I’m in Turkey, reflecting on a month and some of space from the Internet.
It’s customary in Europe to take the month of August off. Workers head to the cabin or the beach and enjoy family, food and freedom. They siesta. They read. They do things lovers do. It’s a chance to recoup their best selves. Sitting here at the end of breakfast, 3 pm on a Wednesday, I can’t help but wonder about space.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book “How To Love A Woman” discuses older habits we had in culture: the harvest prepared, a man would take the product to town for sale. Gone weeks, both he and his wife, she left at home to govern the family space, would have time to contemplate and reflect. Upon the return, their coming together again brought stories to be told and insights to be shared.
In the recent year, I’ve found the pressure of posting to the internet to be burdensome and inauthentic. I’ve pushed at times, on a misperception of external requirement, and under-delivered in my own quality of offering. The push back is only something I’m now coming out of. I’ve struggled to perceive a truth: this pressure has been entirely self generated.
My awareness began to grow when I recognized that I wasn’t posting when I was injured nor when I was depressed. I’ve spent much of the last few months in these states. One ten day stretch found me in my parents basement, speaking little, eating simply, and sleeping in my childhood bed.
This trip home, once again offered that, personally, editing the shadow from the light felt fraudulent and limiting. I was unkind to myself in observing this. I judged and I withdrew further.
When I was five, I took my first flight. I cried my eyes out in that airport to be leaving my father behind. Fast forward a few days and I was sat on the counter, watching the heel of a wood fired, freshly baked loaf of bread my grandmother had just made, be smeared in home made raspberry jam, for me. I don’t know if until now, I’ve found breakfast as pleasurable as then. Somehow, the tears I cried at the airport brought me to that jam. Perhaps the shadow I confronted in that basement brought me to this cafe…
In the space of my teens and twenties I didn’t have a cell phone. No one really did. I had to remember phone numbers. Stopped at a light or in line at a checkout counter, I was forced to stare into the abyss of my mind and just allow daydreams to happen on their own. I followed cats eyes to see what they were looking at, let my gaze stray to a newspaper headline, or made a play out of translating the language I was overhearing. This soup became something. Space gave it permission to be.
We don’t do that any more.
We don’t just sit and stare into space. I don’t know that we have permission to…
Any moment of space you possess is filled in by pulling out your phone. You scroll, post or communicate some thread that seems to require your attention.
What if it’s not as important as it seems?
Linear thought is well and good. It supports the actualization of outcome. Without the ego, you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. How empowering, these little victories strung together, the accrual of achievement.
Perhaps it is in your best interest to seek an outcome. To drive towards your expectations and own your desired outcome. A healthy way to do this comes from having created space to see what is required and what’s overdone.
What about permission to enjoy the right brain activities that nurtured you so well in your childhood?
Coloring, sounding out words foreign to the shape of your mouth or just dreaming into space brought you through the most brain empowered years of your life, ages 0-7. It was a passive awareness that brought you to grow. You didn’t think of walking, you integrated the information and found one foot in front of the other.
Of late, I’ve committed to generating time everyday for my right brain to connect with insight and creativity. Sometimes that’s crowd watching or coloring, other days it’s a simple yin practice combined with a ParaYoga Nidra. It need not be more than 30 seconds for it to count.
Imagine the impact of half-minute moments, strung together, collected from throughout the day. What if you were conscious of your breath 20-30 times a day for fifteen to twenty seconds…
Would that lever you into the present moment, inspire you to change your plan and enjoy what is happening, right now!
Short bursts of awareness will expand. Any trip to the gym brings an initial muscle soreness. That discomfort means it’s working.
As your awareness begins to expand, you notice it in other ways, woven into your life.
Perhaps a friend has returned, or yet another person suggests you write a book. Maybe it’s a trip to a festival or something you’ve never thought of doing. It could be a self date to a bowling alley or a music lesson. It can be a quite moment listening to the birds.
Whatever it is, you make it yours. Invest yourself fully with presence. In presence.
The practice of Yoga, in many ways, is one of boundaries. Each pose is an opportunity to look through the lens of relationships. Knowing what you are not is often as empowering as knowing what you are.
Should you find pressure in your days, to appear a certain way, to attain something or be a certain level of productive, it might be worth asking yourself if the drive behind those actions is actually yours.
Create a vacuum in your life by stripping things away, occasionally your screen time. Possessions, food habits and the information you take in are all good places to begin.
For myself, six weeks of being in Europe have me hungry for a change and so I’m going to spend 36 plus hours fasting. It’s been so long since I’ve been hungry, or been aware of the feeling of hunger. Intentionally stripping away something I’ve become so comfortable with will reset the relationship and stimulate my awareness. I’m in a healthy place to do this. I trust that you assure yourself to be so too.
What is your no? Enough of them together form a yes so strong as to change the course of a life. And that’s change worth living mindfully.
Expect for yourself that life holds you dearly, no matter how many boxes got checked.
Create a little day time.
I love you.
Have a blessed day.