1. Psychological Benefits of Feng Shui

    June 21, 2013

    Feng Shui - Flower

    by Jennifer Barnum

    What is Feng Shui?

    Feng Shui is a traditional art of living based on a philosophy strongly rooted in Chinese history, spirituality, and its ancient culture.  A simple definition of Feng Shui, is that it is the idea of living in harmony with the five natural elements in the world that are used in Feng Shui practices. Dating back to 4000 BC, Feng Shui might be an ancient practice, but it is still widely used today in all cultures. It is often recommended by psychologists because of the benefits of the organization, productivity, and relaxation from Feng Shui.

    6 Reasons for Using Feng Shui

    1. Feng Shui increases and improves the energy flow at homes and in workplaces
    2. Feng Shui can harmonize your environments for optimum living and working
    3. Feng Shui will raise the vibration of your home or workplace
    4. Feng Shui is used to energize your environments to become a magnet for opportunities and prosperity
    5. Feng Shui helps to increase your personal luck factor
    6. Feng Shui can help to avoid negative influences such as geopathic stress and EMF (electromagnetic) pollution

    The 5 Feng Shui Elements:

    The words Feng Shui mean “wind” and “water” in Chinese.  The five Feng Shui Elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Experts in Feng Shui say that you should include all five elements in your home design in some way to achieve balance. The element you are more in tune with should be used slightly more than the rest, just be careful not to still maintain balance. You can also increase use of the elements as your needs fluctuate.

    Water Elements such as a fountains or fish tanks will help improve communications with your family in your home. If you are unable to add an actual water feature, glass or design features in the colors associated with water are blue and black, can be a good substitute. Your water elements should be placed in the northern corner of the room or house.

    Metal Elements should be added to your décor if you are looking to make more money or just improve your overall financial success. Metal can be represented with silver, grey, gold, or any metallic colors or pieces made of stone, marble or metal. Metal elements should be placed in the western corner.

    Earth Elements help create a firm ground for building your family relationships. Adding earth tones such as light browns, yellows, oranges and sandy colors will bring that added foundation for strengthening relationships. Balance and stability can also be achieved with clay or ceramic decoration pieces, or paintings of landscapes hung on walls. Whenever possible this element should be in the center of the room or the room most central to the home.

    Fire Elements help to increase productivity and passion. Feng Shui experts advise to always place the fire element in the southern corner of the room or house. Fire is the most powerful element; therefore, be careful when adding this element to your home and maintain moderation.  Red is the color most associated with fire and it is well received and liked by most people. However, red is such a bold color it may not go with all home décor. Alternatively, you can use candles or lamps to represent the fire element.

    Wood Elements symbolize loyalty and are said to promote creativity and inspiration. Different woods are usually present in home designs; they can be furniture, wood floors, or wood panel walls. Besides the usual brown color associated with woods, green can also be used to represent the wood element when. If your wood element is not mobile, then it is best when placed in the eastern corner of your room or home.

    Feng Shui’s Psychological Benefits

    When you come home to your house, do you feel the stress of the day wash away? You should feel self-satisfied, lighter, energetic, and motivated. If you do not get positive feeling from coming home, but rather feel tired, restless, and overwhelmed, then your home and family life can definitely benefit from balance through Feng Shui. Balance through Feng Shui can also lead to a balance in your mind between the right and left side. Removing clutter in your home also has proven to reduce clutter in your mind and allow you to relax and have ideas flow more freely, making it easier for you to make decisions. Colors also affect your mood, so taking colors into close consideration to the personalities of your family members will go a long way towards improving the mental Feng Shui in your home. The vibes created from the flow of proper chi in your home can actually cause healing within your body.

    Adding plants to a room may not always seem like a Feng Shui concept, however adding plants bring balance to your home. They can help to promote growth in your home and family, in both the literal and implied sense. Before you start thinking that Feng Shui is just some ancient practice filled with superstition, check out the NASA research that shows that indoor pollution is worse than outdoor and proves that plants are the solution.

    Image Credit: Kiddharma (flickr.com/photos/kiddharma/233451177)

  2. How to use positive affirmations for maximum psychological benefit

    June 1, 2013

    positive affirmations

    We all have the same goal in life when we strip all nonsense to the basics. We all wish to experience as much life as we can, and learn and grow from those experiences.

    Although we could never run of new things to try we seldom do. Most of us have a routine that we stick to for months, or even years.

    We all have baggage we carry

    The reason is that we all have some kind of baggage or a barrier that holds us back from really prospering. These barriers can come in many forms.

