Your personal space can become your main support in connecting with true happiness.
Are you living a life with purpose? Or is there a dullness to your life – working 9 to 5, sleeping in on Saturday, and spending most of your spare time planning or dreaming about your next holiday?
We all say we want to be happy, but how long can external gratifications keep us happy? A minute, an hour, a day? Six months, 12 months?
We all say we want to be happy, but how often we choose to let negative feelings take over our minds, sometimes for hours, or even days. Throughout a single day we may engage in anger, envy, worry, doubt, sometimes I dare say, even ill-will. We don’t realise that we are choosing these states. Without awareness, these negativities control us. With awareness, we can control and then transform them.
True happiness, the wise people have said many times, arrives when we cultivate our good qualities in each moment. If we want to harvest mangoes we need to plant mango trees. If we want to be happy we need to bring loving awareness to our moments.
Is it possible to create a space that promotes mindfulness?
Imagine being able to live and work in an environment that raises your awareness. To live in an environment that supports mindfulness, that really allows you to reconnect with love, compassion, gratitude, acceptance, generosity, and friendship. An environment that promotes fun, creativity, joy, inspiration and clarity.
Is your environment supporting you to be more aware, more peaceful, more loving – happier?
Sometimes a very cluttered, messy or noisy environment will create so much agitation in the mind, that we are unable to find solutions even to the smallest problem.
Letting go is always a good place to start. Once that stagnant energy has moved out, some fresh ideas will naturally arise to what to do next.
Bringing nature in will start the magic happening, with the sound of water running in the background, plants and pictures of wild landscapes.
Positive imagery surrounding us will support us choosing to engage with more positive states of mind, as will beautiful works of art in any medium.
Small details well placed can remind us of the power of a smile, the beauty of a flower, the joy of brilliant music, our connection with others, or just a good laugh.
Celebrating our connection with the source of all creation will bring us back to our true purpose. An altar with candles and beautiful images of inspiring people will support us in starting each day by setting a fresh new intention and by being grateful for all we have and all that is coming our way.
A few times I have come across some people that, although they present themselves well, their home is in a state of war: dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen, rubbish hasn’t been thrown out in days, every room is not only cluttered but messy beyond belief. And some of those were well-off families and not teens!
I believe we would all agree that self-neglect is not a positive thing. Most people I know make an effort to tidy their hair when they leave the house, or to simply wear clean clothes to work. But sometimes we only understand someone suffers from deep self-neglect when we walk into their home.
From the psychological point of view walking into a home that looks like a war zone it’s like sliding straight into someone’s subconscious mind: the self neglect, lack of discipline, lack of self-esteem, and lack of gratitude are yelling out on your face. So it’s quite distressing and I need a lot of compassion to deal with clients like that.
One of the things I am most passionate about in life is to bring awareness to everyone about a very simple, yet powerful fact: our homes represent ourselves. The same way a very messy and dirty home reinforces someone’s low self-esteem, having a negative effect in their health also, a home that is well looked after, de-cluttered and tidy will have a positive effect on their physical and mental wellbeing.
For a disempowered person, having a home that looks and feels good may appear an impossible task at first. However taking care of one’s home can be learned and will slowly help people with low-self esteem, or even depression, to start feeling more positive about themselves and the world around them. It will also help to unblock their creativity, so they can find easy solutions for what appeared to be a difficult task before, and they will feel more vibrant as the life force in their bodies will start to flow again as well.
I have had clients that six months after starting to take good care of their small flat, improved their relationship, lost weight, and started feeling more vibrant about life. So much so, that their landlord asked the flat back and they ended up moving from a mouldy, dark and below-the-street apartment to a water front, full-ocean-view one, that they could have never dreamed of affording before their consultation.
Feng Shui is a very simple and yet profound way of bringing lasting positive changes into people’s lives. And that’s what I love about it!
Young children are some of the most sensitive to the energies present in the bedroom. First thing to look at in any bedroom is the bed position. If the bed is in a high-energy area (for instance, between the window and the door or facing a mirror), kids will not sleep very well, and may be tired or grumpy during the day. Others may show signs of stress.
