Perhaps you’ve noticed that the idea of gratitude is a frequent topic these days. More and more people are recognizing the benefits of this simple act. Gratitude can help us be happier and more content. When we pause for a moment, it doesn’t take long to recognize our many blessings. Sometimes gratitude is as simple as appreciating a solitary walk with the sun shining brightly (something that I’ve recently appreciated more than ever), or appreciating a Zen moment with a friend.
Once gratitude becomes habitual, happiness (meaning a general sense of contentment) is always around you. You will know when you have made gratitude a habit because it will be effortless. Even during difficult times, you will not forget your many blessings. When we are grateful, we are steady, content, even and balanced. These attributes will be your foundation and will guide you in everything that you do. Gratefulness will never leave you.
One of my tenets in life is that if you want to accomplish something you actually have to concentrate on that idea! You only need to do two things if you want to be successful in anything. Number one, make the decision about a goal you have and number two, be absolutely stubborn about that first decision. When you continually think about a goal, you are far more likely to achieve that goal than if you just think about it once in a while. It sounds obvious but so often we approach things with a minimal amount of concentrated effort and hope that things will magically work out. As a general rule in life, things don’t usually work like that. Many of us have spent years daydreaming. Imagine if
we spent an equal amount of time focusing on a goal.
This leads me to the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is being present with our thoughts. When being mindful, we focus, right now, on something specific. If we are mindful, we stay focused on our goals. Our mindfulness then becomes a habit and this is when we start to move directly towards accomplishing our goal. Once we experience the power of mindfulness it becomes easier and easier to do. When we are mindful we are being intentional with our lives. And when we are intentional, things start to happen and goals become realized.
One definition of Feng shui is the act of taking responsibility for how you feel. You put the things you have surrounded yourself with in your home there intentionally. This is being personally responsible for how you feel. Why not take a few of our personal items with us when we travel to help us feel more integrated to our new, temporary environment, the hotel room? The Feng shui travel kit is a simple idea but has great personal impact. I always take a Feng shui travel kit even if I am only in a hotel for one night.When you travel, take three or four personal things along with you from your home, that are special to you. Place them in your hotel room as soon as you arrive. You will automatically feel more at ease and relaxed. For example, the number one thing on my list is incense. Our sense of smell is very powerful. Incense helps me retain that connection to my sense of home because it smells like home! I’ll take a small picture of my wife and me, a special rock from my rock collection to set on the dresser and perhaps my favorite fountain pen. That’s all. But these few things help me feel connected to myself because it connects me to my home.
The other thing I do (this is optional but it is part of my routine) when I arrive to my hotel room is clear the predecessor energy. Hundreds of people have stayed in this same hotel room and it is logical to assume that some of the energies that have occupied this room have not been of a higher vibration. There are various ways to clear predecessor energy but one easy thing to do is to use your incense that you brought along. Light the incense and walk around the room while saying “may all negative energies now be cleared”. After doing this you will feel very centered in your temporary dwelling.
Once you use your personal Feng shui kit for the very first time you’ll find it hard to believe that you never did this before. It makes so much sense!
Ancient shamans and medicine men and women prescribed remedies for their villagers. They were very knowledgeable in prescribing the medicines of their time, herbal in nature. But in addition to the medicine, they also prescribed a mantra and a body movement for the patient. The mantra and body movement was designed specifically for the patient. So a complete medical prescription from your village medicine woman could look
something like this:
· Take herbal medicine at morning and night.
· Chant mantra 3x a day for
five minutes each.
· Do body movement 2x a day for half an hour each.
This was a holistic way to approach health, a complete system of alignment. Thousands of years later western medicine is only warming up to the idea of holistic health, advancing ever so slowly. It’s quite a stretch to consider the idea of our general health practitioner offering us a mantra and body movement in addition to our prescribed medicine. However, we can take up this responsibility on our own. For example, Qigong is a great example of a system of alignment and very similar to the ancient medical model. Qigong uses three components; body motion, breath and Yi. Yi is our mental attitudes, visualization and our intentions.
