The Roots of FENG SHUI Sacred Plants and Trees of FENG SHUI

BambooIn FENG SHUI, there are certain plants and trees we favor and consider sacred. The Chinese believe these trees are sacred because of the auspicious energy that is associated with them. They would even bury their dead near a particular tree. They believed the good spirits of their ancestors would absorb into the tree, bringing them riches and good luck.

Trees are considered the lungs of the planet. They clean the air by taking in carbon dioxide and give us life-sustaining oxygen. Trees offer more than just shade on a hot and steamy day. They provide a habitat for wildlife and help with soil retention. Trees give us building materials for shelter and warmth from firewood.

One of the most beloved plants of FENG SHUI is Bamboo, because it is strong and durable. Bamboo is renewable; it grows quickly and replenishes rapidly. It is believed in FENG SHUI that Bamboo can increase our wealth and it has the power to ward off unwanted energy. If you plant Bamboo in the back of your home, the Chinese believe it can increase your wealth and abundance. If it is planted near the front of the home, it will attract positive energy or auspicious Chi. Bamboo is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance, making it one of the most honored trees of FENG SHUI.

Another sacred tree in FENG SHUI is the Evergreen. They are favored in FENG SHUI because they keep their green color all year long. For that reason, the Chinese believe Evergreens bring prosperity throughout the winter months. Pine trees, in particular, symbolize friendship and loyalty. However, any type of Evergreen symbolizes durability and endurance. They never lose their positive energy and can create an optimistic spirit.

In FENG SHUI, we love fruit trees because they represent abundance and good health. They attract good Chi or energy to our homes. In 1912, the Japanese gave the United States the gift of Cherry trees, as a symbol of good luck. A Cherry tree planted in the yard brings good luck to the home. Another example is the Apple tree. It can bring peace and strengthen family relations. I like to suggest to my clients, that if they are blending a family together, they can plant an Apple tree. The Apple tree can help to create harmonious family relations.

Citrus trees are also favored in FENG SHUI, especially the Orange tree. An orange tree is believed to increase abundance. Oranges are presented to loved ones around the Chinese New Year as a way to ensure prosperity throughout the year. Lemon trees can help with fertility and reproduction. There is a legend that if a couple is trying to conceive, they should plant a lemon tree in their yard, to increase the chances of getting pregnant. I have seen lemon trees placed in planters and positioned on either side of the front door to bring this scared energy into the home.

Other trees bring blessings and good fortune. For example; Maple trees can bring balance and stability to our yards. The Oak tree is the mightiest of trees and symbolizes strength and courage. They can help to increase career success. Birch trees represent new beginnings and a cleansing of the past. They would be good to plant when you move into a new home or in a newlywed’s yard.

Trees anchor the energy that is vital to our well-being. They are powerful healers that bring us peace and comfort. Take the time to see if you have any of the sacred trees in your yard. Before you plant a tree, you might want to consider one of the sacred trees of FENG SHUI, so you can take advantage of the auspicious energy associated with them. Trees help to frame the landscape of our planet. They provide strength for us and give us powerful grounding energy.
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FENG SHUI in Bloom

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FENG SHUI in Bloom
The sacred flowers of FENG SHUI

In FENG SHUI, we think of spring with its new growth and a spirit of optimism, as an auspicious season. Spring is the perfect time to look at our yards and try to improve the Chi or energy that surrounds our homes. There are different flowers that symbolize success and can be effective at attracting good energy. We refer to these as the sacred flowers of FENG SHUI.

These plants are sacred because of the good luck bestowed upon them. In FENG SHUI, if you plant these particular flowers in your yard, you and your family will reap the benefits of this sacred luck. These particular flowers are good for increasing wealth, promoting happiness, and creating harmony. Whatever you chose to plant, know that you have the ancient principles of FENG SHUI to reinforce your intentions.

Traditionally, the five sacred flowers in FENG SHUI are the Peony, Chrysanthemum, Magnolia, Orchid and Lotus. These five flowers are sacred because of the blessings and benefits they provide to their owners.

