What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design: a strange term. Hmmmm, just like feng shui!

So What is Biophilic Design?

And they are related in another way, too. They both are about connecting humanity to the natural world.

First, the word biophilia was a term coined by psychologist Erich Fromm in the 1960’s (and later explored by biologist E.O. Wilson in the 1980’s). It refers to our love of life.

We feel good in nature and many architects and designers started taking note that growing mental illness in modern society may be linked somehow to our soulless modern buildings and environments.

But rather than studying the ancient principles of feng shui, they created a new discipline.

But that’s okay, I’m not that frustrated (smile).

As long as the end goal is the same: that we create environments that not only look good, but feel good!

Biophilic design is backed up by environmental psychology, which studies the impact buildings have on human behavior.

It has been found that healthy human development (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) is contingent upon access to the natural world.

Now, many buildings and communities are being built with biophilic design principles. Hotels, healthcare facilities, even corporate offices and housing developments have incorporated elements of nature into the design of their spaces.

So even if they don’t call it “feng shui”, that’s okay, as long as we are being nourished in our spaces and respect Mother Earth!

Since I’ve been studying biophilic design, I’ve created my own list of principles connected to each of the Five Elements of nature: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. I wrote about this in my book, Creating Luminous Spaces.

 

Additional reads if you want to learn more:

  • Biophilia Hypothesis, by E.O. Wilson
  • Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, by Stephen Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, Martin Mador


Photo credits: Pixabay.com, WikiImages – Yale University’s Kroon Hall, built with biophilic design and LEED

 

Maureen Calamia is author of Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life (Conari Press). She is also founder of the Re-Nature philosophy based on the premise that we need to restore nature back into our lives, our homes, and spirits.

 

Learn about my NEW Biophilic Design Course that starts October 2019!

It’s a 6-week Live Online Video Class.

Learn more CLICK here. 

 

 

How to Beat Data Addiction with Feng Shui

If I were to tell you that you are an addict, would you agree? Probably not, but the fact is that most Americans (in fact, most Western people) are either addicted or in the process of becoming addicted to data overload.  Find out more about this developing issue in the western world and how Feng Shui can help, by Alex Stark.

Whether from your cell phone, or through social media, or even when innocently surfing for information on the web, our brain’s synapses are becoming more and more reliant on a steady stream of information delivered through the internet. Data, the actual packets of digital information, has become like a virus, capable of interfering with our productivity, our sleep, our health, and even our sex lives. This addiction is becoming so pervasive that psychologists have given it a clinical name: electronic screen syndrome.

Video screens are now everywhere, including restaurants, bathrooms, and cars, not to mention our back pockets! Blue light from these devices has been proven to diminish sleep and concentration by interfering with our circadian rhythms. Businesses are now reporting losses in productivity equal to a whole day per week due to compulsive cellphone use. As if this was not enough, one in every four car accidents in the USA is caused by texting or phone use while driving–for a total of 1.6 million crashes a year!

In addition to all of this, there is still the concern generated by ANY electronic device, as all electrical tools emit electromagnetic radiation (EMF) that has been scientifically proven to be damaging to human tissues at certain frequencies and exposures. Although most research has failed to show conclusive evidence of causal relationships (except under very specific circumstances), cell phone use and body proximity to any electronic device continues to be studied for further clarification.

Data addition has powerful causes: from the feng shui perspective, data is a new but very powerful form of chi, one that is inherently unstable (it takes the equivalent of 8 nuclear power plants to run the internet in the US alone) and which has no built-in compassionate side. It is closely aligned with FIRE energy, but unlike traditional forms of FIRE (heat, lights) which provide service to all of nature, data is only interested in your attention and will demand it at all costs. Light and heat, natural forms of FIRE, exist independently of humans but data is entirely dependent on us using it. That is why I compare it to viruses and parasites, which require a host to exist. Most importantly, data creates addictive patterns that are very, very difficult to break. Despite the many advantages it has created, the internet has the power to create real danger and damage.

