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Feng Shui of the Forbidden City

By Carole Hyder

The Forbidden City, today called the Palace Museum, is located in the northern city of Beijing (bei means north; jing means capitol). The capitol was moved there from Nanjing (nan = south) in 1403 to provide better protection against northern invaders. In 1421, the Forbidden City was completed.

It was so named because access to the area was barred to the average resident. Government officials and even some of the imperial family were not allowed to wander freely. This was a privilege only the emperor enjoyed.

Emperors were considered endowed with a “mandate from heaven” which meant that he was the direct link between heaven and earth. In fact, the throne where he would rule was considered the exact point where this occurred. When he ruled from here, his mandates were considered inspired and insightful and would not be questioned.

Therefore, he needed to rule from a place that supported and sustained such power. Here are just some of the Feng Shui aspects that were included in the Forbidden City plans:

  • The number 9 (or its multiple) is considered an auspicious number and is used frequently in Feng Shui applications even today. There are 9,999 rooms in the Forbidden City. It sits on 72 acres. The most important buildings have 9 protective animals sitting on each corner eave. There are 9 brass water caldrons. To name a few.
  • The Forbidden City is situated on a central axis of north-south with the front door facing south. On that same axis, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven was eventually constructed to the south and looking north, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Interestingly, in 2008, the Olympic Park was built further north to extend this axis relevance.
  • There is a man-made river in front (Jingshui) which meanders in 180 and 90 degree turns. Water in front of a residence remains to be an auspicious feature.
  • There is a hill in the back called Coal Hill (Jingshan). It, too, is manmade (with coal) to create protection for the emperor and the palace.
  • The rigid Confucian symmetry in the front part of the Forbidden City where symmetry is the theme is juxtaposed by the organic Taoist garden in the back. Yin and yang, heaven and earth.

Integrating and planning for all these features explains why 18 years passed before it was completed. Building heaven on earth is clearly not an easy task.

Open the Front Door to Feng Shui

by Lisa Janusz

I recently came across an article in one of my magazines that featured a house that had not one, not even two, but three front doors! And they were all painted the exact same way – red to stand out. The home owner’s quote was about it being welcoming, but from a Feng Shui perspective, it’s not that way; it’s confusing. From a visitor standpoint, which one do you go to? And if you’re familiar with the bagua, where would you place it? I don’t know that homeowner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she felt scattered or unsettled.

In Feng Shui, front doors are vital to the energy that comes into our home. They are the “mouths of chi” and call in energy, welcome energy and keep it moving. We dedicate a lot of time to discussing front doors in our professional program for just that reason – they are critical pieces of the puzzle to the house’s story. This goes even when the front door isn’t used that often, in the case of the attached garage. But they’re still important!

No doubt I’ve got you thinking about your own front door. With the change of seasons, now is the perfect time to take a look and see what’s happening there and make a shift. Here are a few starting ideas:

  • Add a windchime, bell, or other sound element to “call in” what you’d like (opportunity, job, relationship, wealth, helpful people)
  • Add something with movement like a flag or whirligig to “move” in a new direction
  • Add flowers, new door mat, or lantern to renew the energy that could be stagnant from the dormancy of winter
  • Paint the door a color you love that is different from anything else on the house so it stands out. This is your calling card to the world, and let them know you are ready for what’s ahead. (Extra note: although red is a traditional color, painting the door a color you LOVE is always our recommendation. If that’s red, go for it!)
  • Add seating (as long as it doesn’t block the door) inside to invite opportunities to stay awhile
  • Use it so it gains momentum – get the mail, leave through that door to go for a walk

Our front door gets used pretty regularly (hey, it’s me after all!), and I’m pretty conscientious throughout the year changing our front door wreath and add other touches depending on the season. It brings a fresh energy to a key piece of our home.

If you are seeking some change in your life, start with your front door. See what happening there and have it work for you. You never know who – or what – will come physically – or metaphorically – knocking.

Intrigued? You can read more about front doors in this article from a few years ago.

Dos and Don’ts of T.V.s in Feng Shui

by Lisa Janusz

I was explaining to my eldest son recently how much televisions have changed since I was a child. He sat mystified that even I remember having to physically get up to change the channel. And that if I wanted to watch a show, I had to be home at the right time. With all the advancements – remote control, big screens, on demand – it’s no wonder that they have become for many a “need” over want.

I’ve seen interior decorating take some interesting stances on televisions. Some are going “old school” and going back to living rooms without T.V.s and saving them only for family rooms. Some are just trying to incorporate T.V.s in a better way through “hiding” them or making them part of a feature or gallery wall.

In Feng Shui, televisions are like black holes. They suck energy, both when they are on and when they are off. Yet, for many of us (including me!), we like them and aren’t going to part with them anytime soon.