In these modern times we are getting smarter, faster than ever before. We now know that we have much more power over our lives than previously thought. Although our modern system of medicine does not embrace the ancient holistic model, we can make up this difference. We can be very proactive in developing our own personal health strategy.
The fact is, you only need 2 or 3 routines. Having 2 or 3 routines that you do over and over will provide you all of the benefits that Qigong has to offer. For me, as a teacher and someone who is personally invested in Qigong, I have 12 routines (normally a routine includes 8 or 9 forms) that I have honed down and memorized. I will continue to pick up a routine here and there over the years as I feel necessary but I am very comfortable having the 12 routines that I currently use. In addition of course, I have many stand-alone Qigong forms, breathing techniques, warm up exercises, self massage techniques, acupressure concepts and Qigong philosophy that I share
with my students.
Initially I felt that I needed to learn a lot of routines but now I know that the effectiveness in Qigong doesn't lie in the amount of routines a person knows, but in the way a person does Qigong practice. The key in addition to body movements and breathing is the Yi. The Yi means your mental belief systems, your thoughts (positive or negative), the visualizations you carry about yourself, etc. How do you engage the YI? You can engage the Yi in your practice by holding positive thoughts, saying affirmations, mantras, holding positive visualizations OR you quiet the mind and enter the "zone" of no-mind. Either way is effective to gain the benefits of Qigong.
So, don't worry about how many routines you know! Just find 2 or 3 that feel good to you and go with it. If the time comes when you want to pick another routine, you will.
One final thought...when you engage the slow body motions, the deep full breathing and the Yi, something magical happens to the human body...natural internal medicine is produced! You have literally turned on the medicine inside your body...you are healing. This is the magic of Qigong practice and the reason why you don't need many many Qigong routines.
My final thought is...just practice...yes,
Many westerners have trouble embracing eastern oriented holistic health systems and concepts. However progress is definitely being made. More and more people are beginning to recognize that it is important to be proactive with their health and life style choices. It sounds so obvious (and we all pretty much know this) but it is just now that we are getting serious about our health and recognizing our own empowerment.
In the medical health care system there are more integrative doctors now and more integrative medical treatments. So this integration is very encouraging to see. Westerners understandably get hung up on terms like Feng shui, Acupuncture, Qigong, Yoga (yes, even yoga sounds weird to some people) Tai chi, Reiki,
Twi na and more. But the great leveler (the internet) is helping to close the gap. Through the internet more and more people are coming together quickly to form communities of holistic health, making it more accessible and understandable at the speed of now! This is one of the huge upsides to technology. We are all getting smarter because of this amazing thing called Google. Any moment we have a question or need to know the spelling of a particular word, we can find those answers NOW! I heard a comedian say that it’s so different now in the modern world, we’re smarter than ever before. Before the internet we all just stayed stupid! Funny and true!
Firstly however, all of these colorful terms are a product of Chinese culture with the exception of Reiki, which originates from Japan. The Chinese people like colorful terms but once we know that the term Green Dragon simply refers to a protective mountain range on the left side of a property (Feng shui terminology), we realize that there’s no reason to get in a fluster. And once we realize that Qigong is a simple alignment system of syncing up slow body motions with breath and with positive thinking, we again realize that there is no reason to get all in a fluster.
Secondly, any foreign word and especially a word of an eastern language origin, sounds mysterious and threatening to us westerners and so we shy away from these ideas. I think we would be labeled as xenoglossophobia. Look that one up on Google!
Westerners are seeing more and more westerners participate in holistic practices and as a result, more of us are letting our guards down. So we too are starting to participate. We are in the midst of a great education process and that’s all that it takes to break down these barriers.
When I do Feng shui consulting and lectures, Qigong workshops and Mindfulness meditation sessions it is so awesome to see people connecting with these ideas and getting excited about self-empowerment. And I’ve also noticed that they (including a lot of older adults) are enjoying learning something new that they can apply in their lives.
Universally, salt is seen as a healing agent. The use of salt and salt water can be traced back to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, all of whom used it to treat cuts, wounds and skin irritations. Today, thousands of years later, a concentrated form of salt water called saline is routinely used in medicine. Saline is sterile.
