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Space Element: Vibrating Life
Star Trek fans (myself included) consider space to be the final frontier. But is it? According to yoga philosophy, the space element is a manifestation of a mysterious substance called ether. Science defines space as a boundless substance in which objects and events have relative position and direction. Most of us think of space as the empty stuff separating planets from stars in the cosmos, one continent from another on earth, and us from each other in many ways such as race, culture, and politics.
However, science has shown us that space is never truly empty. It is full of potential, energy, and vibration. It’s the vibration, which creates the perception that everything we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and experience is material and solid. This vibration emanating from space is the energy glue holding everything together.
What is the Space Element?
This may seem mind-bending and woo-woo, so here’s a metaphor to help you visualize this relationship. Remember those portable electric fans with rotating blades? When the fan is off, you can safely put your hand into the space between the blades and wiggle your fingers. But hit the “on” button, get those blades spinning and it’s a different story. The distinction between the blades and the space between them is erased. Try to put your hand into the space between spinning blades and you’ll end up with flesh and blood issues in your tissues.
Like the spinning blades of the fan, our solid-appearing physical bodies are, according to science, 99.999 percent space. The space element is present in all of our cells and cavities like nostrils, mouth, ears, throat, lungs, and stomach. Our minds are like an ocean of space on which thoughts and emotions ride like waves. Scientifically and philosophically we are spinning, vibrating material reality of space. We are the fans.
The Elements in Balance
To hit your “on” button and get space, air, fire, water, and earth to spin, balance, and work together, we can ask:
How do I know when the elements are balanced?
How do I know when they are unbalanced?
What can I do about it?
When we move through our day with ease, comfort, and confidence, when our minds are calm and clear, when we are able to witness our five layers of awareness (physical, energetic, mental, witnessing and bliss), and how they relate to each other, our elements are thought to be in balance..
The Elements Out of Balance
When our bodies deal with illness, pain, or discomfort when the mind and spirit are in chaos from misunderstanding our situation, lacking awareness about our reactions or responses to what we face such as trauma, unresolved emotional issues, or denial of those issues, our elements can be thought of as imbalanced.
Spoiler alert! We never stay fixed in a balanced or unbalanced state. Even when we deal with a serious or difficult situation, we can find balance through resilience, acceptance, and peace of mind.
How to Balance Your Elements
Self-care is step one to finding and experiencing a measure of balance. Proper nourishment, regular exercise, and emotional support are said to act as containers for the space element and the other four elements. For example, satisfying foods can pacify our digestive system. Clarity of thought and resilience can calm our thoughts and emotions. Contentment may be the best form of nourishment for self-awareness and all five elements.
How to Use the Space Element to Create Balance
We can work with the space element by first sensing and becoming aware of its presence and then choosing practices to balance it along with the other four elements. Here is a practice for sensing the space element:
Five-Pointed Star Pose
This posture holds the space element in its shape and its feeling of expansiveness. As you practice the pose, sense and feel the space under your arms, between your legs and in all the parts of your body. Sense the spaces between your inhalations and exhalations as well as the spaces between your thoughts. Know that the other four elements can also be sensed and felt. Your feet connect with the earth. Water in the form of blood and lymph flows through your body. The element of fire gives you the energy and power to hold the pose and the element of air is always present in your breath.
Step your legs wide and point your toes forward.
Breathe in, lift your arms out to the side and lengthen through your fingertips.
Soften your knees and feel connected to the earth through your feet.
Lengthen up through your head, allowing your spine to elongate.
Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths or longer if you are comfortable.
To come out, step your feet in and lower your arms to the sides of your body.
Gesture for Balancing the Five Elements
In Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian Le Page, the Gesture for Balancing the Five Elements is called Dharma Pravartana Mudra. You can think of mudras as a global positioning system (GPS) for your energy, providing direction to help you tune into the specific goal you are working with.
Hold your hands in front of your body.
Touch the fingertips of your right hand to the fingertips of your left hand.
Bring the outer edge of your thumbs together along their length.
Allow space between your palms as though you were holding a tennis ball.
Place your hands in front of the solar plexus, with your forearms resting against your abdomen.
Relax your shoulders. Breath normally.
Hold the mudra for two to three minutes (or longer if you feel comfortable).
The Space Element: The Ground of Everything
Working with the five elements is another way to think about what it means to be human. Here’s a quote from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche that reinforces our relationship with space, the other elements, with each other and the universe:
“External phenomena appear within space, remain within space, and disappear within space again. Is there any place where earth, water, fire, and wind can go that is outside space?”
Reprinted with permission from Beth Gibbs.com
Beth Gibbs, MA, is a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists and a faculty member at the Kripalu School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. She holds a masters’ degree in Yoga Therapy and Mind/Body Health from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She is the author of Enlighten Up! Finding Clarity, Contentment and Resilience in a Complicated World and Ogi Bogi, The Elephant Yogi, a therapeutic yoga book for children. Beth is an experienced workshop leader and public speaker. She blogs at bethgibbs.com