Whether you’re on a life-long spiritual journey, or if you’ve just recently dipped in your toe, you may have heard the term ‘space’: holding space, creating space, taking up space. So what does ‘space’ actually mean, and why should we care about it? In this post, we’ll discuss what space means and why it’s important to our health and enjoyment of life. Then we’ll go through some ways you can manifest it for yourself. Creating space provides a place for clarity of mind, insight, and healing. It can help us grow spiritually and enhance our appreciation for life.
What is Space?
Picture yourself sitting inside a giant bubble. It is very comfortable inside, with soft blankets and plush pillows all in your favorite colors. There is no stress here; you could curl up and read a book, take a nap, order a pizza, or whatever brings you joy. The space inside the bubble is calm, and you feel relaxed, receptive, and peaceful. Outside of the bubble are all our attachments: to our body, our thoughts, our daily routines, our desires and aversions, our goals. Although it ebbs and flows, the atmosphere is usually stressful, confusing, and chaotic. The inside of the bubble is ‘space’. It is unaffected by the distractions and attachments that hover on the outside, clamoring for our attention.
Space allows us to experience the present moment state, a period of time when we are completely in the here and now. We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, whether it be when we’re playing with our children and all of a sudden realize we’re having fun and haven’t thought about our worries in hours, or gazing at a breathtaking sunset over the ocean and notice our minds have gone blissfully blank. This state of mind is different than our typical thinking patterns, and it is full of healing energy. Space is available to us at all times, but the distractions outside of the bubble keep us from accessing it.
Another aspect of space is the space we take up as human beings and as souls. In times of stress, many of us tend to shrink down, to hide, to make ourselves as small and unnoticeable as possible. We are operating on a low vibrational level and are therefore attracting similar energy. It is at this point that our bubble has become invaded, and our space has shrunk down to an uncomfortable closeness. Taking up space is about reclaiming our energy, opening up to the Universe and all it has to offer, as well as all of its challenges. But it also means becoming captain of our own ship, owning our power to change the situations that we attract and the choices we make. To take up space is to open ourselves to a more meaningful connection with our true selves and our connection to our Source.
How Does Space Help Us?
Think of a drinking glass filled to the brim with water. Because it is so full, no more water can flow into the glass, not even the tiniest droplet; there is no more room. Any new water that tries to get in is repelled, and the water within the cup stays stagnant. A cup that is less full, however, can accept new water and it flows more freely. There is space for it to be flexible, and for water to be added or taken away without an eruption. The full glass is what our lives are like if we don’t have enough space. A lack of space means we are not giving our all to the important aspects of life. We want our lives to be fulfilling, but that doesn’t mean they should be full.
When we clutter our lives with a bunch of ‘stuff’, we muddy the waters of what is truly important and what is not. We spread ourselves thin, leaving little room for appreciation and enjoyment of our life experience. Space allows us to access a higher level of thinking, capable of seeing with neutrality and simplicity. The mental clarity that comes with being present allows us to see things from a calmer perspective, and therefore make more intuitive decisions. When we’re free from mental distractions, we’re able to sort out what we should worry about and what can be left for another day, or set aside entirely. Creating space for ourselves can help us direct our energy in specific, meaningful ways.
In an ayahuasca ceremony, we see both ‘creating’ and ‘holding’ space. At the beginning of ceremony, the shaman/s or ayahuasquero/s create a specific energy field with the intentions of healing, self-discovery, and spiritual connection for participants’ journeys. This is to create a space where people feel protected, and safe enough to venture into wherever Ayahuasca takes them. Set and setting are extremely important with psychedelic healing, so the creation of this space is crucial to the experience. Throughout the ceremony, the shaman needs to maintain this energetic field and ward off any unwanted energy or spirits that may try to invade the space.
In my experiences with ayahuasca, my awareness of the space around me felt extremely heightened, but not the physical space. I was unaware (and unconcerned with) the people around me, the music came in and out of my consciousness, and most of what I was taking in through my five senses was unimportant to me at the time. What was overactive though, was my sense of the subtle space around me, the spiritual atmosphere of the room. I could sense energies and vibrations, and I could definitely tell whether they were helpful or harmful. Having a safe, sacred space in the ceremony helped me feel comfortable in my un-comfortability during challenging or confusing times. I realized that the 'setting of space' is an intentional act that I can practice to help manage my own energy and the energy that surrounds me.
Create Space in Your Life
Space is accessible to us all; getting there is a matter of plowing through the debris of life to get to a place where we are no longer filling voids with material possessions, too many commitments, and attachments of all kinds. Over time and with consistent practice, this space will become easier to access.
Here are some simple ways you can make more room in your life:
Evaluate your commitments - This one has been a struggle for me lately. When we make too many commitments, our life becomes overly full (think of the cup filled with water) and the amount of healing space available to us is decreased. We give a little of our energy to a lot of things, rather than giving a lot of energy to a few, fulfilling things. By evaluating our commitments, we create space for what is truly important.
Set aside guilt-free time to enjoy something - The key here is ‘guilt-free’. A lot of times when we try to give ourselves a break, we spend the entire time thinking about the things we should be doing, or the time we’re “wasting”. Let’s be very clear: taking time out to replenish our spiritual energy is the exact opposite of a timewaster. Temporarily removing ourselves from productivity, the battery charge we receive from giving ourselves space for enjoyment can fuel more productivity once we return, refreshed and restored, to our responsibilities.
Declutter - This means decluttering both physically and figuratively. Decluttering your home is a good place to start. Anything you haven’t used in the last year, throw it out (with the exception of meaningful items, of course). Hanging on to material things is a form of attachment, and it keeps us in bondage to external things. Decluttering can also refer to getting rid of or removing ourselves from things that no longer serve us, such as a draining relationship or an unfulfilling job in which we feel stuck.
Pay attention to what you eat - This may seem like a strange method for creating space, but what we feed ourselves can either reduce or increase the amount of space available to us. Scarfing down weekly Big Macs, for example, signifies haste, disconnection from our source of food, and a lack of self-care for our bodies. Things like this cause the space in our lives to decrease, as we move farther away from the present moment and mindfulness.
Meditate - Meditation allows us to observe our thoughts and consciously let them go, creating space in the mind. Meditating occasionally will help calm your mind at the time, but consistent practice can retrain your brain to release chronic, often destructive thinking patterns. Mental space normally reserved for things like worrying and anticipating becomes available and it becomes easier to focus on things other than our thoughts and what they want us to do.
Do Yoga / Dance/ Mindful Movement - Do anything that allows your body to take up and explore the physical space around you. Expand yourself and play with how it feels to move your body through a physical dimension.