Three Steps to a Harmonious Classroom and…Life!

If you could have the perfect life, what would it look like? Imagine your life exactly as you wish it could be. Now, what if I told you that you were given these unique desires because you were meant to fulfill them?  You are meant to fulfill your dreams and accomplish your goals.  How, you ask? Feng shui can help!

What exactly is feng shui?

You have the power to change nine areas of your life with the help of feng shui. Using a tool called the bagua map, you will be able to see which area of your home, office, or classroom connects to specific areas of your life.  The nine areas are: wealth, reputation, relationships, children & creativity, health, family, knowledge, career, and helpful people & travel. Using the bagua map, you can address any area of life and see results almost immediately. 

Ideally, a feng shui home will have good flowing energy in all nine areas.  However, just as life is ever-changing, so must your feng shui practice continue to evolve.  Once you declutter a space and decorate, you will need to check in on that area of your home from time to time to keep it healthy.  The knowledge of feng shui is a very powerful tool that you can use as situations arise in your life. 

When you are ready to start applying feng shui to your classroom (or office), decluttering and organizing is a great place to start!  First and foremost, you want to tend to your personal desk.  Then, it is most important to organize the furniture, such as student desks and tables, in a way that allows optimal flow of chi. Finally, help your students organize their personal desks and the materials in the classroom so that you feel more energized and peaceful in your classroom. Let’s get started!

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Step One: Clear Desk, Clear Mind

Did you know that you could lay the bagua map on your desk?  That’s right, you can elevate the energy of all nine areas of your life simply by cleaning and organizing your desk with your intention.

If you are like most teachers, you probably do not spend that much time in your desk. However, when you are at your desk you are probably doing some important documentation or planning that needs your full attention. Make your desk inviting and clear so that your mind feels lighter and you can focus with greater ease.  

  1. Empty each drawer one at a time.  Drawers carry very stagnant energy because there is nowhere for the energy to escape. The best way to refresh the energy of the desk and release old chi is by removing objects and getting rid of what you no longer need.  There are probably many teachers or students who could benefit from some old supplies that you no longer use.

  2. Now that your desk has been organized,  you are ready to minimize the surface of the desk. Start by taking everything off and dusting the surface of the desk.  Next, place your items strategically based on the bagua map and the elements which represent each gua.  For example, I like to place a bamboo plant on the upper left corner of my desk.  The upper left gua is the wealth gua, activated by the wood element.  The bamboo symbolizes wood and represents upward growth.  The hollowness of the bamboo signifies the openness to receive abundance. The chart below shows the bagua map and suggestions for each gua. Remember that the element is most effectively represented by the shape.  

  3. Place the desk in a “power position.”  You want to able to see the door from where you are sitting.  If your back is against the door, you could get startled if someone walks up behind you.  You have more peace of mind knowing exactly who is entering your space.  Try to have a solid wall behind you if possible.  This school year, I moved my desk from the relationship corner to the wealth corner. Those are the preferred guas since they are considered the most powerful, anchoring positions.  Although there is a window at my back, I have a much better view of the door.  If your desk has been in the same position for a couple years, I would recommend simply turning the desk to face another direction.  Whenever you move furniture, it freshens the chi and gives you a new perspective on life and your classroom.

 screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-10-55-23-pmCaption: If you are conscious of the bagua map as you organize your desk and classroom, it will help you create greater harmony. The bagua map is the same as the one you place on your house, but there are some additional suggestions on  how each gua specifically affects your classroom or career path. 

 

Step 2: Furniture Arrangement: Creating Optimal Flow in Your Classroom or Office

You started organizing your desk, and placed it in a power position.  Now, you can arrange the rest of  furniture for the greatest flow of chi.  You and your students will be able to focus better when the energy circulates unobstructed through your classroom.  Before you start moving everything around in your classroom, there are some key points to remember when arranging your space:

Round is the Way: Chi flows best around rounded edges.  If you arrange desks in a formation that creates a lot of straight lines and sharp turns, the energy will not flow as well.  