This problem is important for feng shui practitioners to consider because it is a new form of energetic interference that could undermine all other feng shui interventions. I have repeatedly seen clients whose condition refuses to improve or which stalls after a short while not because their feng shui is flawed, but because of behavioral patterns caused by their incessant connectivity through social media and use of screen devices at all hours of the day. Hence, I have come up with a set of guidelines that I recommend to most clients:

  1. Do not sleep with a cell phone next to the bed!
  2. In fact, do not sleep with a cell phone anywhere in the bedroom.
  3. If possible, turn off your cell phone entirely while you sleep or at least put it in airplane mode.
  4. Avoid using your phone as an alarm clock, and if you do, place it in the next room, not on the night stand.
  5. Limit use of all blue light screen devices (phone, TV, tablet) as much as possible, and avoid use for at least one hour before bedtime.
  6. Avoid a TV monitor in the bedroom, but if you have one, make sure it is completely turned off at night. Some monitors stay in silent but active mode all the time.
  7. Charge your cell phone or other devices far from the bedroom. In multi-floor buildings, make sure that is not below or above the bed. A bathroom is usually a good alternative.
  8. Avoid locating your wi-fi router in the bedroom, particularly near the bed. In multi-floor buildings, make sure it is not above or below your bed.
  9. Avoid locating your wi-fi router close to your desk in your home office.
  10. To avoid wi-fi radiation during sleep, I often recommend putting your wi-fi router on a timer to be turned off automatically during sleep and turned on in the morning when you need it. Electrical timers plug directly into a socket and will control when your wi-fi router turns on and off.
  11. To increase your productivity, place your cell phone or tablet in sleep or airplane mode when you have tasks to perform. Turn it back on when you are ready to dedicate a chunk of time to answering calls or email. This will help you avoid the temptation to keep checking for updates and will increase your productivity and success.
  12. Try socializing WITHOUT your cell phone. If you have to carry your phone to a social event, place it in silent mode and DO NOT place it on a table or anywhere visible. Keep it in a bag or in your jacket, as far from your body as possible.
  13. I even recommend doing the same during work meetings. Not having a phone visible enhances communication and improves performance. It also gives a good impression, as your clients or customers will sense your undivided attention.
  14. When writing an important document such as a speech or an article, write a rough outline first with paper and pen. Connecting your thoughts to your hand through writing has been shown to increase creativity and insight. When you have a good outline or a draft, it’s OK to complete it on a computer or tablet.
  15. If you are a team leader at work, consider instilling these same principles to your workforce: demand cell phones be silenced in order to increase communication and creative problem solving, particularly during meetings.
  16. If you have children, create simple but clear rules for cell phone use. This is particularly important at bed time. Needless to say, the younger the child, the more susceptible she or he will be to data addiction!

Alex Stark is an internationally recognized consultant, advisor, and teacher on issues of creativity, efficiency, and design. A graduate of the Yale University School of Architecture, he is a practitioner of Feng Shui and European Geomancy. 

Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth

“Living in harmony with the earth brings good fortune.” – Taoist proverb

Learn more about connections, harmony, and how you can strengthen your bond with earth and it’s energy, and nature and trees, from Feng Shui expert and educator, Maureen Calamia.

Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature, and TreesFirst, I must start with a question: Are we living in harmony with the earth? Thought you’d say that. Then it follows that we aren’t destined for good fortune, as a species.

We are more and more disconnected to the rhythms of nature. Research shows that we spend roughly 90 percent of our time inside. We pay more attention to the Dow than the Tao.

As a species, we’ve lost the ability to communicate and understand nature as we once did. We do not understand the impact of our modern lives on Her. And She is in pain and despair.

But although we cannot change our species, we can certainly change how we, as individuals, interact with the earth.

Good feng shui is more than what we see
In feng shui, we know that the land is the most important aspect of good feng shui. It is the land that provides fresh water and fertile soil for crops, hills for protection and gentle winds. These are the physical attributes of the land, but there are invisible attributes as well.

Vibrant land emanates a strong, positive energy that, if we could see it, would be a rainbow of translucent, bright full-spectrum light. When we see land like this, we “experience” it with all of our senses.

On the other hand, we also quickly identify places that are damaged and neglected, not just with our visual sense. These places project a dull, dark aura that drains or even threatens our sense of vitality.

There is so much more to the earth than our eyes can see and if we pay attention, we can feel it.

Talking to trees
Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature and TreesHave you ever been drawn to a tree? Like most people, when we were children the trees were part of our play. We climbed that huge oak in our yard. We snuggled between its branches. We even talked to our tree. Our lives were surrounded with magic!

