“Our homes are mirrors of ourselves. They reflect our interests, our beliefs, our hesitations, our spirit and our passion. They tell a story about how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. A home is more than a place to lay your head and seek comfort from the elements. It is a place where you can interface with the universe. It is a crossing point in time and space that can attract energy or repel energy.” -Denise Linn
I love this quote from Feng Shui practitioner Denise Linn from her book, “Sacred Space: Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home” It beautifully sums up the embodiment of home. Feng shui teaches us that everything has consciousness, that what we put in our homes affects the energy of the space and our health–a belief also maintained in Taoism and many native cultures.
“Modern science has proven that plants have intent and can respond to the energy fields of humans…No less conscious are the stones and mountains and rivers. Native people understood this well…plants were thanked when they were picked.” -Denise Linn
As we are now in the season of fall it’s very important to take good care of our lungs. Fall is the season of the metal element: metal corresponds to the lungs and large intestine in Chinese medicine. This means now is the season to breathe in pure new experiences (lungs) and let go of the old (large intestine). In the fall, our energy moves inward and we naturally start to reflect on our lives, feeling a sense of nostalgia and letting go. We start to spend more time in our homes cozying up as the weather gets cooler. One way to care for our delicate lungs during the fall is to purify the air we breathe. A fun and easy way to do that is to add air purifying plants to your home!
You may have thought that indoor plants were just for decoration, a cheap, easy way to beautify your home and give you a small sense of nurturing. In fact, they do much more. Indoor plants can shift the energy in our homes and some even purify our air. A big bonus, especially when living in New York City!
Certain indoor plants can actually cleanse our homes of toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. A study conducted by NASA in 1989, “Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement,” found that certain higher plants and their associated soil microorganisms reduce trace levels of air pollutants. NASA concluded that:
“If man is to move into closed environments on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.”
Many materials and glues used in furniture, cleaning products, appliances, and even homes themselves can contain toxins and can contribute to various health problems, such as headaches, irritation of the skin and eyes, nausea, and many other more serious issues. But certain plants that flourish on reduced sunlight can actually genetically adapt to using these toxic chemicals as a food source.
In “20 Ways to Detox Your Home ” Dr.Frank Lipman, an expert in functional and integrative medicine, suggests using green plants as natural air detoxifiers. And, in fact, the NASA study found that the longer a plant is exposed to polluted air, the more effective it becomes at detoxifying.
Here is a list of plants that have been proven to reduce the amount of benzene, formaldehyde, and/or trichloroethylene in the air.
Areca Palm: Very effective at removing formaldehyde from the air, this can be a tricky plant to grow indoors as it needs tons of sunlight—make sure to place it right by the window!
Bamboo Palm: In addition to cleaning the air of harmful chemicals, the bamboo palm helps restore moisture to your home during tough, dry winters. It can get quite big!
Chinese Evergreen Plant: Brings good luck! Needs little sunlight or water. Super easy to take care of!
Spider Plant: Another one that’s super easy to take care of and tough to kill—they grow fast!
Aloe Vera: Use it for sunburns, antioxidants, decoration, and detoxification.
Peace Lily: Purifies benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. Great for low light homes. Spraying the leaves as well as watering helps keep these guys alive in my experience!
Boston Fern: Removes formaldehyde. I love these fluffy plants but I can’t seem to keep them alive! I recently discovered that misting these plants often helps them thrive, as they like high humidity.
Snake Plant: Great bedroom plant! as it converts CO2 to oxygen at night. Removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air. Easy to care for.
Dracaena Warnekii Plant: Top plant for removing formaldehyde. Can survive in low light. Watch out for your dogs and cats around this one as it’s slightly poisonous.
Not only can these plants clean the air around you, they can also help to create a more sacred, peaceful, intentional space in your home. The Chopra Center recommends “bringing nature indoors” in order to create and honor vastu, the Indian precursor to feng shui that translates to “environment” and the idea that we have an effect on our environments.
It makes sense that filling your home with plants, especially plants that detoxify the air, would create a more positive energy flow—what feng shui is all about. Karen Rauch Carter, the author of “Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness” writes that plants “soften the feel of the room – creating a more inviting, ‘yin’ condition…especially if you have corners protruding into a space (typically called a poison arrow or ‘sha chi’).
Bringing plants into your home this fall will not only clean the air you breathe, boosting your lung energy; these green beauties will majorly shift the energy of your home, creating a tranquil, harmonious energy for you to come home to on a chilly fall evening!