Energy as a Stream: Energy is constantly moving in a forward motion.  The energy flows in each time you open your classroom door.  Imagine the energy as a stream of water.  As it flows in through the classroom, where does the water flow quickly?  Does it get stuck in a certain space?  Try to arrange the space as best as you can so that the “water” flows does not get blocked.  This is another reason why opening up a window at least once a week is important.  When you open the window, it allows stagnant energy to exit, and refreshing chi enters to revitalize your space.

Mountain Behind You: You want a mountain behind you.  As the instructor, you need the power position so that you feel confident when working with the students.  I have a couple of tables in my classroom where I meet with small groups of students for literature discussions and other activities.  I have placed my chair so that my back is to the wall, and I have a unobstructed view of the whole classroom.  In particular, you should be able to see the door from where you sit.

Use the Elements: As you decide where to place furniture, remember that each gua is best activated with a specific shape.  One of the tables I use for small group instruction is a kidney shape. The rounded shape could represent metal, so I placed this table in the Children & Creativity gua.  Another big table is a long horizontal rectangle.  This shape represents the Earth Element, and it is placed in the relationship corner with an even number of chairs.  The relationship corner is best activated with pairs of objects, or even numbers.  This promotes partnership and successful collaboration.

No Space is Ever “Fixed” for Good: Although your classroom can stay in the same formation all year, it is best for students to switch desks every four or five weeks. Even if the desks are in the same formation, the simple movement will boost the energy.  Additionally, your students will appreciate the change of perspective. They will be more alert and recharged. You could even shift your desk if you are starting to feel drained in your day-to-day activities. 

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-10-56-00-pmCaption: Every classroom is different, but here  is an example of how I strategically arranged my classroom this school year.  I used the elements, and the five suggestions above to help me make my design choices. 

Student Desks:

Group A:  The students are on an angle so that it creates a more “rounded” configuration.  This allows the chi to flow.  All students are facing the SMARTboard and can see the front door. The students are not in a group of four, but they all have a partner.  When I want students to work in groups, they can move to the large work tables or turn their chairs.  An additional note:  Try not to have students in line with the door.  As chi enters the door, the energy rushes in.  Group A is not recommended for your students who are hyperactive or have difficulty concentrating.  This space has active chi because of the door, so keep this is mind when sitting students here.


Group B: This group of four students are on an angle so that nobody has their back to the SMARTboard and everyone can see the door.  Again, the angle also helps the energy flow.

 

Group C:  The two groups in the center of the room have their backs to the East and West walls. Everyone can see the door.  Although no one is facing the door or SMARTboard, if they look to the side they can see them. The group is not angled, but the center of the room is a “grounding” point.  The center is the Health gua, and it is represented by the Earth.  The desks create the square/horizontal rectangle which represents the Earth element.  

 

Group D: All students in group D have their backs to the wall.  The solid wall creates a “mountain” behind them. It is very auspicious any time you can have a solid wall or chair behind you. The solid back creates support and boosts confidence and productivity.

 

Checklist for Student Desks

  • Is there a solid wall behind you and your students?

  • Can your students see the front door?

  • Do the desks allow optimal flow of chi, or are they creating sharp turns?

 

Step Three: Getting the Students Organized

You have worked hard to clear your classroom of unnecessary clutter and arrange the furniture for optimal energy flow.  Now, the key is to stay organized and keep your classroom functioning at peak efficiency.  Here are three quick tips that will help the students take ownership of the classroom and accept the responsibility of maintaining the positive vibes. If you are a teacher who is evaluated based on the Charlotte Danielson framework, this area could be used as evidence of managing your classroom environment!

Friday Desk Cleaning:  It sounds so easy, but how many times do you allow your students to clean out their desks?  We get so busy, that sometimes this only happens once a quarter!  Try to give your students 10 minutes every week to clean out their desks. The mess in their desks is causing unnecessary chaos in their minds.  When the students have time to organize their personal space, they will be more efficient, remember their homework, and feel calmer.  In addition, when all of the desks are organized, the overall chi of the classroom is improved.