Being feng shui practitioners and enthusiasts, we tend to be more sensitive than the general population. We know how it feels when a neighbor cuts down a tree. Perhaps a local wooded lot has been bull-dozed. It’s painful because we feel the pain.

In his book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben says, “When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.”

The consciousness of nature speaks to us through the nature spirits and elementals within the landscape, the trees, the flowers, even mountains and rocks. We can connect, feel and learn.

So, when is the last time you connected?
If you are like me, you have regular communication with nature, with trees, which is sometimes through words, but often through images and feelings.

If you don’t, then here are some words of advice: get out there and start now. You will be amazed at the connection and guidance you receive.

Below is some guidance on how to start:

  1. If you have a tree that you are drawn to, then go to it. If not, scan the landscape and feel your way to a tree.
  2. As you approach, ask for permission to connect and wait for a sign. You may get an image in your mind, a feeling in your heart, or perhaps you will hear a bird start singing. If you get a clear no, then honor it and find another tree or come back another day.
  3. If you get a yes, then approach the tree. Sensitize your palms by rubbing them together and then lay your hands close to the tree, hovering just an inch or two from the bark. (Some people prefer to lay their hands on the tree. Others lay their backs against the trunk. Whatever feels right to you).
  4. Be still, quiet and observe. You may ask a question in your heart. It can be a personal question or even a question about the tree, the surrounding area, the habitat.
  5. When you are done, give gratitude to the tree, perhaps a hug!

There is so much to gain when we look beyond the physical. We gain a greater depth and perspective to our lives and the life of Gaia. Our individual acts move us all closer to understanding and respect for Her. And life is magical again!

Recognizing Gaia: Connecting to Mother Earth, Nature and Trees

 

Maureen CalamiaMaureen is author of Creating Luminous Spaces: Use the Five Elements for Balance and Harmony in Your Home and in Your Life. She is also founder of the Luminous Spaces Feng Shui™ School using the Re-Nature philosophy based on the premise that we need to restore nature back into our lives, our homes, and spirits.

Accentuate the Negatives

Did you know that there are some negatives which dynamically support your well being, and in fact are crucial for your survival? Did you know that some positives are actively comprising your health and well being right now? Please keep reading this article by EcoHarmonyFengShui(c) Biophilic Designer Alisa Rose Seidlitz, to learn how to accentuate the negatives and THRIVE!

 

Alisa Rose Seidlitz

  

“Accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive, don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween” – a turn-around take on that old 20th century tune re-framed for today’s world!

For the healthiest feng shui, flood your days and nights with certain essential negatives and minimize certain positives in your environments at home and at work. I’m referring here to the components of charged atoms called negative and positive ions.

Negative ions have an extra electron and positive ions are missing an electron.

Negative ions abound in Nature and make us feel good!

They lift our spirits, help us relax, help us think clearly and breath easily, and boost our overall physical health.

Spending ample time in negative-ion-rich outdoor spaces benefits every part of us!

Alisa Rose SeidlitzThe splashing water of oceans, rivers, streams, waterfalls and fountains creates them. Sunlight, rain and thunderstorms generate them. Trees and other plants constantly emit them. Negative also help clear particulate pollution from the air. All this gives us fresh and healthy air!

Indoors, houseplants, gently splashing fountains and natural furnishings help tip the balance in favor of the negatives ions.

Until the Industrial Revolution, negative ions infused all the places and spaces where people chose to live. Today, our world is literally chocking with positive ions, outdoors as well as indoors.

Concrete, asphalt, plastic and synthetic materials of all kinds, including but not limited to synthetic fabrics, lighting fixtures, paraben candles, mattresses, cosmetics, chemical-based “air fresheners”, all sorts of furnishings, building materials, cleaning products, as well as computers and ALL electronic devices, generate positive ions. Exhaust fumes and particulate pollution also generate massive amounts of positive ions.

Sadly, even hospital environments are packed with them.

Positive ions create the conditions which promote stress and illness.

Our bodies need to recover from being in positive-ion-dominant spaces.

On the other hand, negative ions promote excellent health. In fact, they’re necessary for developing and maintaining it.

For a truly complete Healthy Home Feng Shui Assessment, the balance of these ions in any given space should be addressed.

