Tag Archives: awareness

Feng Shui and Awareness


I am just back from a 10-day vipassana retreat and as I arrived home I noticed a few things that normally would’ve bothered me, such as some people’s behaviours, weren’t bothering me any more.

What happens during silent meditation retreats is that we are practicing sharpening our awareness, constantly focusing on the present moment, taking mindfulness to a deeper and deeper level each day.

After ten days of practice I had become much more aware of my feelings, emotions and the whole environment around me. And my habitual responses, the ‘auto-pilot’, were less active than before. And arriving home I could notice my perception of my environment was also changed. I found areas that were cluttered incredibly out of place, for instance, and I was able to tidy them up.

The practice of mindfulness raises one’s awareness and little by little what was not apparent before becomes apparent, and what appears to be comfortable often shows itself as discomfort. Nothing really has changed in the outside world, but one’s perception of it has changed. And only then we may realise that we live with a lot of discomfort and are completely oblivious to it. We have shut down to our own suffering, and we don’t even know how miserable we actually are. We are living on the surface and missing out big time on what life is all about.

Well, and you maybe asking what vipassana retreats have to do with Feng Shui?

When I visit homes of people that are centred, and often these people have awareness sharpening practices (such as mindfulness or vipassana –insight- meditation), their homes are spiritually clean and physically very harmonious. They tend to have an intuitive understanding of positioning of furniture and objects; their home is de-cluttered, clean and exudes some peace and calm. Also independent of their financial situation they have chosen homes that are well positioned and beneficial for them from the Feng Shui physical and astrological points of view. Simple coincidence?

I don’t think so.

At the end of the day awareness is the best gift we can give ourselves, and the world. It is reflected in our attitudes towards work, towards our loved ones, towards our homes and towards life in general. It is reflected in the choices we make moment to moment (aka the snow flakes – yes exactly those that add up to the snow ball…).

In spiritual practice, just to clarify, we speak or right awareness or right mindfulness. Meaning that the type of awareness that leads to a more fulfilling life is not the awareness that a bank robber has while cracking the code of the safe (just in case you were wondering!), but awareness that arises coupled with correct understanding of the law that encompasses all natural phenomena (dhamma).

Just to give you a few examples.

I had a client who came back from a ten-day retreat and gave his entire wardrobe away because he realised he never liked any of those clothes.

Another client, living in a dark and damp apartment to save money, was given notice by the landlord two weeks after our consultation when the need to take better care of herself became clearer. She then moved into a much nicer apartment with lots of natural light and water views.

When we live a life without awareness it’s like our world is small and confined. We have less time, or no time, for others, and as Pema Chodron nicely puts it: ‘I remember the time when my life was the size of a postal stamp’. And our suffering is so intense we can hardly move, but for most of the time we pretend we are fine, although every step we take is taken out of fear.

That’s why is so important that we sharpen our awareness, starting with self-awareness. Behram Ghista my Teacher says: ‘the inner world is the world of causes, the outer world is the world of effects’. It’s ok to see healers and doctors about our physical and psychological discomforts, but anything they can gives us is never going to address the problem itself, because it will only be dealing with the symptoms.

At the end of the day, no one can come and save us from the mess we have entangled ourselves in. We have to do it ourselves, preferably with the guidance of a Teacher. And the earlier we start the better, because we will have a lot less knots to untie!

Our homes are just a reflection of our minds, both conscious and unconscious. When we choose a home to rent or to buy, often that reflects our understanding about ourselves and the world (as we perceive it). The more aware we become, the better the choices we are able to make, because we are letting go of those knots, and the better our homes will become.


In Classical Feng Shui we work with the San Cai: Heaven, Earth and Humanity

In Feng Shui we use the San Cai principle: Heaven, Earth and Humanity. How these three interact determines the quality of life force or Sheng Qi (Chi) in a determined area or dwelling. It is important to have flow (Feng) and it is important to have containment (Shui).

As Qi appears in a more obvious way in the material world we look at the Form or gross Qi: what is there apparent to the eye, the mountains, rivers, forests, shape or design of dwelling. However, also important is the unseen or Formless Qi: Heaven Qi, which is determined by the Compass: how time and directions combine to determine the hidden potentials of a property.

