Hustle and Flow: The Art of Stillness

Is it me or does it seem that our modern world has adopted a kind of ‘hustle culture’ that now reigns supreme? Look around, people everywhere are obsessed with their phones, optimizing productivity, net worth, status and social media streams. Hey, I’m guilty of it, too and we wonder why we are overwhelmed, unhappy, stressed out, anxious, and depressed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, hustle is good but when we’re just hustling and bustling here and there with no real intention, attention, aim or purpose, life becomes unbalanced; a blur of meaningless tasks that one HAS to do versus wants to do.

Of course for many, the hustle is a way of ‘being’ in order to meet life’s demands, raise children, and make a living with little to no time for self care and reflection. As this goes on, days become weeks, weeks become months and as the years pass, we grow more and more disconnected from ourselves, from nature, the earth’s rhythm and the cycles of life. This steals our joy.

One of the most interesting areas of current research is the impact of nature on our general well-being. A recent study done by Mind found that 95% of people who were interviewed said their moods improved after spending time in nature, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. Peaceful.

Another series of field studies done at the Human-Environment Research Lab found that spending time in nature connects us back to ourselves, to each other and the world at large. Nature brings us right into the moment, enhancing our lives in diverse ways, encompassing physical health, mental well-being, emotional balance, creativity, social connections and flow. Yep. Flow.

Living in the flow, or simply put, aligning our lives with a sense of ease, purpose, and natural harmony, contributes to peace and happiness, not to mention lowering stress, fear, monotony and resistance.

By incorporating regular contact with the natural world, whether you’re on a mountain, in a forest or inside, face to face with your favorite house plant, we can all lead a richer and more fulfilling existence, when we tune in and experience the pulse of life itself.

How do we step into this flow?

Get Still.

I know, I know, it may seem like an oxymoron or a Koan from the Tao Te Ching, but it really ALL comes down to stillness. Every contemplative path will tell you this. Cultivating stillness provides the fertile ground that allows us to check in, listen to our soul and gather intel about our life path.

Stillness is the first step.

Mother Nature offers so many beautiful ways to practice stillness. When we come to the forefront of the moment and completely present as a silent witness, one can’t help but feel the perfection, magic and awe of the natural world.

Other ways to practice stillness include yoga, meditation, a mindfulness practice, or all of the above. With these practices, we come to know ourselves better, and understand what we really want from life. We also learn to separate our true Self from our thoughts, most of which are pre-programmed, recurring, and negative; leading to actions (and reactions) that keep our lives in a dystopian status quo.

Get Real.

Secondly, we must understand and come to terms with the fact that we are co-creators with the universe. This isn’t just frivolous, new age B.S., it’s science, folks, specifically the branch of science called Quantum Physics; the study of matter and energy at the most fundamental level. We don’t have to do life all by ourselves!

Research confirms that we are made from the very substance that the Universe is made up of…Energy. With this principle in mind, we can learn to work with our own energy and magnetism to guide our lives in the direction of our dreams.

Images of the Chinese Five Elements Oracle

Get Ready.

Another way to work with the universe is by asking for messages or guidance with tools for divination – like Runes, the Tarot or this new Oracle deck: The Chinese Five Elements Oracle. With this particular deck, nature and messages from the Universe come to you, through the 60 pillars of the five elements in Chinese Metaphysics: Water (Flow), Fire (Joy), Metal (Strategy), Wood (Expansion) and Earth (Centered). These five elements are believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe between which interactions occur.

Photo of Oracle author Denise Leitner smiling at camera and wearing pink shirt

Vicki Iskandar photo by Denise Leitner

The deck was conceived by noted Feng Shui expert Vicki Iskandar, who has extensively studied and consulted on several Chinese spiritual modalities, including BaZi/Four Pillars of Destiny (a form of Chinese astrology), the I-Ching, Qigong, and the ancient art of war of Qi Men Dun Jia. The deck is also grounded in traditional theories and Taoist wisdom, channeled through a modern perspective and very easy to use.

Pulling a card and divining its meaning is as simple as reading the guidebook entry for that card or as profound as one’s understanding of Chinese Metaphysics and everywhere in between.