Classroom Jobs: Many teachers assign classroom jobs.  Do you have have the students dust the book shelves, counters, and common-area tables? My students love doing these types of jobs.  Use whatever products your school approves, and notice how much fresher the room feels.  Your classroom’s chi will be heightened immediately. Again, I would recommend
doing this weekly.  If possible, open up the windows at the same time the students clean the surfaces.  This will really boost the effectiveness as you let fresh air elevate the chi.

 

Explicit Organization:  Do you spend time with your students finding a “home” for every school supply?  Students need direct instruction on exactly where everything goes.  At the beginning of the year students put all of their pens, pencils and erasers in their pencil pouch, and they learn that their scissors, glue and crayons belong in their art box.  During our Friday Desk Cleaning day, we review where everything goes. My famous line is, “There should be no loose papers in your desk.  Remember, everything has a home.  Put papers in your ‘Take Home’ folder that need to go home.  Place papers that you still need in your ‘Stay at School’ folder, and anything that you don’t need can be recycled.” Even high school students need reminders of how to organize their space.  They too need to understand the value of keeping their personal space clean and organized.

 

For optimal results, I really encourage teachers, or anyone looking to improve their career, to try feng shui in their homes too  No matter how neat and organized your classroom or office is, if you are coming home to disarray, you will not feel rejuvenated for the next day of teaching.  We need to feel like our house is giving us a big warm hug every time we walk into the door.  If you have a strong foundation at home, your professional life will start to fall into place.

For a daily feng shui tip, join me on  Facebook or follow me on Instagram or Twitter!
Until Next time,
Namaste!
Kristina Hollinger

 

How Feng Shui Found Me: Would You Keep Reading On? I Want to Know!

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There I was, newly married and living in the city. I had a new teaching job and a new workout regimen that kept me busy. My husband and I had finally emerged from the credit card debt that accumulated from planning a downtown wedding.  So I guess things were starting to look up. Maybe it was the post-wedding blues (supposedly that’s “a thing”), but I still felt like something was missing and longed for something more.  From the outside things seemed to be going pretty good, so what was wrong?

As I looked around our Chicago South Loop apartment, I had an uneasy feeling.  The walls were all stark white and hadn’t been painted since we moved in three years ago.  In my spare time, I decided I would start to spruce up the place, make it a little more welcoming and comfortable. That’s when I discovered feng shui.

To my surprise, the months following my feng shui enhancements were a total whirlwind, in a good way! My husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, and he had gotten an exciting advancement in his career.  Things started to look up, and I started to feel less uneasy and more fulfilled in my day-to-day life.  More importantly, that new-calm was transferred to my second home, which was my classroom.  When you create a flow of consistency between your personal and professional life, you can breath easier. Life just feels lighter!
This knowledge was all too good to keep to myself, so I decided to earn a Feng Shui Consultant Certification through the Feng Shui School of Chicago with Laurie Pawlie.  I became a Red Ribbon Professional Member of the International Feng Shui Guild in 2016. Although I knew I wanted to help others heal their lives with feng shui, in my heart I wanted to do something more.  So, I started a book… Here is a preview.  I want to know, would you keep reading?

Why feng shui?

Why do I suggest feng shui? Feng shui is a tangible way that you can minimize your problems or frustrations.  When something in your life feels uneasy, you can address it head-on in a physical way instead of stewing over it in your mind.  Feng shui allows you to visually see your environment change, and it gives you hope for your future.  I’ve seen it work in my own life and in my clients’ lives.

“Exterior movement creates interior shifts.”  Once you start removing the layers of unnecessary objects or things that no longer make you feel good, you start to feel better instantly. You start to remove blocks and see things more clearly.  