Human Qi is both form and formless and sits there between Heaven and Earth, interacting with both. Human Qi in its material form is our body, while in formless nature is represented by our thoughts, emotions and our karma.

Although all three, Time, Shape and People, will affect the Feng Shui of a place, we tend to take the Form or Shape first.

In an ideal situation, after careful choice of location (gathering positive Earth energies), the whole design of a home (Form or Shape) would be created under the knowledge of the Time-based Luck of the Place (Formless) for a powerful coupling of Heaven and Earth energies that will fully support the Human element.

Heaven (Formless) Luck is determined using a Lo Pan Compass. There are two useful Feng Shui Formulas or processes that I personally like using. The first is the Eight Mansion Formula, and the second is the Flying Star Formula. The first is totally depending on the location and directions, while the latter is more complex and uses time, location and directions for its calculation.

Although learning the formulas is not that difficult for anyone with good mathematics skill, learning how to interpret them is an art that takes years of practice to perfect.

One of my passions is to help clients with their renovation plans, so they make the most of it, creating an environment that supports health, wealth and relationships equally.

Although in most cases in Sydney I will be working with an already constructed home, there is still room for improvement when we have the scope of possibilities offered by a home renovation.

From the basic steps of avoiding doors facing each other, or designing a bedroom with a protected position for the bed, to selecting an auspicious area for the master bedroom and the kitchen, there is a lot we can do.

I am a truly believer that once people live in a home with a good Feng Shui design, where both Form and Formless Qi combine beautifully, the human element progresses both physically and spiritually. And from that we create a better society and a better world.



We have become so far apart from who we truly are, busy chasing happiness out there, that as they say ‘we are so busy making a living, that we have forgotten how to make a life’.

Life is short and it’s very precious. We have no idea when we will leave this world. So it’s crucial that we go back to our timeless nature often enough, so not to loose track of what really matters.

Just think for yourself: how much quality time do you spend with your parents? How much quality time do you spend with your children? Are you able to really be present to them when you see them? Or are you somewhere else? Thinking, worrying, looking at the watch?

Ask yourself. Is it possible to chase happiness? Is it possible to be happy by postponing happiness for tomorrow, next day, the weekend, the holidays, retirement?

As much as they try to sell us happiness in every ad, there is only one way to find true happiness: by cultivating it at each moment.

Or else we are just engaging with momentary pleasures: I will have a sleep in today, have a little massage tomorrow, have a nice meal with a glass of wine. They are all transient, they give us pleasure, but do not really satisfy our inner thirst, and leave us wanting more.

Our inner thirst can only be satisfied by spending time alone each day. Going back to who we truly are, reconnecting with our timeless nature.

And most of all: learning how to appreciate it.

Ask yourself: why am I so afraid of stopping the doing, the thinking, the planning?

Is it possible that we have removed ourselves so remotely from whom we truly are that we now feel: I don’t know that person anymore, why would I sit in silence with him/her, this stranger? I will get bored out of my wits!

So it’s time to learn how to love ourselves once more: sit there in silence, rejoicing just in how precious life is, how precious this human body is, how much potential I have as a human being, and letting go of all the negativity we hold against ourselves, just let those thoughts fly out, do not follow them.

We have been so well conditioned to value ourselves for what we do and achieve in the material world, that we have forgotten the most important part of ourselves: our inner world.

Without getting to know ourselves intimately: our sorrows and pains, our joys and things that truly bring a smile to our face; we will not find peace of mind or lasting happiness.

And maybe when our kids grow up and we will see the same in them, we will then suffer in double.

So find time to read inspiring books each day. Read one story before meditation each night.

These books have individual chapters/stories that you can read in a few minutes:

Peace is every step, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Wherever you go, there you are, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Have a great week.

with metta,




38. Kuei- Opposition (Fire over Lake)

Misunderstanding truth creates opposition.

There are many occasions in life which tempt us into negative thoughts. Anxiety about the future, mistrust of another person, bodily pain, fear of failure or even success – all of these tempt us to mistrusting life and thinking that life is against us. When we fall into this trap, we are in opposition to the workings of the Creative and success becomes impossible.

