Earlier this summer, I decided to leave my flat in London and move to Brighton for six weeks. Like a lot of people, the restraints of the pandemic left me feeling claustrophobic and wearied by the monotony of days with no travel. I was also still processing the loss of my father and sadness added to the density of emotions.
My mind felt anxious, and my body felt stiff. I wanted space. Space in my surroundings, space in my body, space in my mind, simply space to breathe.
And where better to feel space than by the coast, where boundless blue sea marries expansive blue sky in peaceful matrimony. I spent hours taking long walks, drinking in the horizon, and listening to the waves.
Creating space in my outer world, made a positive impact on my inner world. During the 6 weeks, I felt better in my body, and overall, more uplifted. Just as the salty sea air erodes the rock of the cliff face, it also dissolved away some of my sadness too. Most of all, my heart opened again to joy. I was having fun!
Now back in London, I started to think about how I can still experience the feeling of space gifted by the ocean, so that this medicine can be accessed whether you’re by the sea, or in your home, or anywhere in the world. How do we create more space in our life and in our being?
CREATING SPACE IN YOUR HOME
Firstly, I looked at my living area. Is your closet brimming full of clothes you barely wear? Is your draw of random stuff getting out of control? Are ‘important papers’ piling up to form small towers? I could answer “yes” to all of these.
To create more space, declutter your living area. Getting rid of excess stuff makes me feel calmer, happier, and more in control. A tidier space can make for a calmer mind; another example of how our outer world can positively influence our inner world.
SPACE IN YOUR DIARY
Before becoming a yoga teacher, I worked a stressful job in business development for corporate companies. At the end of the day, I felt zapped of energy and very near burnout. When I did have time off work, I was recovering rather than relaxing.
Even now as a yoga teacher running my own business, I still struggle with leaving myself enough space. No surprise that prolonged busyness with no space, even if the work is fulfilling, can deplete my energy.
To forge more vitality into your day, don’t create more to-do lists, create more space.
Space can be time to relax, time to eat a proper lunch, time not rushing from one place to another, this is vital time for yourself. Space is essential for your wellbeing, and at the end of the day your health is more valuable than your next pay check.
So, we’ve seen how our outer world can have a positive impact on our inner world, but more importantly can our inner world impact our outer world?
Rather than happiness being discovered in something external such as a different surrounding, or holiday, or even coastline, what if happiness could be accessed from within yourself.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new landscapes but in having new eyes”
(Marcel. Proust, 1871-1922)
I like this quote as it reminds me to look inward rather than looking outward, and how the tools of yoga can help this ‘voyage of discovery’. How empowering to think that the happiness you're seeking is already right here, within you, ready to be tapped into.
SPACE IN YOUR BODY
Yoga poses creates space in your body. For example, in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) by lifting your crown upwards to the sky and lengthening your tailbone downwards to the earth, the ribs lift away from the pelvis creating space in the torso.
Space created from yoga poses facilitates your breath to more freely and wholly. In comparison, notice that when you’re stressed your body might feel tight and compressed, and your breath will most likely be short and shallow.
So, yoga postures creates more space in your physical body for your breath to create more space internally.
SPACE IN YOUR MIND
This can be a challenging one. Our mind can be as cluttered as our home. We can practice creating space in the mind through moments of quiet, and by practicing mindfulness and meditation.
Take a moment to pause and sit comfortably. Sooner rather than later, usually sooner, thoughts, images, plans, daydreams start fluttering in. Can you simply acknowledge where your mind has wandered to and then gently escort your attention back to your body and your breathe. So that your body sensations and your breathe become anchors to bring you back to the present moment.
So, why is creating space crucial for your vitality?
As I discovered, creating space helped to create positive feelings. It focuses the mind, enhancing concentration and alertness. Creating space helps open our hearts to support us in experiencing all of our feelings. When you welcome all that you are feeling, you naturally start to let go of what no longer serves you. This is where healing happens.
And the best news is you don't have to travel anywhere external to find it. You are the voyager of your inner world, and yoga is your boat and oars. By using the tools of yoga you can cultivate more space in your mind and body no matter where you are in the world. Practice this and live life with greater joy and vitality.