Insights into 2018 - the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog

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The Elemental Nature of the Earth Dog Year 2018

After two predictably chaotic years, the naughty Monkey and the fighting Rooster are succeeded by a more docile Dog. Even so, that Rooster’s influence may linger for a few weeks. The qualities associated with the Dog are luck, loyalty, bravery, caution, a social nature though stubborn. The Dog year influence could help you complete tasks and achieve your goals, even if some obstacles make it harder to get things done.

The Dog’s element is Earth, the same as its accompanying Earth stem. Its season is Autumn, indicating its strength is in decline.  According to Chinese metaphysical insights, the double Earth nature of this Dog year will accelerate the initiation of new things and shows potential to be a good year all round. Yet it could also be tiring. Procrastination or negligence are to be avoided this year and it would be better to take a modest sound opportunity than to compete for more.

In Chinese medicine, the Earth element is associated with the pancreas and stomach, muscles and cells. When the Earth element is out of balance, weaknesses tend to show up in those areas of your body. During this Dog year, health could become a concern if neglected. Eating salads and root vegetables, walking and fresh air bring positive Earth-related benefits to support your health. 

This year is also influenced by the element Fire belonging to the Li trigram with its Luo Shu number 9suggesting a potential for prosperity, new business opportunities and social prominence. It is the year to have parties, to celebrate and to enjoy life.

Feng Shui Tips for 2018

Career - If you want to give your career a boost this year, look at the Southeast, centre and Northwest areas of your home.  Decluttering those areas will be a great help.  The clearer they connect with each other unobstructed, the better it will be for you. You could also place any kind of water symbol in the Southeast if practical to do so. 

Relationships - If romance is your priority in 2018,  make a plan to socialise more often, do new things and take up a new activity where you will meet a new circle of like-minded friends. One thing leads to another ..!   Feng Shui Tip: place a vase of fresh red, pink and purple flowers in the South area of your living room or home to reinforce your desire for love. Change the water regularly because it needs to have clean water. 

Health and Wellbeing  - Doing five to ten minutes gentle exercise daily at home, such as stretching, yoga, rebounding and jogging on the spot, will have an accumulative health promoting effect. Movement boosts your immune defence and brings nourishment to your body, helping to improve any weaknesses.  If your entrance hall, bedroom or living room happens to be in the North area of your home, placing a salt water remedy there this year is a popular Feng Shui strategy to absorb certain influences that might undermine your wellbeing.

Children - To support your children’s academic progress this year, place 4 green or jade gemstones, 4 bamboo stems, or 4 Chinese calligraphy brushes with a pot of water beside them, in the South area of their bedroom. If they have a desk, you could place the enhancements on it. 

Feng Shui Guidelines to Choose Artwork for your Living Space

 The Two Ladies in a Boat    Hanging Scroll by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

The Two Ladies in a Boat    Hanging Scroll by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

Owning a work of art that is special to you is sure to inspire your mood and enrich your life.  Textiles and wallhangings, wooden carvings and metallic objects, vases and vessels, china and ceramics, deities and sculptures all constitute artwork. Art makes an expressive focal point and the choice goes way beyond just paintings.

When you want to acquire your special piece of artwork, or to decide where to place it, you may confidently draw on the aesthetic design principles of Feng Shui to help guide and inspire your decision making. Foremost considerations are that you feel a connection and affection for it, that your attention is held meaningfully when you engage with the piece, and that you resonate positively with it.

Artwork that is most likely to complement your living space is ageless, timeless and engaging, with light and shade, action and calmness, superficial interest and deeper layers combining in sensitive yin-yang balance. Use art colour tones to create the connection with your decor. Neutral decor themes will be harmoniously enlivened by complementary accents of brighter hues in artwork.  You can also create an aesthetic composition with a well-balanced group of art pieces.

Because fundamentally we need to feel connected with nature, flowers and natural scenes tend to work very well in apartments with no outside space and in urban living spaces.  Artwork in your home is meant to feel inspiring, uplifting, happy, romantic, evocative and beautiful. So be sure to avoid impressions of aggression, sadness or loneliness and dull, scary, harsh or ugly imagery.

 It is important that your artwork enhances the location where it is placed and that it is in harmony with its close surroundings. Give it adequate space, light and visibility, so that you can fully enjoy looking at it. The addition of strategically positioned, direct or indirect lighting sources and well-placed mirrors will illuminate and augment its beauty. The picture frame is also a component of art, so choose it carefully to complement the subject, its tones and textural elements.

Owning a special piece of artwork that you treasure is so emotionally fulfilling, because our response to art is expressed from the heart. Choose yours with love on a day when you feel happy. And you can draw on these Feng Shui guidelines to help you make your choice.

Watch Sylvia’s Artwork Video at Christie’s
 

The Grass is Greener

 

The Grass is Greener. Seeing the colour green communicates a sense of contact with the natural landscape. The vibrational stimulus of green neurologically soothes and replenishes, restores balance and inspires creativity. In Feng Shui, green is represented by the Wood element.

Growing numbers of green roofs and living walls are appearing in cities, transforming the impact of the built-up urban landscape by improving air quality, humidity and temperature regulation, encouraging biodiversity and wildlife.  Actually far more than that.

For the lucky people who live or work in buildings which overlook them, seeing even just a small area of green has recognised therapeutic benefits. Scientific studies show that people are happier, healthier and function more productively when they feel engaged with nature.