The Peony is considered the essence of spring. It is the king of FENG SHUI flowers because it represents honor, wealth, and fortune. It can also strengthen relationships. A red Peony is especially good for love and romance. Peonies are the perfect flowers for wedding arrangements.

The Chrysanthemum or the mum represents happiness and laughter. It is a symbol of comfort and a pleasant life. It is believed that if you have Mums growing in your garden, they will bring a life of ease and harmony. A Yellow Chrysanthemum is often associated with nobility and can provide strength and stability. In ancient China, emperors would place them in their palaces and courtyards to ensure success.

The white Magnolia is a symbol of purity. It represents truth and wholeness. The Magnolia is often used in religious ceremonies. If it is planted in the front of the yard, it is believed to bring happiness and joy. If it is planted in the back, it symbolizes an accumulation of wealth.

Another sacred flower is the Orchid. It is feminine in nature and conveys good taste and gentleness. Orchids have a tendency to slow us down and allow us to soak up their beauty. The Orchid is the perfect flower to create a feeling of harmony with our garden.
I recently went to an Orchid show with over 10,000 orchids. As I walked into the room filled with all these varieties of Orchids, I could immediately feel my body relax. Their beauty alone made me stop in awe of their splendor. I included a couple of photos of these Orchids from the show. I hope you enjoy these flowers as much as I did.

The last of the sacred flowers is the Lotus. It symbolizes the opening of opportunities. Buddhist and Hindus consider the Lotus to be a blessed flower. An expanding Lotus increases spiritual consciousness. It represents purity and enlightenment. The Lotus can help us to open out minds and increase our spiritual growth. The Lotus is good for meditation. It can bring peace and even enhance our creativity.

There are other flowers that can improve the Chi, but aren’t necessarily considered sacred in FENG SHUI. For example, Sunflowers are good for our health and they help balance our energy. Roses and Carnations are good for love, romance and strengthening relationships. That is why they are often used in wedding arrangements. Pansies help us increase our wealth. Their petals form a round shape resembling a coin. We believe in FENG SHUI, that when we plant Pansies in our yards, we will bring more abundance to our lives.

As you plan your garden this spring, take a moment to think about how the sacred flowers of FENG SHUI can transform your yard. You might want to bring more abundance into your life, strengthen a relationship or create a more peaceful feel to your home. No matter what variety you chose, I know you will benefit from these sacred flowers. I wish you luck with planting these sacred and beautiful flowers of FENG SHUI!

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Happy Lunar New Year

The Year of the Snake
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This year, we will be transitioning from the year of the Dragon to the year of the Snake. Last year, in the year of the Dragon, the Dragon brought many volatile changes. Things should be smoother and calmer in the year of the Snake. There will be some challenges this year as well as some great opportunities. The Year of the Snake represents knowledge, wisdom, and self-discipline. We will see some big changes in the year ahead – some of these changes
can be demanding, but we will also see some positive shifts. It shouldn’t be as chaotic as it was in the year of the Dragon.

In the year of the Snake, it is important to be cautious. You should seek balance and stability in all areas of your life, wealth, health and relationships. There is a chance for a lot of travel this year. You may be traveling long distances or internationally. Things will be moving quickly, so be prepared for greater opportunities. Tap into your intuition to help guide you through the challenges that might come up this year.
Happy New Year
The Chinese New Year is the perfect time to clean your home from top to bottom. You want your home to sparkle and shine. This is a good time to clear out the clutter and old things that may be holding you back. Take the time to review your goals for the New Year and look over your vision board. This is the perfect time to replace any items that are worn out or broken. You want to start out the Chinese New Year fresh and clean. This will allow the positive Chi to flow into your environment and your life!

Holiday FENG SHUI Decorating Ideas

Christmas colorsThis month I would like to share some FENG SHUI Holiday decorating ideas. Last month I gave you some holiday gift suggestions by using the principles of FENG SHUI. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that you can apply FENG SHUI to just about anything, from offices to gardens and even events like a wedding.  At this hectic time of year, this is the perfect time to use the principles of FENG SHUI to set the tone for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season.