What is sea salt? Sea salt, unlike the refined commercial product in your saltshaker, retains its natural minerals, which have a neutralizing effect on acids in the body. Sea salt offers health benefits that commercially refined salt can’t offer.
Salt water helps to clean and promote healing by a process called osmosis. Salt forces the liquid in cells to move out of the body when it comes in contact with them, taking the bacteria with them. If you’ve spent time swimming in the ocean while having some small cuts and abrasions, no doubt you have noticed your skin to dry out and heal rather quickly. Ocean water contains a high amount of salt but it also contains bacteria and other substances. Usually, ocean water, although not being sterile, poses no serious health threat.
Salt is effective in treating dermatitis, inflamed tissue, rashes, eczema, acne, poison ivy / oak / sumac, eases aching joints and muscles.
You may be wondering about the health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps. There is currently no evidence to support positive health benefits related to Himalayan salt lamps. While they are a wonderful addition to a room and help create a relaxing atmosphere, there is little evidence to suggest they do much else. This being said however, if you believe that a salt lamp has healing power, so it is. The old placebo effect is still in effect! Intention is a very powerful tool.
A final tidbit: Epsom Salt is a misnomer. Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate. Salt is sodium chloride.
Why is it that we humans feel the most comfortable in a space that is rectangular and more specifically, a rectangle with the dimensions of the Golden Ratio, also referred to by other colorful names such as Golden Mean, Golden Number and the Divine Proportion. I don’t know why we humans feel this way about this specific rectangular space but we do.
As a Feng shui consultant I know that the Earth element is represented by a square and rectangle, which represents stability. Perhaps the answer is this simple; we feel
the most stable and secure in a rectangular designed space.
You may be familiar with the yellow rectangle on the cover of the magazine National Geographic. This yellow rectangle is proportioned to the Golden Ratio. Toyota and Pepsi have used the golden ratio to help balance their logos. Toyota uses the golden ratio to balance the ovals within their logo and Pepsi uses it to balance the circles in theirs.
Architects,Interior designers, Feng shui
consultants and land developers make use of the Golden Ratio. We don’t always have to know the why behind an idea.
The fact that we like it is all that
So how do we determine the dimensions for this special rectangle? It is very simple to do! It involves using a special number that mathematicians call Phi, 1.618. Phi is actually much longer than this but it is agreed that 1.618 is the essence of Phi. First, determine how wide you want your rectangle to be. Now take this width and multiply it by 1.618. This answer (the product) is your length of the rectangle.
For fun, check your living room to see how close it is to the Golden Ratio rectangle. For example, if your living room is 12 feet wide, take 12 x 1.618 to determine the length. 12 x 1.618 = 19.416. In this example, the living room length should be 19.416 feet or about 19 ½ feet.
I did the calculation for my living room and found that it was 10 inches longer than the Golden Ratio. But before I did the calculation, I did think that it was pretty close. To me, this is the point of fascination; we naturally sense the dimensions of the Golden Ratio.
Let’s look at a practical application of the Golden Ratio. If a rectangular room that is a lot longer than the Golden Ratio length dimension, the use of furniture and area carpets can be used to demarcate the appropriate rectangle dimension without changing the structural size of the room. Big hotels often employ this technique in the lobby area. Just having an awareness of an idea has it’s own rewards, making life interesting. Many times this is all that we need. Sometimes we do want to go deeper. If you want to go deeper into the science and mathematics regarding the Golden Ratio, of course do some youtube and google searches.
Wellness is composed of 5 elements: exercise, diet, water, sleep and meditation. In this article I want to focus on
the water element.
The weight of an adult body is comprised of up to 60% water. Although the human body can go 3 -4 weeks without food, the human body can only go about a week without water. We lose water each day through urination, sweat and even through breathing. Consequently hydration is vital to maintain the body’s proper water levels. Let’s look at some of the health benefits of water.
