Daily life can get so hectic, so quickly, that sometimes you don’t feel the mental, emotional, and bodily effects of that until you’re deeply affected.
That feeling of constriction arrives in response to being squeezed on all sides by a rush of distressed thinking and racing to meet impossible expectations.
But in the thick of all this, it’s still possible to reclaim a sense of spaciousness in your day. To release some of that tension, and allow your daily activities to nourish rather than drain you.
Being stressed and harried is unhelpful, and while unavoidable sometimes, it’s definitely not our natural state, and there are ways we can avoid feeling like this, or at least reduce those feelings of tension and anxiety. You deserve to have some space and ease in your day.
What Does It Mean To Have ‘Space’ In Your Day?
To answer that question, it might help to look at the opposite of spaciousness—feeling cramped and constricted. This is what anxiety and stress can feel like: our breathing gets squeezed, our limbs tense up, our movement is restricted, we make ourselves smaller in our bodies, less of a target. To hold ourselves in this way, while racing to get a ridiculous to-do list completed, takes up so much energy.
Spaciousness is the opposite of that. Our bodies are more free to open up, we breathe easier, we move around alert but with our bodies more at ease, maybe we decide to lower the number of things we want to get done and this leads to a series of quiet spots in our day, like the space between notes in a piece of music.
Let’s look at a few ways you can build a sense of spaciousness and ease into your day:
Set An Intention
A great starting point is in setting the intention to take care of yourself and create some space your day. Making this commitment means that you have something to guide you through the day, to keep you on track.
It also means that you get to spend some time at the start of your day imagining space opening up for you. Feel this in your body, hold it in your mind, move a little this way, and that with a sense of spaciousness. Allow the intention to set in your mind as a commitment. Also allow it to settle in your body a little. Give yourself a physical experience of spaciousness so you can recall it throughout the day.
Note any emotions that bubble up when you contemplate the idea of bringing in spaciousness, maybe write them down and see what they might have to tell you. You want the intention that you set to touch all aspects of you, to really sink in.
Give Yourself A Subtle Reminder
Once your day gets busy it can be easy to forget that you were working on creating space for yourself.
This is one of my favorite ways to remind myself when I’m doing a project like this. It’s subtle, it’s self sustaining (you get lots of reminders through the day) and there’s app alarms or post it notes up in public view—so no one else needs to know what’s going on.
You simply write the word ‘space’ (or even an “s” will do) in the little triangle of flesh between your thumb and index finger at the base your right hand.
What I love about this is your eyes will land on this little message at random times throughout your day and remind you. It never fails. And it’s amazing how the reminders seem to come at just the right moments, at the very spots in your day where you need them the most.
Create A Space For Yourself
Don’t just wait for space to appear. Create it.
Sometimes it can feel like our lives are being constricted by external forces. It’s possible to take some sense of control here. Even if it’s just giving yourself a fifteen minute block of time here and there through the day. You can schedule small breaks, or just rely on your body to let you know. It always will (if you listen.)
If your time is super squeezed you can also seek out a small, physical, taste of space. Whenever I feel squeezed I find a way to get outdoors, even if it’s for a moment or two. Just to get my body underneath the sky, to steal a moment away from a cramped room, to escape my desk, and to touch base with the unlimited space in front of me, behind me, all around me.
This is such a quick and easy thing you can do for yourself, and you will feel your body respond immediately. And the best thing? Even a minute will work wonders.
Noticing and Interacting With Space around you
Here’s a lovely mini exercise from Sally Kempton: Focus on the space around things.
As I’m writing this I look up and see the lamp on the stand beside my desk. I’m noticing the space between me and the lamp, the space behind and around the lamp. Taking this the next step I imagine the space between all the atoms and molecules of the lamp.
Other things to try:
Notice any empty objects that cross your path today: an empty mason jar, cleared dish rack, open sky, empty shoes.
Become aware as you perform actions that create space–like exhaling, finishing a glass of water, cleaning out a room.
Pay attention to the breaks between songs on a CD or your i-pod, notice the silence between birdcalls in your garden.
