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Little-Known Feng Shui cure revealed

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Think of the room in which you regularly work or where you go to get your personal administration done. If it’s at home it’s likely to be your spare bedroom, which you share with the Christmas decorations and the toys the children have out-grown.  Sound familiar? 

Typically the desk faces the wall and the door is wide open behind you.  There’s probably a bed in there too with the ironing on it.  How motivated are you to get to work in here?  How easy is it to stay focused when it's not set up for business? 

If you work in an office consider a typical room you might congregate in for meetings. There are stark white walls, it relies on artificial lighting, it receives no fresh air and already smells stale from the previous occupants who, by the way, have also left their debris behind. The table is a long rectangle occupying the centre of the room with chairs crammed underneath it and there's just about enough space to circumnavigate the edge.  I'm reaching for the Anadin already ....

Now let’s take a peek at the main open-plan office.  How many people can you see with their desks facing the wall like they've run into a dead end - and with their backs to one another.  That's disengagement played out right there.

Meanwhile the rest of the gang are likely to blown around in the middle of the room like dust bowls, never sure from one day to the next where they’ll land in a hot-desk culture.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that morale is low and staff accused of being unproductive.  The company will never get the best out of its people in this way. 

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Some of us are fortunate enough to start our working day on a life-enhancing note.  On the way we pass by green fields, we see trees, hear birds - all of which lifts our spirits if we raise our head long from the mobile phone.  A 10-minute walk around the block can achieve the same effect if we work from home or do the school run on foot.

Contrast this with the mad dash to work in the rush hour, partially underground to arrive at offices that are 15 floors up and look out onto a concrete landscape.  In this instance the company would need to work extra hard on the interior using Feng Shui methodology to create a space that feels more natural and healthy in which people can thrive. 

One of the operating system of Feng Shui is concerned with creating balance between the two opposites -  ‘yin’ (the feminine) and ‘yang’ (masculine).  When an environment is disharmonious – whether it’s a room or a whole office block – the people working there will not function well.  The company is paying for their salaries and a chunk of this is going straight down the drain in reduced effectiveness.  

Whether it’s through good quality lighting, a humane arrangement of furniture, the introduction of a water feature, enriching colour schemes, healthy plant life, inspiring artwork and accessories - or a combination of all of these and more - by paying mindful attention it doesn't take much to create a more harmonious environment that’s conducive to work in.

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I walked into an architectural award-winning office block once to do a Feng Shui consultation with an image consultant in tow, only to find the two receptionists wearing woolly cardigans.   She wanted to go straight up to them and sort them out.  I asked her why she supposed they had a need to dress like this in such a prestigious building.  She didn’t know.  So I took her on a quick tour of their high-tech environment through Feng Shui eyes.

The reception desk was like a tiny island floating in the middle of a vast open sea exposed to the elements.  Right opposite, where the two were seated, were large impressive, revolving doors.  While these were energy efficient and minimised drafts, for the women it was like sitting in front of a wind turbine and very disturbing.

Right behind them were two sets of lift doors, opening and closing constantly.  As the front line of the business, no wonder they felt vulnerable and exposed and needed to add 'yin' layers in the form of woolly cardigans to feel safe and protected.

The surrounding area in which they were seated could be described as very 'yang' – with strong angular lines, lots of harsh natural light and steel supporting structures.  The Feng Shui solution to obviate the need for woolly cardigans was to relocate the reception off to one side, to introduce softer, curvaceous lines in their desk area, utilise large healthy plants to screen the reception desk and warmer, softer tones to define their working area.  

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The seating area for waiting visitors was also exposed and needed similar treatment in order that visitors could arrive, feel welcome and relax.  

The purpose of a Feng Shui assessment is to enhance the quality and quantity of chi (life-force energy) in our living and working spaces.  For so many of us who are deprived of any natural experience during working hours, we risk returning home more depleted than we should be.  After a few months of this, along with the lack of protection from electromagnetic stress that saturates a typical working environment, can leave us wired and frazzled.

When the environment is clean, clear and vital people respond by feeling happy, motivated, productive, creative and engaged.  Absenteeism and staff turnover are minimised.  Clients and stakeholders enjoy visiting. The company becomes a magnet for success.  And the same goes for the office at home.

That's why Feng Shui makes perfect business sense even if it's difficult to pronounce!  
And why there's always room for a woolly cardigan as a stand-by Feng Shui enhancement.

Harmonious wishes to all, Mary

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman friend

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Shed a skin and make a fisherman's friend

Descending the causeway that declines steeply to the pebbled beach, I encounter the remains of Beer’s fishing fleet that still braces the sea every day. Past charming Lillie May, bearing the same name as my grandmother and about the same age too I imagine, I admire her colourful beach garden.  

I’m in Dorset here for a weekend of Sumara meditation and dance-movement in the landscape.  The plan is to spend the mornings in the studio awakening our bodies and preparing them to move outdoors in less familiar terrains.  We round off the day seated in meditation.

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 I'm now toggled up in outdoor clothing expecting to roll, glide, slither, crawl over damp rocks revealed by the rapidly retreating shoreline.  The sun has already broken through the patchy clouds and the temperature is rising.  I reach for the zip of my jacket that’s sealed around my neckline and find it won’t budge an inch.  I’m trapped inside this waterproof, windproof skin and I've already broken into a sweat on the inside.  If this continues I’ll be throwing myself into the cold sea.

And then I remembered the fisherman … sitting outside his stone hut selling the catch of the day.  Surely he’d have a knife to cut me loose! 

As so it was Alan, captain of the fleet, who came to my rescue but using a large pair of scissors.  Quite an intimate operation it was.  And thankfully I was saved the large knife that removes the heads and tails of fishes and splits their guts open.  In all his years Alan admitted he'd never had to perform this procedure before and alas my jacket didn’t survive the surgery.

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Once liberated I join the rest of the group to crunch across the pebbled beach.  I gaze longingly at the tea drinkers sitting sedately under umbrellas in the afternoon sun, past Barbara Ann who’s hanging out with the bad boys having clearly thrown in her lot with the pirate boats.  Arriving at the far side of the beach, under cliffs strewn with fallen rocks worn smooth as a baby’s bottom, I drapes myself over a sugar loaf mountain wait for the moment when the urge to move arises from within, led by my body and not my head.

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At the tail end of the afternoon I wind through a verdant valley of wild flowers towards neighbouring Branscombe.  This village is enchanting and quintessentially English.  It would seem that thatched roof cottages be-speckled with flowers aren't just reserved for chocolate box covers.

I round off the day with Sumara, the Javanese meditation.  Nothing special about how I should to sit in the chair or on the floor - just not lying down.  Giving my body plenty of time to settle and come to stillness, feeling my weight drop down through my bones, supported by the chair.  I feel like I'm shedding a little more of life's debris. 

No need to follow my breath, a sound, or a mantra.  Thoughts and feelings come and go as I sit here like this for 45 minutes.  If I need to move, cough, mutter, shift position I do so.   My mind wants to dance me around but I reign it back in to where I am seated on the chair with my friends around me, accompanied by birdsong.  The ordinariness of this is completely luxurious. 

On the drive back to Beer I track a deer slowly down the lane until he finds a suitable gap in the hedge.  I then  encounter an out-of-control bonfire threatening to take the hedgerow with it. I summon a rather drunken homeowner from his deck chair and hope he'll succeed in extinguishing it with his pitchfork without falling into the firey inferno.  

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If you’ve yet to discover the rural delights of Jurassic East Devon I highly recommend you do so.  It’s the perfect place to make a fisherman friend and shed a skin or too.

 

 

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