· It keeps your skin hydrated, helping to
keep it supple
· It is vital for proper kidney function
· Hydration promotes cartilage health by keeping your joints lubricated, which in turn leads to less inflammation and
pain in the joints
· Hydration aids the digestive process, combating constipation, heartburn and digestive problems.
In short, water helps the body’s efficiency on all levels. Many people think that drinking other liquids substitute for water. This is true to some degree; water is a part of these drinks however there are other substances that are included in these drinks such as sugars, caffeine and sodium (salt), typical in many sports drinks. I like to say, drinking water is drinking pure life.
Yes, you should drink water every day! Most of us have heard the admonition of drinking 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That is a reasonable goal. However, if your water intake is a little less than 8 glasses a day, that’s ok, you may not need this amount. If you are not sure if you are drinking enough water per day, check your urine. If your urine is normally clear or light yellow, you are drinking enough water. If your urine is consistently dark yellow or amber color, you most likely are dehydrated. If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are a few tips that can help:
· When at a restaurant, make it a habit to drink the water that is served.
· If you can’t deal with the plain taste of water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime.
· If you have trouble remembering to drink water or find that drinking water is a hassle for whatever reason, grab a bottle of water before hopping in the car for that hour commute (this is one of my habits). Road time is a perfect time to hydrate because there’s not much else to do when you are in the car for an hour.
I’m always an advocate for being realistic because I know that life is real and never perfect. Sometimes we do stop exercising, ignore our diets, etc. If you miss a day once in a while (or month!!) it’s ok. Just get back into the flow again. As long as we are tending to these elements of health, we are being proactive in regards to our wellness. Imagine tending to all five elements of our wellness simultaneously. Now that would be a feeling of health empowerment!
The Cosmic Trinity is one of those eastern terms that confuses and mystifies us Americans. Both words, cosmic and trinity are quick to raise the eyebrow of our wary western minds. We kind of tilt our head to the side like a dog that tilts his head to the side when asked a question. An important thing to keep in mind is that Chinese and other eastern cultures love to use colorful language. For example, Green Dragon is a Feng shui term that simply means the mountains on the left side of your property. For us Americans, we would just say mountains on the left.
In Feng shui, the term Cosmic Trinity refers to three concepts that comprise a person’s life:
Heaven luck, human luck and Feng shui.
· Heaven Luck refers to our birth circumstances. For example, were you born into a lower, middle or upper class income family? Did you acquire good genetics from your family’s genetic line? What cultural assets were you born into? None of us have control over these things.
· Human Luck is all about the ability to make our own choices. Most of us can choose to get an education. We can make the choice to be persistent and succeed. We can choose to wear clothes that reflect the image we want to project. Human luck then, is about us taking responsibility for our lives.
· Feng shui comprises the final 33%. How do we balance the energies of our external environment (our property) and our internal environment (our home)? For example, does the energy that surrounds our property invite people in or keep people at bay? Or in regards to the home, is the energy in the living room blocked because the room is so full of stuff?
Feng shui seeks to balance our living spaces so that our lives can flow freely.
According to Feng shui, we do have much control of our lives, 66%. This is very encouraging! If a person’s Heaven Luck has not been ideal, Feng shui seeks to off-set that Heaven Luck deficit by optimizing the Human luck and Feng shui aspects of our lives. The Cosmic Trinity is a neat concept. We in the west could simply call it the 33% Rule.
Great works of art punctuate the predictable in our lives. When we resonate with a great painting at an art gallery, it is like finding a diamond in the rough. The first thing we do is stop thinking and just look. Being so transfixed provides a clue to the answer of the question, what is the purpose of art? The quick, go-to answer is that the purpose of art is to tell a story or to convey a feeling. But ten people could view a piece of art and walk away with ten different feelings. So who got it right? Is art then really about feelings? It may or may not be.
I believe that the purpose of art including the natural wonders of the world (and so much more) is to cause us to pause. When we pause, we experience life in the present moment. When we are present in the moment, our egos are sidelined, enabling us to think of something other than ourselves. Since we are egocentric beings, having a break from ourselves is like a breath of fresh air. We somehow sense that life is larger than just us. This is why we feel so satisfied after viewing a beautiful work of art or experiencing the beauty of the ocean.