Each card provides insights into the past, present, and future and can help one get clear about a question, situation or next step. The layers of symbolism and meaning embedded in each one, beautifully illustrated by artist Candice Soon, allows users to understand the messages whether they are a novice or advanced in their knowledge of oracle cards, the five elements, or energy work.

Get Present.

Essentially this Oracle deck is a tool to connect and communicate with the Divine and to help users gain a deeper understanding of themselves, as well as the secrets and mysteries of the Universe as we walk our paths. Working with the deck requires tuning into the moment and focusing your energy before you ask a question and draw a card. Cards can be drawn for specific occasions or as a daily practice to guide and inform the day.

Wood Dragon Card from Oracle Deck

Shift Happens.

Can you feel change in the air? The Feng Shui concept of “ages” refers to a twenty year cycle known as a “Flying Star” period, where energy patterns associated with each of the nine numbers from 1 to 9 influence the energy of a particular space, timeframe or direction. We have been and are now leaving age 8 (2004-2023) and entering age 9 (2024-2044), a transition that signifies a significant shift in energy patterns.

Age 8 typically represents a period of slower, more stable energy, ruled by power and masculine energy. Age 9 introduces a fresh, new cycle with different influences including the rise of the feminine as an archetype and in our world at large.

Vicki will be showing how to do readings, talking about this upcoming transition, and the year 2024 (Year of the Wood Dragon) as well as launching her oracle deck at Santa Monica’s Mystic Journey Bookstore on Sunday, October 15th at 4:00 pm. The popular metaphysical retailer is at 2923 Main Street in Santa Monica, CA 90405. The event is free, but RSVPs are requested here.

Published by Hay House/Penguin Random House, The Chinese Five Elements Oracle, released on October 10, just in time for Halloween merriment, holiday gift-giving, and Lunar New Year divination. But most of all, it’s time to reconnect with ourselves, level up, and attune to the healing power of nature through flow and stillness, the five elements and the infinite possibilities of the Tao. It is by harnessing messages and using this divine wisdom to guide us, that we can live happy and more balanced lives.

Vicki Iskander practicing Qi gong

About Vicki Iskandar

Vicki Iskandar is a Chinese metaphysics consultant, strategic coach, and writer. She has been mentoring clients on BaZi/Four Pillars of Destiny (a form of Chinese astrology), Feng Shui, the I-Ching, and the ancient art of war of Qi Men Dun Jia since 2012 while serving as a digital marketing consultant for a variety of brands in the LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) space.

In 2017, she founded Functional Feng Shui to help others manifest their personal and professional visions, using a balanced, holistic approach that combines her knowledge of Chinese metaphysics with her background in business strategies, expertise in health and wellness, and a unique energetic understanding of the body informed by Qigong.

Her oracle deck on Chinese astrology, The Chinese Five Elements Oracle, is set to be released by Hay House on October 10, 2023. The deck features the sixty possible combinations of the ten Heavenly Stems that represent the Yin or Yang qualities of the five elements and the twelve Earthly Branches, more popularly known as the animal signs of Chinese astrology. Each stunningly designed card offers a modern interpretation of the sixty pillars, grounded in traditional Chinese metaphysics theories and the Tao’s wisdom.

Born in Indonesia to parents of Chinese heritage, Vicki grew up in a culturally diverse setting rich in spiritual traditions and ancient customs. She started her metaphysics studies with Western astrology in 2000 after getting her graduate degree in business. Not until Vicki answered her ancestors’ calls to go deeper into Taoism, Qigong, and Chinese metaphysics a few years later did she realize how profoundly applicable, strategic, and healing these ancient arts can be as a mindfulness tool in today’s busy lifestyle.

Vicki has contributed to print and digital publications as a writer since she completed her MBA in Marketing from New York University. Not a stranger to luxury and design, she started writing professionally in 2001, editing the pages of global fashion magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.

Readers can view her in-depth monthly insights on Feng Shui and the Chinese five elements on her website at Her daily astrological insights, a unique blend of Chinese and Western astrology, can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @5elementsoracle.

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