Clearing Space

The thought of traveling again fills me with anxiety and more than a little dread. After months of stay-home orders, quarantines and isolations, I’m having a hard time imagining what it will feel like to hop on a flight, board a train, stay in a hotel or check in to an airbnb again. Simply going to the grocery store or swinging past the post office feels like an act of courage right now.

Added to the anxiety is a renewed awareness of how my travel impacts our collective home, this planet. I was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s choice to cross the Atlantic by sailboat to reach the UN Meeting rather than board a 9-hour flight. In what feels like a former life, I used to commute round-trip between Cambridge, MA and New York city weekly. That commute contributed almost a metric ton of carbon to the atmosphere, the equivalent of melting 3 square meters of Arctic summer ice (32 cubic feet), each month! 

Yet I considered myself an “environmentalist” because I ticked the box to offset my carbon for each flight, because I recycled and composted regularly and tried to eat locally-produced foods for the most part. Now that I’ve been home for 5 months, I’m feeling what the Swedish call “flygskam,” or ‘flying shame.” I dearly love traveling and seeing this beautiful planet we live on.

But now I wonder at what cost?

This global pause has seen air pollution clear, waters run cleaner and animals even explore into suburban landscapes, bringing to mind the ways we wander into the wilderness. It’s a reminder of how we humans are all a part of great nature, not separate from it. As much we put up walls and windows, use heat and ac, package our foods, and try to control our daily experiences -- we’re a part of this natural world. 

And I wonder what it looks like to live more in harmony with our natural rhythms and spaces? 

Awareness. 

The first step in any process is always a realization, an awakening. When I traveled so much for work that I spent more nights in hotels than my own bed, I started a routine to settle myself into each new room. Drawing on Feng Shui principles, energy healing, Reiki and my love of the natural world, it helped me adapt to the travel, I slept better, and as Guru Jagat says, probably strengthened my aura in the process.

As many of us resume travel, whether for work, school or vacation, and have a new or renewed desire to do so more mindfully, here’s a technique to clear a space,  ground yourself, and prepare you for being in the world again:

Acknowledge the Space

As you enter a space for the first time, say to your self or out loud, an acknowledgement that you are entering. It can be as simple as, “Hello, house” or more extensive, “Hello Ace Hotel room in downtown Los Angeles. I acknowledge that this is built on land traditionally belonging to the Tongvan people. I recognize that history, the indigenous stewards of this land and that it was stolen.”

    Claim your Space

    As you enter the space and put your things down, take a moment to clearly state your purpose for being there, how long you’ll be there and an intention for sharing the space.

    “I’ll be staying here for 3 nights while I’m in town to see clients, facilitate a breathwork class and catch up with dear friends. My intention is that this room will be a restful space to hold me while I sleep peacefully each night, and to be a productive place to work during the day. I trust that it will be safe, secure and nourishing to be here. Thank you for hosting me.”Note that this can be done in a matter of a few seconds. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or name everything you’ll be doing. The act and the intention is more important than getting it “right.”

     

    Clear the Space

    Clearing rooms energetically is important to clear away the previous occupants' energetic residue, the energy attached to the furniture and objects in the room, and can even help with pests and critters. (I had an apartment in NYC where a fumigator knocked on my door one day to ask me what I was doing because I never called him! Apparently all the apartments around me had the usual cockroaches and mice, but I never saw a single one in my place). This clearing can be done quickly or extensively, like when moving into a new home.
    Stand in the doorway at the entrance and face the middle of the space. The door can be open or closed, as you prefer. If possible, open a window so that the energies can move outside as you clear. Take a few deep breaths, center yourself by feeling your feet on the floor and pull yourself up straight so that you feel connected to both the earth below you and the universe above you. 
    When you’re ready, turn to you left and walk clockwise around the space. Open the doors and at least look into the closets and bathrooms. Simply walking through the space and setting the intention to clear it can be enough. You can also visualize white light coming from your hands to cover the walls. You can use noise by singing, repeating a mantra, clapping your hands, or ringing a bell or using an instrument like a drum. If smoke clearing is a part of your practice, burning an aromatic incense can also help. Namely you are clearing the space using your energy and these other elements are simply tools to amplify your senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. You can use your breath to shift energy as well, taking big inhales and exhaling with a whooshing noise or any other sound that is pleasing to you.
    Most of all, make this pleasant! Notice the things in the room - what catches your eye? Where do your thoughts turn? 
    You will reach the doorway again after taking a full complete pass around the space and spreading light or energy laterally. Stand with your back to the door and face the center of the room again. Now we’re going to clear and seal the floor and the ceiling. Use your imagination to spread a layer of white light from where you’re standing across the ceiling. Imagine it instantly connecting to the walls of white light you’ve already spread around the whole room. You can use your hands, a powerful burst of air, a beat of the drum to help you imagine this ceiling of light. Now do the same with the floor. 

     

    You are now standing in a cleared space of your energy commingled with the natural energy that existed in the room before you arrived. You have stated your intention for being there and named specific aspects of the space. You are now in relationship with it.

    Take up Space

    This is when I unpack my travel kit: A few crystals, a feather, maybe a stone or two. I’ll place the crystals in a pleasing formation, usually on a dresser or table near the center of the room. If the space doesn’t feel great to me, I’ll place a crystal in each corner so that I’m inside a grid whenever I’m in the room. 

    Leaving the Space

    When leaving the space, don’t forget to release the energy you put into the space! It is important to release it and close the container you have created. You can make this a simple act, by simply turning back at the door as you leave for the last time, recognize your intention to clear your energies from the space and imagine collecting all that white light back into your hands, or sending it out the door or window. It will return to its right and perfect place. 

    If you forget to do this last step, know that you can do it from a distance too! Bring up the image of the room in your minds eye, state your intention to clear your energies from the space and dissolve container you’ve created, and imagine the white light that you created going out the door, the window or back into your hands.

    Last note: If you put crystals in the corners of the room, don’t forget to take them with you! 

    I use this as a short practice for hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and even when staying at friends houses. When I move to a new house, I’ll do a longer version and work through each room with 3 passes, using more allies like fruits and flowers, water and music. My mother taught me this practice using a bowl of whole lemons in water, and flicking the water into each corner of a new space before moving in. When I lived with my local host family in Bali they taught me the practice of making holy water with flowers and of clearing a space each day. Energy clearing is a practice we can use personally on our selves, when holding space for others, and in the physical spaces we occupy. 

    Did you try this practice?

    Let me know how it worked for you! Send me your questions, your thoughts, and stories about it.