 One cure we use in FENG SHUI is the “Living Object Cure”. Living Objects are plants, trees and flowers.  We use living objects as a way to enhance the energy of a space. Plants and trees can increase our oxygen, keep us calm and balance the energy of a space.  At this time of year, we can use a Christmas tree as a living object cure. We use living objects to draw people into the space and to enhance the energy of a room. It is important to incorporate a part of nature into our homes for the holidays, because it brings balance to our surroundings.  A Christmas tree is one way to bring a piece of nature indoors and enhance the energy of our home.  It doesn’t have to be a Christmas tree. We can use wreaths, garland and holly to give us the same effect. 

 Another cure we use in FENG SHUI is light. We can add light to our indoor and outdoor spaces to stimulate the energy.  During the winter, things are looking dark and rather gloomy. The trees and bushes have lost their leaves and have little color. The days are shorter and the darkness of the night is growing longer. We can put up lights outside to bring balance to the darkness.  We use lights as a way to lift our mood. There are several different ways we can incorporate light on the outside of our home. Putting up a string of lights, floodlights and luminaries are some of the ways we can use the light cure to balance the darkness. We can do the same thing inside our homes. We can use lights to highlight a particular area or brighten up a room. We can string lights along our banister to open up our stairwells. Even the lights on the Christmas tree lift the Chi or energy and can bring balance to the room.

 Lastly, color is a vibration that we respond to on many different levels. It can affect our mood as well as the feel of the room. Certain colors and shades can relax us and other colors can stimulate us.  In FENG SHUI, we believe it is possible to alter the perceptions by changing or combing certain colors.  If we look at some of the colors of the Holiday Season, we can learn how they can help us adjust the energy of our spaces.

 The two most common colors of the season are red and green. These two colors are very auspicious in FENG SHUI. Take the color red. It is a very powerful color. Red is an energy source and a good way to release the bad Chi or energy from a space. Red can give us strength and warm us up. Try to avoid too much red, because it can over stimulate us. Red is the perfect accent color for bows, candles and ornaments.

 The second most popular color of the season is green. The color green is associated with growth and abundance. Around the house, it is ideal to have a green Christmas tree, wreaths or garland. The color green gives us a sense of freshness and hope.  It is a good color to keep us balanced and calm.  

 Another color of the holiday season is blue. Blue helps with communication and conversations. Blue is a calming color and keeps us relaxed. It is a good idea to add the color blue to our environments, to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. 

 The holidays can be hectic, but they don’t have to be. We can enjoy the season in a relaxed mood. We can truly enjoy the holiday season by adjusting our surroundings, and being aware of how we spend our time and energy. When we are aware of our environment and how it influences us, then we can use the forces in nature to be of benefit to all. We can learn how to enjoy this busy time of the year and just relax. By bringing certain colors and symbols of joy, into our home we will allow the goodwill to flow during the holidays. Hope you have a Happy Holiday!

 

Do you need a Digital Detox?

Image  Finding balance in this digital age

I have written a lot about finding balance. I even created “30 Days of Balance”. https://caragallagher.com/biography/30-days-of-balance/ “30 Days of Balance” is list of philosophies and practices that I embrace to keep me well-balanced.  I am finding in this digital age, we need to find balance with the technology that surrounds us.

We should have some type of equilibrium with all of our technological devices. If not, these gadgets will overwhelm us. We need space from the overload of electronic devices. Some have even referred to it as a “Digital Detox”. A “Digital Detox” is where we rid ourselves of the abundance of electronics, devices and gadgets that run our lives. According to Soren Gordhamer, organizer of Wisdom 2.0,       (an annual gathering that he started in 2010 to find balance in the digital age), said: “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There is no blame. But there is a turning of the page.”  Once we become aware of the negative power digital electronics have on us, then we can learn how to live in moderation with these devices.

