In February, I wrote a post about Making Space. In it, I mentioned that contrary to my charging rhino, get ‘er done tendencies, I’ve chosen the word SPACIOUS for my One Little Word this year. Despite my inclination to dododo, I’ve found that nothing is more helpful, powerful, and healing than making space.
So I’m taking the next two weeks to bask in spaciousness. That, and the sun. Frank and I are going to the ocean to play in the waves, make dribble castles, and do a whole lot of nothing. I’ll also write and dance some and do some yoga but in a less precise way than usual. I’ll do it fuzzier, softer, carelessly.
While I strongly believe that my purpose and practice is one of discipline and determination, persistence and perseverance, focus and concentration, there is a time for being careless. Not careless in the sense of sloppy but in the sense of having fewer cares. It’s important for me to be out there: to walk my talk and share what I create, whether it’s a blog post or a book or a routine. And just like a jelly fishy sea creature, sometimes the best way to move forward is to dive into the space inside and see what’s there.
One obvious way of creating space is to take a vacation. Breaking out of our normal routine, seeing new sights, having different experiences, tasting new tastes, meeting new people is a great way to get some space and give us perspective on our day-to-day lives. Whenever I travel, I always feel a deep appreciation for all the beauty and amazing coolness that is in the world, but I also come back with a deeper appreciation of home.
Going on vacation isn’t the only way to make space, though. Here are a few things that have helped me recently:
Meditation – Everybody from therapists to health care professionals to concerned friends told me for years that I should meditate. I resisted it at every turn. Sitting still was against my nature and I just couldn’t do it, I said. More accurately, I didn’t like doing it. I did dabble in sitting and even went on a couple of mediation retreats but I never stuck with it. When I took my sabbatical last summer, I promised myself that a daily sitting practice was part of my work. For four months, I sat nearly every day. Even if it was for 5 minutes just watching my breath (and my spiraling thoughts). Nothing has helped me get more perspective, relax into the present (see below) and gain more insight. I recommend it highly. Note: There are lots of good resources for introductions to meditation and one which helped me tremendously when I was starting was the Insight Meditation Kit by Sharon Salzberg and Josheph Goldstein
Listen Closely and Breathe before Speaking – I use this particularly when a conversation is difficult or intense, either for me or for the speaker. I find that my “Fix It Filter” tends to go on overdrive and I want to jump in and get to a solution or resolution. What works better for me is to relax and give us both some space. Offering my full attention, listening deeply and then taking a breath before responding has helped me make much more skillful choices in what I do and do not say.
Being with What is Happening – One definition of suffering is wanting things to be different than they are. Whether it is a rainy camping trip or an painful feeling, instead of fighting against it or wanting it to be otherwise, giving whatever is happening space to be as it is can be hugely helpful. When I grasp onto what’s happening or push it away, things tend to go south in a hurry. Just compassionately reminding myself that this is just what is happening right now, can give me the space to deal with it skillfully.
How do you give yourself space? What are the benefits from making that space for yourself? As always, I’d love to know. And though I won’t be teaching again for a couple of weeks*, I will be writing and on line, so feel free to connect that way.
Take a breath, feel the space and go all jelly fishy!
* My next Nia class will be on Friday, July 26 at 1125am at ACAC Albemarle Square. The following week starting July 29, I will resume my regular teaching schedule (M 1045am & W 1055am Albemarle Square, T & Th 9am Downtown).