    For example, some of us may lack the confidence to go after what we want, others may believe that they are not good enough, and then there are those of us that are addicted to one thing or another, be it cigarettes, alcohol, food or something different entirely.

    Unfortunately it usually takes us a lot more time to deal with our problems than we both planned and hoped it would take. Some of us might never even get close to getting rid of our baggage.

    Positive Thinking

    The first, fundamental thing every one of us needs in order to be able to develop is a positive mindset.

    A positive mindset will make it much more likely that you will find the motivation, strength and endurance to do what needs to be done so you can finally start living the life of your dreams.

    There are many ways to rewire your psyche to think positively.

    Positive Affirmations

    Positive affirmations are just statements which we affirm to be true. We affirm those statements to ourselves.

    The goal of affirming sentences to ourselves is to start believing in them. Positive affirmations a person might recite to him or herself might include ones like “I am confident”, “I always go after what I want”, “I love myself” and “People find me attractive”, among countless others.

    Positive affirmations help solve pretty much any problem you may have, if they are used the right way. Here is list of a few problems they can help you deal with:

    • Confidence issues
    • Health issues
    • Weight loss
    • Quitting smoking
    • The law of attraction

    There are of course many more areas positive affirmations can help you with. You can find a huge list of positive affirmations written to help you deal with almost any problem imaginable at http://www.freeaffirmations.org/.

    How Do Positive Affirmations Work?

    The underlying reason positive affirmations work is repetition.

    Go back to the time when you were in primary school. The way you learnt anything was to repeat it enough times so that you were able to recite it at will, even if someone woke you up at any point during the night.

    That is the same way positive affirmations work. Repeat them enough times, and you will rewire your mind and replace the old, negative beliefs that hold you back with the new, positive ones that will help you take your life to the next level.

    You would use positive affirmations by first writing down the ones you believe would benefit you the most, and then setting up a time each day during which you would recite them to yourself.

    Do stay consistent. Reading them takes only a few minutes of your time per day, while the positive changes that the affirmations would bring would be permanent!

    The Best Way To Use Positive Affirmations

    There are a few things that can help you get the maximum benefit from reciting positive affirmations. Of course, over time you will develop a style that suits you best, but this is a list of things that work form most people.

        1. Stand in an upright position, take a good posture and relax your shoulders;


        2. Speak affirmations out loud one by one, with a tone of voice that leaves no doubt that you are confident in what you are saying;


        3. Speak in a slow, deliberate fashion. Take your time;


        4. Speak in front of a mirror so you are able to catch yourself if you are breaking any of the rules;


      5. Smile;

    Reciting affirmations two times per day, once when you get up, and once before you go to bed and repeating your list of affirmations a few times in a row could also help you to maximize their effectiveness.

    As already stated, they work because of repetition. Make a list of affirmations, schedule the time to recite them each day and do so in a confident manner fully believing in what you are saying, and over the next few weeks you should see gradual positive changes in your behavior, and also in the way you feel and the way you think.

    It would be advisable to make a promise to yourself that you will stick to reciting the affirmations for 30 days, and see where to go from there. Basically, when you experience the results after those 30 days have passed, you might realize that positive affirmations might have been the best thing you have discovered in your life.


    Image CreditSpencer Williams


  3. The Psychological Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong Practice

    April 21, 2013

    Tai Chi

    Image Credit: Garry Knight

    by Dan Kleiman

    The evidence is in that slow movement, coupled with body awareness not only has astounding health benefits but amazing psychological benefits as well. Recently, the Los Angeles Times published a story about the widespread use of slow movement , awareness-based therapies, for the treatment of pain brought on by “…cancer and cancer treatments, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and other diseases and conditions, in pain clinics and integrative medicine centers. These treatment plans include such routines as Tai Chi and Hatha Yoga.

    One of the main reasons that programs such as Tai Chi, Qigong and Yoga are so effective in managing pain is that the exercises help to relieve the depression often caused by chronic pain, greatly improving the quality of life. Continued practice not only keeps depression at bay but also improves confidence. In the above-mentioned study patients with chronic low back pain took a 12 week course of Hatha Yoga had significantly less problems with depression and disability than the standard care control group did. The same study using Tai Chi in treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis reported less pain, stress and a much greater awareness of their body and more confidence.

    Medical experts are divided as to why these treatments are so effective. The most common consensus among researchers however is that the exercises encourage parasympathetic relaxation responses that reduce the stress response, inhibit inflammation, promotes immune functions and stimulates healing. They believe that the slow, deliberate movements extend the benefits of cardiovascular exercise to a much deeper level, drawing on previously untapped resources.

