Modern life conditions us to busyness and a breakneck pace. So much so that we almost become afraid of stillness and space.
In my last post, I suggested nourishing yourself with space. I explained how space is a vital element that brings balance into our lives, helping to keep stress, distress, and illness at bay.
But, with a strong habit of busyness in place, it can seem almost impossible to nourish yourself with space. Life has sped up dramatically in just the past decade alone. It seems like everything and everyone is pulling us in the opposite direction from space.
Is Your Self Esteem Enmeshed in Doing?
One of the biggest problems is the way our self-esteem becomes so enmeshed in doing and accomplishing.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche highlights how we identify so strongly with our external situations – work, study, relationships, body, blogs, and so on. He says, “This is identifying with the contents of space, the experience rather than the experiencer.”
But the content of space - the experiences – are transitory. Identifying with them so strongly will only bring suffering sooner or later. The more we can loosen our attachment to experiences, the more happiness we will find. Space can help us loosen our firm grip on the ungraspable if we give it a chance.
But often, when our identity is so embroiled in activity, we allow very little time for space.
Busyness: A Protection from Feeling
On the other hand, space may intimidate due to a fear of looking honestly within.
Busyness protects us from feeling pain, anger, despair, sadness, depression, and other turbulent emotions that seem better locked away. Space threatens the fragile identity we have constructed as it dares us to discover our true self that is beyond all this coming and going of thoughts and emotions.
The very willingness to gently open to our sore, difficult places provides the rocket fuel for transformation. But, for this we need space.
Try Small Doses of Space
So, often we first need to chip away at our entrenched habits and deepest fears before we can open – even briefly – to the nourishment of space.
We need to ask, “What makes it difficult for me to take space?” Then we need to listen and begin to slowly break free of our self-imposed cocoon.
With all these strong habits and fear running amuck, the best medicine will most likely be to start with small, less threatening doses of space.
If you have trouble giving yourself the gift of space, you are not alone. Busyness is the pandemic of the 21st century. Happily, there are pioneers paving the way, showing us how to imbibe the great sustenance of space.
In Confessions of a Chronic Over-Doer at The New Pursuit, Bill Gerlach tells us how he recently arrived at his own critical juncture between busyness and space. He shares the lessons he’s learned from being a chronic over-doer as he re-calibrates his balance meter. He says:
“But there comes a point where even doing good comes with a price to you as a person. A point where you’ve spread yourself so thin that in your zeal to accomplish those things in life that are most important to you, you cannibalize your own ability to thrive in a balanced way. You are unable to enjoy all the things that fuel your spirit and put your — as I like to call it — MoJo Meter in high gear.”
Ali Luke has confronted this busyness demon too. In Finding an Oasis of Stillness in a Fast-Moving World at The Bridgemaker, she shares bite-size remedies for creating more stillness and, thus, more space in your life. She asks:
“Do you often feel like you can’t keep up? Do you find yourself rushing from moment to moment, rarely slowing down, barely considering switching off? It is possible to find stillness, even when the world is rushing on around us.”
Does that sound like you? As a former workaholic, I know for myself the dangers of neglecting to take space.
Though old habits die hard, they are not impossible to change. Remember, space is not a luxury. It is a vital nutrient for a healthy and happy life.
Is there something keeping you from taking space?
You might also like:
Resource: Healing with Form, Energy, and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
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