Su Casa Magazine, Vastu Book Review, Summer II 2008 Issue|
Reprinted with permission of Su Casa Magazine.
"SU LIBRO: seeking harmony"
Vastu explores an ancient system for spiritually centered home design, while other books celebrate small farms in New Mexico and dish on the details of green building and remodeling.
By Charles C. Poling
Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature, by Sherri Silverman, Gibbs Smith, Publisher, hardcover, $29.95
When we use home as a verb, as in the sense of heading true toward a goal, we hint at the deeper meaning we seek in our domicile. If home were simply an arrangement of walls and roof, plumbing and circuitry, I doubt the shelves at every newsstand would sag as they do under the weight of all those “shelter” magazines. No, home as a higher concept, freighted with emotion and spiritual yearning, surely has influenced this design and building trend of the past few decades.
Targeting the owners of that world view with her book Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature, Santa Fe author Sherri Silverman aims to give readers the knowledge and tools to create their own tranquil sanctuary protecting them from the threats of the world while also preparing them to succeed out there. In what feels a peculiarly American sleight, Vastu weds the practical to the spiritual, personal growth to self-interest. Here it’s the architectural equivalent of the “yoga butt.” It’s OK to want a really great house: it’ll make you a better person. Is that so wrong?
Maybe it’s all proof that no matter how secularized our culture becomes, the urge toward the sacred will find expression through whatever materials fall to hand. If the old church, your parents’ temple, or the new house of worship down the block doesn’t elevate your spirit, maybe your own house will.
Silverman brings impressive credentials. A Vastu sacred space design consultant with her firm, Transcendence, she holds a Ph.D. in Creativity, the Arts, and the Sacred Application of Asian Concepts. Since 1974, she has taught yoga, meditation, and sacred text courses from India’s Vedic tradition, which lies at the roots of Vastu (and of yoga and familiar forms of meditation—in fact, she calls Vastu “the yoga of design”).
Vastu is hardly a transitory pop-culture evanescence or feng-shui lite. An ancient Sanskrit term, Vastu translates as “energy” or “imperishable substance,” according to Silverman. As a term applied to a system of design principles, as Silverman propounds in her book, “Vastu’s purpose is to align our architectural spaces with the beneficial effects of the laws of nature and the influence of earth and cosmic energies. Vastu views a building as a living entity that nourishes our lives.” Buildings—homes—created in alignment with the guidelines of Vastu support our health, growth, and happiness, she writes. If all this sounds a bit like feng shui, the Chinese design system, Silverman claims that’s because Vastu predated and influenced it, but she concludes that Vastu offers greater depth and more benefits than its Chinese cousin.
By applying the Vastu guidelines, which incorporate a variety of arcane but quite specific principles, including a mandala and a rectangular grid—trust me, this system isn’t for the intellectually lazy—a designer can create a new house or even rectify an existing one as a personal sanctuary.
Every room or home space gets its due: starting with the lot, then covering porches, bedrooms, kitchen, bath, garage, and the like. So for instance, an office should be placed on the northeast side of the home, a children’s study area on the west. “Everyone should face east or north for the best brain wave activity when studying.” Skeptical? Try it, Silverman suggests—even just moving around furniture can make a difference, she claims. Vastu even goes so far as to give advice on how to declutter your space, organize your dirty clothes, and fence your yard. Everything counts!
Vastu is a smart book. Clearly Silverman has mastered the topic, and even if you can’t quite stretch to wholeheartedly embrace the belief system behind it, you certainly will glean innumerable ideas that just plain make sense. With Vastu’s 10,000-year history, it’s a stunning testament to the intellectual depth and subtlety of ancient Indian culture and its tradition of supporting people’s eternal need to meld body and spirit in our daily lives.
Vastu Book Review, elephant journal's Summer 2008 Issue|
Reprinted from elephant journal with permission, elephantjournal.com.
Vastu: Transcendentat Home Design in Harmony with Nature by Sherri Silverman >VIA KATYA SLIVINSKAYA I've long liked to torture my non-homeowner self by leafing through copies of Dwell magazine. So upon seeing yet another interior design title, I challenged myself to find at least three helpful chances that I could manage in my small (cozy) apartment. And I must admit that -- although there's something about this book's new-agey bent that I would love to hate--I found some great advice for purifying the air, organizing clutter and straightening out the artwork situation in my humble space. My favorite is the Kahlil Gibran quote, "Forget not that the earth delights in your bare feet and the winds want to play with your hair," featured in section four, which somehow takes the edge off my lack of funds for a soothing koi pond and reminds me that enriching my place is not as shallow as all that.
New Age Retailer, May 2008 Vastu Book Review|
Reprinted with permission of New Age Retailer Magazine. by Connie Mears
Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature
Sherri Silverman, Ph.D.
