By guest writer Lynda Lee Abdo
Eastern Feng Shui uses plants in many of their remedies commonly referred to as a “wood” remedy. Live plants are most popular, but the color green also carries a healing energy similar to a live plant. Plants are amazing in many ways, and are the lungs of the planet. Without the oxygen they produce, we would die in minutes. The fastest growing plants, such as sea algae or grasses, produce the bulk of the oxygen we breathe; and also filter and purify the air. For city dwellers, visiting the ocean side or pine forests reminds us how really rejuvenating fresh air can be. Breath is life and life is breath!
Plants also produce the food we eat, healing herbs and spices, and the materials that provide our shelters. Plants have been on the planet longer than we have, and have developed thousands more genomes than humans– helping them to adapt amazingly well to an ever-changing environment. Plants know how to create their own food from sunlight, and according to many studies– they also have memories, can learn, have social lives, respond to music, communicate through chemistry, and even have root wars that favor their own species!
One fascinating account, documented in a BBC special, was about African Kudu antelope that were mysteriously dying with no apparent signs of predators or disease. The mystery was finally solved when scientists discovered that the Kudu were overgrazing the reservation acacia trees– and these trees were increasing tannin levels in their leaves for protection. The higher tannin levels became a lethal cocktail for the unsuspecting Kudu. These same trees also released gaseous chemicals into the air, as part of their warfare; that alerted other acacia trees in near-by areas to do the same. A plant can’t run away when threatened by a predator, so they have ingeniously developed other unique survival skills.
In our homes, plants are used to increase beauty, help humidify the air, and raise oxygen levels. Interestingly, plants, as well as the color green, have also been shown to calm the mind and increase mental focus. When we see greenery outdoors, we instinctively know there is water nearby, and that there will also be plants and food. The likelihood of starvation is small, and so our brains take a rest. This response has been conditioned into us for millions of years. Although gazing out a window suggests distraction, if the view includes green expanses such as grass or even forests, the view can actually improve our mental sharpness– and clinical tests support this discovery.
Studies of classroom children who experienced the greatest increase of “greenness” in their environment (either viewing a natural scene or just the color green) had the highest test scores on a standard test of attention. Green play space may be especially beneficial for children with attention deficit disorders. Studies done by such researchers suggest that natural views are more rejuvenating than urban scenes– and can help us to be smarter.
In the bedroom, plants are generally discouraged in Feng Shui because at night they reverse their oxygen producing process, and emit carbon dioxide instead. There are a few plants that are an exception to this rule, and the best nighttime oxygen producers include such species as bromeliads, orchids, the Gerbera daisy, and the Snake plant. Aloe Vera and Christmas cactus are also good night oxygen makers, but generally plants with pointy spikes are not recommended for interior spaces. The reason sharp points are avoided is because at a subconscious level, our brain’s amygdala will sense any sharp edged object nearby (that could impale our body), and emits a low-level stress warning. If this continues for a long period of time, it can literally drain our physical vitality. Sharp-cornered furniture or objects, open cutlery, or cactus-like plants are generally discouraged in Feng Shui for this reason, and are referred to as poison arrows or potential “sha” (negative) energy.
Indoor pollutants are so common these days, and are often worse than outdoor pollution. VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) concentrations can be ten times higher indoors, aggravating all kinds of health problems. Dr. Wolverton, a former NASA scientist, did much research on plants to benefit astronauts in an artificial space environment, and wanted to find the best plants that produced the most plentiful oxygen — as well as being the best indoor air filters. The following list are the favored plants to improve any interior space: Areca palm, Bamboo palm, Dracaena, Ficus, Golden Pothos, Peace Lily, Philodendron, and the humble Spider plant.
Note: (It is the plant’s root growth along with the micro-organisms in the soil that do most of the air filtering work, so do not allow plants to cover the entire soil surface. Studies have shown that much of the air cleansing takes place between the soil and air surface. Taking off the lower leaves can help the plants to be more effective filters).
Other favorite plants used in Feng Shui include:
Jade plant: considered lucky because of the water it holds. Its leaves are considered to be like little moneybags, and it is also known as the “friendship” plant– inviting good fortune.
Boxwood: These small bushes, popular for topiaries, are often used to neutralize “yin” lines that may be traveling underneath a house created by underground water, sewage, or fault lines.
Lucky Bamboo: is not a true bamboo, but a dracaena that is attractive, hardy, and can tolerate low light conditions.
Silver Crown: is a succulent considered to be lucky because of its frosty silver color and wavy edges suggesting a crown of royalty.
Money Tree: (pachira aquatic) is associated with good financial fortune and is commonly seen indoors in businesses. Often having braided trunks, these trees like good drainage and indirect light.
Pine trees: are honored because of their evergreen qualities and are symbols of longevity. Pine smells good and is also a great producer of healthful negative ions.
Peach, Pear, and Plum blossom: are fruit flowers associated with beauty and abundance. They are often used to help enhance romantic luck– and promote fun, joy, and happiness.
Peony and Lotus: the peony represents love and harmony, and is considered to be the queen of flowers in Asia, similar to the rose for Westerners. The lotus is considered a spiritual symbol since it rises from the mud bottom to bloom in the light. This is seen as a form of powerful alchemy.
Orange, Lemon, and Lime: citrus trees are believed to increase abundance and good fortune, and are a popular gift on Chinese New Year. Citrus also helps guard health as it boosts the immune system.
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© 2016 Lynda lee Abdo