Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Nourish Yourself with Space – Part 1

Do you take time to nourish yourself with space?

Or is your life so crammed full you’ve forgotten the taste, the feel, and sumptuous joy of spaciousness?

Having a full life is not necessarily a bad thing.  It can be a sign of passion, enthusiasm, and dedication as well as the source of great happiness.

But when you start to feel frazzled and overwhelmed – as though there’s not enough time or space – something’s gone awry.

The Healing Power of the 5 Elements

Many ancient medical and spiritual traditions believe that everything in this world – external and internal – comes about due to the interactions of the 5 elements:

  • Earth
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Air
  • Space

Everything is comprised of these 5 elements – all physical, sensual, mental, and spiritual phenomenon – although the names vary depending upon the particular tradition.

On a physical level they correlate internally and externally to:

  • Earth – solidity
  • Water – cohesion
  • Fire – temperature
  • Air – motion
  • Space – the spatial container that holds the other 4 active elements

On an emotional and mental level they also correlate to:

  • Earth – groundedness
  • Water – comfort
  • Fire – creativity
  • Air – flexibility
  • Space – spaciousness

In the West, we intuitively apply these same elemental attributes when we consider anger to be “fiery” or describe a person as “grounded” or “spacey.”

Using the Natural Elements to Restore and Replenish Yourself

The 5 elements are constantly interacting and changing the world around us as well as well as operating within us to create health and well being or imbalance and ill health.

Almost anything can imbalance your inner elements from food, movies, exercise, noise, environmental toxins, and wind to thoughts and emotions.  But your inner elements can also be brought back into balance through smart choices.

Although we can and often do live in a state of imbalance, we never feel quite right.  When the elements go way out of balance, serious illness occurs. But there are usually warning signs all along the way.  It’s wise to pay attention to the signs and make adjustments before ill health really takes a hold.

The natural elements have the power to restore, replenish, and heal us.  One way to help bring your inner elements back into balance is by consciously taking in the right mix of earth, water, fire, wind, or space.

We’re all different.  One person might need to soak in a warm mineral pool, whereas another will be refreshed by a cool shower or waterfall.  Someone else will benefit from gazing into space.

Reflection:  What’s Your Relationship to Space?

The reflection this week involves take some time to look at your relationship to space.

The following quotes from Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche describe the space element and what it feels like when the space element is in balance.

“Everything arises from space, exists in space, and dissolves into space.  In us that sacred element of space manifests as awareness.  Experience is what arises in awareness, as the content of awareness, but it is not something other than awareness.”

“When the space element is balanced in us, there is room in life; whatever arises can be accommodated.  There is enough time, enough emotional capacity, enough tolerance.  The elements of experience all fit; they are neither too much nor too little.  We are not dissociated from experience nor completely caught by it.  Rather than running after or away for the content of experience, we are more rooted in ourselves or the one who is experiencing.”

When there is too much space we become “spacey.”  The result is a lack of awareness, presence, and focus.  There is a sense of being lost or out of touch.  If that’s the case, we need to get grounded rather than gaze into space.

When there is too little space, we are dominated by whatever arises, everything seems difficult, and we can easily become overwhelmed.  One of the best medicines to counter this lack of space is gazing into the sky.

“Go up on the top of a hill where there is a big, unobstructed view of the sky.  Your eyes should be open, your body relaxed, your breath free and easy.  Breathe in the open, clear sky, and allow yourself to dissolve in it when you exhale.  Let pure, infinite space pervade your body, your energy, your mind.  Integrate your awareness with space.  Merge with space.”

When it’s not possible to get out into nature, you can also acquire a sense of space by pausing for a slow, deep breath, taking a short break, stepping back from a problem, visualizing yourself on top of a mountain looking into space, or letting go of the thoughts and emotions that are closing in on you.

My husband and I just returned from two gorgeous days on the sunny side of the island.  I felt especially nourished by the element of space.  Although I didn’t climb to the top of a mountain, I did enjoy gazing into the limitless sky above the vast blue ocean.  In the evening, I sat on the sand beneath the moonlight, drinking in the dark expanse of space in front of me.  One of the keys of working with an element is to actively engage and allow it to penetrate your entire being.  Another way I’m creating space is trying out a more spacious blog theme.