Dr. Sherri Silverman meshes yin with yang in this gorgeous book about creating a tranquil sanctuary in the home. A visual artist, Silverman studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and taught meditation, yoga and breathwork, art history, and creativity at several institutions including Naropa University. This elegant introduction to the art of Vastu, approaching architecture and interior design in the sacred way of the ancient Vedic tradition, combines poetic photos with Silverman's clear and thorough text. Organized in five sections, the last provides resources, glossary, and index. This gracious work will appeal to those wanting to apply Vedic wisdom in a practical way and to the visually-oriented, who appreciate the simple beauty portrayed.
April/May 2008 Santa Fean Magazine: "Sherri Silverman's Soulful Living Spaces"|
Reprinted with permission of the writer, Aysha Griffin, and The Santa Fean Magazine. Aysha Griffin is a freelance travel and business writer, editor and consultant; both Santa Fean's and her websites are their names.
Sherri Silverman's Soulful Living Spaces
Q & A Sherri Silverman is a Santa Fe based teacher of meditation, yoga, and Vedic traditions---including Vastu, India's ancient science of design for buildings and gardens, which she practices through her company Transcendence Design (transcendencedesign.com). She shares her extensive knowledge in the new book Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature (Gibbs Smith, $29.95).
What is Vastu?
Vastu is about creating uplifting spaces that energize and create peace within. It is a tradition of India, some 14,000 years old, that brings us into harmony with nature by balancing the five elements of creation in the Vedic system: air, fire, water, earth, and space. For a practitioner, I believe it is a form of service, requiring deep study and meditation for years to get connected to it---but anyone can use the principles to improve their life.
The book, while beautiful, is also exhaustive in its explanations and applications of Vedic concepts.
It is thorough because I didn't want to water it down but, actually, there's much I left out. And although one can use it to learn Vastu principles, I also wanted people to be able to simply look at the photos [by Santa Fe photographer Erika Blumenfeld] and feel the sense of balance in spaces where Vastu has been applied.
Why have we not heard about Vastu before?
The knowledge was lost for general use through hundreds of years of Islamic rule followed by the British Raj suppresing India's indigenous culture and wiping out Ayurveda. Vastu has started being revived in India.
Who is interested in Vastu and what can it do for them?
Most people want improvement in some area of their lives. We need our homes to be sanctuaries, and Vastu creates that. -- Aysha Griffin
Book Review: Mystic Pop Magazine, March/April 2008|
VASTU: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature
by Sherri Silverman
An ancient science that creates tranquil, healthy and beautiful environments in harmony with nature comes to us from India. This book is delightfully illustrated. Its clearly detailed information explains time honored ways that will nourish our lives. We discover the importance of incorporating the five elements and directions (n-e-s-w, etc.) into our architecture to truly establish sanctuary. How important is it for you to enhance your relationships, your inner peace and your joy? If that is a desire in your life ‘vastu’ is a powerful method for your transition. This book, then, is a must have!
Published by Gibbs Smith, available http://www.transcendencedesign.com
Reprinted with permission. Online at mysticpopmagazine.com/newsite/MarchApril08/page23mar.html
Yoga Plus Joyful Living Magazine, January/February 2008|
"Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself."
Sukha (Good Space) in Yoga Plus Magazine, from Sherri's Vastu book
--Hermann Hesse, Siddartha
According to Vastu (the yoga of design), one of the best ways to infuse your home with serenity and sacredness is by meditating in it. For centuries, Indian sages have known that meditation and spiritual practices can create balance and improve the quality of your home. Prayer, meditation, asana, chanting, and pranayama (breathing practices) enliven your living space.
Be consistent with the spiritual practices of whatever tradition you are drawn to. As the Sufi poet Rumi said, your true home is within. You can reach it by letting go and allowing your mind to turn inward. When we feel at home within ourselves and within our own hearts, any building we live in will fell like a sanctuary.
Excerpt copyright 2007 from Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature by Sherri Silverman. Reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith, Publisher.
Nexus: Colorado's Holistic Journal, book review, January/February 2008|
Book review by Amber Terrell. Article courtesy of www.nexuspub.com
Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature, by Sherri Silverman
Of course you've heard of Feng-Shui, the Chinese art of sacred architectural space, interior design and geomancy. But you may not know of its scientific origins. Now, the ancient science of Vaastu, thought to be the source of Feng-Shui and other sacred architectural traditions, is making a comeback in architecture and both professional and amateur design. Texts as old as 10,000 years, writtten in ancient Tamil, are coming to light and being translated into modern languages by Tamil scholars who must have both architectural and mathematical expertise. Sherri Silverman's book offers an introduction to Vaastu--its history, its powerful effects, some of its basic mathematical principals [sic] and its rising influence today in the field of architectural design. All this she presents in a package so richly illustrated, with full-page color photos throughout, that it is a veritable feast for the eyes.
