It’s been a century since a patent clerk with a propensity to daydream introduced some radical notions into the conversation about the nature of What-Is. One such that has entered the worldviews of such scientific neanderthals like myself is his notion about the plasticity of space. Gone is the idea of a fixed firmament carried over from the middle ages.

Enter space curved by gravity and supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies containing millions of solar masses unobservable past their event horizon.

From Einstein we learn that space is not a fixed commodity that can be objectively regarded. Any statement about it must take into account the perspective of the observer.

This applies to human interactions as well. Your experience of space will vary dramatically if you are in a cavern hundreds of feet under the earth or floating in a hot air balloon. Your emotional state affects your sense of space as well. When afraid, we tend to close down our space. Hide under the bed or curl into a foetal position. When safe and happy we open to the world and claim more space.

Once we surrender the notion of space as a fixed giant snow globe that we wander around in, we open to a more dynamic relationship to it. We create it by our awareness. If you stare at a computer screen for hours, the space you occupy is not much larger than your cubicle.

If you are a point guard with outstanding court awareness, you know when your guy is breaking to the basket even if you can’t see him. Your concept of the continent you are in is different when sitting in a metal tube flying at 500 mph at 30,000 feet.

Nothing happens until you create the space for it. You do that by bringing awareness to the area being addressed. It can be physical space, mental space, energetic space.

Basically, you are making room for an event to occur. If your mind is already made up about a subject, there is no mental space for new ideas about it. To open your heart to a new relationship you must clear it of past attachments. Award-winning author Linda Addison makes a home for each new book she’s writing by creating a dummy, with cover, table of contents, and assorted bits. The unmanifest has a safe place to go when it is ready to come into the world.

At TCA last September Maria presented an exercise for creating your own safe space and sensing your partner’s. Just as there is a physical ‘sweet spot’ where you the energy is most coherent, the same could be said of spatial relationships. There is an appropriate place to encounter another, to establish relation. Too close and it triggers rejection. Too far and you can’t quite find your partner. Once you do meet your partner you can then change the relationship by shifting your awareness and intention.

As a practical matter, in push hands you must create a space where you feel calm and confident. When afraid you are unwilling to occupy your own space, making it very hard to hold it when challenged by your partner. Even if you are not consciously afraid, there are many unconscious fear responses that pop up whenever you find your balance challenged. Just know that it’s gonna happen and how to get back to center when it does.

How do we do this? Start by getting more coherent. Point your index fingers and reach. You don’t feel fear in a state of heightened coherence since fear is a non-coherent state.

Locate your self: Where am I now? Here I am! Repeat until you feel it. You want to be able to occupy your own space comfortably and that’s not easy in a non-coherent state.

Once you claim your own space you can now engage your partner. That means encountering someone as a partner, not as an obstacle to be overcome.

Even if your partner is highly competitive and would like nothing better than to shove you through a wall, you want to meet her with your whole being. Why? It empowers you. Even if your limbic system cries out to deal with her severely, you want to look your partner in the eye and FIND her. If you don’t, you are still stuck in the past, pushing against shadows.

Once you locate your partner, you can use your ting jin (listening energy) to sense her center and her field. Her space. You want to now expand your space through her field and have your root be the root of the shared field.

Simple huh? How to do do that?  By embracing your partner and her field exactly as they are. Then move your energetic center into the shared space. You move your stuff into her house, put your feet up and set up shop.