Liminal Space - What Is It And How Does It Affect You? is a concept that's being talked about a lot lately. If you're like many people, you may have noticed that there are certain places or states of being in which you feel different, off, or uncomfortable. Often, these uncomfortable spaces turn out to be liminal spaces. Liminal space
Fortunately, there's a reasonable explanation for why liminal space just feels different. Once you know the source of your feelings about them, you can better deal with the feeling when a place makes you a bit unsettled in the future.
That's exactly what you'll learn in this article. First, you'll learn what the definition of liminal space is and see some examples. Next, you'll find out how liminality can be applied to life and creative endeavors. Finally, you'll discover how liminality can define some people's roles in your life and how it may be influencing your feelings toward them.
Let's jump right in with the definition.
Liminal Space Definition
define liminal space in several different ways. It's talked about as a threshold, and indeed, the etymology of “liminal” comes from the Latin word "limen," which means “threshold.” They are transitional or transformative spaces, and such places are often associated with a forlorn atmosphere, a disconnection from the concept of reality, and a fluid or sometimes neglected aesthetic. They are the waiting areas between one point in time and space and the next.
Often, when we are in liminal spaces, we have the feeling of just being on the verge of something. Liminal space is, of course, a literal space. And there are plenty of examples of physical spaces that feel liminal, as we will see below in this article. But there are also spaces of liminality in our mental states. This, too, is a type of liminal space.
The Backrooms is one of the common references when discussing an in between space or physical liminality. This was an image posted to the website 4Chan and described the experience as a place with “the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in.” Examples Of Liminality
Liminal spaces are often physical places. In some cases, the same place may be at one time liminal and at other times not. Other places may feel like a liminal space regardless of the time of day or year you visit them.
Whenever we are at a place during a time that's not usual for that space, it can feel unsettling. Or if we're in a liminal space for longer than necessary to pass through to our actual destination, we may experience that same feeling of something being "off" that we can't quite pinpoint. A liminal realm might even feel eerie, which can cause discomfort.
Some may associate liminal periods and off putting physical liminal space with the same feelings they may get from horror movies. Places with fluorescent lights like waiting rooms or the airport can be just as uncomfortable, with endless background noise and constant movement. Below are some examples of liminal spaces.
Stairwells and Elevators
Stairwells and elevators are quite clearly in-between spaces or thresholds. They are like a hallway to other places; Their purpose is to get you from one place to another, and that is why lingering in an empty stairwell or elevator can feel a bit creepy-with liminal space, time can have an impact. An elevator may feel normal during the day, when it's crowded, but certainly not late at night.
Empty Art Galleries
The rooms of art galleries often imitate rooms that people live in. But no one lives in these spaces, and that's why it can feel weird to be in a gallery by yourself, especially one with furniture or clear and intentional aesthetics.
Even if the art gallery isn’t replicating a living space, they’re usually spaces that are meant to be full of people. As we’ll see, essentially any large empty space can be or feel liminal.
And if the gallery is displaying portraits? That doesn’t make it liminal, but it might make it creepy.
Hotel Hallways Late At Night
Hallways are another one of those in-between passing zones. During the day, you may see other people passing through the hallway with you, making space seem a bit more "normal." The existence of other people in the room gives it more meaning and detracts from its liminality.
At night, however, it can feel like space has been shut down, and like you shouldn't be there. The hallways in one's home are a bit different because they are familiar; there’s more of a sense of tranquility there.. If you’re somewhere else that lacks familiarity, like a hotel, these spaces can feel unfamiliar, and the completely unknown environment can seem frightening.
Unfamiliar spaces typically have more liminal qualities than those we see regularly, especially if they are linking rooms or destinations.
Schools During Breaks
This is another instance of a place that can feel normal until a certain time. When no classes are in session, a school feels a bit like a ghost town. The absence of the community and activity that is familiar at a school creates a discomfort. You expect to hear the sounds of students and teachers, but instead, there is silence.
Empty Parking Lots
A parking lot is most certainly an in-between place. It only functions in conjunction with another space-the space you are going to. So usually, the parking lot itself is not your destination, but the place adjoining or nearby the lot. other space-the space you are going to. So usually, the parking lot itself is not your destination, but the place adjoining or nearby the lot.
