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Posts Tagged Carole Hyder

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.

Chinese Gardens

by Carole Hyder

Chinese gardens were always arranged in accordance with a set of Feng Shui or geomantic principles. A geomancy master would be engaged to find a location and to determine directional placement of the garden or the buildings within the garden that would take advantage of the beneficial flow of qi, the enlivening energy of the cosmos.

Unlike Western gardens which are typically formed around a house or structure, Chinese gardens are planned first determining where structures would eventually be placed.

Although there was no standard process for creating a garden, the evolution of a traditional Chinese garden is often based on the southern courtyard of Zhan Yuan, an early Ming dynasty garden in Nanjing:

  1. After a site was selected, the first decision was to establish the location and direction of the main hall. Ideally, the hall was to be in the northern section of the garden.
  2. High walls were positioned along the perimeter of the garden in order to enclose it.
  3. Spaces within the garden were subdivided to multiply the variety of scenery within it, creating a sense of boundlessness within a limited site.
  4. A body of water, usually a pond, was excavated and linked to channels of water. A pond was an indispensable element since it contrasted with the rockery and provided a mirrored image of scenic objects.
  5. Latticed windows were used to lure the visitor into the garden. A moon gate and other geometric openings were often used to frame scenes within the garden and to create the illusion of depth. No cul-de-sac or dead ends were permitted in any garden space, so pathways always seemed to continue in forward motion. The visitor was never allowed to see the panoramic whole of the Chinese garden at the outset since it was carefully designed in a sequence of the hidden and revealed scenes that would emerge along paths and at observation points.

In the West gardens are grown, but in China a garden is built. The many buildings in Chinese gardens are a reminder that gardens were meant to be lived in as well as viewed. The Chinese garden is a good example of the Taoist principle of harmony with nature and creative imagination.


*This article contains excerpts from Carole’s Masters of Asian Studies thesis

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.

A Time for Thank You: Appreciating Your Home

Thank You NoteBy Carole Hyder

During this season of giving thanks for the beautiful and abundant life that we have, I remind students, clients, friends, and myself that it’s also the time to give thanks to your home.

If you have no issues with your home and have, in fact, had a nice connection with it, writing a thank-you will solidify this positive relationship.

Writing a thank-you to your home, however, can go a long way in bringing some relief to a troubled and ailing space.  It’s helpful when you’re unhappy with your home for whatever reason.  Rather than looking to move or harboring resentments, a cheaper and easier action to take is to write your home a thank-you note.

Here’s how to write a thank-you to your home:

  1. Use an actual thank-you note or special stationery to write your letter.  Due to the small size of a typical thank-you, you will have to keep your message short and succinct.
  2. Start with “Dear___________.”  If you have a name for your home, you can insert here.  If not “Dear Home” is fine.
  3. List two reasons you are thankful for your home.  Examples:  I want to thank you for making me feel safe.  I appreciate how you keep me warm all winter long.
  4. Outline two actions you will take regarding your home.  Examples:  I promise to get the back door fixed before winter.  I promise to finish painting the bathroom.  I promise to clear out the clutter in the basement.
  5. Sign off with your name.  Love, __________.  All the best, ___________.
  6. Place the thank-you note in a special place in your home—-in your nightstand drawer, under a plant near the front door, under your pillow.

Writing a thank-you does not take the place of cleaning your home or making needed repairs or beautifying it.  But perhaps coming from a grateful heart will make the actions to which you committed more meaningful and healing.

New Beginnings in the Year of the Rooster

By Carole Hyder

Lao Tzu said,

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

Year of the Rooster (2)For many of us, the Year of the Monkey can be done already. But rather than shaking off the monkey pranks of this past 12 months, perhaps we could look at how they’re defining the upcoming 12 months.

The Year of the Rooster began February 3rd at 11:49 PM, but its influence was being felt some weeks before that. The Rooster is just plain more predictable. There’s less drama and fewer surprises with the Rooster—for which I think I can safely say we’re all pretty much relieved about that.

The Rooster energy stays close to the ground (although a Rooster has wings it doesn’t really take to the skies), pays attention to details (pecking around for food requires a keen eye), and is image-conscious (no argument that their feathers are quite beautiful).

There aren’t too many people I know who haven’t been stretched this past year—-personally, professionally as well as politically. The monkey-shenanigans have been tiresome, cruel even, but they’ve taught us about being resilient and about being vigilant.

