What is Feng Shui

FengShui

Have you ever walked into a room and felt very uncomfortable or stifled? Or, on the other hand have you ever walked into a space and felt instantly at peace and relaxed? How we respond to a place is determined by how the energy flows through the area and around the objects that occupy that space.

In Chinese, Feng Shui translates to “wind and water”.This ancient tradition dates back thousands of years, and is based on designing and placing objects to create harmony and facilitate the flow of life force energy, or chi, within a space.

Over the centuries, several variations of the practice have evolved, but for most, the core principles are the same.  In modern times, Feng Shui influences have made their way to the West as well.  More people recognize the value of facilitating harmonious flow throughout the home and office. Doing so relieves stress, increases productivity and helps the individual feel empowered.

While auspicious placement of objects leads to growth, peace and prosperity, inauspicious placements can have unintended consequences, attracting negative energies like anger, bad luck and despair.  When the energy of a place is not flowing and harmonious, stagnation can also cause anxiety and fatigue.

In Feng Shui, it is important to balance the yin and yang energies (masculine and feminine) to bring harmony.  Bagua, the use of natural elements and the directions, also plays a prominent role.  Both are used in Feng Shui to form a personalized plan, based on one’s numbers.  Developing your plan according to your lucky directions can help draw positive and  repel negative energies.

In Feng Shui, all areas have a distinct energy pattern which can be altered to be more beneficial. In Chinese culture, architects and engineers often consider Feng Shui principles when planning and designing everything from buildings to furniture and even street addresses.

So, how can you incorporate some good Feng Shui into your space? Fortunately you don’t have to be a master to reap some of the benefits. There are several things you can do right now to help improve the Feng Shui of your home.

A great place to begin is clearing the entry way of any debris and clutter. This allows the energy to flow freely throughout the home.  Place an auspicious item like a Bamboo wind chime outside your door or in your garden area.  In Feng Shui, wind chimes are a very popular way to cleanse negative energies.  Bamboo is said to attract happiness and good health.

Place a lucky Elephant in your home or office as a power symbol.  In Feng Shui, an Elephant with its trunk up is said to draw abundance and good fortune. Place one in your entry way to welcome prosperity.

Start small and gradually introduce other elements a little at a time and see what a big difference it makes in how your space feels and functions.

 

Singing Bowls for Meditation

singingbowlNothing enhances meditation and promotes feelings of deep connection and serenity like the enchanting tones and vibrations of a singing bowl. These unique instruments have a rich history throughout many cultures and are still produced today using old-world techniques.

Tibetan Buddhists use singing bowls to signal the beginning and end of silent meditation. The Chinese Buddhists use the bowl while chanting and changing phrases. In Japan they are used during funeral rites and are found in every temple. Ancient Tibetan paintings and statues depict the use of these bowls, and it is believed the tradition dates back to approximately the 12th century AD.

Singing bowls may have originally been used for religious ceremonies and meditation rituals, but today they are used in a variety of ways.  They can be used as part of music or sound therapy, during Yoga, energy healing sessions, or simply for relaxation and pleasure.

You play a singing bowl by rubbing or striking a wooden mallet, often called a “dowel”, around the rim. A strike creates a bell like tone that reverberates. Rubbing the dowel striker along the edge creates a continuous humming or “singing” sound with various harmonic overtones.  Slowing the dowel down, produces a lower tone with slower vibrations, while increasing the speed elevates the pitch a bit and produces a faster vibration. Each of these will produce a different effect on the body and mind of the individual.


The tones produced by the bowl are believed to align the chakras and can be felt throughout the body. The hum of the bowl is unlike anything you’ve experienced before and it is simultaneously stimulating and calming. With a little practice, anyone can learn to play a singing bowl. It is quite simple and will allow you to find the tones and speed that resonate with you. You can hold the bowl in your hand to play it, or place it on a table top in a cushioned ring.

Singing bowls can be very plain and simple, or exquisite and ornate.  Bowls that are made by a process called “hand hammering” produce the clearest tones. This is the traditional method that has been used for centuries.  Many of these bowls closely resemble their antique counterparts and are painted or etched with intricate designs or mantras.   Machine lathed bowls are also common today; most of them are made from a form of Brass alloy.