It is always recommended to have the children’s single bed against a wall, away from the door, so they feel more protected. This also leaves the centre of the room open, so they can have enough room to play, read, and the energy flows much better. If you have two kids or more in the bedroom and one bed needs to be opposite to the door, add a small bookshelf or chest of drawers to the foot of the bed to reduce the flow of energy while the child is asleep.
Sometimes I visit homes where a young child refuses to spend time in his/her room, including at night time. My advice is always for the parent, often mum, to play with the child in the bedroom, so he/she starts to feel that the bedroom is a good place to spend time in, and his/her energy starts to permeate the space.
Kid’s bedrooms, more than adult’s bedrooms, need plenty of light because they also play in their rooms. They like a personal space surrounded by things that they like. Having an area to hang their paintings/art work, their books, and their toys is important. It is important to renew those frequently. De-cluttering supports kids as they grow up, by letting go of the things they no longer need from when they were younger. De-cluttering together with your child is very important, throwing out things that they are ready to let go off, reminding them that what they no longer like or use can be a treasure to other kids. For older kids, selling their old toys/books/clothes in a garage sale or market stall maybe more appealing.
Pictures are also important. Having some happy pictures or photos that they really like is very important. A picture of a pod of dolphins is very auspicious, symbolising friendship and playfulness. Avoid pictures with only one animal or person in them.
It is often also good to remind parents that what the kids infuse themselves in, will become part of them. So talk to your child about who are the pictures of their ‘heroes’ and what the subliminal message that is being sent daily into the child’s subconscious. A good example is pictures of Bart Simpson in the bedroom. It may appear to be funny at first, but the underlying message that gets across is that they are aspiring to become just like the character.
For a good night of sleep, especially in winter, beds with solid bed heads are recommended, and so are curtains. Small children in large bedrooms enjoy having mosquito nets over their beds to create a cosy nest where they feel safe and secure, so they can sleep like little angels all through the night.
Have you ever felt that nothing really interesting has been happening in your life for a while? Everything is fine, but somehow you are always meeting the same people again and again, eating at the same cafes or restaurants, and at work, oh well, it’s just the way it has always been?
Your home represents your life, if your home has been the same for a while, guess what? Your life continues on the same path. Hopefully it is a very comfortable path, however sometimes sitting in your comfort zone is not that comfortable anymore. You feel ready for change! You would love to meet new people, have different opportunities at work, go to new places, read inspiring books that change your perception of the world, or just feel more alive!
Your living room is always a great place to start. Just by moving your furniture around you can get rid of stagnant energies that are locked into that area and bring some fresh energy into your relationships. Arrange the furniture in a ‘friendly’ way, with the main lounge against a solid wall, and two other seats that can ‘converse’ with it, semi-circle style. Push the TV to the corner, so it is no longer the centre of attention. WOW that feels heaps better already: with only a few moves you already expressing that YES you do have time for others in your life. To finish it off, add some new cushions with nice colours, a couple of plants (peace lilies are lovely and easy to keep) and… Voilà! You are experiencing the fresh new energy there.
Even small changes like these to your living room are able to support you in making new friends, freshening up your relationship with family and loved ones and feeling more energised.
“I have to be willing to let go of all that I think I am in order to be and feel who I am, my true self and nature.” – Greatness in You seminar.
We may think sometimes that to be truly happy we just need a better job, or to fix our marriage, or to have a two-month holiday on an island in the Pacific. The perception that happiness is something that can be achieved by somehow ‘fixing’ the people and events outside ourselves is always reinforced by society and the media. And this is what Dr. Russ Harris called ‘the happiness trap’. We can go around following the masses, changing partners, changing jobs, moving houses, but how long that relief will last for? Two months, six months, one year?
When I was living in Tasmania I moved houses eight times in 12 years. Each time there was some satisfaction: I have a much better view, the kitchen is much nicer or the backyard is nearly flat (Hobart is very hilly!). And at most the honeymoon lasted six months. After that time I had found all the faults with the new place and it was just another house after all. Moving houses was not really addressing what I was really feeling: a deep inner dissatisfaction. There was something missing deep inside that I could not see at the time.
What was really missing for me was self-acceptance. I was unhappy with the work I was doing and I couldn’t see a way out. At the time I couldn’t really feel lasting joy and contentment and I felt I wasn’t good enough. I had so many judgements about myself that I often felt depressed. Instead of celebrating my successes I was focusing on what I perceived to be my failures: I am a single mum, struggling to finish my PhD and working in odd jobs to pay my bills.