It’s a perfect lead-in to the time of this Rooster—-a fire Rooster. Bringing the Fire element to the Rooster is going to sustain the need for resilience and vigilance but without as much wild drama we’ve just endured. We’re a practiced bunch in how to ride through the tempest so we’ve got this going forward.

We can expect some additional turmoil in 2017 but it’s nothing we can’t handle. The Rooster could bring some opportunities we might not ordinarily embrace and our new-found determination could propel many of us forward.

It’s not the time to hold back just because we came off a challenging year. Rather it’s a time to spread some wings, strut a bit and crow.

Happy Year of the Rooster everyone!

P.S. Want to know some specifics about the Year of the Rooster?

Check out a webinar Lisa Janusz and I did about this very topic.

How Feng Shui May Help You Sell Your Home

By Carole Hyder

home exteriorRealtors often use the term “curb appeal” when getting a home ready to sell. It means that the home should look attractive from the minute someone gets out of their car. The reason is that a good first impression can positively impact the rest of their experience with the home.

Yet from a Feng Shui standpoint, we want a home to have curb appeal all the time. It shouldn’t just be cleaned up for a quick sale but should have the following aspects in place at all times:

  1. The front door is visibly obvious. If a potential buyer (or visitor) has to assume where the door is located because they can’t actually see it, there is a potential for confusion that permeates throughout the rest of the property. If the door is tucked behind a garage or in an out-of-sight corner, place “signposts” that guide the visitor—-flowers, a bench, or windchime.
  2. The front door should stand out from the rest of the space. This isn’t just about being visible, but about being outstandingly so. A colored door, a wreath, or a flag are a few ways to make the front door the central focus.
  3. The walkway to front the door is inviting. The path to the door should be enticing and an experience all by itself—-no cracked pavement or pieces of sidewalk that could trip someone up. But an enjoyable jaunt leading to the entrance.
  4. All plants and flowers are thriving, especially those that are around the front door and the path leading to the door. If they’re not thriving, remove them.
  5. For those who ARE selling their home, place the “For Sale” sign in the Helpful People area of the lot (front right corner as you face the home). This area can elevate the possibilities of a helpful person coming along to buy the home. Put the sign here only if it makes sense and is visible from the street.

Obviously curb appeal is just the beginning of the sale. The same amount of care and consideration should occur once the potential buyer (or visitor) gets inside. Otherwise, the message is an inconsistent one which will leave the guest wondering why something doesn’t feel quite right.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Elements of a Feng Shui Garden

FS Garden 2 By Carole Hyder

Whether gardening in a large space or a small patio, there are some elements to consider if you want to be able to call it a Feng Shui garden. Size does not matter, but intention and layout does.

Before starting, it is important you determine the overall intention or theme you want to express.

FS Garden 5

  • Do you want to use the garden for quiet-time?
  • Do you want to amble through your flowers to get inspired?
  • Is it your intention to create a space where friends and family can gather?
  • Do you want the area to be kid-friendly?

FS Garden 3

Even if your gardening efforts are confined to a very small spot on the deck, think about what you want to create. Fairy gardens are intended to be small but that doesn’t make them less engaging.







Here are some additional elements to consider when you’re designing your garden—-large or small:

FS Garden 61) Water. In line with the concept of wind and water, having water in a garden is a natural. If a pond doesn’t seem like the right fit or feels like it would be too much work, a fountain could be integrated into your garden. A bird-bath is also an option. Japanese gardens use rocks to give the illusion of water.

2) Place to sit. This doesn’t have to be complicated—-a rock or tree stump, a bench or hammock would work. You want a place from which you can absorb the energy of the garden.

FS Garden 13) Curvy Path. Your Feng Shui garden should provide an effortless direction of where to go—–a path of flagstones, chips, or round pavers or a foot-worn path where others have walked before. Making it curvy implies a slower pace where ambling and lingering are appropriate. If you garden is small, create a path that the eye will follow.






FS Garden 44) Ornamentals. The way to personalize and create a unique garden is with your ornamentals. Although this can easily move into the arena of clutter, a few carefully positioned objects around the garden will offer variety and interest.

These photos are all from our garden. Its exquisite beauty and strength come solely from the labor of my master gardener husband. It goes without saying that sitting in this garden has provided us hours of enjoyment and healing, which were the original intentions with which he guided this project.