Ultimately art is like medicine for the soul, it helps to keep us balanced. This is the purpose of art.
Feng shui operates on the idea of being intentional with our living environments. What does intentional mean? It means that we have control of our living spaces. We can choose, for example, to live in an uncluttered space, allowing energy to flow freely throughout our homes. We can fix things that do not work as they should such as doors that don’t close properly, a wall that completely closes in a space which blocks energy from flowing freely, a leaky faucet and so much more. When energy flows freely, abundance, opportunities and wealth of all types flows into our lives.
Feng shui operates on every level of life: career, relationships, health, wealth, family, spirituality, creativity, purpose in life and more. Feng shi teaches us that life doesn’t just happen to us. Through mindfulness, we have far more power over our lives than we ever dreamed. The exciting thing is, is that all we have to do is make the decision that, yes, we are going to be intentional with our lives. Once this decision is made, wonderful things begin happening in our lives.
Purchase a couple of feng shui books to begin understanding how this incredible science of daily living works. Or hire a Feng shui consultant to evaluate your property and home. Hiring a Feng shui consultant is a personal investment in the quality of life and family. We invest in the financial side of our lives, which is so very important, and we also need to invest in our personal lives.
Here are a few excellent Feng Shui book recommendations:
1) The Western Guide To Feng Shui (Terah Kathryn Collins)
2) Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui (Karen Kingston)
3) Feng Shui Your Life (Jayme Barrett)
Breathing through the nose is very beneficial for our general health. When we breathe fully through the nose we activate our body’s immune system, which translates into having fewer colds and becoming sick less often.
The air we take in through the nose is also warmed and humidified before reaching the lungs. This warm, humidified air nurtures the body. In contrast, when breathing through the mouth, the air is cooler and drier and therefore not as soothing to the body.
Breathing deeply also oxygenates the body by distributing greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body system. A good habit is to oxygenate your body regularly. You can easily do this when you are out for a walk. Take in a full breath through the nose, hold it in as you take five steps and then exhale. Repeat once more. It’s that simple!
Practices like Qigong, Tai Chi and yoga emphasize deep breathing through the nose. This type of breathing is one of the reasons these health modalities are so beneficial.
We need a spiritual practice in our lives to bring us back to center…to reset the dial, so to speak. Our lives are so nonstop crazy busy. We just don’t stop. At some point we do recognize that we do need to slow down. But why wear yourself out until you reach that point? We can operate much more optimally when we consistently take care
A spiritual practice can mean many things including taking long quiet walks, meditation (any kind of meditation), yoga, Qigong, taking time to be by yourself and enjoy a quiet cup of tea while staring out the window…you get the idea. These types of spiritual things help to calm the mind and body. When the mind and body are calmed simultaneously, we recharge. It truly is this simple.
Life opens up in unexpected ways when we take the time to bring ourselves back in alignment.
Don’t let the things you can’t do stop you from doing the things you can do. So many times we allow a small thing (something we don’t know how to do or quite understand) to stop us from doing the main concept that we really do understand how to do. It’s the all or nothing mindset.
We may understand 95% of the idea, but we allow the 5% sticking point to block us from doing the idea at all. As in language, if there is a word or idea that you are having a difficult time conveying, simply find another way of saying the same thing. There is rarely a situation where there is only one way to say or write something.
When we decide to do what we can do despite the small obstacle, many times we find in the end, the answer to that obstacle. And even if we never found the answer and had to use that alternative approach through that obstacle, we accomplished the goal. Usually winning the war is more important than winning every battle.
This mindset can be applied to anything from completing an assignment, to writing a letter, devising business plan to planning a vacation itinerary. Focusing on what can be done will lead us to the goal.
Our subconscious minds are constantly picking up non-verbal cues, impressions and stimuli every minute of our lives. These subconscious impressions are affecting us all day long, each and every day! Our subconscious minds identify these subtle messages and act upon them without realizing where these ideas came from. It is for this reason that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has banned subliminal messaging in television commercials). Subliminal messages are that powerful.
