Tag Archives: mental health

Song Dong Waste Not

Song Dong Waste Not until Jan 27th

at Carriageworks, Sydney


I met some friends at Carriageworks the other day and realised I would have to go back with some more time to see “Waste Not”. And so I did.

What would happen if you could spread ALL the contents of your home in a big shed?

This installation shows everything that Song Dong’s mother had accumulated over the years. Some items there she had for fifty years! Growing up in communist China pre-industrialisation you were trained to save and re-use. So she started keeping everything.

The exhibition was a healing experience as they as a family went through everything each time they re-assemble the show.

As a good Cancerian my hoarding tendencies are quite strong, so it was a great mirror for me going through the exhibition looking at all the items, big and small.

I loved the bird cages. My grandfather used to grow quails and other birds, so there were always lots of wooden cages around. I was never fond of keeping birds in cages, but I had such a great relationship with my Grandad as a young child. I was always fascinated with all his artesan skills, building things out of wood, including the cages and pieces of furniture.

However the main thing I felt while looking at the exhibition was raw exposure. Are the things that we keep able to tell a story of who we are?

What an amazing act of bravery!

I actually spent quite a bit of time there, but noticed that most people, apart from the reading part, would not spend more than 10 min looking around the whole exhibition. Was this a sign of our short attention spam? Or were they feeling generally uncomfortable?

I felt uncomfortable. (Would I feel different if I lived a less cluttered existence? Not sure). But I stayed. I felt some sadness for the pure impermanence of the material world. One day, everything fades away. Material possessions loose their beauty and become junk.

I felt like invading someone’s privacy as well. But I stayed …

And then I started looking for treasure.

The bird cages were treasure-like for me. But then I realised that the true treasure were the bars of soap, some from the early 60’s! The soap bars were rationed and scarce at that time, so they were very precious.

I think once one feels the need to save everything, they may continue to do so for the rest of their lives. In a continuous journey of disenchantment and lack of trust in providence. I suppose part of the sadness I felt was brought by that as well, the obvious hardship that appear to have lead to the compulsive hoarding.

After being in Song Dong’s installation my questions for us in the modern world were:

Can we go fanatic about re-cycling and start accumulating too much clutter?


Is there an underlying connection between frugality and hoarding?


The exibition ends on Sunday 27th Jan. I hope you can go. And let me know how you liked it.




You are not your thoughts


As a parent I was quite shocked with the news of record teenage suicide numbers in one region in Victoria recently. How good are we as a society in looking after each other’s mental health in a satisfactory manner?

Many people feel depressed and think this is a permanent state and feel there is no way out, especially for those who experience strong negative emotions for the first time. Many people believe it is genetic and this makes them feel even powerless towards their strong self-denigrating thoughts. However from the meditation point of view most mental disorders arise from the mind.

Dr. Bruce Lipton in his eye opener best seller “The biology of belief” explains how our thoughts affect our body chemistry for better or for worse. He also shows how our thoughts activate or de-activate genes concluding that genetics does not determine who we are. He spent more than 20 years studying and teaching developmental and cellular biology to arrive to these conclusions.

Neuroscientists are also arriving at similar results on how the mind works. One of the greatest discoveries of neuroscience in the last decade is neuroplasticity: the ability the neural-network in the brain has to change in response to experience and training. This ‘re-wiring’ of the brain has been shown possible and has helped many people with chronic depression, anxiety and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) to not only find respite, but to cure themselves using mindfulness meditation.

Although many people think that meditation is some practice of reaching blissful states, which appears to be totally self-indulgent, that’s far from the truth.

Meditation is a practice of learning how to observe the world for what it is without the influence of our perceptions, or coloured glass lenses. And that includes observing our own habitual responses to what is happening around us. By doing that we learn that we can cultivate better inner qualities, such as unconditional compassion, openness to others, and inner peace, letting go of our mental negative addictive patterns. But to let go of these negative patterns we first need to be open and brave to come face to face with them. That takes a lot of courage.

One of the most difficult things to let go of when first coming to meditation is the thinking. Many people feel that if they let go of their thinking they would feel helpless. This is because we have identified ourselves so much with our thoughts and our ideas of who we are, and what the world is, that the feeling of letting go of that for a couple of minutes is one of fear or terror. And here we go back to an important question ‘who am I?’ and little by little we find out that we are not our thoughts.

Behind our obsessive thinking, however, there is just openness. By experiencing this openness in mindfulness we can find great relief, ‘we can start to taste enlightenment’, as Jack Kornfield writes.