I never expected I would find myself writing about the merits of artificial grass!   But it really is hard to tell the difference between the new generation of synthetic turf and the real thing. Apart from its advantages of all-year use with near-zero maintenance.

Simulating nature, virtual grass transforms shady, damp or problem spots, small areas, children's play zones, patios, terraces and ugly visible flat roofs. It is the ideal aesthetic solution for outdoor spaces where having real grass is impractical. You can get it laid by bespoke specialists like Easygrass ( see before-and-after images on their website), or buy it from DIY centres.  

The photo here shows my own urban first-floor balcony. Like me, it has been converted - its former tired decking is now a delightful grassy oasis.

Sylvia Bennett
International Feng Shui Consultant London
 

 

 

Innovative Clutter Clearing - the Art of Tidying

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Its an established cliche that clutter holds you up, bogs you down and confuses your mind. It is neither comfortable nor convenient to live with, a visible form of stagnation and an invisible weight on your shoulders. It literally gets in the way of everything.

Even in living spaces that look great, most of us have some clutter tucked away and would appreciate a helping hand to motivate action.

My own home is a neat little urban apartment for two, and we hate to live with clutter. The kitchen has only the essentials for cooking super meals. Our minimal wardrobe space precludes silly shopping sprees. Our workspace is a clever use of limited square footage. Everything has a dedicated place and our possessions are pared down to the bare minimum - or so I thought !

When a client lent me her copy of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo, I just had to read it. It certainly captured my imagination and a desire to at least experiment with some of Marie’s innovative suggestions. It is quirky, rather simplistically written, somewhat repetitive and with an evident emphasis on the lifestyle and customs of Marie’s Japanese clients.  Nevertheless it is charming, intriguing, motivating. The urge to try out some of her unusual tidying tricks is irresistible.

My scarves are rolled and stood on end in a pretty box that fits perfectly on the shelf where they belong, formerly laid flat and awkward to maintain. It looks like an exclusive boutique. Underwear revamping followed. Lots of cute touches to try out everywhere.   

The clearing mood progressed happily on to letting go of a few folders of well preserved ‘important’ papers and such in our well-organised tiny home office. It did not look much stored neatly on shelves.  imagine my shock when the security shredding firm gave me a receipt for my 44 kilos of discarded paper. Yes really. Need more encouragement - get the book and get started.

Thank you Marie Kondo for your inspiration.  No wonder the book is a best seller.

Feng Shui Decorating - A Breath of Fresh Air

Decorating is a great opportunity to make a fresh impact and create a new sense of harmony and well being.  It is also a time to consider just what you paint on to your surfaces. The World Health Organisation recognises that harmful residual emissions from conventional paints undermine the air quality even years they have been applied.  What is the point of refreshing your walls, but upsetting the environment and challenging your health?

The answer is to use only a quality natural based paint and there is one that I feel comfortable about introducing to all my Feng Shui clients. Not just because it carries the Allergy UK Seal of Approval and is completely free from solvents, VOCs, toxins and odour. Lakeland Paints www.lakelandpaints.co.uk water-based range (formerly Ecos) includes two of my very favourite paint products. So I want to share them with you.   

Their Feng Shui multi-purpose paint with its stylish colour range is the ideal answer to creating a calm, coordinated feeling in any room. It can be applied to walls, doors, woodwork, window frames and radiators. The overall unified effect looks so professional and it feels really harmonious. Being washable means it also works well for kitchens and in children’s playrooms.

Their revolutionary Air Purifying paint permanently filters out and neutralises airbourne pollutants such as solvents, formaldehyde, VOCs, other chemicals and some traffic fumes. independent testing has verified its effectiveness which apparently lasts for years. It has the full colour range and is ideal for bedrooms of children or adults with respiratory sensitivities, helping them enjoy a more peaceful and healthier sleep.  Beautifully natural paint solutions.

Wind in the City

Our modern urban society is experiencing a worrying ‘new’ environmental situation that practitioners of Feng Shui have been cautioning about for thousands of years. We term it ‘Wind Sha'. When I recently conducted students’ study tours at London’s Canary Wharf, it was impossible to ignore the excessive wind that blew constantly, channeled between the awesome high rise buildings that occupy its straight East-West main streets. Many have angular corners, which accentuate thewind force.  Now it seems it is no longer only Feng Shui devotees who acknowledge the problem exists.  

Wind is funnelled between tall structures and is directed harshly towards any property that faces a T-junction. This is perceived in Feng Shui as a detrimental force that affects occupants, undermining their life situations.  

The wind speed and its pressure increase to become unpleasant, even harmful, as demonstrated in this photo of a beautiful lime tree growing in direct line with the gap between two large houses near me that was blown down during last year’s high winds. And the house facing this alleyway also sustained damage.

Read more about urban wind patterns, the downdraught effect, Venturi effect and the physics behind them responsible for escalating this disruptive phenomenon.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33426889

Top Tip for 2014

Change your doormat for a brand new one right away. Do so every year to invite into your life a fresh supply of new energy and new fortune into your life.
A semi-circular doormat is very auspicious because its shape metaphorically resembles the tip of a tongue, licking up prosperous energy and drawing it into your home.
If you still have a doormat that was left by previous owners, throw it away immediately. You are treading on history, but maybe not the kind you would choose for your own life. The mat will certainly retain their old qi.  So take no chances.
A brand new doormat will make your home truly your own, a place where you can live your life happily in the here and now.
 
Follow these tips and please pass  them on to others.

With love and best wishes for an auspicious and healthy year.