I used to be think space meant I was going to get bored, which led to restless anxiousness, which led to filling the void with drinking or working too much or shopping or exercising to beat myself up or eating or starving or moving cities to switch it up because sitting still with myself was unbearable.
What I didn’t realize was that space, especially when I feel safe in that space, is a place where all the unfelt, unresolved and repressed feelings come out to be heard, seen and processed. And so before when I didn’t have the tools or awareness of this, it became easy to react in blame, avoid in busy and distract in numbing. And so space felt daunting, excruciatingly unfathomable and desperately uncomfortable. Even out in the spacious woods, I would run hard in front of my shadows, blair music in my ears to drown out the mental chatter and look down at the trail narrowing the possibility of seeing something unknown.
Then I found yoga. This space of mindful movement and breathing into what I was feeling for the first time. But as it goes, it’s small steps first and I chose a practice that was heated to 40 degrees so I had no choice but to focus on surviving and I chose classes with physically demanding and exhausting postures so that I could feel the hurt so good of now, instead of feeling the hurt of my past. Not that this was bad, it just wasn’t all that was going to get me to deal with what I had spent so much energy ignoring.
And then I started practicing on my own. Listening to my own body and moving in a way that was nourishing my thoughts. Sometimes present and kindly embodied, others full of expectations and judgements, but either way I was showing up. I even sat still for periods of time and just took in my surroundings, and I noticed I needed less outside things to make me feel better, I felt more content more often. Of course it still felt like I wasn’t fully aligned with my own design yet, pieces of the puzzle still missing and totally learning more about that whole patience practice my Buddhist teacher always talked about. These are the layers I am finally starting to understand.
And then I moved into a motorhome and lived out in the wild more often where I was encouraged to make friends with space in the way that was gentle and generous. I spent abundant time basking in the bushes and breathing in the freshness of nature. I slowed down and stopped running so fast, widening my gaze and stopping to enjoy the view in awe of its effortlessness to just be living a wandering, flow more with life day to day, I really began to appreciate my tender relationship to space in such a profound way. It gave me clarity of what days unprepared could offer and reminded me of what playing on the beach feels like for no other reason than it is fun. And in that space and fully opening up to it, I noticed deeper healing occurring and I began to transcend old wounds into appreciation for the person it brought me to be. Of course I still managed to build expectations of what I would achieve each day and get hard on myself if I didn’t complete what I thought I should.
Until this last 3 weeks of space… I had no deliberation in, the universe carved it out oh so slyly for me. Imposed it on me and forced me to stare into a big black hole of space with all sorts of ugly feelings to face in the snarls of slimy sneaky gremlins I had worked so diligently at trying to keep in prisoned. Now the teacher in me, who believes so dearly in integrity, had no choice but to turn to my practice to feel into what was happening. And so my community stood beside me in spirit while I suited up courageously and walked towards the unpleasant icky awfulness that was standing in front of me instead of running in the other direction. This was and is a huge win for me and I have space to thank for it. This is what my space capsule has revealed.
Space is a precious gift and an essential nutrient to our well being. But let’s be straight it is one hideous mirror to stare into the longer you have spent time away from it.
So let us first consider how we got to this place of avoiding space.
I don’t know about you but to me it feels like there is less and less of it in a world that continues to over schedule, and under value nothing to do. The clear cutting of forests for more box stores and strip malls is infringing on the access to quiet and solitude. The highways and big city lights seem to grow louder and brighter as we need more speed to rush to our next appointment and more time in the false daylight to get all the to do’s checked off. And somewhere along the way it became only ok to take space when your deathly ill or someone you are related to died. So I understand why so many are “choosing” to get sick just to have a moment of space to catch their breath and hear their own heart beat.
I have been blessed with lots of space not because I was sick or someone died but because I was supposed to be away for two months on maternity leave, and as it fell through in the last minute, I have nothing but empty space. And it has absolutely captured my attention and opened me to feel and process all the things that aren’t easy to feel. As I sat quietly by the fire each morning and cried or stared off or watched the rain outside or breathed more fully into my tight spots, something started to burst bright from the darkest of depths. As I took to hours of walking in the woods each day instead of visiting the wine store or local shopping centre, I began to feel sincere gratitude and gain clear understanding as to why this needed to happen to wake me from another lie.
