My word for this year is ‘space’ and as you might imagine it has come from a place of feeling not so much space, particularly around work and rest. I have worked really hard for all of my adult life, and have often struggled to get some sense of work-life balance in the past. In setting up my own business and moving away from the traditional 9-5 working pattern, I’m now presented with more opportunity to consider what work-life balance actually means to me, and also the tension between being fully responsible for this work and the pressures this then brings. I have been curious about a system that I’m in that means even when I take time out it doesn’t always feel like a rest or space. How we sometimes explore things in a Hakomi way is to create a verbal experiment. So the invitation is for you to take a moment to connect with yourself and allow the noise to drop, you might do this by tuning into your experience, maybe your breath or the sounds you can hear. From that place of turning your attention inwards, the invitation is then to notice that arises as you read the words… you can rest now. And in reading this you might notice your own ideas about rest and space arising – what does it mean to you to rest?
Some of my thinking around having a focus on the word ‘space’ this year has come from reading a quote by David Richo; “Bread takes the effort of kneading but also requires sitting quietly while the dough rises…” So I have been thinking a lot about bread. I think a lot about bread anyway; I like bread! 🥖🍞 I’ve thought for a long while that part of my process when I’m studying or writing and thinking a problem through is that I often need some time away from it before I can finish it and it reminds me a lot of the bread making process (although I’ve never actually made bread, so maybe I need to try this out!). As part of my reflecting on this, I have been scheduling more regular time off and having an intention to give my doughy self some space to rest and expand. I do find it challenging to think of rest as part of what’s needed to do my work, and yet this is so true.
I love the writing of David Whyte, and in one of my favourite books (Consolations), he writes about REST; “In the first state of rest is the sense of stopping, of giving up on what we have been doing or how we have been being. In the second, is the sense of slowly coming home, the physical journey into the body’s un-coerced and un-bullied self, as if trying to remember the way or even the destination itself. In the third state is a sense of healing and self-forgiveness and of arrival. In the fourth state, deep in the primal exchange of the breath, is the give and the take, the blessing and the being blessed and the ability to delight in both. The fifth stage is a sense of absolute readiness and presence, a delight in and an anticipation of the world and all its forms; a sense of being the meeting itself between inner and outer, and that receiving and responding occur in one spontaneous movement.” There is something in these words that seems to connect mind, body, emotions and spirit and coming home to a self that recognises the wisdom of the body and what is needed to arrive in this experience of full presence. So I have been sitting with these words and wondering if they might be a pathway to rest and space.
It feels for me that when we are wired for giving and other, resting and receiving the gift of space to ourselves can feel uncomfortable. I also think it is perhaps part of our culture in the western world that we have to achieve and there seems to be a certain social pressure about what achievement and success is. It also feels related to a system we’re in that our minds can keep us going and some beliefs about ‘mind over matter’. Over these first months of the year and pondering all of this, I also was drawn to this talk by Tara Brach which feels like such a fit with some of these thoughts (it’s only 9 minutes long) and you can watch or listen to it here: https://youtube.com/watch?v=9cTq3Q6yWp4&feature=share
What I took from this was about making it a practice to rest; that what I need to accomplish and get better at is coming back to myself to find that place of pause and rest in the enoughness of right here and making that the centre of my personal, professional and spiritual life. Tara talks about holding the paradox with humour and it feels for me that this paradox is something like, working hard to ‘get pretty damn relaxed’ as Ron Kurtz might say! I called this article ‘space… the final frontier’ as a tribute to Star Trek and one of the few well known phrases I know about space. I watched Star Trek religiously when I was younger, and I have been a big fan. In thinking about space I wonder if instead of the final frontier, space needs to be the first frontier we voyage to?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this- how do you create space for yourself? ☁️💫 Or do you get stuck in a system of go go go?🚦🏎