How about you?  Do you feel spacey?  Or do you feel there’s not enough time and space in your life?  Do you ever work with the outer elements to bring more balance into your being?

You might also like:

Source:  Healing with Form, Energy, and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche 


If you liked this article, please share the link by using the share button below.  And, I would love to hear from you in the comments.  Thanks so much for your support!  Sandra


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  1. Oh, I’m into this topic for sure. I link space with time. The way I see it, if every minute of your life is scheduled, there is no space in which the miraculous may happen. You have to allow space for doing nothing, on purpose. Then the cool stuff can pop in. I enjoy your work so much, Sandra.

    • Precisely!

      And the feeling is mutual. 🙂

      • I share this linking of time and space as well that’s why I named my blog this time – this space. I was also inspired by this Einstein quote too:

        A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

        I spend a lot of time outdoors in the fair weather seasons. I live on acreage and cannot see a single manmade structure or human being except my fences from any window. Our acreage is on an island that’s unspoiled as yet and we spend time on beaches, on cliff edges enjoying time and space – sometimes together and sometimes on our own.

        • timethief – I’ve always appreciated the unique name you have chosen for your blog. It has profound meaning and has always seemed very special to me.

          This is an incredible quote from Einstein, his thinking was so deep and profound. The last few lines add a sense of urgency to the matter.

          I’m glad you have such special conditions to be able to enjoy time and space so immensely. While I live in a beautiful setting, it’s not isolated like yours. But I still enjoy it fully.

          Thanks for the gift of this quote.

  2. Lots in this question. As far as literal space..I look to the skies morning and night..the sunshine warms my skin and lights up my harbor while the moon soothes my soul and moonbeams blanket me as I sleep (they pour into the hatch above me at night). My children and I watch the sunset almost every night..I find it very reassuring and beautiful. As I look to the skies, I am grounded–either barefoot touching ground, or wrapped in blankets tucked in my v-berth.
    As far as space in my life..I allow lots of space in my life, and guide my children to do the same. Space allows us to create, to feel, to be, to connect, to open our arms to the world. Space allows for spontanaeity (beause there is room for anything) allows for unexpected (and scheduled) allows me to honor unfolding in my life. If I am frazzled or overwhelmed, I create space..
    I honor and use outside elements in finding balance within my self and for others. I find that nature has the Answers for us..

    • Joy,

      You have a beautiful mix of the elements in your life. It’s so inspiring to read how you honor and interact with them all. Your children are so lucky to have you as a mother! I’ve been enjoy the moonbeams lately too. Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of your world.

  3. Sandra,
    One thing that always brings an extra sense of peace for me is just going out into our backyard and walking nears the woods…gazing up to the sky, into the trees, soaking in the amazing world all around me.

    Very good to read this today as I think about where I”m at right now…

  4. Very educational post. I often, at night, use the time while taking the dog outside to just be consciously present and gaze up at the sky and stars and to drink in the night sounds and air.

    I like the way it puts everything in perspective. I imagine myself as a tiny speck on the Earth. Everything I am experiencing becomes minute and transient. I never thought about this as being a restorative practice. Nice.

    • Our furry friends certainly help us by routinely taking us outdoors! They are such good friends that way.

      I like the perspective you bring to gazing into the night sky. It’s this perspective that brings more space, humor, and joy into our life. We really don’t have to take everything so seriously! Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I’ve always been drawn to water. Perhaps it was because I raised by the ocean, but after reading this maybe my attraction to water is based on the comfort I find there.

    Thanks for an enlightening post.


    • Hi Alex,

      I think we are intuitively drawn to the elements that will bring balance and peace to us. This is a good example. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Hi Sandra,

    I like the distinction you make between a full life and one where we feel overwhelmed. Given the hectic nature of our times, it can be hard to tell the difference. I am glad that the ancients thought deeply about the matter of life and living and came up with the 5 elements. This is really a great way to explain life and balance. Life in essence is about balance. If the delicate balance is upset, there will be problems for us.