Although there are not necessarily three steps to feng shui a room, I have broken it down for you.  I am a “list person,” and I love to check the boxes as I complete tasks.  So, for my fellow list people, these three feng shui steps are for you: declutter, enhance the using the elements, and seal it with intention.

How do you feng shui?

Here is a brief overview of how feng shui works. Feng shui literally is translated as wind and water. The “wind” is the invisible force of energy that you are always feeling.  Every space you enter has a different vibe. Think of a place where you have felt the most relaxed. Perhaps you were on the beach listening to the waves crash against to coast, or you have been to a spa where you smell the aroma of the massage oils and lotions. We can create positive feelings with an invisible force. By shifting our inner thoughts and our intention, we can manifest the life we desire.

The “water” represents the physical aspect of feng shui.  We can see water, just as you can see how a room appears.  The way the room is arranged will create the feeling too.  This is the tangible aspect of feng shui that really makes it easy for practical realists to see major life changes.  This is the outer aspect of feng shui which focuses on how you place the furniture and what types of colors, patterns, and other decor work well in a particular space. The idea is that you can create the feelings you desire simply by adjusting your environment.  

Professor Lin Yun’s definition of feng shui is as follows:

Feng Shui is the method that people naturally use to choose and locate, build and construct, or adapt and change their working and living environments for maximum health, wealth, and well-being according to the knowledge then available.”

When I heard Professor’s definition I was relieved! Considering before I earned my certification I had been a “Master of the ‘feng shui’ Google search.” The more I learned about feng shui from professional instructors, the more I realized that I had some misunderstandings about it.  As you learn about feng shui, you may do some things that are not necessarily accurate, but that is OK!  According to this definition, you are going to do the best you can with the knowledge you have.  As you learn more about the topic, you will be able to make adjustments that serve you better and better as time goes on.

What you need to know to get started!

 

What you really need to know to get started is that you have the power to change nine areas of your life with the help of feng shui. Using a tool called the bagua map, you will be able to see which area of your home, office, or classroom connects to specific areas of your life.  The nine areas are: wealth, reputation, relationships, children & creativity, health, family, knowledge, career, and helpful people & travel. Ideally, a feng shui home will have good flowing energy in all nine areas, but it takes time. I would recommed focusing on one gua at a time.

Just as life is ever-changing, so must your feng shui practice continue to evolve.  Once you declutter a space and decorate, you will need to check in on that area of your home from time to time to keep it healthy.  The knowledge of feng shui is a very powerful tool that you can use as situations arise in your life.  Using the bagua map, you can address any area of life and see results almost immediately!

So, let’s stop there… would you keep reading?  I am happy to give you more details on the three steps to start feng shui on your own!  I have a free two-page guide that makes it super simple.  You can find me on Facebook or at KristinaHollinger.com  Or check out the video below that outlines the three steps! Thank you for allowing me to join you on the start of your feng shui journey!

Until next time,

Namaste!

Kristina Hollinger

 

 

 

 

50 Shades of Red: How to use red wisely in feng shui

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Red is a very vibrant and powerful color.  It can be used in your home to increase passion, gain more recognition for accomplishments, or create more motivation. However, if used too much, it can cause aggression and stress.  Red represents the fire element.  Along with candles and the shape of the triangle, fire can be represented by all shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. I recently bought a new red accent rug for our living room, and it just did NOT feel right.  Knowing how powerful the color is, I did some more research on red to get a better understanding on how to use it.  Here are three quick tips when considering red decor: the dos, the don’ts, and the exceptions!