Non-Functioning Lighthouses (etc.)
When places lose the function they once had, they can become liminal spaces. Without a light, a lighthouse provides no function.
Lighthouses are a particularly spooky example, but the same rule goes for other defunct facilities.
The Lighting Section Of Hardware Stores
In contrast to spaces without their intended function, some places provide a redundant function or a function that is expected elsewhere. Lighting sections of stores are an example of this. They provide examples of how to light up a room, but the lighting samples' purpose is not actually to light up the room.
Further, the many different lighting fixtures may also be giving off different colors and brightnesses of light, which can be unusual.
Like non-functioning lighthouses, abandoned buildings are spaces without function. The unsettling aspect comes in because they once performed a role and had people in them. Once abandoned, the lights are always out, and they stand as husks of civilization.
Airport Lobbies (etc.)
Terminals at airports are places that act only as a waiting space. Your destination is the plane and an eventual new location. And the image of the airport in the media has also expanded its feeling of liminality: we often tell stories where the key moment of change happens at the airport, train platform, or just as people are saying goodbye.
Other examples exist, like train stations, etc. If you think of places that leave you in between your usual activities, you will likely think of others. The images of these places in pop culture also contribute to that reflectiveness.
Non-Physical Liminal Spaces
In addition to places that have liminal qualities, there are also non-physical liminal spaces. Rather than actual places, these are liminal mental states. This liminal period is most often because you may be experiencing transitional moments that make you feel like you have a new identity, or you may be experimenting with new identities because of an event. Listed below are some mental spaces that leave many people in a liminal space.
Marriage is often seen as a beginning. The wedding is seen as an entry into a new life, and the years of a marriage are a journey and the lives we start with others can make us feel like truly different people.
Divorce, however, often happens unexpectedly, so it can leave you feeling like you don't know where you are, or sometimes even who you are. Alternatively, divorces can seem to drag on leaving people at a loss as to what to do or what will happen next.
In your life journey, there are certain destinations you expect to reach, but divorce can be a way station in between the destinations you seek, especially after years of marriage. When you've devoted years of your life journey to a marriage, it can be hard to see who you are and where you're going without that marriage.
Jobs are also milestone markers in your life. So, the theory goes that a job loss is a place in between one job and another new job, for most people. Job loss can be an especially difficult place to be after you've been employed for a long time.
Moving To A New Place
Moving to a new city involves a physical move, but the liminal state you are in is very much a mental space. You know exactly where you are, physically and geographically, but you don't know where you are as a person; you have to make a new origin for yourself in a new physical place. You may not know how you fit into to this new community, especially if you’re outside of your home country.
Moving can involve making new friends or even leaving behind a family that you are accustomed to having around. All of these changes put us into a liminal, or threshold, space.
You can see then, that liminality is as much a state of the human mind as it is a particular place. Indeed, all the places where one gets a sense of liminality are quite usual as far as structures go. It's only in the context we give to them in our minds that they become unusual.
The liminal veil is what we call the place where a transition occurs between the threshold and the place that waits before us. A liminal space may feel confining, but often it takes only minor changes to get through to the next place.
Liminal Space Tumblr
The topic of liminal space has become a
popular discussion on Tumblr. In fact, you'll find the same or a similar discussion thread on many writer's Tumblr blogs. This makes a lot of sense because liminality is often associated with creativity. Liminality In Art And Literature
Creation and art have a unique relationship with liminality, and capturing this idea of liminality in art has been a key to many creative careers. Creatives can utilize the idea of liminality in various art forms. It provokes an emotional response in people, just like the physical liminal spaces evoke particular feelings. Think about how often you hear stories about "coming of age." Coming of age is a classic tale of liminality when one is not quite an adult but no longer a child.
Liminality in Philosophy, Theology, and Cultural Studies
The Latin word “liminal” also makes its appearance in academia and the humanities.
Author and theologian Richard Rohr writes that
liminal spaces should be introspective places rather than unsettling places. To him, “liminal” is a word meaning “threshold between one stage of life to another.” As a result, it is only within these spaces that these are good spaces where genuine newness and the bigger world is revealed.
Similarly, the twentieth-century sociologist
Joseph Campbell held that the world was made up of sacred spaces and profane space in our lives.