The simple truth is that every moment in every person’s life contains the teaching he or she most needs at that time. It is not always immediately apparent why a thing is happening because the Sage is often inclined to work in a roundabout fashion. Nonetheless, whatever is happening now is what must happen. Our only task is to trust the process and allow the lesson to seep in.

This hexagram comes as a signal that you are resisting life and preventing your own progress. Nonetheless, success is still possible, for every opposition carries within it the seeds of agreement. Cease resisting yourself, others, life, the Sage. Let go of dark thoughts and aggressive actions. By returning to acceptance, neutrality, and devotion to the way of the Sage, you dissolve the opposition within yourself and open the way for understanding and good fortune to arrive.


Today I opened the I Ching looking for inspiration about this time of the year and this was the gift that I received. So apart from the fact that it perfectly fits my entire week, it is also a gift that is worth sharing with you.

The end of year often comes with a lot of energy, it is the time to reconnect with friends and family, but it is also the time when we stop to re-assess the entire year, while making plans for a prosperous 2012.

So my question for you today is: how did 2011 treat you? Or should I ask how did you treat yourself in 2011? Were you able to find all the hidden gifts that came wrapped inside the ‘problems’ or ‘obstacles’? Or did you spend a lot of time in opposition?

To be totally honest I have to say I spent a lot of time in opposition this year. And I can start by blaming the fact that I have a Jia Wood Day Master and that is not very auspicious in a Xin Metal year, but if I choose to do that I will be missing out on my wrapped gifts.

Being in opposition means to try to go forward while having the breaks on. However for me was more like trying to pedal an old bike with a rusty chain: a lot of effort, for a slow movement forward.

Was I able to unwrap any gifts along the way?

Yes, I was able to ask for help quite a few times this year and met some amazing coaches that really helped me to move on from some very old things that were holding me back.

And sometimes that can be one gift of feeling ‘stuck’: to stop and admit that yes I need some help please! And that can be quite a task for a stubborn Jia Wood… but I did it! So I am really proud of myself.

So my commitment for 2012 is to be more present to the resistance as soon as it arises. Be aware of that first niggling bit of dissatisfaction and sit with it, make friends with it, let go of judgment and listen for that whisper, listen carefully for the solution that is already attached to it, which sometimes it will only show itself when acceptance, love and compassion are also present.

And what about you? How did you go through your opposition phases this year?

Wishing you a magical and mindful Christmas and a Prosperous Start for 2012.

with love,






Imagine waking up and being thankful for the miracle of being alive in another magnificent day?

Imagine being able to have amazing things falling into place, meeting the right people, being at the right places, getting the jobs you want, daily in your life?

Imagine feeling happy for no particular reason day in and day out?

And can you imagine doing that even when life is not all that rosy?

Well, according to spiritual teacher Behram Ghista, that is all possible.

Two weeks ago Behram taught a workshop in Sydney entitled “In Partnership with Providence”.

Although most of us think of ‘providence’ as being the positive situations, events, material things or people that come into our lives, Behram taught that providence is actually neutral.

According to his teachings providence is an infinite source that supplies us everything we experience. It is also a source that is neutral, which supplies us with whatever we focus upon. If we focus on the negatives, we will receive negative results. If, however, we focus on the positives, we will receive positive results.

He continued to point out that what we believe is real is only an interpretation of what we perceive and experience. Our joys and sorrows do not originate from reality itself, they originate from an interpretation of it. When we are faced with an unpleasant situation we have the choice to view it as a confirmation of our incapacity/inadequacy or as an invitation to bring out what is best in us.

Reality itself is neutral, however our translations of it become our ‘reality’. Our translations determine our focus. Our focus influences our character, and our character influences our responses. So if we are constantly translating things in a negative way, our focus will be in what is not working. And our character becomes negative, our responses will be unpleasant with people and life itself, and we will continue to attract more unpleasant experiences.

However when we filter the positives, constantly bringing our attention to whatever IS working in our circumstances and experiences, we start to see the opportunities and creative possibilities that come with each challenge and learn how to live and walk in a friendly universe. Whatever I focus upon, life will provide me with. Cause and consequence. This is one of life’s basic principles that cannot be violated. Life wants me to succeed, so much so that each difficulty comes not only with a solution, but also with a blessing attached to it.

