As I was going through some major questionings in my life – location, vocation, relationship – and engaging in significant transitions, I truly realized the importance of “making space.”
By making space, I mean creating room in my life where the calendar is free. I mean turning off the music, the radio, or the WiFi for a moment. I mean accepting “not to know” what is going to happen and dropping the utopia that I can figure something out. I mean trying to follow what the present moment is calling for. I mean not jumping onto the constantly ongoing distraction train: browsing facebook, watching 12 episodes of the latest series, finally cleaning those dirty windows or fixing that flat bike tire (of course those last two are eventually needed, but perhaps I should consider putting them in the calendar :)). I mean breathing, connecting to nature, to my dear ones, to myself.
I was talking to some people recently, friends and strangers, who also seem to be about to take bold changes, initiate important beginnings, or/and navigate painful times. It was insightful and reassuring to see that I am not alone: many are also beating themselves up for not having a plan, a clear picture of their path, perhaps dedicating all their strength to “figure it out” and make a sound plan.Of course some direction is needed but sometimes you just don’t know exactly where you’re going, and that’s OK.
Inspired by two of my favorite poets – David Whyte and John O’Donahue (see my prior post) – and certainly many others, I came to understand that making space is THE ONLY way to really letting your deepest purpose, your life path, your true passion come through. Even on a less life-changing tone, making space helps us tap into and unfold our creativity – and this has nothing to do with whether you’re an artist or not. We all need creativity and use it in pretty much everything: in the way we cook, write, talk, think, love, dress, etc.
Our creative life force (a term that I borrow from a wise man Bill Bowen) needs sufficient room and no control to emerge. Talk to a painter, a writer or a poet. They’ll tell you that standing in front of a blank canvas or an empty page is both scary and exciting: you just don’t know what the result will be and the whole artistic process is about this unknown. Only then is amazement at what life can bring possible. And new opportunities, new ideas, that freshness our mind would never have been able to “figure out” or imagine.
How to make space, you may ask? Again here, my motto is “find your own way, the one that works for you”.
Start by letting some free time in your calendar, for instance a day, half day, or even just a couple of hours regularly (every week) where you don’t plan anything and minimize the risk that you can be disturbed. That can even be 20 min a day. Start learning to appreciate connecting to yourself and do activities that you enjoy. You can choose to meditate, do yoga or another physical activity. Go for a walk or a hike. Spend time in nature. Sit at a cafe on your own, journal, paint, dance, or just lay down in shavasana. Put your phone on flight mode, switch off the music.
The main key here is NOT TO PLAN and JUST BE. Challenge yourself a little and drop entertainment or any “doing.” This is not about spending time with your buddies or watching the new season of House of Cards (This might also be important for you too, great, but that serves some other purpose). Experiment spending time ALONE. Alone does not mean lonely. Solitude is indeed very different from loneliness and – in my view – is THE avenue to deeper happiness and inner peace.
Naturally, your mind and ego will want to intervene and keep you busy thinking the next step through. That’s OK, that’s what minds are here for. My tip here is just to notice that, perhaps event take 5 minutes to write down the thoughts or concerns of the moment.And then return to cultivating space.
If you start spending some BEING time regularly, mental detachment from everyday concerns will become easier and easier. You will tap more into your creativity and find new, fresh “aliveness.” You’ll most likely feel more rested in your everyday life and more at peace. Less subject to loose balance in stressful situations, more able to stay grounded. More able to connect to others.
And, more importantly, you’ll find this inner voice that is simply waiting to be heard, that awaits to guide you towards what’s most meaningful to you.
Feel free to share your experience on the comments below.
Sending you love and blessing on your journeys..