Raise the Energy of your Space

Little fact about myself: I graduated with a degree in Interior and Environmental Design. I am not trying to be biased when I say that the places and spaces we come in contact with have significant impacts on our health. During my education, I learned the psychology behind design. Ever wonder why many fast food joints use the color red? Red is a stimulating color, increasing appetite and energy, which is perfect for those grab-and-go restaurants. This is also why their signs/logos are typically red. This way, they catch your attention while driving. Another psychological fact about restaurant design; why do most people prefer booth seating? The reason relates to our primal survival instincts of safety and security. When we sit in booths, we feel more protected as opposed to sitting with our backs exposed at table seating. Fascinating no?

Outside my schooling, through my own learning, I discovered how not only can spaces impact our mental and physical wellbeing, but our energy and souls. Everything is connected. You may have heard of Feng Shui, and how the arrangement of furniture and use of shapes, elements, and color can affect the energy of a space. This ancient practice is one way that helps balance and heighten the Chi, or energy, which in return affects our physical bodies and mind.

While the art of traditional Feng Shui is very extensive, anyone can increase the vibrations of their space. Here are some simple tips and tricks that I have come across for increasing the vibrations and giving balance to one’s space:

1. Declutter: A messy space disrupts the flow of energy, causing mental stress in the process. A tidy space allows the energy to flow smoothly and brings peace of mind.

2. Utilize the five senses: Often times, we focus our attention on visual aspects. While ascetics can raise the vibrations of a space, we shouldn’t forget our other senses. Find and add different textures to stimulate your sense of touch. Have incense, fragrant candles, and/or potpourri to incorporate your sense of smell, and play music to impact your sense of sound. For taste, there isn’t much that can be done, but sometimes our sense of smell affects our tastebuds. They key is to incorporate more of our senses than just sight.

3. Notice the corners: Energy tends to sit and stagnate in the corners of a room when these spaces are empty. Adding an arrangement or furniture to the corners of a space allows the energy to flow freely again.

4. Add some crystals: Crystals give off their own vibrations, which can increase the energy of your space. Different stones give off different energies, such as Amethyst can increase peaceful energies (which would be perfect for a bedroom), while Citrine brings wealth and prosperity in a space (good for a office/work environment). When placing stones in your space, I recommend larger specimens, ideally clusters since they radiate their energy in all directions as opposed to small tumbled stones that are meant more for personal, hand-held use.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

Celestite is a high vibrational stone and is great for a meditation room.

5. Add some plants: Like crystals, plants give off energy as well. Studies have shown that plants actually help with mental health, reducing stress and depression. They also help with physical health in a number of ways, from reducing colds to helping with allergies. Acting as air purifiers, they are a wonderful addition to any space.

6. Add a Himalayan Salt Lamp: Our bodies naturally release positive ions in the air, and if unchecked, overtime this can lead to allergens to form in the space, causing respiratory problems. Salt lamps release negative ions, which counteract and balance out the positive ions we emit. Plus, the soft warm glow these lamps produce has very soothing effects as well.himalayan_salt_lamp_mini

7. Decorate: I feel that this tip is a given, but non-the-less, it is important to emphasize how you want to add your personal touch to a space, thus adding your energy. Picture frames, personal knick-knacks, and other accessories that resonate with you can increase the energy of a space. Don’t forget neglected areas, such as adding wall art and rugs.

Be creative and have fun! If you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer. Namaste.

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The Power of Yoga

When I was in high school, I was very inactive. The only exercise I got was in my mandatory gym classes and water polo, my sport of choice. Then I graduated high school and my first two years of college were even more so inactive. I did not have a gym class or sports team to keep my healthy and in shape. Naturally, I put on weight and started to lose muscle form in my body. To put it delicately, I “let myself go”. Byyyyye body. My junior and senior year, I tinkered with was to exercise, from running like a rat on an elliptical, to swimming laps in the pool. Nothing really clicked with me, and I was doing these exercises more to lose weight rather than for the enjoyment of the activity. After college, I discovered yoga. A while back, I thought it would be an interesting activity to try. I started myself off with Erin Motz’s DoYouYoga 30 Day Challenge. This gave me the task to finish it through to the end (thanks OCD for this one). At the end of 30 Days, I was a new yogi junkie. I never realized how many amazing benefits there are to yoga, and this activity has been a wonderful, positive change in my life that has helped me in many ways.