I had created an image of myself that was quite negative and I was trapped and couldn’t see beyond that. The story I was telling myself seemed so true that I believed in it.
It happens to mostly everyone, we create an idea of who we are based on our external circumstances, or more precisely, based on our perception of our external circumstances: our job, our family our possessions. And then we may call ourselves ‘successful’, ‘mostly successful’, ‘satisfied’, ‘content’, ‘failure’ depending on how we judge our situation. That’s why sometimes we meet people that have everything to feel successful but they are unhappy or restless.
The stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis are very powerful. They feel so real that we believe in them. The stories about who we are will be the ones taking us towards self-acceptance or towards self-neglect or self-loath.
However, it is only when we move away from all the stories that we will be able to find true self-acceptance. True self-acceptance is not dependent on our external circumstances or on our perception of our external circumstances.
True self-acceptance arises from getting to know ourselves at a deeper level. It is not a thought, itis a feeling, a knowing. Itcan only be found when we go beyond the stories, beyond the rational thoughts.
True self-acceptance arises when we are able to break through the story, however good or bad, of ‘who we think we are’ to meet our true self, getting in touch with our true nature, maybe for the first time. And it is through that embrace that true contentment arises.
Chi is also called life force or prana. It is what keeps us alive, truly alive, not just surviving. When we are doing things that we love, we have plenty of energy, we have a zest for life, we have plenty of chi in our body. Sometimes after an acupuncture session or a yoga class we feel happy. Both yoga and acupuncture move the stagnant energy by improving the flow of chi in the body and this immediately reflects a feeling of being more alive.
The same happens with our homes, because our homes are a reflection of who we are. For us to be feeling healthy and have plenty of energy it is important that the home has a good flow of chi. If the chi is not flowing we may eat really well, exercise well, but still feel tired or de-motivated.
Stagnant energy in the home will make us more lethargic and less lively. It also affects all other aspects of our lives.
Stagnant energy is accumulated primarily in the corners and areas where we don’t walk through. The more furniture, clutter, clothes, exercise equipment, kitchen appliances or toys we accumulate per square meter, the more stagnant energy there will be in the home. This stagnant energy represents the blockages of the flow of chi inside the home.
The main purpose of the Feng Shui consultant is to open space for a healthy flow of chi to come through the home in all areas. So it is a bit like having a massage or acupuncture in the home, letting the chi flow through those blocked areas, increasing the health of the home.
Through my years of practice I have observed many different symptoms in my clients that were related to blockages in the home. Some of these were tiredness, sleeping problems, confusion, agitation, depression, or plain disenchantment with life. And the poor circulation of chi in the home will not only affect the health of its residents, but it will also have a ripple effect into their friends, family and colleagues, eventually affecting the entire community.
The same as in the classic story about the power of one kind smile to create ripples of goodness, the home with blockages has the power to create ripples of dissatisfaction.
So for me it is not a luxury, but a necessity, that the correlation between the flow of chi and its effects on our health and wellbeing needs to be shared with the wider community.
Improving the flow of chi in the home is a very simple task most of the time. In many cases selling excessive furniture or de-cluttering the home is very efficient. Most of the time cleaning the home thoroughly is also needed, including moving all the furniture out and then back into place.
The blockages of energy in the home, those pockets of stagnant energy, also need to be removed in order for us to fall back not only into good health, but also back into the flow of life. Blockages in the bedroom may represent problems in relationships, with yourself or your partner. While blockages at the home’s entrance, may stop new opportunities and friends coming into your life.
On the spiritual level the blockages in the home will create blockages in the mind, giving rise to resistance and procrastination. People may also become more absorbed in their own ideas and less flexible and open to feedback from others. These in turn will create less peace in the mind and more agitation and will increase the belief in the delusion of separateness. In the end, these blockages in the home are truly moving people away from their intuition, their inner wisdom, and stopping them finding creative solutions for their life problems.