If you want to minimize the impact of your television, here are some quick tips:

  • DO have a television the right size, that doesn’t dominate the room
  • DO have a way to de-emphasize it if it’s in a main entertaining/social area. You can do that by keeping it in an armoire, hiding it behind a picture or incorporating it in the ambiance (think fake fire or pretty scenery photos)
  • DO have a television in the appropriate room – living room, family room, den, or home theater. Don’t put a television in a room that conflicts with the purpose of the room. Rooms that are not appropriate for a T.V.:
    • Bedrooms: Yours or your child’s. Yes, we hear people tell us they need them to fall asleep. And most of the time – those same people don’t sleep well. They bring in too much energy. Your room should be a sanctuary. Kids should also have a calm room because they typically don’t need to be bombarded with more energy.
    • Kitchens: This is a room for nurturing your family and connecting. A television interferes with that.
    • Bathrooms: This is a room that already has a lot of draining energy in it, why add another drain? Where did this trend come from anyway? How much time are they spending in there?
    • Office: Unless your work aligns with a T.V., it’s a message about being distracted from your goals.

Keep in mind that your space communicates to others about you – your life, your interests, your goals. That’s a key principle of Feng Shui. As you look at your television(s), how many and where they are located, think about what message you’re sending.

If you’d like more tips, here’s a previous post I wrote about televisions and Feng Shui. I also address how to deal with a T.V. that won’t be moving.

What’s Up with the Year of the Pig?

by Carole Hyder

In the last few years, I’ve noticed the proliferation of stories about people having pigs as pets. We’re finding out that pigs are kind, gentle, and very, very smart. Last summer I saw two pigs on leashes tethered to a car while the owner was evidently grocery shopping. Basking in the sun, they were clearly relishing the outdoor moment.

Now, as of February 4th, we have moved into the Year of the Pig. Due to the make-up of Pig nature, we might be able to expect a year that is a bit more mellow, more laid back and relaxed. The Pig has a go-with-the-flow energy. There’s less focus on getting things done (a very “dog”-ged attitude from the 2018 Year of the Dog) and more on savoring the moment and enjoying the experience. Life is a banquet for the Pig.

The Chinese astrology system is comprised of 12-year cycles, each year bearing the name of an animal. The Pig is the final animal in this list of 12. This may account for its tendency to savor every moment because endings and farewells can elicit bittersweet yet anticipatory feelings.

A revealing exercise is to think about to 12 years ago (2007) and remember what was happening in your life. Any endings? Any moments to savor? Any lessons you learned that you could bring forward to this Pig year?

How can you maximize the Pig Year: Here are a few ideas:

  1. Secure an image of a Pig, or a figurine, or a screen savor that will be a constant reminder to you about the gentle nature of the Pig.
  2. Plan one playful activity each day, big or small. Coloring, singing, dancing, gardening—anything that will bring you joy. Full disclosure: Back in the 80s, the late Laura Branigan had a hit song “Gloria.” It is impossible for me to stay in my chair when that is playing. Try it. Do not be bothered by the choreography—or lack of—and be sure to turn the volume up, or better yet ear plugs. And never mind that it’s about a woman who is making a mess of her life. Or is she? All this aside, you will not be able to sit still. Let me know if it did nothing for you and we’ll try to figure out what’s wrong with you.
  3. Breathe—-deeply and intentionally. It clarifies the brain and relaxes your body, just like a Pig.
  4. Do something spontaneous. The Pig’s motto is “being, not doing.

Now when you say to yourself “I’m being a Pig,” this statement will have a whole new meaning for you. Wallow in it.

Toys: A Feng Shui Approach

by Lisa Janusz

There’s no escaping the seemingly endless mountain of toys that builds (and builds) when you have children. Sometimes I feel like it multiplies when I’m not looking! I have my methods for trying to keep toys manageable. But even my methods are being tested these days. With birthdays and Christmas all within a 3-month period, the rapid increase is quickly heading towards overwhelm.

Before that happens, I will do a toy intervention of sorts. If you are experiencing a similar situation, here are some Feng Shui-aligned ideas on how to handle.

Have limitations on toy storage.

This means that when an area is full – it’s not time to find a new area, it’s time to rethink what’s going there. We have enough space dedicated to toys (both boys are still on the younger side): toybox and ottoman in the living room and two closets (not entirely filled with toys). That is plenty of room. When there are too many toys (like now) to fit, we get to work on making room for our current favorites.

Purge. Downsize. Release.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s necessary decluttering to downsize the toy collection. We do this a couple of times a year, keeping in mind we want to be gentle and manageable. First, we dedicate space on our main floor to our favorites (as mentioned above). Then we move toys we’re not yet ready to part with to the basement. These are toys that have been outgrown or just don’t fit with the current play style. They are accessible to make the transition easier (but not readily available). Toys that are played with anyway are kept a little longer, but those that are mostly forgotten are donated.

