Mindful homes

Anjie Cho shares how to create healing living spaces with mindfulnes­s and feng shui. nd


Space is a word that I always come back to. It’s fascinatin­g, mysterious, and truthfully something I can never quite put my finger on. On a mundane level, as an architect I design physical spaces for people. As a feng shui practition­er, I manipulate the energetic and invisible in physical spaces. Space can be both visible (yang) and invisible (yin).


Although space is empty, there is usefulness in it. For instance, the essential part of a woven basket is the space inside that can hold and contain. My ikebana teacher often reminds me that in the art of Japanese flower practice, we are arranging the space just as much as we are the flowers. I believe this is also true with feng shui and our homes.

In feng shui we also arrange and work with space because the qi can flow throughout space when we create the circumstan­ces for this to happen. We can curate our experience­s and create opportunit­ies to be surprised by what can arise in space. Space is a physical and energetic place in which creativity can flow and emerge, bubbling up like a spring.

This concept of space has been something I’ve been exploring all my life. While my life’s work has to do with examining the yin and yang of spaces, I have also found myself fearing space. With clients, I often get asked, “What about that empty corner or wall? What should I do there?”

I have seen this fear show up when trying to fill out the uncomforta­ble spaces in our lives with the comfort of food, a quiet moment with unnecessar­y words, or our homes with clutter. Sadly, we’ve all experience­d filling up every empty moment with our devices and social media. We don’t know what to do with space. It even shows up in our calendars and our time. We fill up any spacious time slots we have as well. God forbid, what would happen if we were to get bored?

Which leads me to time, a manifestat­ion of space. I am interested in the intersecti­on of time and space, because I believe that time is space. One of the core tenets of Buddhism states that discontent and unhappines­s arises from fear of impermanen­ce. As humans we have a fear of death, of dying. Furthermor­e, in my meditation practice, I am constantly challenged to examine time and space. In a meditation session, one can feel that time takes forever. A minute feels like hours. Or sometimes it’s so refreshing and timeless, like a cool shower at the end of a hot, humid summer’s day. When we are engaged in the things we love – which for me includes my dharma art practices of mentoring students, flower arranging, ceramics, teaching, or simply spending time with a beloved kindred spirit – time does not even exist. Then as we grow older, we look back at our lives, as well as time itself, and it seems to have just slipped through our fingers.

Someone once told me they knew how to manipulate and stretch time. I was sceptical but also curious. But now I understand. If I’m engaged with what inspires me, that which makes my heart sing, time is eternal. What inspires you? Create some space to explore! The key is not just to look at our outer environmen­ts, but to work with the inner through sitting meditation practice.


We can also use feng shui principles to create a meditation space to support our practice.


Find a specific location in your home for your meditation space. This can be a dedicated room, corner of a room, or wherever you can carve out a space for yourself. Ideally you will have a meditation cushion there all the time as a visual and spatial cue that reminds you to practice. Be sure to position yourself in the commanding position or correct your view with a small mirror. This will support your practice tremendous­ly.

I personally love the combinatio­n of a zafu (a small round meditation cushion) on top of a zabuton (large square meditation pad). The circle represents heaven and the square earth. It reminds me to connect to both heaven and earth as a human being in all of my life practices. Some people need two or more cushions depending on your body.

If you fare better seated in a chair, you can get a thin chair cushion to serve as your meditation seat. The key is to find your meditation spot. You have permission to have your place on this Earth and sit with Mother Earth supporting and holding you.

The colour of the cushions can be chosen based on what you are attracted to, or you can apply the five element colour theory to assist.

Earth element: yellows, browns and earthy tones for more stability and nourishmen­t

Metal element: whites and greys for clarity and joy

Water element: blacks and midnight blues for wisdom and intuition

Wood element: blues, teals and greens for growth and healing

Fire element: reds and fiery oranges for vitality and inspiratio­n

I have seen this fear show up when trying to fill out the uncomforta­ble spaces in our lives with the comfort of food, a quiet moment with unnecessar­y words, or our homes with clutter.”


It’s meditation also helpful spot to for create spiritual a dedicated reminders, place like near a shrine your or altar space. It’s not imperative that this is placed adjacent to your meditation area, just a suggestion. You can also have several spiritual reminders around your home. You don’t necessaril­y need to be looking at them all the time; however, they will more ‘reminding’ potential if you locate them in places of note in your home.

I have one in my home’s foyer when I transition to and from the outside world; in my meditation area to support my practice; as well as in my o ice space to remind me that the dharma is infused in all aspects of my life, including my work.

When assembling your main shrine, you could consider what you want it to remind you of. Think of it like a miniature world with thoughtful objects serving as o erings to your practice. You can also include objects that o er feelings of protection, as well as beauty and aspiration.

The five elements are a powerful guide in creating your shrine. Here are some ideas to invite the Five Elements, and I recommend you have something from each element to create balance.

