Ma means a space or interval in time or distance.
In the feudal era,it was taboo for ordinary people to approach nobles.
They had to speak to them from a distance and a lower position,or ever through an intermediary.
Space between people is the basis of the concept of ma.
Ma can also refer to time.
For instance ,if a difficult subject comes up in conversation ,the Japanese might put it aside for a while and return to it later.
The expression for this is sukoshi ma o oku,meaning to “take a little pause”