a much larger amount, use:

80 drops of Clove oil
70 drops of Lemon oil
40 drops of Cinnamon oil
30 drops of Eucalyptus oil
20 drops of Rosemary oil

 

You can use these basic recipes to adjust for the amount of oil you need, but be sure to always use therapeutic grade essential oils, as other kinds may be toxic. We recommend seeking out Fair Trade as well! 

Once you've mixed your oil in a glass container, how do you use it? Thieves has a wide range of uses, but these are some of our favorites:

  • Mix Thieves in a 1:1 ratio (1 drop to 1 oz) with Witch Hazel or water to use as a general disinfectant and all-purpose cleaner
  • Mix in a 1:1 ratio (we like 9 drops of each) with carrier oil and massage on feet, back and chest to support a healthy immune system
  • Add one drop of Thieves to at least a cup of water and drink, cool or warm, to support immune system and lung functioning. You can even add a drop of lemon oil to make a great tea for throat pain!
  • Add a few drops to steaming water and use as a steam facial to support head, chest and lungs
  • Diffuse or add a few drops to a cinnamon stick to make your holistic space smell warm and welcoming, like the autumn and winter seasons, and to purify your indoor air!

We'd love to hear your favorite ways to use Thieves in your holistic spaces. Happy mixing!

by Anjie Cho 


Warming Up Your Home As It Cools Down Outside

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping lower. Even if you’re a big fan of winter and its climate, you likely welcome a warm home, preferably without high heating bills. I’ve got a few tips to help warm you and your nest without a big impact to your wallet. 

Add layers

Your cold weather closet boasts sweaters, coats and scarves. You know a thing or two about layering, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Your home can benefit from layers too. According to the National Energy Foundation, your floors can account for up to 10 percent of heat loss if they’re not insulated. That gorgeous area rug you’ve been eyeing isn’t just another pretty accessory. It’s insulation. Your toes will thank you.

Open, then close

In the morning throw open your curtains and raise the blinds. Let the sun shine in to warm things up. When the sun sets, however, it’s time to pull the blinds and hold in all that warmth. Consider switching out your airy curtains for something a little more substantial in cold months. If a new set of curtains isn’t in the budget, look for thermal liners that you can add to your existing window treatments. 

Bake something

Winter is a wonderful time to work out your culinary muscle! If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at making bread from scratch, turn the oven on and go for it! There’s nothing better than fresh bread from the oven with a pot of rich stew bubbling on the stove to warm you up – and not just from the belly out! Your cook top and oven will share some of its heat with the room too!

Seal the deal

Before the frost debuts, check your windows and doors for drafts. Caulking window frames, installing weather stripping and deploying a draft stopper at the base of your doors will help keep more warm air in and the cold air out.

Consider humidity

In the summer we bemoan the hotter-than-it-is feel of humid days. Don’t forget that in the winter. Humid air feels warmer. Put a humidifier to work, or leave your bathroom doors open a crack when you shower (or after your warm shower!) to let some of that damp air warm you up.

Reverse your fans

If you have ceiling fans, put them to work in the winter! Just be sure to change their direction first. Running your fans clockwise will push the warm air that’s risen back down to you. 

Change things up

If you’ve been thinking about trying out the view from another side of the room, now’s a good time. Move your favorite chair or sofa away from large windows and outside walls. In the bedroom, break out the flannel sheets and pile on your favorite quilts.

Focus on you

Being toasty isn’t just about the room temperature. Grab yourself a good book, nestle down into your favorite seat with a warm, cuddlesome quilt. Don’t forget to fill up your mug with something warm to drink and don a plush pair of socks.

by Anjie Cho