Getting back to Feng Shui, this is why our home environments matter. The way we arrange our belongings, the degree to which we accumulate things, the physical things that we surround ourselves with and more, all make a subtle (subliminal) impact on us each and every day
of our lives.
Therefore, if we intentionally arrange the things in our homes to our personal benefit and intentionally control the flow of positive energy in our homes, we change the subliminal messaging to our total benefit.
This is living life intentionally...creating our own reality. This is incredible!
In Feng shui, the front door is known as the mouth of chi, the Chinese word for energy. The front door area sets the tone for the entire home. This area, right in front of the front door, is known as the exterior Bright Hall. The Bright Hall should be spacious, clear and open to enable the chi from the environment to enter your home. What does your Bright Hall project to the world? Does your Bright Hall allow chi to enter
The other Bright Hall is on the interior, right inside the front door. This interior Bright Hall also needs to be clear, clean and spacious if possible. The interior Bright Hall enables chi to collect and then flow throughout
This is the beginning of Feng shui. I can help you perfect the flow of energy throughout your entire home enabling you to live and experience a vibrant life! Head on over to the Contact page. Text,
e-mail or call. I will be happy to
talk with you.
How can we develop a sense of chi
in our homes?
We have all manipulated energy but perhaps haven’t thought of it from this Feng shui perspective. Maybe we’ve moved a lounge chair to a different location in the living room and we say, wow, the room feels entirely different!
By doing something like this, we are getting a sense of how chi operates.
Try moving 10 items (very small items or large items) around in your office, for example, and notice how different the energy feels. By doing this, you have consciously manipulated chi.
So it doesn’t matter if we move a plant to a different location or remove a wall that separates your kitchen from your dining room, enabling these spaces to completely open up…you are shifting the energy, (the chi) in your environment and this does make a difference
as to how you feel!
The take-away is this:
Feng shui is all about “how you feel” and more specifically, about the specific things in your environment that cause you to feel a certain way. This is why Feng shui matters.
Why does this photo feel good? It is because the five elements are represented in this photo. The five elements are: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. The ancient Chinese feng shui sages figured out that when the five elements are represented in our living spaces, we somehow feel more comfortable than we would if there were less than five elements represented. The five elements can be represented in three ways: either by the element itself (for example Fire, such as a candle flame or the fire from a fireplace), a shape representing the element (cone or triangular shape represent Fire) or the color that represents the element (red and purple colors represent Fire). These three approaches, to representing the elements, allow much latitude in incorporating the five elements in our living spaces.
The elements are also associated with our personality type or a combination of more than one element.FIRE - The Manifestor: extroverted, fun, EARTH - The Peacemaker: grounded, dependable METAL - The Perfectionist: organizers, detail oriented WATER - The Philosopher: inward, spiritual WOOD - The Pioneer: inventers, visionaries
As an example, of how this may translate into your practical life, would be if you are a wood personality type and you are at a restaurant with a predominately metal color scheme, you would likely feel uncomfortable. The reason being is that the metal element is the element that controls the wood element. As a result, this would not likely be one of your favorite restaurants because of this direct elemental imbalance.
The five elements are a fact of life and do affect us on multiple levels. If we are aware of the interplay of the elements, we are able to consciously manipulate the elements to work in our favor. 5 Element theory is just another way, if we are aware, that we can have more control over our environment and the way we feel.
An excellent book on the 5 Elements is entitled, “Decorating with The Five Elements of Feng Shui” by Tisha Morris.
Qigong is flourishing more and more throughout the United States. Qigong practice, as well as Yoga, Tai chi and Reiki
are no longer relegated to small groups of people here and there that appreciate holistic health modalities. Take a look at where Qigong is flourishing and being supported right now
· American Hospital Association
· Mayo Clinic
· Catholic Health Association
· Select churches of various denominations
· Select Primary and Secondary Education
· National Council on Aging
· Navy Seals**
· The United Way
· Select Retirement Home facilities
· Veterans Administration Hospitals
**Btw, the Navy Seals don't do anything that is not effective! Now that's saying something!