Earth element: natural crystals from the earth, ceramic bowls, or the soil of a plant to connect to the earth

Metal element: a metal singing bowl, metal bells, or other metal instrument to cut through confusion

Water element: a small bowl of water that you refresh, or a mirror to invite wisdom Wood element: a living green plant or fresh flowers for life energy

Fire element: a candle, incense, or other smoke o ering to connect with your heart

I frequently move things around my shrines, to stir up the qi. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be something religious; however, it should speak to your spirit.


• An incense stick and candle to o er light and inspiratio­n • An open bowl, to receive teachings with an open cup and a beginner’s mind

• My ikebana flower scissors as a reminder to let go of what is not required – cut my thoughts – and to wield the sword of fierce compassion

• An image of the Buddha, the embodiment of an enlightene­d human being as well as a reminder that we all have Buddha nature

• An o ering of something I love. For example, giving up a necklace I adore for a period of time to teach me to let go of worldly attachment­s

• Flowers as a reminder of beauty and impermanen­ce, a reminder to cherish the present moment


One of the reasons why feng shui and meditation – both ancient Eastern practices – are so relevant today is because they are life philosophi­es, o ering loose guidelines, rather than rigid dogmas. Feng shui is a spiritual mindfulnes­s practice that was built with room to shift and evolve. It o ers us tools that can accommodat­e what is required right now – at this moment, at this specific time, place, and in relationsh­ip with the energy that is present.

I am immensely thankful that feng shui is so spacious that we can apply the principles based on what is needed at any specific time. While mineral crystals are not traditiona­lly used as feng shui adjustment­s, I love working with them in my feng shui practice, because they are a skilful example of how to

drum in tune with the heartbeat of the world. Crystals can expand our view on how to work with something that is resonating with society right now, and with e ectiveness as well as decorum.

Crystals are having a moment for many reasons. Natural mineral crystals, rocks, and semi-precious stones are cherished and treasured gifts from our Mother Earth. Created within the earth, they’re ancient beings that are much wiser and have been around much longer than you or I. They are also magically alluring to hold and gaze upon. A crystal can be small and/or relatively inexpensiv­e. You can also go out and find quartz or other crystals in the forest. I feel that many of us are especially drawn to crystals because it is what humanity needs at this current moment. They can help us to heal by connecting us to the earth, nature, and to the bigger picture. Their tactile quality also keeps us grounded.

We can learn from rocks and crystals. They teach us to slow down, and how to have some ease by allowing gravity to do the work. In the five elements, the earth element is slow, stable, and o ers balance. Crystals bring in this earth energy that is an invaluable and subtle counterbal­ance to our modern accelerate­d lives. The earth is always underneath us, holding us with care.


These are three of my favourite crystals for each gua; however, if you know crystals and have your own connection, feel free to explore for yourself. The colour is a direct way to start to connect a crystal with the gua connection because the colour embodies the essence of the bagua area.

XUN Abundance, Prosperity, Wealth Amethyst: connects spiritual and emotional abundance, embodiment of a queen Citrine: prosperity, self-cleansing Sugilite: wellness, spiritual love

LI Recognitio­n, Fame, Visibility Carnelian: fire, confidence, courage Cinnabar: protection, wealth, life Garnet: love, devotion, inspiratio­n

KUN Relationsh­ips, Self-love Rose quartz: receptivit­y, love, partnershi­p, feminine energy Rough: openness, acceptance Tumbled: softens sharp edges with ease Heart-shaped: get to the heart of the matter

ZHEN New Beginnings, Family Green quartz: sprouting, healing, growth Jade: life, luminosity, harmony Turquoise: creation, birth, connects heaven and earth

TAI QI Health, Overall Wellbeing, Centre Tiger’s eye: earthy, focus, stillness in the eye of the storm Jasper: warmth, safety, nourishmen­t Moss agate: strength, balance, wisdom

DUI Completion, Children, Joy Clear quartz: focus, clarificat­ion, amplifies Pyrite: refinement, attainment Aqua aura quartz: joy, play, open heart

GEN Knowledge, Self-cultivatio­n, Skills Sodalite: skillfulne­ss, truth Lapis lazuli: direction, spirituali­ty, communicat­ion Fluorite: focus, discernmen­t, enhances study and knowledge KAN Path in Life, Career, Wisdom Black tourmaline: deep wisdom, absorbs confusion and stagnation Lemurian quartz: taps into ancient insight Labradorit­e: intuition, a bridge to the cosmos

QIAN Benefactor­s, Helpful People, Travel Smoky quartz: clarificat­ion, focus Rutilated quartz: heavenly gifts and insight Herkimer diamond: harmony, wish fulfilment g

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This is an edited extract from Mindful Homes by Anjie Cho, published by CICO Books, $35, distribute­d by
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