Feel like your living space needs a bit of a refresh after Christmas? Revitalise and reinvigorate your abode with vastu shastra
Vastu shastra means ‘the science of architecture’ and is based on Vedic guidelines for the design and spatial geometry of buildings. While rearranging the furniture and decluttering are tasks we typically associate with spring cleaning, sustained periods of time spent at home lend themselves to rethinking how your living space serves you. “The start of a new year is always a great time to concentrate on your home, because we spend so much time indoors receiving guests,” says interior designer and TV presenter Linda Barker (maliving.co.uk). While most of us can’t easily change the physical location of a room, we can apply principles of vastu shastra to the way we use and decorate key spaces. Try these tips for incorporating the principles of vastu shastra into your home…
Vastu is often described as the Indian version of feng shui, although it predates it by about 1,500 years. While the idea behind feng shui is that living in harmony with your environment leads to happiness, vastu shastra, loosely translated, is the science of abiding well in the spaces in which we live and work. It’s the belief that buildings have ‘prana’ (the Sanskrit word for breath or life force). “There is a natural energy within a house, and homes can be very healing places,” agrees Linda. “Sensitivity in how you decorate a house is incredibly important to your wellbeing, which is essential when we lead busy or stressful lives.” Despite key differences, feng shui and vastu shastra can be harmoniously combined. “The two approaches marry very well as they’re both about maximising positive energy in the home, so if your kitchen or bedroom is in the ‘wrong’ place according to vastu, you can apply principles of feng shui to remedy that.”
The door to your home is the entry point for energy, according to vastu shastra. Ideally, it should face north or north-east. Failing that, keep the entrance clean and tidy, otherwise it won’t attract positive energy. The entrance to your home is also key to welcoming people. “If it’s immediately welcoming, the entrance sets the tone for visitors, and puts you in a good mood if you’ve had a rubbish day,” agrees Linda. She recently painted her front door soft pink because it’s an energy-giving, happy colour, but says we often forget the entrance to our homes because we move quickly through them to other spaces in the house. “Little things can make the space near your door healthier and happier. Plants, as long as it’s not too dark and you remember to water them, can create a welcoming entrance that boosts your wellbeing.”
The location of your bedroom can cause everything from health concerns to conflict with your partner, according to vastu shastra. If possible, the bed should be placed in the southwest corner of the room, with your head facing west. Avoid placing a TV in your bedroom or a mirror opposite the bed, and expect arguments if you can see your reflection whilst in bed. If you have pictures depicting water on the walls, don’t be surprised if the bedroom is the scene of emotional outbursts. Bedrooms can rank low on our decorating priorities because they’re private, intimate spaces that we don’t usually show off to visitors, but because we spend so much time in the bedroom, Linda recommends giving it as much attention when it comes to decorating as you do your kitchen. Electronic devices have no place in the bedroom, according to vastu shastra, because they’re believed to emit negative energy. “We all know we shouldn’t sleep with our phones beside us, so don’t make that easy by having a plug right next to the bed.”
To promote productivity and career success, the west or south-west of your home is the best place for your desk or office. In fact, placing a globe in the north west corner of your home is believed to attract international business opportunities. “Offices are often small corners of our homes, such as a spare bedroom or a space underneath the stairs, so we won’t always have the luxury of placing them according to vastu principles. But you can apply the broader concept of creating positivity by cultivating a beautiful environment in which you’ll want to work,” Linda says. Your office also shouldn’t compete with other aspects of your home. “It’s no good trying to work if you’d actually rather be cooking or playing with the kids, so make sure your work space draws you in and isn’t a chore to spend time in.”
Use colour strategically – it can inspire behaviour, promote wellbeing and even change your fortune. “Earthy, gingery browns and copper colours, such as brown manilla envelopes or that lovely parcel paper you get from the Post Office, look sensational!”
Vastu shastra advocates removing all broken objects from the home – but that doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. “It’s not just about creating an empty, sterile space,” says Linda. “I like a space to feel personal, with my things around me.”
You can’t, of course, restructure your house to make it vastu-friendly but you can position your furniture to maximise the positive energy in your home. “Some people feel uplifted from rearranging the furniture,” Linda says. “In general, a room feels good if you have lots of space that allows energy to pass around furniture,” Linda says. “Most people benefit from that kind of space, without necessarily realising it’s root in this ancient tradition.”
New Year, More Vastu
From resolutions to the joy of a fresh diary, the start of a year naturally focuses our attention on new beginnings. “It’s said that applying vastu to your home can bring you good health, great relationships, a happy family life and serious wealth,” says NH columnist and author of Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living, Jane Alexander. “When you align yourself and your environment with the natural energy of the universe, life becomes brighter, more joyful and smoother.” Here are some simple ways you can get started…
1. Paint the Om symbol on your front door at eye level. If you’re not artistic, hang a metal Om instead!
2. Keep the area near the front door open, clear and unobstructed to allow the maximum amount of energy into your house.
3. Try to avoid sleeping with your head facing north and don’t let your bed touch the walls if possible.
4. Have a healthy indoor plant in a heavy pot in the south or west of your living room. Tulsi (holy basil) is said to transform any bad energy and the leaves also make a lovely tea.
5. Balance the five elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth) within your home. Beautiful stones, crystals and clay pots symbolise earth; incense represents air, while having an open fire or candles burning brings fire energy in. A bowl of water (add petals or crystals) stands for water and allowing space (on bookshelves, or in cupboards) ushers in ether.
6. Invite Ganesh, the elephant God known as the ‘Remover of Obstacles’, into your home. It’s traditional to site a statue of him in the hallway facing the front door so evil spirits cannot enter.
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