So if you are determined to feel more vibrancy in your life and attract more chi into your home, just check from the front door inward this visualisation:
If I am an angel and open the front of my home to let water flow through where would it go? Would it bounce straight back out the front door immediately after entering? How much would come in? Visualise the water flowing through the home and observe where would it change its course, what is blocking its way. How can I let the water flow more freely through my home? Notice the areas where the water would run fast, medium or slow. Notice if the water would arrive at the front door and leave quickly out another door. Is the water meandering through each room?
This simple visualisation will give you an idea about where the flow of chi is not happening (flow of water very slow) or where it is going through too fast, and what is in excess, affecting or blocking its free flow, which can be changed. Remove or move the pieces of furniture that you discovered are in the way, add plants to stagnant corners and check if the flow is free from the front door to the living area.
In my experience, many good things arise from improving the flow of chi in the home. I have seen families communicate better and reduce arguments, clients finding a new job, writers improving their creativity, clients finding a new partner, and unexpected wealth arising for the residents, between many other success stories.
Enjoy your experience and let me know your results!
WHEN THE STUDENT IS NOT READY YET, THE TEACHER WILL (hopefully) WAIT
When my best friend told me in 2001 that he had found a spiritual teacher, I was happy for him, but thought: ‘This is not for me. You know, my friend needs some guidance because he is having a few problems, but I am OK and don’t want to follow any guru around. This is definitely not for me.”
So for the next three years I observed my friend’s complete transformation from a confused disempowered person, into a happier and much more confident one. However, each time he would come to me and say I need to come and listen to this Teacher, I would pull back.
Three years on I ended up finally saying yes to my friend and decided to go on a retreat to check his Teacher out. I just thought ‘The worse thing that can happen is that, even if I don’t like it, I will still be having a break in Byron Bay”.
Well little I knew that that decision was going to change the course of my life forever.
After those ten days on retreat my perception of what I knew about the world changed dramatically, and then I knew I would never be able to return to that hiding place I was living before. I had spent ten days listening to an enlightened mind and I was finally able to start seeing and understanding the world more clearly.
Six months after I met Behram Ghista, now my spiritual teacher, I made a decision that I had been avoiding for years: to be proactive in changing my career. In order to do that, I would have to break free from my unfulfilling job, and move to Sydney to retrain.
I have to say that I knew I had to do it, but when I finally decided it, I sat there and cried non-stop for more than 30 minutes. Leaving my beloved home in the bush, my friends, my sister, and leaving Tasmania all at once… however I knew I was brave enough to go ahead with my decision.
In reality I had dug a comfortable hole and I was sitting in it, hiding. But my comfort zone wasn’t that comfortable after all. My happiness was very dependent on external things, how nice people were to me, or when my next holiday or party was happening, so I could escape from it for a few hours/days at a time. At that moment I had to really be true to myself: I had been utterly dissatisfied with my life for a while and it was time to do something about it.
Since that first retreat in 2004 I kept in touch with Master B, as we like to call him, and attended another seven of his retreats. Being in a retreat with my Teacher is like going home: I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I feel complete. It’s my spiritual family.
I have to say that having a Teacher is not for the faint hearted. Having a Teacher means having to constantly have a good look at myself and how true I am being, or how many things I am avoiding. I had to learn how to accept feedback without taking it personally, knowing that it comes from pure love. And I constantly have my bottom kicked, which is a great reminder to keep challenging myself and not settle for less.
Funnily enough along these nearly seven years of my relationship with Master B, one of the most difficult things I had to overcome was to accept his unconditional love. Like most people I spent my life expecting love in exchange for doing, achieving or behaving in a certain or expected manner. Even from my beloved parents. And to come across someone that is above worldly love it has been one of my most precious learnings. I know there is no need to please my Teacher, I can just be myself without need for approval, and if I choose to do anything for him is from genuine generosity and gratitude.
Meanwhile I have grown as a person in ways that still amaze me, I have learned how to trust the flow of events in my life and stop ‘fighting’ life back – most of the time! I am passionate about my work and I observe how it unfolds by itself, effortlessly, always surprising me with how things fall perfectly in place if I just allow life to take its course. I have freed myself from depression and anxiety, have improved my relationships with my family and friends dramatically, and I now have a wonderful spiritual practice, that although has Master B’s Buddhist teachings at its core, is very holistic and independent. I am also blessed for now having a career that is my spiritual practice, not only because I teach meditation and Feng Shui, but also because Master B’s teachings are now in my core and I can apply them in every area of my life, every moment and every day. And of course I still have many things I am constantly working on and learning. It is a journey for a lifetime, but now I have guidance that keeps me on track each time I start distracting myself from where lasting fulfilment truly lies. And finally I am now able to approach life in a much more relaxed and fun way.
