Whether you think it’s an art, a science, both, or neither, most Western cultures know about the Chinese practice of feng shui. It is a complex system of rules and beliefs created 3,000 years ago to balance positive and negative energy in the world around places people live, work, and play.
But I bet you aren’t as familiar with a similar practice from India called vastu. Vastu is another system of creating harmonious living and working environments in conjunction with the forces of nature. Vastu is older than feng shui, and thought to have been carried across the Himalayan Mountains into China where it was adapted to the local culture where it became feng shui.
When you compare the two, they are very similar. Their main goal is exactly the same: to allow chi (Chinese) or prana (Sanskrit), life force energy, to flow freely without getting blocked or stopped with the end goal of allowing people to live in harmony with the universe.
Skeptics point to the lack of any replicable scientific evidence proving vastu or feng shui work. They dismiss both as pseudoscience. Both were created at a time when the ability to observe and measure science in the way we do today didn’t exist. Human beings were trying to make sense of the world around them.
But when it comes to living harmoniously with nature, after nearly 8,000 years even the skeptics agree both vastu and feng shui got it right. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience finds the principles of vastu and feng shui are “quite rational.”
Giving more thought to your relationship with your physical environment is getting plenty of attention from scientists and researchers, and from people like me who have seen the proven results over and over again: the human connection to nature is vital for our physical and mental health. Today, we call it “biophilic design.” It really doesn’t matter to me which belief system works for you. If it incorporates more natural elements into your life, you will benefit.
It really doesn’t matter to me which belief system works for you. Whether biophilia or vastu, if it incorporates more natural elements into your life, you will benefit. That’s the simple truth.
Getting back specifically to vastu, it uses nine points of the compass and the five elements of earth, wind, water, fire, and space to advise us how to use the forces of nature in our favor. It’s way too complex for a non-expert like me to pretend to explain it. We know though in the modern world that we don’t thrive without sunlight, fresh air, and access to nature. Simply walking through a park improves our health. Views of nature and access to sunlight during your work day help you think more clearly and creatively. Including plants in your environment has benefits.
I don’t use vastu or feng shui when putting a Plantscaping plan together. But I do have to take into consideration the natural elements available and the physical circumstances. What if the same basic requirements needed for me to figure out whether specific plants will grow well in the conditions I have to work with are pretty much the same ones ancient cultures figured out just by repeated observation – and then incorporated those into the principles of vastu or feng shui? It makes a lot of sense to me.
People who believe in vastu say you can feel “bad vibes” in a building due to stress from improper design that will affect your thoughts, your actions, and your health, and vastu can change this by creating a more balanced, harmonious environment.
Call me crazy but I’ve walked into some soul-sucking buildings without any windows or plants, with no color on the walls and horrible air circulation, where people are expected to sit and work eight hours a day (or more), every day. If this is what vastu practitioners are talking about, I believe it 100 percent. Stressful environments like this aren’t good for anyone.
The good news is that workplace designers now understand how important it is to create healthier work environments not just for the employees, but for the bottom line. Happier, healthier employees are more efficient and they aren’t so quick to abandon an employer when something better comes along. This reduces personnel costs for employers and (hopefully!) increases profits. Good employers pass some of those profits down to their employees and share their good fortune.
Yet again, we realize just how much the forces of nature affect every aspect of our lives. The fixes are pretty darn simple, too.
Since I’m only your guide and not the expert this week, we’ve got a few links on vastu if you want to learn more:
And if you want some help putting the principles into practice with your interior plant design and maintenance, moss walls, green roofs, living walls or other Good Earth Plant Company services, we promise to bring you plenty of good prana! Namaste!