A singing bowl can add beauty and function to your home or favorite sacred space. Add one to an altar, or use it during quiet time when you need to relieve stress and tension in the body.  There are styles to fit any personal taste and décor.

The Power of Selenite

SeleniteSelenite is not only beautiful, it is one of the most powerful and versatile stones to work with.  Its name comes from Selene, the Greek Goddess of the Moon.  It has a soft pearlescent glow similar to moonlight and it embodies many healing properties. Selenite, also known as “Gypsum”,  is found in many locations around the world.

Selenite is a multipurpose stone with a strong energetic vibration that is cleansing, purifying, protective and amplifying.  It is used to target and then diffuse energy, making it excellent for healing wands.  You can focus on a specific area of the body and direct healing energy straight to the area by touching the Selenite wand to the corresponding Chakra during energy work and healing sessions.

Many wear Selenite jewelry or carry a stone on them to help deflect negative energies, from other people and also from the environment.  If you work around electronic equipment for example, it gives off electromagnetic waves that can leave you feeling fatigued and foggy.  Selenite helps deflect these types of energies.  Place a stone, sculpture or other Selenite piece in your office to keep yourself feeling energized and focused throughout the day.

Selenite productsSelenite is also excellent for spiritual work. It’s associated with the Crown chakra, the energy center at the crown, that is said to connect us directly to higher Divine wisdom and understanding.  Use it during meditation to gain higher spiritual knowledge and awareness and assimilate that wisdom into your daily life.

Selenite is a soothing stone that helps relieve anxiety and tension in the body, while opening up the mind and making the user more alert.  This combination is great for meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga and other similar practices. When doubt or confusion set in, allow Selenite to help expand your awareness and open you up to new possibilities.

Selenite, being associated with the moon, also has many lunar qualities. It can connect us more closely with the subconscious and enhance the intuition. Use it when you need a deeper understanding of a situation or when you need to face a challenge with complete honesty and objectivity.  It can help illuminate self-sabotage and other blockages so that those issues can be addressed and released.

Selenite is also used to cleanse and charge other crystals and stones due its cleansing and amplifying properties.  Place your other stones on a slab of Selenite, or in a pyramid made from it.  You can also wear it with other stones in jewelry, or carry it with other stones to amplify their properties.  Use it with amethyst for a powerful healing and stress relieving combination, or place it with Onyx for grounding and strong spiritual protection.  It can literally be combined with any stone or crystal with great effect.

Selenite can also simply be enjoyed for its beauty.  It is a soft stone that is often carved into lamps, candle holders and other items.  It’s soft, moon-like glow is gorgeous and sparkly in the flicker of candlelight.  It will impart a magical feel to your home or sacred space and bring a welcome, peaceful energy.

Selenite Video

 

Creating a Zen Garden for Meditation

Zen-GardenImagine creating your own sacred space – a refuge where all tension and anxiety leaves the body and the mind is calm and relaxed almost immediately upon entry.  Zen gardens don’t have to be overly elaborate or complicated.  No matter the size of your space; you can create one that works for you.

Zen gardens can be prepared inside or outdoors, they can be held on a table top, or take up an entire garden space.  No matter what you have to work with, elements of these sacred spaces can be developed anywhere.

Zen Garden Item Ideas

Sand or gravel

Stones

Water Features

Greenery

Crystals

Art Glass

Candles

Lanterns

Soothing fabrics or cushions

Most zen gardens have sand or gravel as one of the elements.  Outdoors, this may be placed around the perimeter of the garden or around trees.  A special rake is used to form evenly spaced lines through the sand that flow gently around other items like rocks or trees.  A miniature version of this can be created indoors and placed on an altar or tabletop.  Build or purchase a small wooden box and fill it with sand or gravel and any other elements you desire. Keep the appearance neat by raking as often as needed to keep the lines clear and well defined.  They represent the flow of energy.

