Everyone we know needs a “clear space” they can retreat to to STOP, take a break from busy life, a breath or a shift of view, even just for a few moments.  Although we LOVE having a clear space right in our Laboratory —the bedroom with the pink wall is just that, no media, just quiet, artworks, and view — we know it is not always possible in this time of limited real estate.

So we’ve devised a number of options: clear spaces that don’t involve actually having one. There are the obvious ones of course: a walk in nature, a park, a trip to a quiet museum to view a Buddha, perhaps…

National Museum, Bangkok
National Museum, Bangkok

Our friend David Saltman coined the word “bibliomancy” to describe having a book jump into your hand or open to page that has EXACTLY the thing you need to hear. We keep a stack of books that have a high degree of bibliomantic potency nearby; we can open them almost anywhere and find something great.

We use bibliomancy to create a “clear space” when our physical one is closing in, for one reason or another. We open a book and get lost in a poem or a passage or images. Here’s what we just found in A Field Guide to Getting Lost, at random:

To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away. In Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender, a psychic state achievable through geography. — Rebecca Solnit

Often, we open an art book to an image to reflect on and leave it open so we can “get lost” throughout the day. Tantra Song: Tantric Painting from Rajasthan is a favorite…

image from Tantra Song

…As is New York Arbor, with its wondrous images of trees:

Courtesy of Steidl/ Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Courtesy of Steidl/ Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Sometimes we find a clear space on the internet. We can “beam” ourselves to the Grand Canyon instantly for a river view.

google grand canyon

…One of our favorite escapes is the Great Bell Chant which we posted some time ago; many people have written to say they find it transformative. (View video HERE.)


What clear spaces do you retreat to?

top image via 2 or 3 Things I Know

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4 replies on “Finding or Creating a Clear Space, Virtual or Otherwise

  1. Bibliomancy and Stichomancy have been around and used for thousands of years. Perhaps I was a bit too literal about your word choice of ‘coined’. To me, that means created, invented, came up with. I like how you use it for breaks. Some believe the words located or shown are chance. Others believe that both book/text and specific word answers are summoned and commanded responses to questions.

    Commonplace books also seem to have somewhat of a related history. There, of course, are differing conversations about opinions about the. Some use these just for things that they find and that they like. Others write down things gleaned from stichomancy or bibliomancy just like one might spells or rituals. This post created some interesting thought for me. Thank you.

  2. Thanks so much for your interesting comment. I don’t think David meant he invented it; I didn’t take it that way. But just to check out the usage, I looked it up, and found this, which may explain the confusion.”The new meaning of the verb, supported by any number of news articles or blog entries, seems to be ‘to say, especially in a noteworthy fashion’ and not the older ‘to create a unique expression; to say something for the first time ever; to neologize.’ I’ve never heard the word Stichomancy and am glad to know it. At any rate, I’m not sure the way I use it is a form of divination; more a form of ILLUMINATION and as you say “breaks”. Making a commonplace book of these random finds would be interesting. But perhaps that is what Improvised Life is, in digital format.

  3. Clear spaces: the meadows and streamsides of Northern CA; failing that, a blank book with off white unlined pages (for expression-drawn or written, or..…); if that doesn’t cut it, closing my eyes and imagining blank–this is probably a form of meditation.

  4. Closing my eyes and imagining blank.

    Perfect. Can be done anywhere.

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