Open Up Some Space

I am the kind of gal who likes to cram a lot into a day and into life. But, I notice that sometimes busyness is an impediment to peace, rest, and self-reflection. And, it can even happen in places and at time when the purpose of my days are to slow down and ease into a more chill pace—like at a yoga and mindfulness retreat, which is where I am now.

I have been at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica since Saturday. Soon after I arrived, I went to the wellness center and signed up for three “treatments” that all sounded yummy.  Ananda (61 points of light meditation from the Himalayan yoga tradition), a sound healing and intuitive reading, and an Ayurvedic massage. While it sounded great at the time, I found myself on Monday feeling out of sorts and with no space in my days. Since I am teaching the retreat here, I am busier than the participants and down time is precious.

It dawned on me that I could go mark my name off the list of two of the three treatments (I had already done one on Sunday) as I was within the 12 hour limit for cancellations. I felt instant relief when I erased my name from the lists and immediately felt lighter. I’d opened up space just to be. While the treatments would have probably been wonderful, what was even more beautiful was the time to sit on my balcony and gaze across the wide expanse of the canyon of San Jose.

The irony is not lost on me. The very themes of my retreat have to do with slowing down and savoring the moment, yet my idea of savoring (getting lots of treatments) was actually getting in the way of the most important thing to savor—the space of a few moments where I didn’t have to teach or be somewhere in time for an appointment. Of course, this happens back home as well. Too many commitments which all sound good at the time, create suffering when there are too many of them.

Important questions to ask are “Where are you overcommitted?” “Why are you over committed?”  “What can you do about it?”

Where are you overcommitted? For me, it has been very helpful to decide the most important things that I want to do—both at home, at work, and in the community. Out of all of these, though, work is what is probably the hardest for me to balance. My interests are similar, yet varied so it’s sometimes hard to discern what is my focus and what isn’t.

Why are you overcommitted? When I find myself overcommitted it is usually because I feel like I have to be all things to all people and that if I say “no” it will hurt someone’s feelings. Both of these ideas are false. I do not have to be all things to all people and “no” is an important word to use to maintain sanity. I can’t say that I’m perfect at remembering these important points but I’m a work in progress. Of course, here at Pura Vida I was overcommitted because I wanted to try everything and not miss out on an experience. Wanting to pack it all in is also a habit of mine.

What can you do about it?  On the home front, I have people that I am committed to keeping current with that create a meaningful community for me. At work, I have decided that the three main areas I’m committed to are mindfulness, mindful eating and yoga. Knowing these three areas of focus has helped me say “no” to other things. Deciding your focus at home and work can be very helpful in creating some open space in your life.

When you examine your life, do you have space to “just be?” If not, how could you modify the things that you do and the commitments that you’ve made so that you can actually experience the beauty of being alive with open space around you. Otherwise, you might find yourself, like I had, a little irritated and not really knowing why. Opening up a little space allows you to breath deeper and relax more fully. Soften into the experience of being alive without needing to be busy and give yourself some love and attention. You’re worth it!

Space to “just be” might mean finding the time to cook, to read, to lounge on the porch, to sit and visit with friends, to sit and gaze out the window, and so much more. The defining feature of having space in your life is that you will feel spacious and you will feel truly alive.