Involve as many natural elements as you can.  A soft glow from the flame of a candle or flicker of a lantern can help enhance meditation indoors.  Ensure your garden is in a location where the air flows freely.  Avoid “stuffy” rooms or locations that can stifle the natural flow of energy.

meditation gardenWater features are also very useful.  Water facilitates the flow of energy.  The sound of running water is soothing and helps calm the mind, ease emotions and bring greater focus.  Water fountains can be used indoor and outdoors.  Some choose to build waterfalls and fountains in their garden area.  This can be as simple or elaborate as your space allows.

Elements of nature are essential in a zen garden.  When we reconnect with the natural world, it is a grounding and healing experience.  Stones, green plants and other items help reestablish this connection.  Go for a walk and find river stones or rocks you can use from your local area and display them.  If you choose, add crystals and semi-precious stones that have healing properties.  Tourmaline and Quartz are fantastic for absorbing and transforming energies.

Include soft, soothing colors that calm the mind and relieve excitability.  Colors found in nature are ideal: blues, browns, and greens all connect us to various healing and grounding energies.  Avoid colors that are excessively bright or stimulating – soft and subdued are best for creating a meditative space.

When planning your Zen garden, whether it’s tiny or a large space, ensure that the location is one that promotes tranquility and is free from loud noise or other distractions.  Your zen garden should invoke feelings of peace the moment you set eyes on it.  It is a sanctuary designed to help you reconnect spiritually.

Wesak or Vesak Day – Buddhas Birthday

Wesak ritualWesak, or Vesak, Day is a major festival celebrated by all Buddhists throughout the world. Considered the most important of the Buddhist festivals, it is a time for celebrating the Buddha’s birthday.  In some traditions, the day also marks his enlightenment and subsequent passing from the physical plane.  For most, the celebration is held during the first full moon of May.

On Vesak day, Buddhist temples are decorated with flowers and flags.  Ceremonial rituals begin before dawn and last long into the night.  In the evening, candlelit processions line the streets. The aim of this holiday is to honor Lord Guatama Buddha by practicing his teachings of love and peace.

During this time, adherents perform “noble deeds”, making charitable donations or helping those in need.  It is important during this festival to focus on bringing happiness to others, and this joy is believed to be brought by performing charitable works.

In several cultures, a ceremony called “Bathing the Buddha” is also performed.  Water is poured over the shoulders of the Buddha statue as a reminder of purification from evil thoughts of greed and ignorance.  Gifts are often laid on the altar as offerings of gratitude and humility.

Homes are decorated, and gifts of food, candles and flowers are given to the Monks at local temples.  Chanting, meditation and prayer are one of the most important elements of the Wesak observation. Most temples offer prayer services and teachings of the Buddha throughout the festival.

Different countries add their own unique cultural elements to the ceremony.  In China, for example, dancing dragons are a part of the celebration.  In some countries, caged birds are released to symbolize the release of struggles and opening up to more joy. In Thailand, lanterns are made from paper and wood.

This festival offers the opportunity to share joy with others, while also engaging in personal, spiritual reflection.  It embodies reverence for Buddha, gratitude for life, but also serves as a reminder to honor and respect the process of enlightenment and spiritual growth that occur throughout one’s own lifetime.

Birth and rebirth are common themes in many faiths around the world.  It symbolizes a coming of age and sense of deeper meaning and responsibility.  It offers the opportunity to seek growth consciously and to look for new opportunities with an open mind and heart.

Use this time to honor and celebrate your own life.  Take time to reflect on the enlightenment you have attained on your own journey thus far.  What lessons can you use going forward to create a better life for yourself and for those around you?

Different Uses for a Sarong

Sarong as a skirtSarongs have long been popularized for their use as beach attire.  They make fantastic coverups and can be worn in a variety of ways.  Use them as a long flowy skirt, or even as a full cover dress.  There are several techniques you can learn to create different looks.

Their use isn’t limited to just the beach; they can also be worn as summer dresses, tops and even scarves. They are also fabulous for use as a light wrap or shawl when the nights are breezy or a bit chilly, but still too warm to pull out the heavy sweaters or jackets.  A good Sarong clip can also be used to add beauty and ensure a strong hold.

