Monday, June 24, 2013

Ahhh, the smell of it...

Walking down the streets of Colorado Springs this weekend, I had an opportunity to stop into a few shops. Each was entirely different from one another, but I was struck by the same thing as I entered – the smell.

I mean this in a good way.

In one shop, I entered and could clearly catch the scent of lavender. This was a shop with various essential oils, flower essences, soaps and related books on the topics. Lavender has a very soothing effect on us, helping to create an aura of peace in a space, which made perfect sense for this small shop and its wares.

In the other, the strong aroma was much earthier, but still sweet, which I recognized as Nag Champa incense. Tibetan wares filled the shelves and covered the walls. My daughter was especially drawn to the singing bowls and the caretaker even demonstrated a large 18-inch quartz crystal singing bowl tuned to the key of F (the heart chakra). Statues of dragons, lucky frogs, Kwan Yin and other Hindu gods, and colorful clothing  complemented the deep red, yellow and earth tones that blanketed the space. Nag Champa seemed the perfect match for this place, with its very grounding essence.

Although two very different establishments, one very light and the other earthy, they each used the same technique for setting the tone for their stores. We can do the same in our homes or in our individual spaces. Consider the home you walk into that has cookies baking in the oven. It’s hard not feel a sense of welcome and warmth. While we can’t all be baking every time company comes, we can use more subtle approaches with aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy uses essential oils, which are botanical extracts from various plants, to make that connection between our sense of smell and a positive, emotional experience. Studies have proven our sense of smell is most closely tied to our memories, so it can be a great tool for tapping into those positive associations we have with the past, but can also help establish new positive memories.

I prefer using essential oils to the chemically based options sold in the grocery and large retail stores because it’s a more natural approach and you are better able to control the strength of the scent you use to fill a room.

If you’re wondering where to begin, start with a diffuser. The most common are those with a small stand and a glass or metal bowl heated by a tea light. Add water and a few drops of the oil of your choice, let the heat of the tea light do its magic and the space will begin to fill with the gentle aroma (make sure you don't leave the candle unattended). 

Next, you should select an essential oil that you enjoy. If you don’t know which one, stores that sell essential oils will often have testers you can use to get a sense for the aroma.

As you’re selecting your oils, remember to consider the intention or feel you want for your home. Are you looking to have your home feel more balanced, more grounded, or more energized? There are so many options ranging from lavender to sage to lemon. Bottom line though, you should listen to your intuition. It’s the best guide you’ll have.

So if you’re looking to create a great first impression in your home, don’t forget to consider the sense of smell. It can set the tone for great memories to come.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When In Doubt, Move It.

I asked my daughter recently how she would go about improving our deck. I told her I didn't think the lights worked well any longer and it just didn't feel as good as it once did. This was her response:

"You know what I do when I want a space to feel differently? I move things around."

I have to admit I felt a swell of pride when she said this. It was such a natural Feng Shui response. I remember when I was a kid, I would rearrange my furniture in my room every few months or so. It drove my mom a bit batty, but I knew I just needed a different feel in the space.

Now that I'm a Feng Shui consultant, I understand the impact of shifting things around in a space and why I needed to listen to my instincts on this even back then. When we're feeling stuck in our lives, there can be many reasons for it, but more often than not there's an indication in your home of what that is and why.

In Feng Shui, we use an energetic map called the Bagua, to connect aspects of our lives (e.g., career, relationships) with areas of our home.It allows us to pinpoint enhancements for specific aspects of your life.  When you feel stuck, there can be telltale signs of this in your home too, like a lot of clutter; but if the signs are not so evident, you can take my daughter's advice and move some things around.

The question becomes where do you start? I'd say first listen to your intuition. Where do you feel you should start? What room just feels like it needs to be changed? If nothing comes up, I'd say start with the entry to your home because this is considered the "mouth of chi" -- it's the place the energy enters your home and if there are blocks here, it can have an effect on the entire space. As you enter your home, do you notice anything that just doesn't feel right? Is there something you've been meaning to do in this space but just haven't gotten around to it? Well, now's the time.

Next, I'd recommend focusing on your office, which typically represents your career and prosperity. Does the desk feel right where it is? Are there book shelves that could be moved or better organized? What about your computer? Can it be moved to another place on your desk?

One more place to consider starting is your bedroom. This space represents your intimate relationships. How would it feel if you moved an end table or swapped out a lamp? What about shifting the bed slightly or moving the dresser to another corner? Even moving small items, like pictures, can make a difference.

Moving things around really is just a start in creating better feng shui for your space, but it will allow you to get a different feel in a room because you're changing the way energy is flowing in the space. You'd be surprised what a difference these shifts can have on not only a room but you, too. Enjoy the shifting!