The Year of the Monkey is upon us, beginning Monday, Feb. 8. Across the globe, in Asia, in urban Chinatowns, and in countless homes internationally, celebrations will take place with families gathering and exchanging red envelopes filled with money and blessings. Schools and workplaces will close for a long vacation and festivities will fill the streets, including elaborate fireworks and “dragon dances” featuring costumed performers.
Many people will welcome the new year with activities and traditions meant to invite good fortune and prosperity. So how can you prepare for a successful 2016, the Year of the Monkey?
“The energy of this year is related to those characteristics that the monkey possesses.” –Ivy Black
Directly translated from the Chinese as “Spring Festival,” Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar, so the date shifts each year. The calendar contains 12 zodiac signs that rotate annually.
“The energy of this year is related to those characteristics that the monkey possesses,” explained Black. “The monkey is charming, intelligent, upbeat, quick-witted, creative, and curious. He’s a risk-taker. Therefore, it is a great year for us to discover new passions and hobbies, to learn new skills and try new things.”
In addition to the 12 zodiac symbols, the Chinese calendar is also aligned with the five elements – fire, water, wood, metal, earth – with one taking precedence each year. “Because the earth rotates, so does energy,” said Black. “Every year there’s a new type of energy coming in.”
This year is a fire year. “The characteristics of fire are active, passionate, expressive, warm, and enthusiastic,” said Black. “Fire rises, meaning that it’s very uplifting, very dominant, not passive. It means there’s a lot of excitement coming at a very fast pace.”
The year of the Fire Monkey, in a nutshell, will be one of both change and opportunity. To take full advantage one must be ready to take risks.
Feng shui tips for 2016
Another way to prepare for a more productive and fruitful 2016 is to utilize some simple feng shui hints, said Black. (Full disclosure: This writer of this article is a firm adherent of Ivy Black’s feng shui methods and happens to be married to her.)
“Feng shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy dating back more than 3,000 years that is a way to detect and analyze how energy flows,” said Black. Literally translated as “wind-water,” feng shui is concerned with chi, or “the life force within and around us.”
Practitioners use ancient tools like a lo pan compass and classical techniques like Flying Star and Mansion Eight to detect the energy within a physical space. “Feng shui is a way to analyze yin and yang energy,” says Black. “From there we determine if the energy is positive or negative. If it’s positive we want to find ways to enhance it. If it’s negative we want to find ways to eliminate it. Therefore the main purpose of feng shui is about balancing energy.”
While every physical space has unique characteristics that Black compares to a fingerprint, there are some things that are universal each year. For example certain sections or directions within every space are associated with relationships, finance, and health.
In 2016, the southeast portion of every space is the relationship section, encompassing not just romance but relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. The wealth and/or prosperity section is located in the southwest.
To enhance the positive energy of those areas, Black says, “Place a fishbowl there, or flowers or a pot of bamboo or something with water. Why water? Because water is fluid and evaporates, and therefore stimulates a flow of chi.”
Conversely, you want to counteract the negative energy in the section associated with sickness, which is the northeast.
To do this, place a metal object in that area. “Sickness energy is associated with the earth element,” explained Black. “According to the feng shui cycle, earth creates metal. In the process of creation, metal diminishes the energy of earth, like a mother giving birth to a child. The mother becomes exhausted and weakened. The same concept applies to the relationship between earth and metal. Putting metal in the negative space will diminish the earth energy and limit sickness.”
Improving life with feng shui
Growing up in Hong Kong, “Basically everybody knew about feng shui because it’s such a deep rooted tradition,” says Black. “People do certain things without even paying attention. It’s just a part of life.”
It’s so accepted, in fact, that major, multinational corporations commonly engage feng shui experts to help design workspaces. Most wouldn’t even consider purchasing a property or putting a shovel in the ground before obtaining a detailed feng shui analysis of the space and its surroundings.
After immigrating to the U.S. with her family as a teenager, Black sought out a feng shui practitioner in Manhattan’s Chinatown for a reading. Struck by her interest, enthusiasm, and ability, he offered to take her as a protégé at no cost.
From there she has continued to gather knowledge in feng shui, as well as other Chinese disciplines and philosophies and various aspects of spirituality by extensively reading, taking courses, and studying with esteemed teachers ranging from Californian dream analysts to Tibetan monks.
Founder and owner of the successful Guttenberg-based business Ivy’s Feng Shui, she said, “Feng shui is my passion. People can improve their lives by making small changes without breaking the bank. Feng shui doesn’t have to be conservative, complicated, or costly. You don’t need to make your living space spartan and zen-like. Anyone can improve their life with some simple and affordable changes to the surroundings they already have. ”
Black has been invited to speak at health and wellness fairs, meditation centers, and financial conferences. She is a contributing author in the upcoming book, “Dreams that Change Our Lives.”
Recently she launched the website WhoMovedMyChi.me to offer a holistic one-stop service to provide spiritual assistance to people hoping to bring positive change to their lives. She can be reached at (917) 603-3389.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.