Top 5 Places To Find More Space…

Top 5 Places To Find More Space

I was recently packing for a week-long trip and using a large suitcase. I had packed everything I needed- pajamas, t-shirts, toothbrush, sweatshirt, etc. Then, I noticed that the suitcase was only about half full. Hmmmm- back to the closet. More space for t-shirts, another long sleeve, more yoga clothes….. Finally- I asked myself if I was really going to need everything that I packed? Just because there was empty space in my suitcase- did I need to fill it? The likely outcome would be a very heavy suitcase to lug around, possibly an overweight charge and me wishing I had packed lighter when I arrived at my destination and only wore half of what I brought.

Which of course lead me to the bigger question of…… where else do I NOT need to fill empty space?

1- Car, bedroom, house. Silence is OK. Each time I’m in the car I don’t need to automatically turn on music, news or a podcast. Same goes for the moment I walk into the house- especially TV. It’s an opportunity to challenge my own level of comfort with silence and being with myself. James Altucher says “The silence is the only place your creative ideas will come from.” I might have an idea or I might not- but I can guarantee that no great ideas will come while I have CNN droning on in the background. In the year 2019 we don’t often have control over the level of inputs that are coming at us on a regular basis and many of them are alarmist in nature. It’s like a fire hose of noise and data, so take back some control in the places you can.

2- House (part 2). At one point I thought I needed to fill all the shelves with things. You know, lots of photos, glass bowls, books, mementos…..chatchkeys basically. There was a particularly bad incident where I bought some type of silk flower arrangement for an end table that also included faux apples and bamboo sticking out at weird angles. My husband was deeply disturbed when he saw it, didn’t say a word, just picked it up and put it into the garage. My point being, a lot of time and money is wasted on things just to fill up spaces. Marie Kondo is a good guide for this. If the item sparks joy, great! If the item does not spark joy, give it to someone for whom it will spark joy or at the very least not disturb greatly (ie. the apple bamboo situation) Marie will certainly tell us that a cluttered personal space reflects the clutter we are experiencing inside.

3- Conversation. This is a fun one. Allow for silence in a conversation. I don’t think that an awkward pause ever killed anyone and if this person is already close or destined to be- it’s good practice to be able to share a moment with them that doesn’t require idle chit chat. If they’re not close- no major issue even if it gets a little weird.

4- Physical Activity. This is a tricky one depending on the activity and the mood. Sometimes it is imperative to blast the music that will get you through a tough run or workout. I’m partial to the Beastie Boys, Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Every once in a while I even like that in my yoga practice too.) Other times, it’s important to go deep within yourself and rely on no external sources of information or noise. There is an amazing hike I love to take in Arizona and I never use headphones. I see a lot of people on the trail using them and I can’t help but think that they might be missing out in some way to the beauty, majesty and space that is available. I use that hiking time as a walking meditation. It’s become like a religion for me to walk that same path and use the silence to let whatever needs to arise come up. Sometimes it’s for brainstorming new ideas, sorting out the answer to a difficult question, or just being fully present to what is in front of me. In yoga practice I have had both experiences. Sometimes music has deepened my flow and enhanced my practice. Other times it has totally distracted me and taken me out. This is a point we could go deep on and argue all day. I will say- in yoga, silence ALWAYS works.

Side Note- Sitting/ laying still and doing NOTHING is OK sometimes. We don’t need to fill every moment with ‘doing’. I find this the hardest of all- even while I’m on vacation.

5- Our Heads. Our minds are set up to think, think, think, think and fill every nook and cranny of our mental bandwidth with thoughts. It’s exhausting. Meditation is key to noticing the noise and stepping out of it. The good news is that even creating 2 seconds of space counts and is a win. Other ways to create space in my head include deep breathing exercises, journaling or old fashioned list writing. Moving thoughts from head to paper (I prefer paper over a tech option) feels like a tangible opening of mental bandwidth and allows my brain to soften its grip on holding every thought so tightly. Moving into my other senses also opens space- noticing smells, tastes, touch more deeply is a mini break from my inner thinking and narrative about every experience.

Each practice above presents an option to notice our default and choose otherwise. And, just like yoga- it might feel uncomfortable at first or like an uphill climb. Ultimately, it’s up to us to take charge of what we want to fill our space with.


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