DO:

  1. Red represents the fire element, so it is best in the fame and reputation area of your home (directly to the back and center when you enter your front door).  Fame and reputation is all about how the world views you.  If you don’t have any red or fire energy in this area, you might be feeling like your hard work keeps going unnoticed.  Perhaps you are feeling left out– did your invitation get lost in the mail? An easy way to fix this situation would be to add red in the fame and reputation area. The night before a job interview, light a candle in this area.  You want your future employer to see you in your best light, and this will help. It’s really hard to overdo the red in this area, so have fun with it!
  2. Is your relationship lacking passion and intimacy? Have you been feeling indecisive?  Are you feeling tired and lack of energy? All of this could be helped by adding a little red to the following three guas: the relationship area (to the back and right when you enter your front door) and the wisdom and knowledge area (to the left and front when you enter your front door), and the health area (the center of your home). These guas are all ruled by the earth element.  Since fire burns wood and creates earth, the fire element helps the relationship, wisdom, and health guas!  I would not recommend painting the walls red, but accent of red or other “fire colors” suggested above, would work great here.
  3. Did you know that the master bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms are the most important rooms to feng shui?  A little red can be helpful in your master bedroom. Some red accent pillows or artwork will add passion into your life.  In addition, adding shades of red in the bathroom is a GREAT idea!  No matter which area your bathroom is, it is always a draining water energy.  Adding red helps slow down the water energy and keeps you feeling more stable.

Don’t: I will keep this one shot and sweet.  With all the benefits of red, you want to avoid too much red in any of the other guas such as wealth, career and helpful people.  For example, the wealth area is represented by wood.  If you put fire in the wealth area it will “burn up” your finances.  In addition, the career area is represented by water.  Too much fire energy will weaken your career.

Exceptions: Feng shui is all about intention!  If the red pillow, rug, or picture FEELS right to you, then go ahead and keep it.  However, if something feels off in that area, try removing the red.  You would be surprised how quickly the energy shifts.  In addition, if you want to “activate” your wealth and finances that you could add a little red to your wealth area or light a candle.  If there is no fire energy in the room, then that area of life may be feeling dull or low energy.  A little red can always give it a boost!

So, what happened with that rug I bought on clearance at Home Goods?  I originally put it in my living room, which is the helpful people/travel area.  It felt way too heavy. So, I moved the rug into the dining room.  The dining room is located in the relationship area of our house, and coincidentally it just felt so much better there!  The red energy of the rug nourishes the earth element, so it work well and just feels right.  In addition, the dining room table represents wealth.  Therefore, adding red to that area will hopefully activate our wealth! For now, I feel good about the new rug, but I am always moving things around.  Just as our lives are different everyday, so is the energy in our homes.  Feng shui is an ongoing journey that supports us through all of life’s peaks and valleys.

I hope you found this post helpful in your next decorating endeavor!

Until next time, Namaste!

Kristina Hollinger

 

The Feng Shui Mom: 3 Tips that will benefit you & your kids

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I love being the mom of a little toddler girl! But as we all know, kids can be very energetic and, well, tire you out!  So, I believe that feng shui is very necessary when you have kids. Feng shui has helped me so much when it comes to arranging our home and making it more functional, enjoyable, and, most importantly, peaceful. If there were only three feng shui tips that I could give moms and dads that would help make their living environment feel more harmonious, these would be it:

Tip #1: Crib/Child’s Bed Placement

Just like your bed placement is important, so is your child’s.  Let’s face it, if your child is not sleeping well, then neither are you!  So, here is what you need to remember.  Just like you, it is best for the child’s feet to be facing the door (but NOT in line with the door). Also, it is preferable that the crib is NOT under a window.  Windows drain your energy when you sleep, and you need to “recharge” your energy when you sleep, not lose it.  If you cannot avoid putting the bed under a window, I would recommend getting thick curtains that you can draw at night. Finally, just like your bed, it is best that your child’s is not pushed up against a wall.  If the bed can be accessed on both sides it is ideal; this way, the energy can circulate around the bed throughout the night, providing a rejuvenating rest.