When we awaken to the fact that our reality is determined by our beliefs and interpretations, it’s a liberating and empowering experience!

After the workshop I made a commitment to myself: I am going to stop complaining, I am going to wake up every morning and feel grateful for the wonderful day ahead, and I am going to put my best effort to retrain my mind in finding the positives and the blessings in each situation.

The good news is, I have been feeling positive as never before and some blessed things and people have come into my life in these last ten days after the workshop.

Is that easy? Not really, it requires constant focusing, a lot of mindfulness and a bucket full of kindness!

But it’s all worth it. After all, the Universe wants us to succeed!







If someone asks you how well you know your partner, or your child, it might sound like a rude question. We believe that we know the people close to us very well, but do we really?

Our relationship with our home is another very important and intimate relationship in our lives that we often take for granted.

How deep is your relationship with your home? Do you know the feel of every part of your home – all the nooks and crannies?

When I run space clearing sessions with my clients we go around each wall of the home, mindfully, rethreading the energy of the home, reuniting and moving that energy so it can flow again. Sometimes this is the most powerful aspect of the session: reconnecting with each part of the home again, in mindfulness.

Here is an exercise for you to check how connected you are with your home.

Take your time to go around the home along each wall of each room being present to what is there, being very mindful: open and non-judgmental. Notice when an unpleasant feeling arises in your body when you arrive in a certain corner, maybe tightness in the throat or stomach. And notice the pleasant feelings also when you see an inspiring picture or photograph or a perfectly arranged corner. Be also mindful of the emotions that appear with those primary feelings in the body: grief, sorrow, regret, maybe frustration, or happiness, joy. The more open and honest you allow yourself to be, the more clarity you will receive from this exercise.

Now think of a room or corner that you felt uncomfortable in. Walk to that uncomfortable place, take a seat there and be fully aware, fully mindful of the physical feelings in the body and the emotions arising from it.

What are the memories that come associated with those feelings and emotions? Write them down. Then you repeat to yourself gently for a few minutes: I accept these feelings and emotions in my body; I accept this part of my home. Do it for a few minutes. Then let unconditional love arise in your heart: think of a young child or animal and allow that love to arise in your heart. Become aware of your heart softening and opening, allow the love to fill your entire body. Now share that love with the space around you: visualise the love from your heart pouring from your body and filling the space around you. Continue for a few more minutes. Now write down what this experience has brought to you: any thoughts and emotions, clarity or insight.

Now think of a room or corner that you felt happy or joyful in. Walk to that part of the home, take another seat there. Again become aware of the feelings arising in the body. What are the emotions associated with these feelings? What are the memories that arise with those? Just be mindful of the feelings, emotions and memories that arise for a few minutes, then write those down.

Now notice the contrast between the first part and the second part of the home. Why did they make you feel quite different?

In mindfulness practice we say that we can only change that which we understand and know really well. The things we push away and deny cannot be changed. In the same way it is only by being fully present and open to our negative habits that we are able to change them, it is only by being fully open and accepting the problems in our home that we will be able to change them.

Awareness is always the best gift we can give ourselves: it frees us from our established and fixed ways of looking at the world and allows us the freshness and clarity to find new and exciting solutions for our old problems.



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.




“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, it is a feeling, a knowing. It can 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.

with love,




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.

“Your thoughts matter because they create matter”

What are you thinking right now?

Did you know that you have in average 60,000 thoughts each day and that 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday?

So if you are looking at improving your personal or professional life, wouldn’t be important to become more aware of the types of thoughts you are having at a deeper level?

Mindfulness meditation can help you in observing your the day to day thinking – such as planning, worrying about the past, worrying about the future, criticizing, more planning- and moving beyond that.

Mindfulness meditation will support you in observing your thinking underlying the day-to-day ‘noise’ or your common thoughts.

Because it’s only when you realise that underneath a thought of I’m going to be late! lies another thought such as I’m not good enough or  Who cares about me anyway? that you will start applying real change to your life.

with love from Ana