It’s a sunny day and you’re three days into a two week holiday. You have all the time in the world and you’re enjoying having the space to just decompress. Then, you get a flat type in your car. How do you respond?
Another time and you’re late for work and chasing a deadline. It’s cold and raining and you get a flat tyre. How do you respond?
On the sunny day, you handle the flat tyre well, you change your wheel and get on with your day. But the rainy day flat tyre really throws you, you react badly. This is a contrasting scenario for the purposes of example, but I’m sure you can easily bring to mind moments when under extreme ‘pressure’ you reacted in a way which you might describe as “out of character” and then on other days, you were able to tackle similar challenges in a much more pragmatic and grounded way.
So. Do you think there might be a way to respond to the rainy day as if it were the sunny day? The simple answer is yes. And here’s how. Your reaction has everything to do with the sense of spatial awareness you hold within yourself. Your reaction isn’t always about your mood or your state of mind, it can be more about the amount of space you have when experiencing the given situation.
What do I mean by ‘spatial awareness’?
We’re all naturally adept at spatial awareness, so much so that we may not even be aware of it, or give it much thought. But, through every moment of every day, we’re always measuring our spatial awareness.
A simple example is when somebody enters your personal space and stands a little too close. Here you find yourself reflexively taking a step back or turning slightly away. Or, when you’re walking somewhere familiar and you know how much you have walked and how much more is left to go. Here you’re using your spacial awareness to measure distance.
Or consider this. You’re working on a project and you know you need to concentrate to complete it. You check the time and realise you’ll need 30 minutes of high concentration. You may not think about it in this way but you’re not only measuring the time, but also the amount of concentration the project requires and the mental space that you need to hold for the next 30 minutes.
We’re continuously holding open space on many distinct levels. We not only hold space within our physical environment, but we hold emotional space and mental space – commonly known as headspace.
What if you began to practice holding space open within yourself, so that when your thoughts arise, they arise within this spaciousness. It would put your thoughts into immediate perspective, where each thought has the space to expressive itself, without taking over the whole space. It would be just like looking at a beautiful view of the mountains, far off in the distance with open skies and panoramic views.
It’s not a requirement that we experience difficult thoughts and feelings in a restrictive and tight place, it’s just a habit. It may simply be that we have not associated our natural ability to hold space, with challenging thoughts. Unlike the association of space we have when we think about taking in a beautiful view of the mountains. How can you bring the same sense of space to mind, and internalise this space when dealing with thoughts and feelings.
If you think about it, it’s the same brain that holds the physical and the mental spaciousness. If you can do it in one space then you can do it in another, they’re different subtle levels of the same experience.
6 easy steps for YOU to find more space
- Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes, do a quick scan of yourself and make sure your body is comfortable. With your eyes closed get a sense of the room you are in and your position in it.
- Begin to listen to the sounds you hear. Some will be obvious while others are subtler. Some will be in the background and some in the middle ground.
- Pick one sound and listen to it, just listen. It’s not about liking or disliking the sound. Get a sense of the distance between you and the sound.
- Whatever you think it is, it is. There is no need to second guess yourself, let your intuition guide you.
- Once you get the sense of distance, get the sense of space in between you and the sound. This opens your spatial awareness. Continue with other sounds from the obvious to the subtle.
- As you continue to do this, your sense of spatial awareness builds and with that, your ability to hold a greater and greater sense of space, without needing the beautiful mountain range to inspire you.
Gradually your spatial awareness becomes your constant companion. You begin to hold space with an open mind. This can have a profound effect on your day-to-day experiences as it’s not about how you feel or what you think, but the spaciousness within which you’re having your experience.
The same listening practice can be done within the physical body, from your mind’s eye to where the sensation is and the space in between, equally it can be done with feelings and thoughts creating a greater and greater sense of spaciousness.