Take 5: How to create space by taking time
It’s amazing the kind of space that a little bit of time creates. I write this following the transition from working 40 hours at an inpatient hospital (read: no holidays!) to joining this practice. This morning, after taking care of the typical morning responsibilities, I returned home with intention–intention to most meaningfully utilize the newfound time I am giving myself by making this change.
I followed a short yoga practice themed around “transitions” in honor of the new year, this new career transition, and the new dedication I am making to myself. In just 22 minutes, I felt more grounded, more centered, more creative, more connected to my inner desires and my hopes for this next chapter.
I realize that this time is a luxury and that it is not always available in the form of an hour or two between responsibilities of home and work. But I began to wonder what kind of impact does intentionally taking time make?
What would happen to our sense of happiness and satisfaction if we took the time to truly be present in the things that make us joyful? I suppose this really goes back to the idea of practicing “gratitude” or “mindfulness” without the buzzwords. In taking just a short amount of time to feel present in your body, more organized, and less rushed, you may realize, as I did, what you have been missing.
To what extent does packing your life full take a toll on you? Do you find you have a shorter fuse? Have you lost the joy in the simple things you used to appreciate? Are you more focused on a to-do list rather than the act of living life? And finally, how can you create space and time when your schedule already feels jam-packed?
Here are my 5 suggestions…which may spark your own unique ideas…for how to create space, by taking time:
- Notice your screen time–we are all connected to a screen of some sort; it has become woven into our very culture. However, if you notice how much time you spend checking emails, scrolling social media, playing games, you may discover lost time right in the palm of your hand! Shifting those spread out minutes perhaps to a dedicated 30-60 minutes may consolidate time spent on a screen, make it more efficient, and provide an opportunity to become more present in the time it would normally take to scroll through a feed. Try this: instead of reaching for your phone the next time you feel bored or slightly awkward, observe your surroundings and take a breath.
- Do that last thing! Take a breath. Or 3. Or 10. Just a short amount of time to notice the rhythm, depth, and location of your breath can slow you down and bring you into the present moment.
- Become lost in a creative endeavor. There is a state of “flow” we reach in which time ceases to exist when we are engaging our mind creatively. This can look like so many things: turning on music to sing or improvise a dance, making art by creating a small drawing, painting or coloring a design, journaling or writing poetry.
- Connect to your 5 senses. Maybe all five in the span of a few minutes, or maybe just focusing on one. Watch the sun transition our world from day into night or night into day, and notice the nuances and subtle changes of color as mere minutes pass. Listen intentionally to a favorite piece of music and pick out the parts that especially delight your ears or move you. Light a candle or use an essential oil diffuser; or simply go outside and take in the scent on the air, which differs every season. Savor a delicious meal; really taste that tea you’re drinking. Give or get a hug, curl up in a warm, soft blanket, massage your hands, feet or shoulders, pet your dog or cat.
*If you want to go even further, you can connect to your 6th sense of proprioception. This is the awareness of where your body is in space at any point in time. Notice the angles of your joints, the relationship between one part of your body and another. And then, if it feels right, create space in an area of discomfort.
- Spend time with a pet. Animals are particularly grounded in their bodies. They do not have the narrative we create from interpretations and projections of others’ (or even our own) behavior; they simply live in the moment, reacting to their surroundings and the signals from their bodies. Notice how your pet interacts with the ground beneath it and create this same intention for yourself–feel the pads of your feet on the ground as you walk, or the surface of your body in contact with the floor as you sit, and then allow the ground to support you rather than pulling away, as many of us do. Become present by becoming more fully embodied and connected to your surroundings.
I hope that these suggestions to become more present in your life, and more intentional with your actions, will help you find a sense of meaning in how you exist in the world–to take up the Space you deserve and create the Time you need.