Do-It-Yourself Vastu

How to improve your living spaces

| September/October 2002

Vastu isn't reserved for scholars of Indian philosophy or those who can afford a consultant. You can apply the principles in your own home with a basic understanding of the tenets, a good vastu book, and a compass. Be sensitive to your surroundings, trust your intuition, and follow these rules from Kathleen Cox's book Vastu Living:

Observe three principles. Honor the five elements in the five directions of your space; acknowledge nature by incorporating natural elements into your environment; surround yourself with items you love and that reflect your personality.

Use the vastu purusha mandala. as a placement guide for your house and for individual rooms.

Determine your ayurvedic temperament. (see to help you find your ayurvedic type: pitta, kapha or vata) . Factor in that information when you're deciding where to place your bed and how to arrange your desk.

Choose spaces for sleeping and working that won't aggravate your constitution. For instance, someone with a kapha (earth/water) constitution would sleep better in the west or northwest than in the watery northeast.

In general, keep the north and east areas of a room light and open. The south and west areas of a space are appropriate for heavy furniture and other big items.

Try not to cover the center of a room with furniture, since in vastu this is literally the heart of the space.

When you encounter a problem with the flow in your space, find ways to appease that area's element to achieve balance. For instance, if your kitchen is in the northwest (air) rather than in the southeast (fire), paint the kitchen a cool blue.

Don't be afraid to tinker. Play around with your arrangements and make changes bit by bit, waiting to see how each feels to you. Ultimately, you'll find a way to make even a flawed space work.

Navigating with Vastu
Vastu divides living spaces into nine sections, each with special qualities.

Air element. Air, like wind, has the quality of indecisiveness or constant motion, making the northwest well suited for impermanent activity: guest bedroom, TV room, dining room, bathroom.

Darkness, the unknown. A front door that opens into the west will bring the calm of the night hours. Good for bedrooms, living rooms, and libraries.

Earth element. Associated with wisdom and emotional strength, the southeast corner of a room should contain the heaviest and largest pieces of furniture. This direction works well for living rooms, master bedrooms, and storage.

Health and wealth. Despite these positive associations, you should not sleep with your head to the north because the earth's magnetic energy will interfere with the body's electric fields. A good setting for bedroom, living room.

Space (ether) element. This is the heart of the structure and a space for spiritual energy, which collects here and then radiates outward in every direction. This area should be as open and spacious as possible in the house as a whole and within individual rooms.

Cycle of life and death, responsibility. This is an area of duty, responsibility, and justice overseen by Yarna, the god of death. It's a good spot for a bathroom or a bedroom.

Water element. Water is associated with serenity and depth, so this is the best spot to locate a tranquility zone, meditation center, or shrine.

Light, inspiration. This is the realm of enlightenment and renewal because it is the first to receive the sun's rays in the morning. Recommended for a front door, bedroom, studio, or dining room.

Fire element. Fire is the element of both spiritual and physical transformation. In modern times, fire relates to electrical equipment, making this a good part of the house for kitchen appliances, computers, TVs, or stereos.

This information is compiled from Vastu Living by Kathleen Cox. (Marlowe, 2000)

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