“I want some space.” “Give me some space, PLEASE!?” Such words are common in today’s demanding world, aren’t they? They represent an unfulfilled desire for which we cry from deep within ourselves, even those who are retired from day-to-day stressful life. They come from a feeling of loss of control over our lives, or for one that we’ve never had. We wonder how it would be to have the space and clarity that we wish for, a peace of mind, and we want it.
If we’ve investigated ourselves and done it well, we know the location for the cause of our unrest. We’ve gone past what we’ve perceived as the primary reason(s) for this feeling, such as pressure at work, everybody wanting something if you’re a mom, haunting thoughts from the past, worries about the future, or problematic relationships with significant others. We’ve learned that what exacerbates the need for space, with some exceptions, is not the real problem—it’s something much deeper. However, we most likely don’t know what it is, except that it’s “in here” some place. Wisdom has shown us that it’s not “out there”, for if it were an exterior issue it wouldn’t be an ongoing problem inside. We’d make a wise decision, take an appropriate action, and that would be the end of it.
But for those of us who haven’t experienced this “gift of space”, we imagine its rewards and desire it all the more. We might even consider that the thoughts and emotions from the past would no longer upset us. Thoughts and emotions based on issues in the future would no longer have a hold on us either. We would find that we might spend more time in the spacious and clear present, sometimes being subtly swept into the past or future, but returning to the present having realized where we’d gone.
Now, the question is: “What’s a simple, common sense approach for experiencing the space that comes from being in the present?”
Here are some easy steps to follow:
a. We need to understand that being in the present requires some skill that is not developed in a moment. Just as the company that makes the Mercedes Benz has said, “If you want something good, you have to be willing to wait for it.” In this case, you have to be patient enough to develop what you need and accept the bumps along the way.
b. Set aside a few minutes in a quiet, uninterrupted space, where you can work productively with yourself. It’s kind of like a carpenter who has designated a place in the garage to work and contemplate on what’s coming out of his or her efforts.
c. Sit on a comfortable chair but not one that will put you to sleep. Make sure your back is straight and your hands are in your lap. TVs and cell phones cannot be in the same space nor where you can hear them in the distance.
d. Focus on your breathing—either that flowing in and out of your nostrils or the rise and fall of your stomach.
e. Start with the goal of concentrating on the breath for one minute without losing your attention. When you’ve achieved that, continuously expand the time, ultimately reaching a point that serves you best.
f. If you find that you can’t concentrate for even a minute, then you probably need to find a good therapist—one who helps you experience and resolve what’s stopping you from focusing and then takes you through relaxation techniques that are tailored for you, ones you can use outside of therapeutical sessions.
g. Continuing…as you focus on your breath, don’t let any thoughts or emotions distract you. Although they may frequently sweep you away, always come back to your breath when you realize what has happened. Equanimity is key. The actual fact is this: as you accustom yourself to focusing on the breath, the thoughts and emotions begin to slow down, giving you more and more space as you practice.
h. Practice must be consistent; that is, daily if you want results in terms of clarity and the mental space in which you can go about your life with a newfound feeling of increasingly more freedom.
i. When you become skilled in the above technique, you’ll find that you’ll be able to use it at work or other times when you need the clarity and peace of mind that comes with making space for yourself. This is when you realize you’re the creator of your own reality.
What I’ve given above is just a common sense approach to creating a level of peace, clarity, and space that serve you. Granted, these suggestions can be found in numerous articles written by mindfulness teachers, but I think it’s helpful to hear them from common practitioners, like myself and others. From what I’ve observed, the words and actions of peers on the road to clarity support my practice—similar to that of excellent coworkers.
No belief is involved, for this way to a better life is based on pure experience. Those who doubt, criticize, and never practice, even anything remotely similar, most likely remain stuck where they are. It’s the daily performance of this work that opens people to the clarity and space one needs to function. This kind of peace is our true nature, one that equals the very presence in the photo above.