About the definition and spelling of the term: the Sanskrit word "vastu" means "energy," or "imperishable substance." The word "vaastu" refers to the forms built by humans that are filled with that energy. In other words, Vastu becomes Vaastu as we build a structure. Energy becomes matter. When our buildings of matter are resonant with the imperishable energy from which all matter comes, the dwelling is thought to be powerfully beneficial to the inhabitants.
Silverman's book is available at the Boulder Bookstore.
At a glance
Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature
Author: Sherri Silverman
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Length: 160 pages
Retail price: $29.95
Santa Fe Trend Magazine: "Vastu for Living in Beauty to Invite Health and Wealth"|
Vastu Consultant Sherri Silverman talks about Vastu, beauty, and how the principles differ from Feng Shui in the Winter/Spring 2005 issue of Santa Fe Trend magazine. Reprinted with permission.
NOTE: There is an accidental error in the first column of this article. The following sentence is not true and will not have a good Vastu effect: "Installing a mirror can instantly create a vamsa danda if you do not have a back window."
Here is the text of the article:
"Have you tried allowing beauty to heal your maladies? Amazing as it may seem, when we welcome beauty into our lives, existing health problems ease up," claims Sherri Silverman, owner of Transcendence Design. Like the Navajo sacred philosophy of hozho, imbalances of any kind--from personal health to finances--cause us to lose harmony in our lives.
A proponent of the Indian Vedic system of spiritual architecture and design called Vastu, Silverman says legends and written records indicate that vastu began about 10,000 years ago in India. It eventually spread to China, where it heavily influenced Feng Shui.
From building plans to interior design, Indians use vastu for divining sacred spaces in temples, businesses, and home to engender peace and prosperity.
In Silverman's words, "Both systems prevail on the subtle, sparkly, universal life energy respectively known in India and China as prana and chi; honor the four directions; the five elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth; and in essence, integrate nature into our daily lives."
But where Vastu deviates from Feng Shui is with the idea of the vamsa danda, Sanskrit for "spine of light." "Vamsa danda is a clear, straight path from your front door to a back door or window that allows for the passage of light, air, and energy. Feng Shui does not like this because it allows chi to dissipate too quickly to retain its benefits," Silverman points out.
"And, if you follow all the rules but your space turns out not looking beautiful, then it's not vastu," she adds.
It's not wise to mix both systems either. Silverman tells of a Boulder, Colorado, chiropractor who implemented vastu at home but had a Feng Shui consultation for his new office space. He was told the straight path from the front door to windows on the back wall needed to be blocked. But living harmoniously with vamsa danda's clear spine of light at home, the chiropractor immediately understood the metaphor, sensed the energetic benefits of his office space, and realized its perfect location for healing human spines.
Vastu also employs mathematical calculations to design proportions suitable for individuals. Silverman explains that because people and objects have their own vibrations, ayadi gananam calculates and tailor proportions to individuals, thereby enhancing their good fortune with home design, furnishings, and even jewelry.
"Since we appreciate beauty, use natural building materials, and live in harmony with our environment, vastu's spiritual basis fits in perfectly with design efforts that enhance our Santa Fe lifestyle," says Silverman. www.transcendencedesign.com; 505-660-9333.--S. LIM
"Do you vastu?" Santa Fean Magazine, July 2006|
Transcendence Design and Vastu were featured in "City Different, the buzz around town."
Reprinted with permission.
Move over, feng shui; vastu shastra is on the rise. The ancient Indian science of architecture and design is based on the principles of sacred geometry, the cardinal directions, harmony with nature, and aesthetics. "If it's not beautiful, it's not true vastu," says Sherri Silverman, owner of Transcendence Design, based in Santa Fe. "Sometimes the changes are subtle," says the design consultant. "Life is just happier and smoother." But dramatic shifts can occur. One client saw her business double shortly after vastu remediation. Another followed Silverman's suggestions for enhancing the relationship area of her home. The next day she had three suitors knocking at her door- literally.
Silverman will give a talk on yantras, one of the tools used in vastu, on July 15, 2006, 2:30 - 4, at BODY (333 Cordova, 505-986-0362). Info: 505-660-9333, www.transcendencedesign.com. -E.W.
“ Vastu Design – Learn how to incorporate this ancient Indian system into your home décor.” Longmont Daily Times-Call newspaper article.|
Home & Real Estate Weekly Supplement to The Longmont Daily Times-Call
Saturday, October 18, 2003.Reprinted with permission.
“Vastu Design: Indian technique becomes popular in Colorado”
By Elizabeth Denton
If you're having trouble with your home feeling cluttered and lacking good energy, there's a solution. Using harmony and nature in Vastu design, the ancient Indian system of architecture and design, will help achieve balance and positive energy throughout the home.
