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by Ana L. Palles The woman across from me rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation. We were both waiting for class to start and the familiarity of seeing each other the past six weeks had us making small talk.

"I had someone in to help me get settled in to my new place," she began to say. “My cat has been jittery and the place did seem like it was in need of a cleansing." I knew immediately that she was referring mostly to energetic cleansing rather than physical cleansing, although the two may certainly go hand in hand.

"I have been burning sweet grass everywhere, but this person still told me that I needed to do more."

It was not unusual that she had been given this suggestion. Sometimes places have a very stagnant feel to them and clearing out the space requires a little more focus and work.

"Have you tried using sound or incense or flowers as part of clearing out the space?" I asked.

"No, she said. “And I don't understand why I need to use these things. I believe that I can just clear the space out with my own thoughts and will. I don't need anything external to help me and it seems like a crutch."

The answer is that of course you can just use your will and intent to clear a space. Items such as singing bowls, drums and tingsha bells, sage and incense, holy water, minerals and fresh flowers are simply tools. They help to make the job easier and support the process so that you yourself don't have to drive so much of the energy. You can set your tools to help you accomplish the task you have in mind and in some cases, hold the space for you.

We're already used to seeing this in everyday life. For example, think of how the space in a church feels as you step inside. The images, the smell of candles or incense, the sense of respect that comes over you and naturally hushes your voice. In a more mundane example, if you've ever been to a high end day spa, you've experienced the impact of space setting on your senses. The soft sound of water gurgling in the sitting room fountain, the calming music, dimmed lights, hushed voices and sweet smells of massage oils immediately create the ambiance.

We are pre-programmed to respond in certain ways to sensory cues. This is what tools do for us. They help to set a tone in the room which our senses pick up and respond to. At the end of our yoga session, while we're doing our final relaxation, our yoga teacher either rings a singing bowl or chants in his deep, rumbling voice. The vibrations that wash over us as we lay focusing on clearing our minds have a marvelous, stilling effect. There is a sense of being enveloped in sacred space.

Using tools is a matter of choice. They provide focus for our minds and are pleasant in and of themselves. Who, after all, wouldn't enjoy the sight and smell of a bouquet of fresh flowers and soothing music or sounds playing softly in the background? Tools offer beautiful support for us when setting space. Don't be afraid to explore options, such as potted plants, soft throw pillows, tinkling wind chimes or essential oils. Space is ultimately set through your intention and focus. There are any number of options to help you set space. The only limit is your own creativity.