    The graceful, choreographed movement sequences of Tai Chi, called the “solo form” begin the process of merging mind, body and spirit. While learning solo form Tai Chi, students learn to feel different internal qualities and their outward manifestations. These different “energies” are called the 13 Postures of Tai Chi. As you perfect the 13 Postures, you are better able to relax: you sink your energy, lengthen the spine, relax the joints and muscles and calm the mind.

    When combined with appropriate breathing exercises, in which the breath is in harmony with the movements, the internal musculature of the shoulders, lower back and legs will open , with each breath taken. This promotes stillness, sensitizes the mind to both internal and external perceptions, suppresses jagged, hurried thought processes and raises the spirit.

    Later on, students more to two-person exercises called Push Hands. In Push Hands, you engage in extension and retraction movements in response to another person. You learn to neutralize your fight or flight response by grounding the other person’s force, in a gradual, non-threatening, systematic progression of exercises.

    In this video, you can see how our typical response is to either tense up or run away when we are faced with a threat: http://youtu.be/dbt1nC9jypI

    Tai Chi trains you to respond in a completely different way. You learn to “sink your chi”, staying grounded, present, and connected to the reality of the situation when you are faced with a mental, emotional, or physical challenge.

    In Tai Chi Push Hands, you learn that forcing a situation to resolve in a pre-determined way won’t work. Instead, you have to go into each encounter “grounded” and “listening”, or engaged and with an open mind. The big difference with Tai Chi, though, is that you do practices that help you learn this idea in your body. It’s not just something you tell yourself.

    Where your solo form practice helps begin the healing process by gradually eliminating chronic pain, stiffness and/or depression, interactive practices allow you to go deeper into the psychological dimensions of your relationships with people all around you.

    Push Hands exercises also address problems with visual perception and balance, by introducing resistance, reaction time, and sensitivity to outside factors. There are currently many studies, and more being currently conducted, that illustrate the many health benefits, both physical and psychological that students of Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga receive. These exercises have been shown to not only be great for preventing illness and promoting psychological well-being, but more and more medical professionals are exploring ways to integrate these traditional practices into treatment programs for their patients.

  4. Discover The Power And Benefits Of Meditation

    March 23, 2013


    Image Credit: Cornelia Kopp

    by Regina Sutherfield

    Meditation is the practice of calming the mind and focusing on stillness in order to relax, soothe the spirit and gain balance. Anyone who is looking for a way to get in touch with their inner self, find peace and serenity and develop the power to tackle life’s problems can benefit from this ancient practice.
    Meditating comes in many different forms but the most important thing to remember is that is simple to accomplish. Different people offer insights into various techniques and methods, and there is no right or wrong way to go about meditating. Some people practice for hours a day while others just need 15 minutes to get in touch with their spirit and develop a sense of peace and calm.

    The aim of meditation is to let go of thoughts, worries, anxieties, fears and doubts and just simply relax and empty the mind.

    The benefits of meditation

    Meditation has limitless benefits that can range from relaxing and unwinding from a long day to addressing health issues or deep emotional scars. Learning the various techniques can help anyone to connect with their spirit and discover the treasure of peace and wellness that lies deep within.

    Meditation can reduce stress an anxiety as well as promote better health. Many sufferers of chronic pain, high blood pressure and other ailments report feeling better after spending a few minutes a day quieting their minds and touching their souls.

    Whether using candles or relaxing music, creating a special place that is free from distraction and full of tranquility can promote a more focused and intentional experience.

    The Best Practices

    One of the great things about meditation is there are no wrong or right methods. What works for one person is not necessarily the best option for another. Some popular techniques to choose from include:

    -Deep and slow breathing.
    -Repetitive chanting.
    -Sitting on a mat or the floor with legs crossed and focusing on a candle.
    -Closing the eyes and concentrating attention on a particular tranquil image or scene.

    Adding quiet music or scented candles can also help to create an environment that will help to calm the mind and refresh the spirit. Anyone who wants to awaken their soul, honor their body and learn how to be in the moment can find effective techniques by attending classes, using at home videos, and researching tactics online.

    Meditation Is a Discipline

    One of the biggest obstacles that people face when learning how to meditate is developing the discipline of being still and at peace. It takes practice and commitment, but a whole new realm of possibilities can be awakened once it is mastered. Meditation should be a fulfilling exercise, and the only way to unlock its true potential is to try different methods until the right ones are discovered.

    Learning from some of the greatest spiritual teachers of our time can be helpful with finding the right techniques that will be easy to put into practice.  Meditation can improve mental well-being and can be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
    The keys to peace, health lie within us. Dedicating a few minutes every day to be still and simply “be” can unlock your hidden potential while promoting balance and overall well-being.