Vastu design is spiritually based and works in harmony with nature to support and nourish people and their environment, like the home or office, said Sherri Silverman, owner of Transcendence Design in Boulder.
The indigenous tradition of Vastu is believed to derive from the Vedic tradition in India, but Silverman said it's also believed to be more ancient and date back to 12,000 years ago. Vastu has been gaining in popularity for the past five years, like Feng Shui did years ago. Some call Vastu the Indian version of Feng Shui, but Silverman said while there are some similarities, there are also many differences.
The ideal solution to incorporate Vastu design would be to build a house from scratch and include every aspect of the ancient design. Since building a house is expensive and most people live on a tight budget, there are many other ways to include Vastu in the home. Silverman said you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to incorporate Vastu design in a home to make it more beautiful, functional and comfortable.
Vastu incorporates each of the nine directions, including north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest and the center. Each direction has different properties, and if honored correctly, the space becomes more supportive and healthy, and feels and looks better.
Vastu also recognizes the five elements of creation, including earth, air, fire, water and space. If these elements are honored, the prana, or universal life-force, will be enhanced in the home.
Vastu wants the north and east portions of a house to be open with lighter-weight objects, and the heavier objects should be present in the south and west, Silverman said. The brahmasthan - the center of the home and center of each room - should be kept empty and clean to allow the home to feel more spacious.
The northeast corner of a home should have some type of water feature, such as a fountain, water garden, waterfall or aquarium, because the northeast is where the water element is most prominent. It also brings more prosperity and abundance into the home by creating a greater flow, she said.
The southwest corner represents the solid earth element, and is the ideal location for the bedroom because the energies are more settled, Silverman said. The fire element is represented in the southeast portion of a home, and if a bedroom is located there, people can become agitated and have trouble sleeping. The kitchen should be located in the southeast because of the fire energy in the area. Bathrooms should be located in the northwest or west, but not in the center of the home or the northeast because of the energy. If these rooms aren't located in these specific areas, work with the space and rectify it with color to honor the elements."Color has a tremendous effect on us, and people are always wondering what to do about color," Silverman said. "First of all, you have to have colors that you yourself really love, not just, 'Oh, that's OK.'" She said there are colors appropriate for different spaces because of the kind of space, like a bedroom, or the directions, like the northeast. Certain colors should be used to rectify each space. There are many options available, and something is sure to please almost everyone. "Listen to yourself and what you like, and what satisfies you," Silverman said.
Furniture placement is another factor because the space should be easy to move around in, and people shouldn't have to look down to find their way to the couch. A boxed-in feeling is never a good thing, she said. Relaxation and comfort are key in the home.
Another important element in Vastu design is to be clutter free. Getting rid of things that aren't beautiful or useful in a home is key.
"Because our environment has such a strong affect on us, we feel better if we're in a beautiful space. It's arranged to support and nourish us, instead of seeming to fight us," Silverman said. "Beauty is of utmost importance in Vastu. You can follow all the rules, but if it's not beautiful, it's not truly Vastu. "That's an important element for us to have around us, especially in days of great uncertainty in the world. The beauty is very nourishing, so having flowers and plants, choosing artwork and colors for the walls you really respond to and love, can make a huge difference."
Another simple thing to do is perform the Asian custom of having everyone who steps into the home remove their shoes."When you take off your shoes when you enter a home, you're recognizing that [it] is a space set a part from the rest of the world," Silverman said. "You're symbolically not bringing in the stress and the uncertainty of the outside world into your home." Removing shoes before entering a home also keeps it cleaner, which is another important aspect of Vastu. Not bringing dirt into the home allows the home to symbolically stay more refined and supportive, she said. Having things clean and clutter free allows the energy to flow better throughout the home.
Denver resident Nancy Knapschafer was experiencing discomfort in her home because of problems that started at the front door. The door was old and didn't look nice. When you walked through it, a sharp corner greeted you, which isn't a positive thing in Vastu. After the consultation with Silverman, the decision was made to install new doors and hang a piece of artwork on the wall near the front door to distract from the sharp corner. Knapschafer said she saw results almost immediately.
Clutter was also a problem, and Knapschafer has been working on de-cluttering for a while and said things are finally starting to come together.
"I love coming into my house now and seeing the new doors," she said. "And de-cluttering has made a big difference." Knapschafer said she didn't realize how bad things were until Silverman came for a visit to tell her what needed to be done to improve the energy and comfort level of the home. She said it made a huge difference because she didn't notice some of the things that could be eliminated or moved until Silverman brought them to her attention. Knapschafer said taking Vastu into consideration in her home has improved its energy and brought her a different level of awareness. She said she will always incorporate Vastu in her home in some type of subtle way, but she doesn't practice it to its full extent.
Silverman said, "Some days everything is creating obstacles in our paths, and some days everything seems to rise up and support us. You can make changes in your home, so that your home supports you, instead of creating those obstacles."
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