Here are some amazing benefits that I discovered about yoga:

1. It is a Great Form of Exercise: I used to be under the assumption that yoga was just some white girl workout that woman did for social bonding rather than actual exercise. Boy was I wrong. Yoga has helped me tone and tighten my entire body, building my muscles through the various poses. That is one great thing about yoga…it works your whole body. Not only is it good for toning, but it can be a cardio workout as well, especially when doing one-breath sequences or vinyasas. Granted, this type of cardio isn’t equal to running, but I have found myself with a racing heart at the end of some of these videos.

2. It Helps you Relax:  Some yoga poses can be quite relaxing and sleep inducing, but the relaxing qualities of yoga do not stop there. Yoga has also helped ease my overactive mind. When doing yoga, I shift my attention to my body, keeping my posture correct, taking deep breaths, and being aware of any tightness in my muscles. I am listening to my body. This is a form of mindfulness for me, and I can fully enjoy the moment when I am practicing yoga.

3. Amazing Health Benefits: Due to it’s stupendous versatility, yoga can help with many different types of chronic disease and improve your overall health. Yoga has been shown to help with reducing heart disease and high blood pressure, reducing anxiety and depression, as well as pain relief and aiding insomnia. One of Erin’s videos is about twist poses. Doing twist poses helps with digestion and increasing your metabolism. There are also poses for balance and flexibility.

4. Connected me to my Chi: Whether it’s Chi or Chakras, yoga has allowed me to connect with my energy field. Through focused yoga/meditation, I have been strengthening my energies and energizing them too. There are great poses, such as warrior poses, that give me this powerful energy. There is also specific yoga, such as kundalini yoga, which awakens the energies within us from the root to the crown chakra. I have even placed healing crystals and stones on my yoga mat to connect to a specific chakra, or on a nice sunny day, I take my mat outside and get the added benefits of nature to energize and strengthen my chakras.

5. Increases your self-esteem: For me, yoga was this amazing tool that not only transformed my body, but my mind as well. My mood improved dramatically and I can’t quite explain why. Perhaps it was the fact that is shifted my attention outside of my mind and let it focus on the present, that it made me pay attention to the tiny details, that it toned my body, helped me sleep, relieved my achy body…I could go on. Like I said, yoga has been this life altering practice that has impacted every part of my being: body, mind, and soul.

I encourage you to try Do You Yoga’s 30 Day challenge, or any form of yoga to get you started. Take a class, look for a video on youtube, whatever your method maybe, and watch this activity work its wonders on you!

Namaste.

Farmer’s Markets and Gardens

So I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning. There is something about the small tables scattered with vegetables so freshly picked that they still have dirt on them that invoke my warm and fuzzies. I am a big veggie-aholic. They are packed with so much nutrients, and I can really feel the effects of these great properties when I eat them. In the late spring, my family plants our vegetable garden, so in the summer, we are blessed with an abundance of tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, and a variety of leafy greens. Not only are these veggies fresh and at the peak of their nutritional splendor when we eat them, but it certainly cuts down our grocery bill! It’s also so nice not having to drive to the store for these ingredients. I simply just walk outside and *pluck*. Having a garden or even a community garden is a great way to save money, get delicious and nutritious foods, and connect to mother nature. Gardens take a good amount of work to maintain…from watering, tilling, pulling out weeds, etc., but they are so worth it! If gardens are too much upkeep for you, I suggest buying locally and stopping by your farmer’s market. Here are five benefits of going to the farmer’s market:

1. Fresh and Nutrition-packed Produce

Buying from a farmer, you are getting fruits and veggies that are picked at the peak of their ripeness, ensuring the best flavor and nutritional benefits that these products have to offer. Generally, when you buy from a supermarket or grocery store, these products are picked before they have fully matured so that they are able to arrive at the stores and sit for a couple of days, meaning you lose out on a lot of nutritional benefits this way.

2. Organic Produce

When you go to a farmer’s market, you are getting a selection of organic foods that are GMO and pesticide free. Eating produce sprayed with chemicals and unnatural products has serious side effects on our organ health, such as cancer. There have been over 260 studies that have linked cancer to agrochemicals. Eating organically, you are choosing to eat safe and reduce your risk of these diseases.

3. Help the Environment

When buying locally, you are helping to reduce the impact of CO2 omissions that are produced when transporting produce. Since these are local farms, there is less travel, hence a reduced impact on our environment. There is also a reduce of package waste that goes into farmer’s markets as well. Most farmers display their produce in crates and paper bins, leaving non-biodegradable plastic out of the mix.