Make it timely, easy and meaningful.

We sort toys at least twice a year (timely) and as Carole mentioned above, we have a dedicated, ongoing spot for donations (easy). This is key. It’s become such a part of our routine that my eldest has placed items to donate in the spot and let me know he added something. To make it meaningful, as we go through the process we talk about how lucky we are to have so much and that someone with less will enjoy it. My hope is that they view donating as not taking toys away from them, but giving to someone else.

It’s not always easy; sometimes we have to make some “tough decisions” about what needs to go. But for me, it’s a life lesson in that it’s a constant process (even for me). As you know, with Feng Shui, everything is energy so we need to be diligent about what we keep in our space. If it doesn’t support us, it should be given the chance to support someone else.

Chinese Birthday Customs

by Carole Hyder

While we are diligent about sending well-wishes on a friend’s birthday, the Chinese typically reserve birthday celebrations for children and the elderly. Although Western influence has changed some of that cultural perspective, Chinese birthday parties still have special traditions.

Here in the States, a child turns 1 on the first anniversary of their birth. In Chinese culture, babies are 1 year old when they are born. Some celebrate the child’s first birthday party when the baby actually turns two. Others consider the first day of the Chinese New Year (lunar calendar) as the starting point of a new age. This means that if a child is 1 year old when he is born and then one more year is added as soon as he enters the New Year, it’s possible that a child could be two years old when, according to Western tradition, he might be two or three weeks old. This happens when a baby is born on the last week or day of the past year.

If you don’t want to ask an elderly person their age, you can ask for their Chinese zodiac sign. Knowing a person’s sign could make it possible to figure out their age. When someone turns 60 or 80, this warrants a full-scale celebration with a gathering of family and friends. Chinese birthdays must be celebrated before or on the actual birth date. Belatedly celebrating a Chinese birthday is considered impolite and disrespectful.

Birthday cakes are becoming a common part of a birthday celebration. Traditionally the birthday person is required to slurp a longevity noodle in one continuous strand. This long noodle symbolizes a long life. Although many Chinese now opt to give a gift, red envelopes filled with money are typically the preferred birthday present.

Finally, a song is always sung to the one celebrating their birthday. Here are the Chinese characters to the Happy Birthday song (yes, it’s the same melody as the Western version): 祝你生日快樂. Here is the pronunciation guide: zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè. And, if that isn’t enough, here it is being sung for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl8nOh0K8S8

Greetings to all, birthday or not.

Coaching & Feng Shui, a Perfect Match

By Michele Heisler

The practice of Feng Shui starts with intentions, which become your road map to adjustments in your environment. Coaching practices can help you reflect on your life and discover your true intentions. You may have heard the phrase “what you think about, you bring about.” The truth is, we all have the power to manifest, which is even more reason to be careful when creating your intentions.

Here are 3 tips to coach yourself through creating thoughtful intentions.

  1. Be careful what you wish for. Once you have determined what you are manifesting, ask yourself: why? This allows you to go deeper into the essence of what you want. Don’t just manifest a house. Manifest a house that is cozy, safe, and in a friendly neighborhood. Anyone can manifest a relationship, but why do you want a relationship? By going deeper, you can manifest a relationship that is stable, exciting and passionate.
  2. Don’t over-do Feng Shui adjustments. One well-thought-out adjustment to support an intention is better than many less-thought-out adjustments. There are often various adjustments to support one intention. Take your time in selecting and applying the one that resonates with you the most.
  1. Share your intentions. Find someone you trust to confide. Speaking your desires and wishes assists in manifestation. Imagine others are holding your vision for you as well.

Your intentions deserve as much attention as the adjustment that supports them. Take your time and have fun with it. There is a world of opportunities waiting for you.

 

Michele Heisler is a graduate of the Wind & Water School of Feng Shui. She is a Master Feng Shui Consultant & Professional Coach with her own company, Riverway Consulting.

Feng Shui and Back to School

Back_To_School_Prepby Lisa Janusz

Summer is ending and we’re heading into that time of the year; back to school. Whether you have a little one just starting the scene or one that is heading into graduation year, there is no doubt routines will change. A new school year, like a new job, or any new endeavor, brings with it new energy, excitement and an opportunity to create change. Capitalize on that “newness” by setting your child – or yourself – up for success.