Some Personal Ways to Minimize the Positives & Accentuate the Negatives

~ Stop all pesticide use both indoors and outside.
~ Stop using synthetic “air fresheners.”
~ Clean with Nature’s “products” such as lemon, high quality essential oils, vinegar and baking soda or organic ready-made products, and wash with in natural laundry detergent.
~ Sleep on natural, untreated or organic bedding.
~ Make your next mattress an untreated, organic one.
~ Use organic, non-gmo, non-nanoized bodycare products and cosmetics.
~ Choose to wear natural, untreated fabrics such as linen, silk, wool, hemp and organic cotton.
~ Choose beeswax candles, which emit negative ions, instead of synthetic candles.
~ Take a shower. Let the water splash on and all around you, cleansing your body and clearing your aura.
Alisa Rose Seidlitz~ Take a walk in the woods. The longer and more often the better, but even a few short while can be hugely beneficial.
~ Walk or sit by splashing ocean waves or by a babbling brook.
~ Bring fresh-cut, untreated flowers into your spaces, along with potted plants.
~ Plant trees.
~ Make and/or tend a garden directly in the ground or in planting pots.
~ Use beeswax candles, which smell wonderful and emit negative ions, instead of ‘regular’ wax candles, which emit positive ions even when not burning.

AND, to make the world a more beautiful, healthier, happier place for everyone:

~ Work to stop pesticide use in your town or city.
~ Encourage your town or city to reduce paved areas and to Bring Nature Back!

Go outside and find a place to experience the Joy of Nature and Her Negatives for yourself!

Author’s Note: Beware of manufactured negative ions generators. They can emit toxic plastic fumes and significant background noise, and cause more problems than they solve. Make sure to do extensive due-diligence before purchasing, and it’s a good idea to make sure that what you buy is returnable.

 
Alisa Rose SeidlitzAlisa Rose Seidlitz is a longtime Ecological Garden Designer, Certified Green Building Professional, GreenAP for Interiors, Graceful Lifestyles Certified Interior Re-Designer, Flower Essence and Reiki Practitioner.  Read more about Alisa Rose. 

Photo Source: Alisa Rose Seidlitz

Encourage Rest and Regeneration in Bedrooms

Rest and regeneration are fundamental to our well-being and have an important role in aiding in recuperation as well. Because they are the quietest environments in the home, bedrooms are often the first location where we retire to heal.  Read tips and hints from Feng Shui expert and teacher, Los Angeles based, Alex Stark.

Source: Pinterest/Ballard Designs - bedrooms

Source: Pinterest/Ballard Designs

  • Bedrooms should be located in a quiet, protected area of the house, preferably towards the rear of the building. A corner with Southwestern exposure is ideal.
  • Bedrooms should not have more than one doorway.
  • Bedrooms should not face a stairway, elevator or any exit doors.
  • Bedrooms should not be located at the end of corridors, next to stairs or elevators or directly adjacent to bathrooms, parking garages, or mechanical rooms.
  • Position your bed diagonally opposite the entry door and in such a way that you can see the door when lying in bed. If you can’t, hang a mirror so that you can see the door from the bed.
  • Mirrors are best avoided in the bedroom. If you have to have one, make sure you cannot see yourself reflected in the mirror when lying in bed. Restlessness, poor sleep and loss of performance can be the result.
  • Position your bed so that your feet do not point out the door. If you cannot avoid this, place a table, screen or hanging crystal between the door and the bed.
  • Avoid overhanging beams or knifelike corners pointing at the bed, especially across it.
  • Avoid bedrooms under slanted ceilings. If at all possible, have a flat drop-ceiling.
  • Your bed should rest with its back against a solid wall.
  • The headboard should be higher than the foot board.
  • In a home where the male is too dominant, decorate with additional symbols of the feminine: seashells, the moon, round, oval or crescent shapes, the color yellow, or earth materials such as stone or clay.
  • In a home where the female is too dominant, decorate with additional symbols of the masculine: animals, the sun, square or blunt objects, grandfather clocks, hunting scenes and paraphernalia, metallic objects and the color white.
  • During pregnancy do not move the bed to avoid the risk of a miscarriage.
  • Have your bedrooms checked for Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF’s) and for Geopathic Stresses

 

Alex StarkAlex Stark is an internationally recognized consultant, advisor, and teacher on issues of creativity, efficiency, and design. A graduate of the Yale University School of Architecture, he is a practitioner of Feng Shui and European Geomancy. Read more about Alex.

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