    Our reflections on space this week reminds me of a passage from the Tao Te Ching which I shall share. This translation is by J H McDonald.

    “Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
    but it is the center hole
    that allows the wheel to function.

    We mold clay into a pot,
    but it is the emptiness inside
    that makes the vessel useful.

    We fashion wood for a house,
    but it is the emptiness inside
    that makes it livable.

    We work with the substantial,
    but the emptiness is what we use.”

    As you have rightly pointed out, space is essential to life. But the key is balance. Too much or too little can cause problems. But because each of us are unique and have different experiences, the matter of much or little is subjective and differs from person to person.

    Whenever I feel there is too little space it is because I am overwhelmed with nothing but work. There is no room for stimulation of my mind through reading or new experiences. During such moments, I try to create some space for myself by reading a good book, playing a game or watching a good show. All these things help to expand my horizons and create the space I need in my life.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article and for linking to my article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Irving,

      That’s a wonderful quote from the Tao Te Ching! Thank you for this gift. The essence of space is emptiness indeed yet everything arises from emptiness. I love the way the ancients point us to this truth with their elegant and wise words.

      You have a unique talent for honing in on the main principle. Yes, balance is the key indeed. You have a great toolbox for creating space in your life. Thanks for sharing your tools with us.

  7. What a lovely read on a sunny Sunday morning. I have always felt a special relationship with the elements. I subscribe to the motto there isn’t anything a hot bath can’t cure and know all too well if my bare feet don’t connect with the earth I feel something is missing.

    There is so much we can tune into that enriches and heals. Thanks for this excellent reminder of how and where to find it. 🙂

  8. Emma,

    I fully agree with your sentiments about a hot bath! I love both the warm and the comfort of the water. I learning to connect with the earth more these days. I celebrate the pure joy you feel in your connection to the elements. Thanks for giving us a peek!

  9. Sandra, I enjoy the tranquility of being outside the confines of a dwelling and limits of my mind. Water is essential to my well being, but space is where I’m at peace. The space between words being said is often the real conversation. I like the new header and enjoyed the photos in this post. Love and respect, Simon 🙂

    • Lovely thoughts on the peaceful nature of space. Thank you, Simon. I’ve been thinking of you. I appreciated your article on energy healing and trauma at Heal My PTSD.

  10. You are so right Sandra. It’s interesting that space is also so relevant in good design: adequate white space in documents, minimizing that overcrowded feeling that results in poor web page design. I have been in stores that have been stocked with too much merchandise and the gut response isn’t to purchase but to flee. I guess the desire for our required space is in our DNA.

  11. These are provocative points, Riley! I had the same experience recently when I went to a blog of a very well meaning, caring person that was stuffed with ads. There were even ads in the middle of the text. I just wanted to get out of there. I also felt disinclined to tweet his stuff because I didn’t want to expose others to the same experience. It seems that our cultural urge to fill up space is being counter-balanced these days by the trend toward simplicity. I really enjoyed your take on space!

  12. What a lovely post, Sandra. It would have been even better if I had read it yesterday, a slow day of baking bread and doing laundry and sitting around in the sunlight! I’ve always had somewhat larger space requirements than the people around me, physically and psychologically. I think being alone and doing nothing for certain amounts of time every day keep me from going crazy. Getting out for a walk in the hills is my favorite way to balance. It’s very hard to be cranky, stressed, or burnt out when I’m knee high in wild grasses and there’s a whole unobstructed sky above me.

  13. You’ve underlined such an important point > the real key is knowing yourself and then honoring your self. When you know what nourishes you, it’s so much easier to find happiness and inner peace.

    I love your description of a perfect spacious day. Just reading it brings me a sense of space. I’m so happy you are able to give yourself this gift.

  14. Your post and the comments are profound, but I confess the first thing I thought of was this last Saturday. Feeling overwhelmed and frazzled and without enough space, I gave myself permission to stay in my robe all day reading a new book and watching TV. I felt so refreshed and ready to take up my life again on Sunday. I know that is not what you were getting at, but the “space” in my recliner was exquisite. Hmm, not very enlightened!