There is another reason why you might want to get a break from your electronic devices.  A study from the Ohio State Medical Center reveals a new form of Depression caused by too much exposure to light http://www.jonbarron.org/natural-health/nightlight-leads-depressive-effects. According to researchers, it is not healthy to be exposed to light, when you are sleeping. Jon Barron believes that “letting light touch any part of the body while sleeping activates the pineal gland, and that, in turn, stops the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin works to induce sleepiness; the lack of it interferes with getting deep, restful sleep. So if you have lights on at night, you probably aren’t producing enough melatonin to get the restful sleep your body and mind require.“

This goes along with the philosophies FENG SHUI.  In FENG SHUI, we believe you should avoid a bedroom filled with electronics. We like to create a peaceful and restful place to sleep. We often suggest subtle colors, beautiful images and a bedroom free of clutter. In FENG SHUI, we often recommend removing any electronic devices from the bedroom.  Now here is new evidence that sleeping with electronic light can trigger Depression. 

Another great example of  Digital Detox, is a restaurant in Los Angeles that is offering a 5% discount if you turn off your cell phone while dining at this restaurant. http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2012/08/14/27876/los-angeles-restaurant-no-cell-incentive-discount/ Eva restaurant owner and Chef Mark Gold said; “For us, it’s really not about people disrupting other guests.  We want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again”. He stated; “It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.”  That is the point of this discount; it pushes us to connect with one another. Something as simple as this program allows us to live in the moment. It gives us the opportunity to enjoy our personal experiences and the special events of our lives.

I too, am guilty of this electronic obsession. There are times when I am so engrossed with checking my email, looking at my facebook page or pinning my favorite pins on Pinterest.  I now realize the effects electronics have, not just on my body, but my life. It is sometimes hard to find the balance between electronic devices and just living in the present.  I am learning how to live within certain boundaries and to become more aware of the hold these gadgets can have on me. Digital Detox is a practice that I will follow in order to find that perfect balance. I suggest that you might want to try a Digital Detox and see for yourself what a difference it can make in your life!

Are You Feeling Stuck?

Several people have been asking me lately how to deal with the negative energies that seem to be floating around the Universe. Here are some suggestions for clearing out the negative energy in your environment and around your body.

You might want to start with a salt bath. Salt is a powerful tool in removing unwanted energies, especially sea salt. Sea salt is a great tool to get rid of negative energy. Try to use sea salt from the Dead Sea, which is even more powerful. I have found Dead Sea Salts at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. These stores carry various spa items and sometimes they have high quality bath salts.  You can also sprinkle sea salt around the perimeter of your home. I do this to add a barrier of protection to my home. It is a nice shield of defense from unwanted energies.

 Next, you might want to smudge your environment with a smudge stick. See photo below for an example. A smudge stick is a bouquet of dried sage leaves tied together. Smudging is similar to burning incense in a church. It cleanses a space and makes the structure feel fresh and renewed. According to Ellen Whitehurst, “the American Indians taught us that to ‘smudge’ or smoke away stale and unproductive energies in our interiors would allow healthier, happier and more prosperous energies to come in from the outside, bringing opportunity and blessing alongside them”.

 When smudging your home, starting at the exterior of the front door.  Begin at the top of the door and move in a clockwise direction outlining the doorway three times. Then come inside and continue to work your way in a clockwise direction. Move along the perimeter of the home and pay close attention to the corners (that is where most of the negative energy collects). Go around each window, opening closets and cabinets. Keep at least two windows open during the process. You want to have a way for the negative energies to exit. Make sure you are in a good mood, the sun is shining and it is not raining. These all affect the cleansing process.

 I like to recite this mantra before I begin:  “I dedicate this purification practice and the chanting of this mantra (OM MANI PEHME HUM). To the harmony of my home, to the harmonious relationships between the members of my family and to our harmonious relationships, with outsiders so that we may all experience continued good health and happiness.” I continue to say this Tibetan mantra OM MANI PEHME HUM as I walk through my home. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum

 Make sure you wash your hands after smudging and discard the ashes in the earth. If you are unable to burn a smudge stick, you can also use smokeless sage. http://www.etsy.com/search?includes%5B%5D=tags&q=smokeless+smudge It is a spray liquid that I use daily to smudge myself and my space; to clear out unwanted energy.  I smudge daily because of the contact I have with various people and places. This is a great way to remove negative energy if you are unable to burn a smudge stick.

