making space

on a recent trip to southern california i was motivated to think a great deal about space. while there i heard story after story of the space shuttle, newly grounded, preparing to make its way to its permanent home in an air and space museum. folks were mostly concerned about the ridiculous number of trees that were removed along the sidewalks of the streets it would travel along. as i encountered the buzz i kept thinking how humorous it was that we were busily clearing space down here in order to commemorate having made space in, well, space.

it strikes me that each of us could benefit from a similar kind of clearing.

more than any other time in history, our lives are full. we make our way through our days in status updates and think in 140 character tweet type self talk. we chronicle our meals via instagram and pull out our mini super computers (called cell phones) any time we are idle. in the grocery store check out. at red lights. during dinner and even with friends. one of the newer regular complaints amongst my partnered clients revolves around the amount of time their partners spend reading, playing games, and trolling social networking sites while sitting on the toilet. truly. we are available 24 hours a day and there are plenty of screens that will oblige our availability.

in response to an article i recently shared about how sleeping with smart phones might impact sleep quality, a young man (who i used to babysit...nothing like the young teaching the old...) emailed me about his high school band teacher. this wise sage had reminded his students that the rests in music were as meaningful as the notes that were played. rests are active, they accentuate, they direct attention.

it’s similar with space. spaciousness, whether it be in the realm of intrapersonal experience or our actual geographic locales, matters. the trick is that is typically not easily created. it isn’t easy to move a huge space shuttle through small and busy city streets. it was created to move in much less restrictive spaces.

it’s similar with our souls. we were not meant to live squeezed into the spaces we place ourselves. the expectations of ourselves and others in our new 24 hour full on connectedness, the commitments we have actively and passively made, the demands of our vocational and personal work, the necessities of day to day living all threaten to choke out any rest time that might present itself. further, we delude ourselves into thinking that staring at a screen is restful so exclusively substitute screen (and earbud) time for true self time.

without rests, however, music (and life) becomes cacophonous. imagine the frenetic feeling that would result from removing the rests from the familiar opening bars of bethoven’s fifth symphony. if the “dah, dah, dah, dddaaaahhhh’s” had no space to separate them, the music would become a single lump of sound. it would lose it shape, its feeling, its uniqueness.

so it is with all of us. without rests we lose our selves. we become defined by what we do, by what we watch/listen to, by how we update, by who needs and wants us (and who doesn’t). we become caught up in productivity and consuming rather than with restoring a sense of internal balance and calm and being able to delay gratification and/or stimulation. the trouble is, rests are active and many of us have no idea how to achieve them. what is restful to some is not to others and often we stop trying if we don’t achieve early success in resting our souls.

so consider what you have readily available and begin there...with lungs that can take in air, with a body that can stretch and move, with a mind that can wander and imagine, with a nose that can smell and a mouth that can savor. with a minute or two or three, an hour, or more. begin small...by simply being still and opening yourself to receive the rest that can come in the way it comes best for you. notice it. lean into it as you would lean into the wildest turn on a roller coaster for there is nothing more stimulating than rest.

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