FAIRFIELD, Iowa— Could your interior design skills actually save your physical and mental health? A new study explains that just by pointing your bed and other furniture in the right direction, your well-being could greatly improve!
A team from Maharishi International University looked at 40 years of research into the practice of Maharishi Vastu architecture (MVA). Whether you call it “Zen” or “flow,” they found that where certain objects are inside a building — as well as the direction they face — can impact everything from stress, to sleep, to mental health.
Study authors describe MVA as a holistic wellness architectural system which aligns buildings with nature’s intelligence. The result creates a balanced and integrated living environment that promotes the general well-being of the people inside.
“We were surprised to find that something so ancient has so much to tell us about how buildings can improve our health and productivity,” says lead author Jon Lipman, AIA, director of the Institute for Vedic Architecture at Maharishi International University, in a media release.
Is your bed facing the wrong way?
According to the study, if your head is facing to the east or south when you sleep, you’re more likely to have a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Meanwhile, people with homes that have an entrance facing south display poorer mental health and have more financial problems. Sounds like you may need to bring a compass the next time you’re looking to buy a house!
Whether you work in an office or at home, it might also be time to turn your desk around! Researchers found that facing east while you work leads to greater brain coherence and helps workers complete tasks faster.
Cleaning up the ‘environment’
Researchers note that many studies into MVA look at how building layouts impact stress and increase comfort. This new review provides more evidence that where we place our belongings could also influence the physical well-being of the person spending most of their time in this place — or as the researchers call it, their “envirome.”
“Modern medicine now recognizes the powerful effects of the ‘envirome’ on health,” says study co-author Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, and Dean of the College of Integrative Medicine at Maharishi International University.
“The environment includes all the natural and man-made elements of our environment throughout the lifespan, notably the built environment. This review of the science suggests that buildings constructed according to principles of Maharishi Vastu architecture function as positive elements in the environment to enhance mental and physical health and well-being. Further advances in neuroscience offer plausible physiological explanations for these effects.”
Where does MVA come from?
Study authors note that Maharishi Vastu architecture is a revival of an ancient architectural system from South Asia. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation organization, developed several principles of architectural design that researchers have found can benefit the health of the people living or working in such a building.
Some of the principles include:
- The building’s main entrance should face the east or north.
- Building walls should align with the cardinal directions.
- The floor plan clearly assigns key functions to specific locations within the building.
- The floor plan also allows occupants to face the most ideal directions during work and sleep.
- MVA emphasizes the use of non-toxic, natural materials, increased fresh air, and reduced electromagnetic radiation.
The findings are published in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine.