Is there a better feeling in the world than knowing you have cleared your desk and your diary and at this point and time have nothing you have to do? Is part of the sheer joy of going on holiday just experiencing a few moments of quiet and stillness when you have boarded the plane, got on the train or started the drive to wherever you have chosen to go.
That is of course until you let yourself fill the gap with excursions, plans and problems to solve. You start worrying about what could go wrong or what you need to do next.
Our minds love to be busy – some of us even crave having something to do, something to think about, something to worry about – even if that makes us unhappy, tense and unapproachable.
Some of us go the other way, and ignore the pile of stuff to do until it becomes a problem in itself – a source of shame or anger. Our energy goes into resisting “doing” what we have to do – again making us unhappy, unmotivated and defensive.
All this stuff we have to do or all the stuff we are “not” doing can get in the way of our happiness, our health and our relationships.
Taking a break from doing or avoiding gives us the space we need to recognise and acknowledge what is going on in our lives. It gives us space to let go of the tension we hold every day. It lets us rest and revitalise, allowing our energy to be restored.
So how do we create space in our “busy” lives, where most of us have multiple commitments and obligations.
Creating space does not mean stepping out of your life all together. Spa breaks, retreats and holidays (real holidays) are wonderful – yet not practical for all of us. Creating space may not always mean not doing or thinking about something either. That really may not be physically possible.
Creating space is giving yourself a break from your habitual ways of thinking and behaving, allowing something new to arise. This may be something about your authentic self that may otherwise be suppressed and submerged, something which may have great value for you.
Most of us can clear small spaces in our weeks and days if we are aware of the benefit it brings and the cost if we don’t.
Start by turning off (I mean OFF not silent) your digital devices for at least 5-10 minutes a day. Use that time to become aware of what it is like to be out of contact and unimportant for that micro-break. You may be anxious to start with – but stick with it if you can.
Take some time to move – whatever works for you. Moving your body (walking, running, swimming, even sweeping leaves if you want to) changes the dynamics and creates a moment of space. Just make sure you are not trying to beat your best time or win a race. This is not about achieving something. It is spending time with your self.
Say no, to any requests of you that have you feel under an obligation or not in your best interest. That is not to be selfish and self-absorbed, just being aware that drinks with the boys or coffee with someone who only wants to complain about life may not always be the best use of your time.
Say yes to things you love. Listening to music, seeing a film, even watching television if it something you really, really enjoy. Bake a cake, draw a picture or dance with your dog. I don’t care – no one else will either.
Deal with some of that “old stuff” that is cluttering up your life. Throw out (or donate) what you don’t need. Tackle that task you have been avoiding. As Arianna Huffington says, the easiest way to finish a project is to stop doing it.
Welcome cancellations and delays. If you are kept waiting enjoy the “found” time in your day in the same way you would finding $50 in your old jeans pocket.
Take a moment to give thanks. Be grateful and appreciate what you have right now. The people in your life, the food that you eat, the environment around you.
Do something, but do it for someone else. Not in a “I have to” frame of mind but with generosity and kindness.
Be curious. About anything. Not trying to solve a problem, but being with the wonder and awe at the complexity of the world around us.
Pause. Regularly. Just stop for a moment. What is going on right now – what do you see, hear, smell around you. What do you feel?
Stop planning your future.
Forgive someone. Maybe yourself.
Give yourself permission.
Laugh. Just because you can.