Sarongs are usually made of fast-drying material, making them convenient for use near the water.  Their generous size and beautiful patterns make them a great choice for other uses as well.  If you forget a beach towel; a sarong can be a good replacement for sunbathing or drying off in a pinch.  The material is very absorbent.

Sarongs with bright colors and beautiful patterns aren’t just fun to wear;  they can make great accessories for use around the home.  Use them as a table cover for a punch of bright color in a lackluster room.  Discreetly disguise shelves or other storage areas, or drape them on the back of sofas with matching throw pillows to enhance the furnishings in a room.  Spiritually themed sarongs also make great altar cloths and can add beauty to your sacred space.

Home décor and custom art can be pricey, but a vivid Sarong in your favorite theme can easily make an inexpensive, but highly impressive, wall tapestry.  They look great in entry ways, hallways and other areas that are often overlooked.  Frame it and hang it in glass, or add a dowel rod and hanging rope to give it an even fancier appearance. They can also be draped over shelves or tied around pillars and even hung over lamp shades. If it’s allowed, hang one in your office space to enhance your workspace.

If you’ve ever needed a curtain or covering for a cabinet,  small window, or storage area; a sarong can be a good choice here as well.  They are less expensive and just as lovely as most draperies, and can be a great solution for areas with unusual sizing. Sarongs can help ensure privacy when used as a curtain or window covering as well.

Due to their versatility, sarongs are a must pack item for any trip.  They can be folded and worn in numerous ways. Use your sarong as a bag to carry to the market; use it for a sheet or light blanket in hotels where you may not want your skin exposed to the bedding.  There are so many ways to be creative with Sarongs! They are so versatile, useful and comfortable that you may find you end up owning several in many different styles and colors.

sarong video

Spiritual Jewelry for Protection

protection jewelryJewelry serves many purposes. It is a form of art and personal expression. It can be used to simply accent an outfit, or for a functional purpose. Jewelry has been used for spiritual protection in numerous cultures throughout history. Some well known examples are “evil eye” talismans, pendants created with natural crystal and stones and Native American ghost beads. There are numerous possibilities and you can find a piece of protective jewelry to reflect your unique style.

 

Here’s a look at some of today’s most popular protective symbols used in jewelry and the history behind it that has kept it timeless.

Fatima Hand: This symbol, also known as the “Hamsa Hand”, is depicted as an upright hand, often with an eye in the center of the palm. This talisman has a rich historical tradition in both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The five fingers are said to represent the five pillars of Islam or the five books of the Torah. The eye at the center represents the “evil eye” – the hand guards against the effects of this evil or negativity. These beautiful talismans may be decorated in a variety of styles and colors.

 Evil Eye: This is another widely recognized symbol of protection that has ties to the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Central America. Although the myth of the symbol varies from culture to culture, the basic premise is the same. The evil eye is a look given to inflict harm. In superstition, it is said that the gaze of the evil eye holds so much power it can actually bring destruction to the life of the target. To remain safe from this influence, it is necessary to ward off its power. This can be done with talismans, ritual cleansing and through other forms of spiritual purification.

 Ankh: This is another symbol steeped in tradition throughout a variety of cultures. It has its roots in ancient Egypt. The top hoop represents immortality and everlasting life. The middle section is the protection of the soul and barrier against evil, while the bottom section represents the golden path of life or path of righteousness one must obtain to lead a successful life.

 Pentagram: This is another symbol that has a long history in many traditions. Due to its association with Satanism, it is often misunderstood and feared, however it is a powerful symbol. Today, it is most popular among Wiccans and Pagans. The 5 points show the connection between spirit and the elements Earth, air, fire and water. The circle enclosing all of them represents infinity. The Pentagram protects against negative energy and shields the wearer and the home.

Stones and Crystals: Stones and crystals can be made into shaped pendants, or points can be wire wrapped and strung on necklaces with other stones. Every stone and crystal has its own unique properties, making them an ideal choice for personal customization. Perhaps you want a stone that repels negative energy, or maybe you need one that enhances positive energy or brings clarity of thought or reduces stress and anxiety. Whatever the need, you can find stones that will meet them.

