Whether you’re a decorator looking for inspiration or a follower of Zen who collects Japanese prints, Japanese calligraphy might be a major design element in your home. This is especially true with young couples and individuals who have more time to update their living spaces. Each Japanese symbol used in Calligraphy prints can be executed in eight strokes or less, and are typically written by professional calligraphers, but it’s also a popular artistic endeavor.
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As someone who studies the impact of Zen on our modern society, I am always amazed when I see an object or practice that influences many different cultures. Until recently, I suspected that the rock cairn was something invented by ancient Zen practitioners, but it seems to be a trend that circled the globe.
A weekend getaway is a great way to unwind and reenergize. A popular alternative to the traditional hotel is a Bed & Breakfast. Bed and Breakfasts often provide a much homier feel as well as personal touches and attention. Nestled on 175 acres of beautiful forest and surrounded by mountains is The Pembroke Springs Retreat. Located in Star Tannery, Virginia, this serene B&B provides a country feel with distinctive touches of Japan.
The Retreat features five rooms, each with gorgeous mountain views. Each room is decorated in a separate theme and has its own bathroom. Guests are provided Yukata (Japanese bathrobes) to enjoy during their stay. In the morning guests are treated to an authentic Japanese breakfast. This typically includes grilled fish, rice, seaweed, vegetables, egg, miso soup and fruit. Guests may request an American style breakfast and the innkeepers will accommodate vegans.
During the day, guests can enjoy nature walks on the miles of trails on the property, observing the abundant wildlife and taking in the amazing views of the mountains. Play a game of tennis on the all-weather tennis court or fish in the pond for bluegill and bass. The area is rich in history, from both the French and Indian wars to the Civil War. There are endless antique stores in nearby areas.
One of the highlights of the retreat, are the two large Japanese baths which are fed with their natural spring waters. The ofuro has been used by the Japanese for centuries to alleviate both physical and spiritual maladies. This ancient technique of immersion in hot water removes tensions, stress and soothes muscular pains.
While each of the five rooms has a variance of features, the Sunrise room brings Japan to you. Facing the east and overlooking the forest, this splendid room features shoji screens, tatami mats and a horigotatsu or sunken table.
While the area hosts a variety of restaurants within a half hour drive, guests won’t want to miss dinner service (check availability). You can view images of the tasty meals presented by an obviously very talented chef on Facebook [www.facebook.com/pages/Pembroke-Springs-Retreat/107360610655]. These dishes are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious. The innkeepers of this Bed & Breakfast jewel are Walter and Taeko Floyd. The manager is Lisa Floyd. To learn more about Pembroke Springs Retreat, visit their website http://pembrokesprings.com.
It’s time to shine with the Sun and communicating Mercury both in sunny Leo this month. Leo is the sign of self-confidence and self-expression. Under the influence of Leo we get in touch with our need to be our authentic selves and to be appreciated by others. You don’t’ need to be born under the sign of Leo to help yourself to a heaping helping of attention and recognition.
This month we will also be treated to a New Moon in Leo on August 6th reinforcing our desire to get in touch with the innocent but precocious side of ourselves. The energy of this Lunar Cycle conjures up images of a young Shirley Temple – adorable, talented, outspoken and not afraid to be seen. Now you may not sing and tap dance, but you were born with innate and unique talents that when you allow them to shine, they contribute to the light of all consciousness.
The Full Moon in Leo’s opposing sign Aquarius on August 20th balances the potentially aristocratic Leo energy with a healthy dose of appreciation for differences and the unique qualities of individuals. Ruled by the revolutionary planet Uranus, Aquarius is the sign of originality, humanitarianism, and social reform.
The first few weeks of August are the perfect time to take a good long look at your environment and think about how your home or office does or does not support your sense of self. What does it say about you? Use the Leo energy of self-expression to rearrange, re-design and re-create your environment to reflect your unique personality. After the Full Moon, take your cue from Aquarius and give away or donate those gently used clothes and home furnishings to a good cause. Your choices and possessions speak to the world about you. Make sure they are representing your most authentic self!
C.A. Brooks is a clairvoyant astrologer, writer, speaker and coach
You can find her at 12Listen.com and read her weekly astrology column in Mark’s Power Peek at 12House.com. She hosts a daily radio show “A Course in Miracles Daily Lessons” on 12Radio.com at 7am Pacific – 10 Eastern. You can also tune into her weekly Astrology radio program, Simpletales, on 12Radio.com every Tuesday 11am Pacific – 2 Eastern.
Whether you consider yourself an artist or just a “dabbler,” there is something so wonderful about the Japanese art of Sumi ink painting. A close relative of calligraphy, Sumi ink painting is usually a monochromatic technique that relies on water-based inks along with special pens and brushes. Whether it is calligraphic writing or Sumi painting, there are four essential implements in this East Asian art form: they are the paper, ink, brush and inkstone. In China these four items are known as the Four Treasures of the Study, and in Korea the Four Friends of the Study.
As someone who watches consumer trends and attempts to predict new ones, I am always fascinated at how they seem to “trickle down” from one segment of our culture to another. Environmental concerns are a terrific example of this. Once the domain of the auto industry and other emissions-producing corporations, it soon became apparent that we all needed to become ecologically-conscious consumers.
Just browse the aisles of any local garden center and you are likely to find plenty of stone statues to accent your garden. Depending on where you shop, these “statues” may range from small ducks and frogs to large gargoyles and lions. As someone who has never been a fan of garden ornaments, I never expected to find a genre of garden sculpture that intrigued me, but that was before I found this unique collection of volcanic stone statuary. It may be difficult to find these spiritually inspired monuments in your typical garden center, but they are available online at Chopa.com.
As more people embrace the healing benefits of meditation, they learn that some “accessories” are essential to this practice. While it’s certainly possible to sit on a mat in your living room and meditate, many people find it nearly impossible without a proper cushion and a meditation gong or chime.
Over the centuries, the Japanese art form called Ikebana has grown to become a modern form of expression around the world. Once limited to Japan, Ikebana is now a category in many international flower shows. It aims to bring nature and humanity together through an intriguing form of flower arrangement that is thoroughly unique.
Have you ever tried to describe the word “Zen?” Think about it; is it a noun, a verb or an adjective? Is it an attitude, a discipline, or a trend? When you think about how to “add” Zen to your home, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Hint: if you’re trying to come up with the right answer, there isn’t one. Zen is both subjective and objective simultaneously. When applied to home décor it is one of the hardest styles to define, particularly among Americans who have a hard time grasping its simplicity.