 

  1. Create structure. You don’t have to write a checklist or get too rigid on this one. But having a plan for the mornings and afternoons can help a child feel empowered (they know what’s happening) and secure. This translates throughout the day.
  2. Micro-manage the bed. The bed is a place for rejuvenation and a place to dream. Make sure it’s comfortable, age appropriate in terms of bedding, has a solid headboard for support and has nothing underneath to disrupt sleep. (Bonus points if you can set it up so when lying in it they can see the door.)
  3. Designate a study spot. Make sure there’s a good chair (another way to “have their back” in Feng Shui) and what they need – pencils, erasers, place for a snack. The importance of the task is communicated by a commitment to it – so in this case, if you think homework is important, show that by having a proper place to do it.
  4. Keep calm. Everything has energy in Feng Shui, so be sure the “things” that surround them during the day and especially at night help create a sense of calm. This might mean covering a bookcase at night, containing toys in baskets or bins, clearing clutter and having room to “breathe.”

These same tips can apply to you if you’re starting a new venture. Have a structure for how you are going to accomplish your goals: designate a time to check email, brainstorm marketing, make calls to clients and prioritizing “to dos.” Also, make sure you have a headboard, don’t store anything under your bed and create a calming room that’s conducive to good rest. Don’t forget a proper desk and high-backed chair, which will add to you feeling supported.

For a few more tips, you can read a past back to school article.

As the new routines become the regular routines, and the days get busier, make a conscious effort to create a calm environment that will serve you and your family. There is so much influence on our energy from what is around us, choose things that spark joy, passion and balance.

Desk Feng Shui: Clear it off

by Lisa Janusz

When you walk into your office, or head to your desk, how do you feel? Whatever is happening there is likely affecting your body’s response. Many years ago, I started clearing off my desk each night. After I did that, I no longer felt overwhelmed. I had “room” to sit down and make a plan for my day.

In Feng Shui, your desk has to do with opportunities, career and vision. So, it would make sense that what’s happening on your desk right now might be related to what’s going on in your life. Here are some desk considerations.

For the top of your desk:

Clear it off. This is symbolic of your vision – a clear desk gives you ample opportunity to see what’s ahead and plan for what’s important. It also allows you to enter your office and feel relaxed. You’re not immediately influenced by a stack of papers, folders, projects, and “to dos.” Create a system that works for you.

  • I put everything I’m still working on at the end of the day in a decorative box; I sort through it in the morning after I’ve made my daily plan.
  • I file or recycle anything I can before the end of the day.

Apply the bagua. If you know the bagua, you can place things on your desk using this system. Where you sit is typically the career area (middle area). You could place a photo of you and your partner in the back right corner (relationship) and put your business cards in the middle farthest from you (fame).

Other desk considerations:

Make it solid. A solid wood desk gives you support and helps you feel grounded. A glass desk doesn’t offer that stability. If you have a glass desk, cover it with fabric to see if that changes anything for you.

Make it fit. This is going to be different for everyone. Your desk should be a good size for you, and appropriate for how you use it. If you are just paying bills, a small desk is fine. But if you’re trying to start a business, upgrade to one that presents the image that aligns with that.

Your desk can be a very supportive element to help align with your future goals. Think about what you want and get started. It’s okay to start small – like taking 9 minutes a day to sort through papers. But do start.

On the road again: Feng Shui when you’re not at home

road-691124_1920by Carole Hyder

There’s no argument that Feng Shui applies itself well in residential spaces.  Historically Feng Shui principles were applied to the land, but now it’s mostly used in homes, condos, apartments or rooms.  The goal is to arrange a space so that it supports its occupant.

But what if you travel?  What if you’re in a hotel room or spending days in the car?  What if you’re staying in your elderly cousin’s basement?  What happens to your Feng Shui intentions then?

There are ways to bring your Feng Shui with you regardless of where you go. And it can be an easy yet meaningful way to do so.  Here are some suggestions you can try:

Bring a reminder of your home with you.  This could be a photo of someone you’ve left behind—–your spouse, your children, your cat, etc.  A small photo set up in the darkest circumstances can shed some light your way.  Place it on a dresser or nightstand so you can easily see it and benefit from its positive energy.

If you love gemstones and rocks, bring one from home and put it in your pocket.  By having it on your body, it will be a constant reminder that all the intentions you’ve created in your home are still with you.

Flowers are always a good enhancement.  Picking up a few flowers when you’ve arrived at your destination can be a great temporary Feng Shui adjustment, particularly if there’s a connection back to your home.  A bunch of tulips may remind you of the tulips currently growing in your yard.  Or perhaps you’ve always had a fondness for daisies which can lift your spirits when you’re in a foreign place.

Write down intention words for the trip.  Decide what the optimal outcome would be for the trip you’re about to take.  It could be Family Connection, Successful Business, Self-Reflection, Relaxation.  Write it down on a piece of paper and place it in a red envelope.  Place the envelope where you will see it every day.

Some people thrive on the thrill, excitement and challenges of traveling; others find it tiring and daunting.  Either way, bringing a reminder of a place that is familiar and safe can make your travels more enjoyable.

Be sure to check out Lisa Janusz’ article about maintaining good Feng Shui in your car.

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