Profane spaces are places that we have to go because we live in modern society, like our jobs, the bank, or the post office. Sacred spaces are places where transformation takes place; where we encounter the world and each other to come to a deeper, better understanding of ourselves, and a world bigger than ourselves. Such a perspective holds that a liminal space could be considered, with the right frame a mind, a good space.
Arnold van Gennep introduced the term liminality to refer to "an intermediate ritual phase during initiation." His book The Rites of Passage referred to a liminal rite of passage similar to initiation ceremonies, focusing on the life crisis rituals in a social structure. Creativity And Liminal Space
Artists themselves can be said to enter a liminal state when they create. There is a place of liminality that is a state of creative being. It is the place where you have the potential to act, but have not yet done so. When you are about to create a thing, you are in that space. Perhaps that is why so many writers or other artists feel anxiety before getting started, even if it's their one-thousandth project.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a classic tale of liminal space. The Mariner is caught between life and death. He lives while his shipmates do not.
Somewhat similarly, nature can provide a sense of both creativity and liminality. Being in slower-paced, quiet, and relatively people-free natural places can feel both unsettling and peaceful, as it provides such a different space both physically and mentally than many of us are accustomed to in our day-to-day lives. Nature can make one feel more in touch with oneself, and in that way trigger mental or spiritual liminality as we hover in a different state of being, and can also trigger a creative liminal state simply by observing the inherent creativity of all that is naturally around us – the shapes of leaves, the running of water over stones and sand in a stream, the rustle of wind through the canopy, the multitude of colors and vibrancy of flowers, and so on.
Being In A Liminal State
One of the first psychological liminal states to be explored by researchers was rites of passage. During a rite of passage, an individual is at the threshold between two different states of being.
Quite often, it is the state between childhood and adulthood, the space between when one isn't quite a child anymore but is not yet an adult. The person is standing in a doorway and hasn't yet gone through. Many religions and belief systems explore these concepts and create rites of passage to coincide with the threshold moments in life.
When one is in a liminal state, like adolescence, it can create
a sense of invisibility. As a teenager, for example, you are in an ambiguous place as far as your social standing, as well as in your physical development. Your body itself is in a distinct transition period, with the end destination being adulthood.
Learn To Recognize When You're In A Liminal Space
Liminal dreaming is a different form of being in a liminal state. It can be related to creativity. Indeed, some people use the art of liminal dreaming in order to enhance their creative states. Liminal dreaming is simply the state during which you are not quite asleep yet, but your mind experiences vivid images or sounds.
This state is also called
hypnoidal dreaming. You may notice physical signs that you are slipping into a liminal dream state when your body jerks during nap, as you are falling asleep, or just as you are waking. The Role Of Liminality In A Mid-Life Crisis
Just as the coming of age is a point of liminality, so is mid-life. Indeed, there are many points of liminality in a person's life. This could be why the occurrence of a midlife crisis is so common. Many of us simply reach a point in life where we feel in-between, and we don't know what lies beyond the threshold. We become afraid and act irrationally in that place.
Another state of liminality can occur when a person feels that they do not to belong to their assigned gender, or to be between genders. This can be a liminal state both of the mind and of the body. Your mind can feel like you are transitioning between genders, and your body can also go through a transformative state. It's worth noting that the end destination of each such state may be different for different individuals.
How BetterHelp Can Help With Your Head Space
There aren’t people who don’t encounter liminal spaces. Most people are able to navigate them with no problem. However, some people, whether they are in physical or emotional liminal spaces, can feel as though they are in a terrible or disquieting cloud when they encounter these spaces.
If you feel uncomfortable in such places – or feel like you are living in a liminal space – talking to a therapist can help. An experienced, licensed therapist can provide you with insights and tools to help you better navigate these liminal places in the future.
BetterHelp is a platform that connects users with licensed and professional therapists and counselors. Once connected, communication occurs through private chats and secure voice and video calls.
While remote therapy may seem unusual, a number of users have already posted positive reviews to teach you more about the experience.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
What is an example of a liminal space? Why are people afraid of liminal spaces? Is liminal space an aesthetic? What causes liminal space? Why do liminal spaces feel weird? Are dreams liminal spaces? What is liminal space horror? What is liminal space psychology? How do you create liminal space?