One of the most widely recognized is the Quartz Crystal. This powerful stone has a range of protective properties. It is extremely versatile and can absorb energies, transform them, and amplify positive energies. It also magnifies the effects of any other stones it is worn with.

Other popular protective stones used to create stunning pieces of jewelry include tiger’s eye, hematite, citrine, jade, smoke quartz, tourmoline and lapis lazuli.

 Protective jewelry is a great way to keep your energy clear and balanced throughout the day. It also serves as a psychological reminder to be mindful of where you direct your energies, and how you allow the energy of others to impact you. It can help you remember to form healthy boundaries in life and to respect your own limits.

 

 

Recycling and Reducing Waste in the Workplace

Recycling help our planet

Recycling help our planet

Businesses that are fast, efficient and organized thrive in the modern world. Unfortunately, meeting the demands of consumers can lead to the creation of substantial amounts of waste. The overuse of energy and resources impacts not only the environment, but company profits as well.  When businesses work to reduce waste, everyone benefits.

 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, up to 90% of workplace waste is paper.  This means that businesses have a great opportunity to give back to their communities by simply recycling just this one resource.  Fortunately, more and more businesses are recognizing the importance and value of recycling, leading to the implementation of policies designed to reduce waste.

Before implementing a recycling program, it’s important to consider all the ways to reduce waste.  Doing both simultaneously helps develop a more efficient business.  There are several simple techniques that can help in this endeavor.

Print only what you need. Make use of email and programs like Google Drive to share information among co-workers without the need for excessive memos and handouts.  When you do print;use both sides of the paper.

Make use of ceramic or metal coffee mugs and reusable containers for snacks and coffee breaks.  If it’s feasible, consider a compost bin or other way to reuse things like food scraps.  Use this to fertilize the grounds.

Reuse items when possible. Use shipping boxes to store items and reuse scrap paper for taking messages or leaving notes.

Always turn off lights, computers and other equipment when it isn’t in use.  “Sleep mode” still consumes a large amount of electricity over time.

Eliminate waste by using items like paper clips instead of staples.  Use crumpled paper instead of bubble wrap for sending out packages.  This eliminates the need to purchase unnecessary office supplies.  Consider all other areas where you can find permanent or reusable solutions.

Companies that go green serve as great examples in the community and their efforts are often mirrored by other organizations.  Many customers are more inclined to support businesses that demonstrate environmental awareness and conscientious practices.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

A recycling program is also a great way to boost morale in the workplace, bringing people together for a common cause. It feels good to know you are doing something that benefits everyone around you.  Cooperation, teamwork and even some friendly competition can be fostered with a good recycling program.

Implementing a workplace recycling program doesn’t have to be complicated.  There are several simple things any business can implement and in our next post, we’ll discuss how to start a successful campaign in your business.

Incense for Healing

Incense Burning Incense is produced with a variety of plant based ingredients including barks, leaves, resins, roots and essential oils.  Throughout history, plants and their essential oils have been used to facilitate healing on all levels – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Incense is also used in many traditions to purify the energy of a space, removing negative energies that can further fuel illness.

Purifying smoke has been used since ancient times to send messages to the Gods and to welcome the presence of the Divine.  There are several Bible references regarding the use of incense and anointing with oil for healing purposes.  These practices have continued into our modern era for good reason.

The fragrant smoke of incense can enhance meditations, promoting the state of mind required to guide healing energies intuitively to where they are needed in the body.  Incense can also be used together with other items to enhance the healing effect.

Types of Healing Incense

Use the following types of incense to promote healing on all levels: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

Amber

Carnation

Cedar

Cinnamon

Citron

Cypress

Eucalyptus

Gardenia

Honeysuckle

Juniper

Lavender

Sage

Sandalwood

Thyme

Violet

Healing Practices with Incense

There are several ways to incorporate incense into a healing ritual. The techniques are simple enough that anyone can do them.