  5. Yoga Brings Positivity in You

    March 7, 2013

    More and more people are doing the downward dog than ever before. But just what are the benefits of yoga on positive thinking? And how can you incorporate yoga into a healthy holiday? 

    Img4: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    The psychological and physiological benefits of yoga

    Yoga to keep fit: For a lot of people, yoga is one of the very best things that you can do to feel good. The physical benefits are obvious. Yoga can help you relieve back pain, increase physical fitness, lung capacity and flexibility. Because yoga is all about deep breathing and stretching, it increases the oxygen supply to different parts of the body, which helps to ease tension and improve circulation.

    To relieve stress: But more than that, yoga is accepted by most psychologists as an effective complimentary therapy for all kinds of stress-related disorders. Psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, cardiac disease and high blood pressure can be alleviated with regular yoga practice.

    How, you may ask? Yoga encourages you to focus on your breath and your body, which brings you back to the present moment and stops you worrying about the past and the future. Yoga makes you feel more comfortable in yourself, more motivated and less affected by the outside world. It helps you focus on positive aspects of life and is a major contributor to your psychological well-being.

    Yoga and psychotherapy: In the US, psychologists and psychotherapists have been using yoga as a compliment to talk therapy. The idea is that it’s not only the mind but also the body that needs to be worked on. “Talk therapy such as cognitive-behavioural therapy  can be helpful in finding problem-solving strategies and understanding your own strengths and what’s happening to you, but there are times when you just need to kind of get moving and work through the body,” says Melanie Greenberg, PhD, a psychologist at Alliant International University.

    To be part of a group: Taking part in group yoga sessions can foster a sense of belonging and of being a part of something much bigger than just yourself. This is really positive. It’s a collective experience of everyone moving together, breathing together and in the end relaxing together that is rarely experienced elsewhere.

    A yoga-informed outlook: Simply incorporating the principles of yoga into your everyday life – compassion, non-judgement, spirituality and the connection between all living things – is likely to make you feel less stressed and improve your mental health.

    Enjoy practicing yoga at a yoga retreat?

    If you practice regularly, going on a yoga retreat could be the perfect healthy holiday to recharge your batteries.

    Practising twice a day in a new environment will help you break free of old patterns and familiar routines, at the same time as deepening awareness of your body.

    Spending time away from the distractions of modern society will help you find peace with yourself and inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle when you return home.

    Here are five great yoga retreat ideas around the world:

    Tilton House, UK

    Img3: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    Set in the idyllic rolling hills of the South Downs in Sussex, Tilton House (www.tiltonhouse.co.uk) regularly hosts weekend Hatha sessions for all in their yurt. Included in the package is comfy accommodation, food, massages and country walks. Its close proximity to London makes Tilton House an excellent addition on a trip to the capital. 

    The Yoga Farm, Costa Rica

    Img2: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    Yoga retreats don’t come much more picturesque than The Yoga Farm (www.yogafarmcostarica.org) near Pavone, Costa Rica. As well as yoga sessions on a deck overlooking the ocean, the centre offers surfing lessons and two healthy vegetarian meals per day. Yoga Farm is completely off grid with solar panels, a garden for growing their own food and eco-friendly accommodation.

    Les Passeroses, France

    Img1: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    Les Passeroses (www.passeroses.com) near Angouleme in south-west France is the perfect retreat for anyone wanting to practise Iyengar yoga in a rustic, rural setting. The light and airy converted barn yoga space has been voted by some teachers as their favourite place to take classes. A typical day will involve two sessions of yoga, meditation and as many philosophical discussions and cups of chai tea as you wish.

    Yoga Barn, Bali

    Img 5: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    In the mountain village of Ubud, Bali, visitors can enjoy a spiritual retreat in one of Asia’s most enchanted hideaways (www.theyogabarn.com). The centre runs seven yoga classes per day – ranging from Yin Yoga to Ashtanga – in two mud-walled studios overlooking the rice paddies. You are free to pick and choose the ones that suit you. An on-site café serves mainly raw-vegan foods, ensuring you’ll eat well and feel healthy on your trip.

    Lotus Yoga Retreat, Goa

    Img 6: Psychological and physiological benefits of Yoga

    Situated right on Goa’s beautiful Patnem Beach, Lotus Yoga Retreat (www.lotus-yoga-retreat.com) is the perfect getaway for ocean lovers looking to unwind in a natural, peaceful setting. The retreat contains at least two yoga classes per day, along with accommodation in bamboo huts and vegetarian buffet meals. Guests are encouraged to book a massage or explore Goa’s sacred temples and colourful markets in their free time.