 In addition to smudging, I like to burn white candles. White candles are a simple but powerful way to ensure the white light of protection. White candles are a great way to protect yourself from negative energy. Picture a church and think about how many candles they have, also notice most of the candles are white. There is no mistake that white is the color of cleanliness and purity.  I love to burn white candles to insure my space is protected and safe from any unwanted energies.

 Recently, I read about this and find it to be very effective. Try soaking your feet in cold water right before you go to bed. The cold water drains toxins and impurities out of the body.  I love to soak my feet in the cool water because I find I am more relaxed and calm. I have noticed after my feet are cleansed, I have a more restful night of sleep.

 These are just a few ways to remove unwanted energy from our spaces and around our bodies. You don’t have to use all of them, but pick the one that seems comfortable. There are times when we feel drained and nothing seems to be going right. Well you might need to clear away some stagnant energies and allow for the new to flow in!

How Slow is your Home?

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You might be thinking… “What the heck is a Slow Home”?

A Slow Home is a home that is energy efficient, uses fewer resources to maintain and reduces our environmental impact. How good is it for the environment if we build a 4000 square foot home that is “green”? Using up the extra land and resources needed to build and live in is not energy efficient. According to John Brown, the founder of the Slow Home Movement, http://slowhomestudio.com/“a Slow Home is a house that has been designed to be more personally satisfying, environmentally responsible, and economically reasonable”. A slow home refers to a house that uses less, but in an efficient and thought out manner.

According to Sarah Rich of the WORLD CHANGING website, “a slow home is a way to take residential architecture back from the grip of the cookie cutter houses and instant neighborhoods to revive the presence of good design and empower individuals to create homes that will support and fulfill them for a long time.”  Slow homes are designed to be uncomplicated, comfortable and benefit the environment.

The difference between a Slow Home and a fast home is the quality of design and not necessarily the size, age or style. It is really about how the home is organized and how efficient it is. A Slow Home examines how each individual room works.  It utilizes the rooms effectively and does not waste any space in the home.  It comes down to the basic organization of the home and how efficiently the home is laid out.

In a fast house, the design is flawed. Rooms become a wasted use of space.  This in turn wastes natural resources to heat and cool the unused areas.  From a FENG SHUI perspective, a fast home does not have the proper flow of energy.  In FENG SHUI, we look for an ideal flow of energy.  We study how the energy flows throughout a particular space.  We want people to be able to walk through a home and feel comfortable. A fast home would have blockages of energy and dead spaces, making us feel anxious and nervous.

You can see for yourself how slow your home is by taking this quick and simple quiz. http://slowhomestudio.com/the-slow-home-test/The quiz is not designed to make you feel guilty for living in a fast home. The quiz is really intended for you to become aware of how you are living and how you are using natural resources.  The more you know and the more you become aware of your living habits, the more you can learn how to adjust and improve your living space. 

I took the quiz and discovered that I live in a moderately slow home. My home is around 1100 square feet and from the outside, it looks small. Yet, often people comment when they walk through my home, how much bigger it feels than it looks. I think one reason for this is how I use the space. Each room has a specific purpose and I try to keep that purpose in mind, when I am making any changes to the areas. I definitely try to keep clutter to a minimum and that helps make the space feel more expansive.  I like to have some empty areas so that the energy can flow smoothly around my home. I want my home to feel expansive even if it is small.  

Picture your home and think about how efficiently it is designed. Do the rooms have a specific purpose or could they be better utilized? Maybe there is another way to arrange your furnishings to make the space more effective. Once you are aware of the simple adjustments you can do to make your home a little slower, then you can start to slow down and enjoy your home. A Slow Home is designed to be comfortable and efficient. It does not have to be elaborate ~ just Livable!