Purifying Baths

One of the simplest ways to detox and purify the body is to soak in a purifying bath.  This is another ritual with a rich history in a variety of cultures.  Ritualistic baths not only cleanse the body and help draw out toxins, they also soothe the mind and soul.

Use Himalayan salt or Epsom salts in the water to draw out impurities and toxins through the skin and to cleanse the aura. You can also add your favorite herbal bath tea.   As you soak for 20 minutes, burn your favorite healing incense nearby, allowing the smoke to cleanse the area and to help induce a deeply relaxed state that can relieve stress and facilitate healing.

Healing Meditations & Energy Work

Meditating on the Chakras and learning to cleanse and balance them is a great way to bring healing on multiple levels.  Each of the 7 major chakras are linked to various locations throughout the body.  When you cleanse and balance the chakras, it also promotes physical healing.

There are specialty incense bundles available that can assist in working with chakras.  Each chakra point has its own corresponding type of incense.  Burn a stick during chakra cleansing meditations or Reiki sessions to facilitate the flow of healing energy throughout the energy body.  Enhance the effect by adding chakra stones or other tools to your practice.

Stress Relief

Stress is often at the heart of many conditions and ailments like headaches, stiffness, aches and general feelings of malaise.  The right type of incense can instantly relieve stress and relax the body.  On a cold day, toss a bit of wood incense into the fire to release soothing fragrance throughout the area.  Place a cone or stick on a pretty holder and burn it whenever and wherever you need to feel relaxed.  Close your eyes and let the fragrance help you relax and unwind.

Releasing stress is the key to health and longevity.  Studies have proven that there is a direct link between high,  chronic stress levels and life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.  Unfortunately, our hectic modern lifestyles lend themselves to this dangerous chronic stress, but the effects can be undone by taking time regularly to relax and regroup.

Using Sage for Spring Cleansing

As Spring arrives, it carries with it the spirit of renewal as new life emerges from the deep sleep of Winter.  Spring tends to find many people more energized and eager to welcome renewal into their own lives as well.  In order to do this, it is important to remove old, stagnant energies to make way for new opportunities to enter.

Often, people engage in Spring cleaning rituals.  Once the weather is warm, windows are opened and fresh air is let in.  Deep cleaning brings a feeling of freshness.  Spiritually, it is a good time to engage in a similar practice.  Smudging with sage can help draw out stagnant, negative energies and clear the home, office or sacred space.  Spiritual cleansing will raise the energetic vibration of any space, enhancing that enthusiastic Spring energy.

 

smudging1How to Smudge

For those new to the practice, the idea of smudging may be intimidating, but rest assured it is a safe practice that doesn’t have to be overly complicated.  Smudging is an ancient and sacred ritual that has been used for centuries.  Approach the process with the respect it deserves.  Take your time and be thorough in your practice.

Even blissfully happy homes can accumulate stagnant energies.  This is especially true after long winters, where people spend a lot of time cooped up and shut in tight.  Even your work space can be smudged, but make sure you do this during off hours and that you have permission of course.

Supplies you will need include a sage smudge stick, a lighter or matches, a candle, and a flame proof container. You can also use a feather to push the smoke, but this is optional.  To start, gather your supplies and offer a prayer of gratitude and protection – or whatever suits you according to your belief system.

Light the candle and focus your energy and then light the tip of your smudge stick.  White candles are a good choice because they symbolize purity.  Wave the stick until it begins to gently smolder.  You don’t want it to be set on fire. If it should catch, blow out the flame.  The idea is to have it smolder just enough to produce gentle smoke.

Keep your smudge stick over your fire proof container at all times.  You may want to keep a lighter with you to relight the stick if it goes completely out.  If another person is participating in the ceremony with you; have them carry the candle.

Using a feather or your hand, go clockwise around the home starting at the front door and wave the smoke gently into the corners of each room.  Make your way around to all rooms in the home and be sure to also include closets, garages, basements and storage rooms.

Make your way all the way around to where you started and then extinguish your smudge stick.  You can allow the candle to continue to burn to further purify the home and welcome in positive energy.