So maybe it is now time to publicly acknowledge the man that has been supporting me and my work since 2004:
Thank you, Master B, for your love, friendship, guidance and for being such a wonderful and inspiring Teacher.
I have a client who decided to leave her five-bedroom house interstate and moved with her family to Sydney Northern Beaches. Because they wanted to keep two homes, they first rented a small apartment, and the kids had to share a bedroom for the first time since they were very young. When I met her in the in Sydney, in the relatively small apartment, she said that the kids were getting on much better than before. And they both had to do their homework on the dining table, which brought the whole family closer together. Her conclusion was that she would never move back to a large home again!
From the Classical Feng Shui point of view, people are one of the main sources of chi or life force in the home. If the house is too large for the number of people, there will be not enough human chi to fill the place up. If the house is too small, the stress levels can rise.
If you are planning on building a new house or renovating yours, here are some ideas.
These represent an ideal Form for a house. However it is worth reminding you that Feng Shui always has simple remedies for your existing home.
When you are planning a new home it is important to focus on the common areas. Common areas that are attractive, with plenty of natural light, North-facing (in the Southern Hemisphere) and designed to contain the chi (instead of walking-through spaces) are ideal. They can even be positioned in the centre of the home: the place where we sit together, the Tai Chi of the home, the confluence of yin and yang, where all the energies flow to and become one.
The bedrooms, kitchen and other rooms can then become an extension from that centre, like clusters around it.
The home design from bio-architect Michael Rice in Figure 1 below, called the Triple Octa, is a very good example.
Figure 1 – The Triple Octa has a large living area in the centre of the house with kitchen, bedrooms and other rooms around it.
We live in a society that has increased the size of bedrooms to make each family member more independent and self-contained.
My concern here is that this has the potential to create separation in the home.
If each person arrives home and retreats to his/her room, the amount of time the family spends together in the living areas, the heart of the home, decreases.
Energetically, if most human chi is spread out into bedrooms instead into the common areas, this will be highly detrimental to the energy of the home, as it becomes fragmented, without flow.
Spiritually, when family members are not communing, the idea of I, the false self or ego, is reinforced, supporting the illusion of separatedness and creating isolation.
My advice is to have bedrooms that are comfortable, but not necessarily so large that they become independent units inside the home.
Most new homes or newly renovated homes in Sydney are adding a double garage, not only attached to the house, but under the same roof as the house. Because garages are such large areas they deserve special attention in Feng Shui. My advice is to build a separate garage block or, even better, to simplify and build a carport instead.
Garages have a very different energy to homes and energetically works best if they are separate buildings. Garages are service areas that contain fumes, and often oil on the floor, and for health reasons, are best away from the house.
Also, when a double garage is attached to the house (i.e. under the same roof) the energy of the house is ‘diluted’ to include the large car ‘room’. The centre of the house is dislocated towards that area and the house becomes out of balance. And more often than not, garages become dumping grounds and have little or no natural light. So to avoid bringing the energy of the home down, it is best to keep the garage independent from the house.
Spiritually our cars are utilities, and although it is important (and good Feng Shui!) to treat our cars well, it is best not to equal our utilities to our offspring by giving the largest room in the house to the cars! This implies that subconsciously we are giving too much energy to our material possessions- energy that is best spent with our loved ones.
Garden and backyard
One more important point about the home is how the house connects with the outside environment.
If you look at Figure 1 again, you will notice how Michael did not finish his design at the front door, but placed importance in how the house is blending with the grounds around it. Although it makes the house look great, the implications are far greater from the energetic point of view.
The same way that it is good for the life force of the home to have bedrooms that communicate well and are a true part of the home, it is also important that the home communicates well with the outside world.
A home that opens up to a beautiful garden and backyard represents a family that socialises and is open and unafraid to connect with others. Also at a deeper level such house represents an understanding that we cannot live an isolated life, focusing solely on our own family (inwards). It is important to connect with homes around us, and with the larger community. It is important to realize we are all one large family!