Feng Shui state of mind

Staying mindful can be hard if you’re prone to depression. Many of us experience more depression as the days shorten as well. Here is an excerpt from an article Carole wrote for Essential Wellness a while back. 

DEPRESSION ISN’T THE typical reason people want a Feng Shui appointment, but it can be a factor in the big picture. An appointment may be made for another more obvious reason only to discover that depression is playing a part. That said, sometimes depression is the only reason someone would inquire about the impact of Feng Shui. When I anticipate an appointment with someone who is depressed, whether clinically diagnosed or not, I can predict that one of the issues I’ll find in their space is clutter. Sometimes the clutter has occurred because their depression has caused them to be dysfunctional; however, I usually discover that the clutter was there pre-depression and has now exacerbated a tough situation.

Anybody will experience frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm from the amount of personal possessions that they have accumulated. These personal possessions can take the form of trinkets, photographs, books, newspapers, piles of mail, clothes, and remnants of projects yet to be completed. Nevertheless, every little memento, every photograph, every knick-knack requires energy. One by one, it’s an insignificant drain, but cumulatively, this drain becomes considerable and, if someone is susceptible to depression, it can fast forward them into a downward spiral.

Taking the first step toward de-cluttering is the hardest, especially if someone is already suffering from depression. However, knowing that the client can experience some relief once they get going, I encourage them to give it a try by helping them break it down into small segments. Since the number “9″ (or its increment) is considered lucky in Feng Shui, I suggest spending nine minutes a day de-cluttering. The cumulative effect of taking these small steps can add up after two weeks, three weeks, or a month. If the task appears overwhelming, the de-cluttering will never happen. Thinking about cleaning out the basement may seem overwhelming, but thinking about cleaning a shelf under the steps isn’t so bad. The next day another shelf, and the next day another one, etc. Start small.

Suggestions to address de-cluttering

  • Make sure there’s appropriate and adequate storage for the items that need to be kept—like holiday decorations, out of season clothes, etc.
  • Any “just in case” items take up precious space and zap energy
  • Remove everything from the front and sides of the refrigerator to calm down the kitchen.
  • Take nine items of clothing out of the closet that are no longer being worn to make room for new possibilities.
  • Remove the clutter from under the bed so dreams can be clear and focused.
  • Eliminate clutter near the front door to invite in more opportunities.
  • Remove everything from the top of the dresser to give your vision a broader scope.
  • Thank the items before you release them.
  • Did I mention to start small?

Although clutter is a big issue for someone who is depressed, there are other Feng Shui actions a person can take to lift these feelings. The bedroom is a critical room for those who are experiencing depression. The location of the bedroom is important as it should not be in the basement or over a garage. If at all possible, move to another bedroom, even if temporarily. Having a bedroom in the basement by its very nature brings about feelings of oppression and heaviness, while being over a garage leaves a person feeling unsupported and alone.

A headboard on the bed is crucial in order to signify support at a time when a person may be feeling like they have none. The head board should be solid, sturdy, and reliable in order to resonate those same principles back to the person who sleeps in the bed. Hanging inspirational, creative, and soothing artwork in the bedroom will give a sense of purpose during dream-time and upon awakening each morning.

Finally, Read more

Water in the Feng Shui Garden

One of the features that is almost a requirement in a Feng Shui garden is the element of water. “Shui” means water, after all, so it is appropriate to incorporate this element in some way. Water symbolizes flow and movement. It is the place from which all life arises and the place to which it returns. It symbolizes eternity since its flow is perpetual and eternal. Water represents renewal and is used in many ceremonies for that reason.

Carole’s garden was part of the Masters Gardeners tour in Hennepin County, Minnesota. It was unique because it is a Feng Shui garden. True to form, there are several expressions of water in her outdoor space.

Read more

Elements to consider for a Feng Shui garden

By Carole Hyder – Whether gardening in a large space or a small patio, there are some elements to consider if you want to be able to call it a Feng Shui garden. Size does not matter, but intention and layout do.

flower1Before starting, it is important you determine the overall feeling or theme you want to express. Do you want to use the garden for quiet time? Do you want to amble through your flowers to get inspired? Is it your intention to create an outdoor space where friends and family can gather? Do you want the area to be kid-friendly?

Even if your gardening efforts are confined to a very small spot on the deck, think about what you want to create. Fairy gardens are intended to be small but that doesn’t make them less engaging.

Here are some additional elements to consider whether you’re designing a large backyard or a small pot:  Read more


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