This is very much in line with ancient Buddhist teachings of mind-training. Happiness can only be found through rigorous mind-training. Through those experiences we become present to our attachments to material and mental objects and we practice letting go of them. Little by little we feel lighter, being right becomes less and less important, and we start experiencing moments of true joy more often. And the inner peace that one finds, that joy and contentment, becomes a gift that is naturally shared with others.

Although mindfulness meditation is being used medically and psychologically with great success in depression, anxiety, anger, OCD and other addictive negative mind traits, its potential goes much further leading towards finding true inner peace and unconditional joy and happiness. The question is how far down the rabbit hole is one prepared to go?

Matthieu Ricard said : ’We should understand that mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness. Often we find ourselves in the pangs of torment from mental toxins such as hatred, obsessive desire, arrogance, nagging jealousy. Those are certainly not optimal ways of relating to our own experience or to others. We know we can experience genuine altruistic love and compassion, but couldn’t we do so more often, so that those states of mind become the normal way we relate to others? Hence the ideal of long-term transformation: becoming a better human being for one’s own well-being and that of others as well. These two go together.” (extract from ‘The mind’s own physician’, edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn).

with love,



Feng Shui supports your Business Success


The success of a business depends on many factors, however we believe that Feng Shui represents as much as 30% of this success.

Although we start by looking at the form, or the physical distribution of furniture and how that affects the flow of chi, this alone is not enough to bring good results.

The use of classical formulas, like the Flying Stars and the BaZhai, in conjuction with the Form Feng Shui, are also fundamental to the business success.

Let’s just look at Form Feng Shui first and what we aspire to achieve for a successful layout of the office or workplace.

The flow of chi in a business represents the flow of wealth and opportunities, and supports the harmony and good health of the employees.

The entrance is very important and a great place to start.

One important observation is how the chi approaches the building, which type of chi (positive or negative), and which directions they come from when reaching the entrance. We want to cure the sha chi and enhance the sheng chi (positive or beneficial chi). This often can be done by aligning the entrance to favour the positive chi, using possibly pot plants or moveable barriers. Also the positioning of the name of the business can be a good way to attract the good chi in.

The reception area is the ‘mouth of chi’, so the size of the space here is relevant. We want to collect that positive energy in this area, so it can enter the remaining office area, preferably in a smooth way. Rounded reception desks without sharp corners have been popular for many years now and this is good for the flow of chi. Lots of plants and even a small water fountain (location calculated with the Flying Stars) are welcome here. When designing the layout we always suggest curved walls as well, the curves bring the yin or caring element to the area and this is especially important in the health and allied-health industries.

Energetically the reception area is your business card. It needs to translate what your business is about.

I remember once I went to visit a business and the owner was a counsellor/coach. She had, however, decided to rent the large room at the front to a personal trainer who transformed the area in a small gym. The reception area was very aligned with the personal trainer, but had no energy of the owner’s business, so the rental turned out to be a negative outcome for her counselling business.

After the reception area, we look at the flow of chi in the common areas. The best design is always to have space between the desks and the walls to avoid creating stagnant energy. Stagnant energy creates unhealthy energy, generating illness, tiredness and disharmony in the work place. Clusters of four desks can work well in a larger space, especially when the employees have they backs to a partition.

Now we have the basics and can start looking at the classical feng shui formulas.

The Flying Stars is calculated using the facing direction of the building and the year the office was last renovated. It reveals the hidden luck of the space.

Finding the Flying Stars is fundamental to the success of the business as we use them to discover the wealth star and cure or remedy the negative potentials of other areas.

We want to activate the long-term wealth and the immediate wealth. This is done by identifying the area where those two stars are and activating them, often with a small water fountain or a citrine crystal. Simple, but very effective.

The same is repeated for the negative stars: star of arguments, star of litigation, star of illness and star of robbery, which are in turn cured with simple remedies, such as a lamp, a picture of water, a metal object.

The Flying Stars are also excellent to know when planning the office space from the beginning. This way we can make sure the Managing Director/CEO and the Accountant/CFO are sitting in auspicious areas.

These are just a few things that we look at in a Feng Shui consultation for business. There are many more details that need to be looked at, such as auspicious directions, colours, and relationships for instance. So it’s a very complete and wholistic approach that is always tailored for the individual needs of the business and its owner.

The results our clients receive have shown us clearly along the years that Feng Shui with no doubt helps businesses attract more clients, increase profits and promotes the well being and satisfaction of the employees.




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!