Tip #2: De-clutter

Your home is a reflection of your life.  Even your closets tell a story about what is going on inside of you.  So, even though it is tempting just to throw the toys under the bed, and toss the outgrown clothes into garbage bags that pile up in the closets and garage (guilty!), you and your family will feel so much better if you organize.  “Everything has a place.” (And please don’t let that place be under the bed! Remember the energy needs to circulate around the bed. See Tip #1). If you can’t find a place for something, then donate it to Good Will or have a little garage sale.  Don’t let “things” take over your home.  You might not realize it, but the energy of clutter drags you down.  Clutter attracts more clutter and it becomes overwhelming and stressful.  Start with one room at a time, or one closet at a time.  Take out 9 items everyday to organize, throw away, or donate.  If you do a little each day, you will feel better little by little.  I feel like I am ALWAYS de-cluttering.  In a way it is never-ending, but that is how feng shui works. Since life is always changing, we always need to take some time to improve our environment.

Tip #3: Display Artwork Thoughtfully

The third and final tip is one of my favorite!  In feng shui your home is divided into 9 guas, or areas, that represent your life.  One area is designated to “children and creativity.”  It is located all the way to the right and center when you enter your home.  This area is best activated when you decorate using the metal element, circular shapes, colors of grey, white, and pastels.  In addition, since it represents children & creativity, it is an ideal location for a play table and to display artwork and pictures of your children.  My daughter goes to daycare while I teach, and she does at least one art project daily.  There is no way I could display ALL of her artwork (and if I did, it would be covering at least five walls by now).  I recommend selecting a few pieces and rotating them throughout the school year.  Your children feel so much pride when their work is on display, and if placed with intention, you are sure to attract more creative ways of thinking and expression.  And if you want more kids— you can always decorate this area with that intention too!

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As always, I hope these quick tips help you to feel better in your space!

Until next time, namaste!

Kristina Hollinger

 

Feng Shui 101

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Since I have been an elementary school teacher for nearly a decade, I am truly a teacher at heart. That’s why after years of implementing the feng shui design principles in my own home since 2012, I have decided to teach this amazing knowledge to others!  My husband and I had an apartment in Chicago, which is where I started my feng shui journey.  I later applied the principles in our first suburban home. I have found that not only do rooms look better with feng shui, they FEEL better too.

I have a laundry list of blessings that have come into my life because I simply used feng shui and set intentions with every adjustment I made. But this blog post is really not about me. It’s about YOU and how you too can transform your space very easily with what you already have.  This post is intended to introduce the basic principles of feng shui.  So let’s get started!

In order to get started you need to have a basic understanding of begua map.  I have attached an image so that you can see the nine areas, or guas, in which feng shui focuses on (thanks to ezyfengshui.wordpress.com for the image). In the Western School of Feng Shui, which is what I study, you are to lay this map on the floor plan of your house based on the front door.  So, for example, if your front door is in the center of your home, you would be entering in the career gua.  If your front door entrance is all the way to the right of your home, you are entering in the helpful people/travel gua.  Once you know how to lay the begua map onto your home, you can get started making adjustments and decorating according to the elements!

Each area of your home connects to different elements, which are represented by different colors and shapes.  This research and practice goes back over 3,000 years ago when feng shui was first practiced in China. Feng shui is based on the belief and understanding that all things are made of energy, which is supported by studies of quantum physics. Everything vibrates at a certain frequency, and some areas of your home will respond better to certain elements. For example, fire energy gives off a different energy and feeling than the water element.  If you make design choices based on the elements in the begua, you will feel more at peace and your environment will work for you so much more efficiently.

Although it is exemplified in the begua map image above, here is a list of the 5 elements and the shapes and colors that correlate with the element.

  1. Earth:  Square:  yellow, sand colors, beige
  2. Water: Odd shapes (waves): blues and black
  3. Fire: Triangle: red, orange, yellow
  4. Wood: Rectangle (vertical/up and down): browns and greens
  5. Metal: Circle: grey and white

It really is THAT simple.  Use these shapes and colors in the coordinating guas, and you will see and feel a difference almost immediately!  You’re going to be a feng shui expert before you know it.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions, and I welcome you to “like” my Facebook page Simply Feng Shui Designs.  Enjoy rearranging and redesigning your space.  You really can design the life you deserve with feng shui.

Until next time,

Kristina Hollinger

Namaste!