4. Support your Community

When you buy from a farmer, you are helping support their way of life. Giving back to small farms allows this produce to keep coming in, and you are helping strengthen your community by helping them out. Meet new people, chit-chat with the farmers, and build your relationships with them and your community!

5. Adorable Date Idea

Okay, so this isn’t a “major” benefit, but going to the farmer’s market is such a cute date idea. It’s fun, unique, and there are a lot of things to see. Buy some vegetables with your bae, and go home to cook up a delicious and nutritious meal together!

The Importance of Nature

The serenity of the creek near my house

Most of us live in cities or suburbs, detached from nature with the exception of forest preserves and parks that are dotted within our radius. With spring in the air, and summer approaching, more and more people are venturing out of their homes to enjoy the lovely weather. I am one of those people. Even though I would face the harsh Illinois winter weather to explore the forest preserve near my house, I must say it is easier to do now that it isn’t a balmy 20 degrees with six inches of snow on the ground.

I love exploring the forests and being out in nature. Growing up, my family vacations consisted of camping trips to Wisconsin or Missouri. My backyard was my playground. Climbing trees and catching frogs in the marsh behind my house were my pastimes (okay, I still will do that). While I have strong connections to growing up surrounded by nature, for a while, I lost touch with the earth. I would spend my days inside binge watching Netflix episodes and staring at a computer screen. Needless to say, it was an unhappy time for me. I felt lost and detached from the world around me. I was alive, but I wasn’t living.

Nature has been a great asset for my mental health. When I am out in nature, my senses are heightened and I feel alive and living in the moment. My thoughts about the past and future cease, and I just enjoy the here and now. I am aware of the terrain beneath my feet, the sounds of the birds within the trees, and the smells of the spring flowers budding. Every breath is a new discovery to behold. There is always something new to see and I am hardly bored when I am surrounded by the plants and wildlife.

Nature also reminds me that we as a planet are all connected. In today’s society we are so wrapped up in our own minds, rarely do we stop and think about this concept of “oneness”. What we say and do has deeper affects than most of us realize. Being in nature, I see coexistence. The oak tree that shades the forest floor, gives us oxygen, and provides a home to the birds and critters. Or that creek that houses fresh water and harbors life under it’s surface. Everything has a purpose. This idea I take back into the man-made world. I become aware that it is not just me on this beautiful planet. Earth houses so much life, and we all call this place our home. Nature reminds me to not only think of others and how our lives are interconnected, but to think of the living creatures that don’t have a voice, and how our actions affect their lives as well.

I will leave you with a poem that I wrote, capturing my love of nature. I encourage you to get outside today and feel this wonderful experience for yourself!!!

Lose yourself, To a bluebird's song. Or perhaps a morning dove's, Beneath the towering trees. Where the scents of foliage, An aroma of oak and lily, Blossom in the breeze. Succumb to the softness, Of soil damp and rich, The moments all seize, Find yourself.

Lose yourself,
To a bluebird’s song.
Or perhaps a morning dove’s,
Beneath the towering trees.
Where the scents of foliage,
An aroma of oak and lily,
Blossom in the breeze.
Succumb to the softness,
Of soil damp and rich,
The moments all seize,
Find yourself.

Hug a Tree

Arteries of a Tree

Today is Earth Day! Hazzah! I am very excited about this because even though I practice respecting the planet and honoring Mother Earth day to day, today is a day that raises the awareness to other people who may not be practicing these beliefs. It is very important, I feel, to recognize the Earth as a living being (because it is). Many people seem to not think about their actions and how they affect the planet:  using plastic, littering, wasting energy, etc. Today is a great day to spread the message of preserving and protecting our planet to these people.

I encourage everyone to do your part today to make this world a little healthier! Recycle, plant a tree, bike instead of driving your car to work, turn off your lights after leaving the room….any little bit helps! Our actions today have an equal or opposite reaction in the future (Newton’s Third Law people). Okay, sure he was talking about physics, but think about it…if we do a good deed for the planet today, we maybe prone to doing another good deed in the future…and another…and another! We may start to notice a change in ourselves and the environment. Take this Earth day to start making a change! Be that change! I leave you with this piece of Native American Wisdom:

When the blood in your veins returns to the sea,
and the earth in your bones returns to the ground,
perhaps then you will remember,
that this land does not belong to you,
it is you who belongs to the land

Happy Earth Day!