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  • Jason McCarty

Space and Place

An area of our lives that does not always get a lot of attention in the realms of psychology and spirituality is that of place. There is a lot of focus on relationships with others and relationship with self – a lot of focus on one’s thoughts and emotions – a lot of focus on one’s career and extracurricular activities – but not a lot of focus on the space one keeps, or the place they live.There is definitely a lot of focus on stuff to buy for our spaces, but how much psycho-spiritual attention goes into what we buy and why for our particular spaces? What kind of attention do we give to where our soul feels at home (place)? What makes our soul feel more at home when it comes to physical environment (space)? Like many areas of our lives we just do what has become habit. Sometimes we are conscious of these choices and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we do things that are the exact opposite of what might bring our soul comfort. Why do we neglect this area of our lives so often? Is it because buying houses and stuff for our houses, offices, or other spaces is always so prevalent? Stuff to buy is everywhere and stores and the media are always telling us what to buy, what is in fashion, what will make us more comfortable. Might this take away from our own assessment? Might this take away from listening to what makes OUR soul feel at home? There’s nothing wrong with advertising or material possessions, but there is something wrong if we are not at least sometimes conscious of how we are in relationship to those things and the overall space around us.

Everyone is different in what makes him or her feel at home. Some people might like a clean place while others want a more lived-in environment. There are way too many varieties of living situations to go into here but you get the point. Sometimes we get into problems when we think we SHOULD keep a more straightened up house but really, in fact, don’t need it that way all the time. Sometimes people follow belief systems or expectations of their parents or their friends. This also does not help you listen to what you need.

What about place? Place is not just a geographical location but also a sense of feeling at home, a sense of belonging somewhere. Someone might enjoy being near mountains, while another might enjoy the prairies because that is where they grew up and it brings comfort to their soul. Another person may have grown up in the city but when they visited the beach as a child it always felt more like home to them. Maybe you like a busy street with the roar of the traffic grounding you in your sense of place. Maybe you like to be as far away from others as possible to regain your self at the end of every day. Sometimes it can be those small places outside of the home like a coffee shop or creek that might make us feel grounded. Again, the options and possibilities are endless.

This idea of understanding our sense of place and space is not just about likes and dislikes – it is about paying attention. It is about seeing, feeling, and sensing what brings comfort, rest, stimulation, and grounding to our souls. Part of taking responsibility for being the author of your own life is being conscious about the setting you write for your own story.

Now all of us have limitations on what exact types of spaces and places we can create. There might be financial limitations, or career/job limitations, and maybe there are family issues limiting us. Limitations are the boundaries set for us in our lives to live within. These boundaries actually give us a sense of freedom. We don’t have to stay there, but until we can have more control over some of them then our acceptance of them can be comforting. If we are always fighting our limitations then we will always be wanting more than what we have and we will miss the time we need to focus on our happiness in the now. We will miss the time we need to focus on the spaces and places where we are at this time. Even a struggling homeless person looks to create a sense of space and place wherever they go – it is a part of our nature. It is sad that some do not have enough to create a more safe and comfortable environment for themselves. There are way too many people all around the world suffering and not able to have a safe sense of place. But if you were to go see those people you would still see an attempt at creating the best space they can with what they have, and many times they are not complaining near as much as those of us are with safety and simple pleasures. Now that it is getting colder in this part of the world and we are coming up on the holidays, I feel for those out there who are going to be suffering from the cold and not able to enjoy a safe and comfortable space.

Space and place are almost so fundamental that we can often miss them. I would encourage you to think about what you might need to do to listen to your soul’s needs when it comes to feeling more “at home.” Maybe you are very conscious of this and do a great job of creating an environment for yourself to thrive, but if you are not and realize the need, it can be so important to living more consciously in line with who you are.

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