    • Galen,

      That sounds very nourishing to me! If it gave you a sense of space, I’m the last one to judge it. It sounds like exactly what you needed. Sure, there’s the “great” space, but we don’t necessarily have the ability to always be there. In the meantime, we need to retreat and refresh in the ways that work for us. And, your recliner sounds exquisite.

  15. Hi Sandra, I wasn’t aware of this concept of space but this really resonates with what I am doing with my life. I felt like a hamster on a wheel, working a lot but not getting far. I decided to ramp down my official “work” to very little to give me space to figure out what I want to do next. Going to Singularity University was part of the plan to take me out of my rut and give me a totally new perspective on things. I think you can’t take advantage of or even see new possibilities if you don’t have enough space.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      It sounds like you are going through an important transition and space seems to be on your side. It’s not fun to feel like a hamster on a wheel. I hope your visit to Singularity University gave you more perspective and that it translates into some new options and good changes for you. I’m rooting for you.

  16. Hi Sandra,
    I know exactly what you mean and last week I wasn’t getting enough space. I went on my morning run today and it was only 30 degrees out and snow was blowing directly in my face. The temptation was to skip it. I knew better and once I got going it was the most refreshing thing I’ve done in a long time. Came back feeling great after getting some space.

    • Tess,

      You are a bold woman indeed! It sounds bitter cold to me. But I used to enjoy walking in low temperatures from time to time when I lived in a snowy climate so I can resonate with this to some degree. I definitely get the feeling of spaciousness you achieved via your run and am so glad you didn’t let temptation get the best of you. Bravo for you!

  17. Nature is definitely one of my best remedies.

    I grew up on a lake so I’m a fan of the water.

    When I’m on a road trip, I especially enjoy staying at campgrounds in the forest.

    • Hi J. D.

      We are nature and nature is us so it makes sense that it’s one of our best remedies. I appreciate this glimpse into your elemental favorites.

  18. Water calms me. Cool water for anxiety, warm bath water if I feel sick. I prefer space since I’m nervous, but I get too much of it too and space out. Great post!

    • You know yourself well, Lisa! I like how tuned in you are to how it’s all about balance and different remedies are appropriate for different states. It’s great to “see” you.

  19. I’m so bad at this!! It is even harder for me to do living in the city, where everyone is busy and has their game face on. This is why I want to leave to go somewhere expansive, with lots of space, so I can really enjoy my solitude.

  20. Lynn,

    Sometimes that’s exactly what we need to do! I wish you well in finding more space and solitude.

  21. Hi Sandra I’m a bit late in reading this post. I’ll say off the top I like the article. the notion of using the 5 elements in this way is new to me and yet I’m find myself needing the warmth of the sun, the deep ever-changing sky, and often looking at water. I have always loved the sky and clouds.

    While I was reading the description of the elements I wondered if and how they might be used to help with assessing the spiritual needs of children and adults with disabilities. Especially nonverbal individuals. Sense they can not or will not talk. Many of these individuals aren’t even taught to use sign language or if they are taught it has a very limited usefulness in communication. Do you know if there are people and or programs that use these kinds of spiritual medicine in the healing of the emotional and social scars that are all too often a part of growing up with physical and or intellectual impairments?

    • Hi Gary,

      I love the warmth of the sun too! I’m sorry but I’m not specifically aware of any programs that use the 5 elements in this way for healing the disabled. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, I’m just not aware of them. It seems the elements are universal and speak to all of us in some way so there could be a relevance here. I’ll keep your question in my mind in case I come across anything that is related. All the best to you.

  22. Edith

    I know that others have said it before Sandra, but it bears repeating — this virtual space which you have created in cyber space offers a way of moving outwards from closed and tensed positions into a place of airy lightness of being, a taste of the freedom of awareness, what awaits us further down the road if we can but remember to practice, practice, practice!

  23. Thanks for the post, it reinforced for me my need to walk outside more often particularly at sunset and to look at the moon. This morning I felt so blessed as I floated in the sea and looked up at the moon still in the sky with the sun shimmering on the water- love that space
    love and light

    • Suzie,

      That sounds fabulous! I love floating in the sea too when I’m near to warmer beaches. Glad you had this special time. Thanks for the report!

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