Just noticing and acknowledging the space that exists in your external environment has an effect on how you perceive and interact with space in your internal environment. Drink it in.
Noticing and Interacting With Space within you
Yes. You can do the same thing internally.
Breathe in, feel the space inside you expand.
Where can you sense space inside your body? In your throat? How about your abdomen, between the organs there? Inside your organs?
You might not physically feel space in these places, but you know it exists there. Can you imagine that space?
What about the space between your knee joints, And the space held by in bowl of your pelvis? the space between your rib bones?
And don’t forget the empty spaces around your body, between your toes and fingers. The shell-like spaces in your ears. Relax your arms and feel the small pocket of space in each of your armpits. space exists within you and around you.
You are intimately connected with space. No one can take that away from you.
Close Your Day With Spaciousness
Reflect on your days experience of focusing on space. Do you feel a sense of space now? Did it change how you experienced your day?
If someone was watching you move through your day, without being told that you were building more awareness and space in your day, would they have noticed anything different about you?
Just a few minutes of reflection and journalling makes a huge difference here. Especially if you spend a few days working on creating space. This is a great way to remember any changes in your experience and to become aware of any habitual patterns that you may have in the way you relate to space.
Watch This Space
I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes designing ways to help you create more space in your life.
The first is my new presence coaching offering: The Refresh Sessions
These are mini sessions (1/2 hour each) that take you through the process of starting your day grounded, refreshed, and focused–so you can move ahead with more clarity and ease.
They’re a great help if you want to get your week off to a fresh start, or if you have a big event coming up and want to feel clear, energized, and ready to succeed.
Click Here to read more about the Refresh Sessions!
Ahhhh…needed this today, Dave. Much gratitude!
Even just reading your post helped me breathe deeper, slow down, realize how much “rushing energy” I’ve had today. I get so excited about my projects, writings and to-do lists…but that excitement is entangled in too much doing and too little pausing. Too little going slow. The result, unsurprisingly, is I’m often stressed–even over “good” things.
I practice yoga twice daily and this keeps me far more balanced than would otherwise be the case. But I want to bring more of that into the rest of day.
Really like your suggestions. Another practice that seems to help is the mantra: “Keep it simple.” This tends to slow, simplify, clarify, calm things for me.
Hi Dana, I’m so glad this was helpful for you.
Twice daily yoga is such a wonderful base to start from, that’s a whole lot of nourishing space carved out right there! ‘Keep it simple’ is definitely a helpful mantra / attitude to carry through the day, I think I would benefit a lot from that one 🙂
These are nice! I especially like the idea of noticing space around thing and within oneself. I love nature too so that’s a natural for me. Probably wouldn’t write on my finger though!!!!
When I first experimented with the exercise of noticing the space around things I was amazed at how helpful it was. And yes, writing the reminder on your hand is not for everyone!
Hi Dave, Thanks for the great post. I’ve got the little ‘S’ on my finger! I really like your work, and I really appreciate this post this morning. Blessings, Reba
Lovely to see you here! I’m glad you’re trying out the reminder, hope it helps!
I enjoyed the practical tips Dave. It’s always good to get a reminder about maintaining space. Thanks for that.
I’m glad you found the post useful, Juliet. Thanks for stopping by!
Beautiful post, Dave. Reading it was like a meditation — I could feel the space opening around me. I’ll definitely do some of these practices. I feel that just the awareness of space will make a shift in my life. Thanks for writing and sharing this! 🙂
Thanks, Dan. I’m glad you experienced a sense of space opening around you, that sounds wonderful. Feeling a sense of spaciousness one of the things I crave most when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. I hope you find the practices helpful too.
There is much wisdom and love here, Dave. You have a beautiful perspective that I deeply support. I especially love this: “Don’t just wait for space to appear. Create it.” I think that is the biggest thing that holds us back, especially when we wait for others to create that space for us! Thank you for adding your voice to this world.
Yes! I so agree with you on not waiting for others to create space for us. Space is there for us to claim, we all have a right to it.
What a great post – a nice reminder to slow down and appreciate what’s around me and in me for a change! I feel calmer already. Keep up the great work Dave!