Remember that a bigger home is not necessarily better than a small one. The important thing is to keep your relationships with loved ones in mind when planning a new home or renovating an existing one, focusing on creating inspiring communal areas: places that bring family and friends together to celebrate life’s beauty at each moment.
Spring is here! This is the perfect time of the year to start de-cluttering your surroundings. Some of my friends mentioned to me that they already started their spring cleaning. This brings fresh energy all around us, which in turn attract those fresh opportunities you have been waiting for.
This is also the perfect time to have your home or office Space Cleared professionally. Space clearing gets rid of stagnant energies around the home/office, especially on corners, and brings the free flow of chi back. Clients report winning gifts, new jobs, new clients, getting rid of things in large quantities, reconnecting with their homes/offices and even sleeping better.
Professional Space Clearing, contrary to other forms of ‘home-made’ Space Clearing, also re-unites the energy of the home, so it’s like the home feels whole again. Many homes I visit have floors that don’t ‘communicate’ with each other, or rooms that are hardly used. This creates breakages in the flow of chi in the home and can cause stagnation. Stagnation of energy in the home, often appears as stagnation of energy in the body, and can cause diseases and/or tiredness. Professional Space clearing brings those energies together by gently weaving them back into place. After that is done, those unused rooms receive new attention, or the rumpus room, for example, receives a re-vamp. Many stories to tell about the magic of Professional Space Clearing…
I Space Clear my apartment professionally at least four times each year to bring fresh energies, new ideas, new clients, and it works each time.
In between the large Space Clearings, I use Aura-Soma products from The Colour Rose Online to keep the energy up and running. They recently also introduced the newly created Aura-Soma incense to their product list. This week I have been tired with a bad cold and I used the Green Pomander incense to clear the energy in my office. It was amazing how much fresh energy it brought back to the space. Real magic.
I also use Aura-Soma air conditioners for a quick clearing before giving a talk or meditation class. Before meditation I use St Germain Air Conditioner to bring us protection and blessings. And the delicious smell is a bonus! My students love it.
Aura-Soma personal products are really powerful as well and help in dealing with issues from health problems, anxiety and sleeping problems to even falling pregnant!
For more on Aura-Soma check The Colour Rose Online and for more detailed information about products contact Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org . Claire also offers personal sessions in the Northern Beaches or she can come to you at home.
For more on Professional Space Clearing ring or e-mail Ana.
WHAT DO CHOCOLATE, SEX AND ALCOHOL HAVE IN COMMON?
I am sure they have lots of things in common…we could go all day speculating about it!
But to me the main thing they have in common is that chocolate, sex and alcohol are best when experienced separately and in moderation.
We all may crave some chocolate sometimes, but while eating one square can bring you joy, eating 10 squares may not necessarily make the experience 10 times more enjoyable.
The line between pleasure and pain can be a very thin one, which often can be crossed if our awareness has not been sharpened.
We are this sensing machine going around smelling, tasting, hearing, touching, seeing, and imagining. So much input, especially if you walk into a shopping centre! And it is from these inputs that craving is born: I like this, I want that, I am hungry. And whenever craving is present its opposite is also bound to appear: aversion.
Then we are thrown from side to side with likes and dislikes: running towards what appeals to us, pushing away what we don’t like. And that is happening not only with our eating, our drinking or our shopping list, but also in our relationships with other people, in our health, in our work. Truly it is happening constantly. And it is causing us a lot of stress and dissatisfaction.
How to we free ourselves from such madness?
Sometimes I love to go away on meditation retreats. There, often after a couple of days, I start feeling less stressed and more at peace with myself.
While I could technically do retreats at home by turning all the phones and computers off, I feel that I am still too close to all that I perceive needs fixing, changing or improving to be able to have real ‘time off’. I am still too caught up in the ‘wants’ and the ‘don’t wants’ of my day-to-day life.
But the nicest thing I notice after coming back from one week of meditation, like I did last week, is that I am more grounded and less caught up in the madness of worldly life. It gives me a better perspective about what matters the most and also a better perspective about who I am and where I fit in the bigger picture.
Sometimes that’s all that one needs to become happier: to learn how to see life from a more detached perspective.