I have never respected space the way I do now. Not just a weekend off but actual unplanned, expansive weeks where there is no agenda and only my heart to hear. It has humbled me and rejuvenated me in a way that now I must shout from the roof tops, “slow down and take space for the quality of your life depends on it!”
Space so you can feel all of your life so far.
Space so you can be witness to what you have been busy bustling from.
Space so you don’t have to keep living out a past you didn’t choose and really feel into what truly matters to you… because so much of it is preprogrammed and projected unconsciously.
I mean the kind of space without comparing yourself to others or hiding in online stores buying things that won’t fix the grief, or running around busy tasking and asking drugs to bandaid the pain. This space is lonely at first because there is nothing to gain but insight into what feelings I have masked to avoid the shame I will have to really welcome in to remember I am a vulnerable being and that is totally ok.
Now with this expansive space this challenge has presented, I had no choice but to completely surrender to absolutely what it was meant to teach me. I had to allow it to become an echo chamber for negative self talk, painful old beliefs, and self limiting prophecies I have spent way too long investing the limited time I am allotted on this wonderful earth. With the willingness to bath in the shit of loneliness as it feels, it brought me to the other end of this always swinging pendulum of duality where absolute connection and compassion for myself and beyond to all other beings exists. And it’s here where I succumb to my grief, wallowed a bit, wrote an angry letter and broke down in self pitying tears that I was able to uncover the true experience of acceptance. Like fully appreciate why this happened and what it has taught me.
Space has transpired out of the unpredictable way that life happens sometimes and it has become apparent to me that this is truly the missing quality needed for all of us if we are going to be the change in a world full of excess consumption trying to disregard our feelings, working so hard believing we have something to prove and wasting so much time and energy just to avoid the truth of our beautifully tender strength in vulnerability. Especially in a country that is blessed with so much space but instead is mostly being valued for its resources to harvest, we must learn to fully appreciate where we are from and what it has to offer us.
And I am hugely a habit bred from the work lots to buy more stuff to work a lot more treadmill I was modelled. But the more space I take the more I break those patterns and re establish what fulfillment means to me and what expression that will take (which guess what… it will be different than yours!!!). And of course I understand I have to make a living to survive in this system but maybe not at the cost of my health, quality time spent with those I love, and my planet. Because after all, in this space I have realized I am much more resourceful and creative than I led myself to believe. And I have the power to conceive something that holds space for me too to grow and learn and keep being a kinder more loving version of me.
Space cracked open the places that wanted to harden and allowed the water that I am to cleanse my doubts and worries of I am not enough to realize the truth that I am exactly who and what and where I am meant to be.
This shit thing that occurred was just trying to get my attention so I might really sit and listen to the truth underneath all the drama and self loathing narratives of defeat that Love is stronger than the fear of it all. And I am love. And that is so freakin cool that I don’t have to be famous or wear a certain brand of clothes or even save the whole planet to be the love that I am. And I have read it so many times and have even experienced it in clarifying lessons before but here it is again a whole next level and depth and quality of truth that penetrates more of the lame stories I try to tell myself and the unfair games I think I should play.
So, you see my situation had to get loud and hairy so that I might surrender to the space I needed to evolve. And although it is painful, it has come with more joy and love than I ever thought possible.
With all that said, I encourage you to use these holidays for less time shopping at the mall and buying more problems for the New Years bank account and take time and space for yourself, your loved ones, and our beautiful home in nature. Sincerely
For reals, turn off your phone, put away the computer, unplug the tv and connect with the most potent source there is, love. It resides inside of you, in all of the natural surroundings we overlook and in all the friends and community we are blessed to share. Give yourself the gift of space this holiday season and I promise you, their will be more treasures in your time unscheduled than you could have ever imagined possible. Because the thing is, letting go of all the doing and buying and externalizing, gives us the chance to just be and embrace the love and presents already residing in us right now. And that is how we will slow down, re-member why we are in this together and share in our ability to create a reality that uplifts us all.
Happy season of space and soulful connection my friends.