Unfilled Time and Space

Every month, Emily and I take time to fill in our Passion Planners.  If you enjoy writing down dreams and goals and then taking a very honest look at what has happened in the last month, this is the tool for you. What I love about the Passion Planner is that, of course it is infused with positivity and roadmaps to achieving goals for the month ahead, but it also has a strong and healthy dose of reality. What things did I not complete that I thought I wanted to? Are those things still relevant? Have I evolved and pivoted away from them? The reality is that we are all changing and adapting based on the information we receive. If we don’t take a moment to reflect and digest how and why those changes matter, one day in the not-so-distant future, we will open our eyes and not recognize who or what or how we landed in our circumstances. The person we see might not be the person we want to be. 

I’m still adapting to my new home. There’s a lot to take in. There’s a lot to learn. One of the things that keeps our brains healthy and agile is learning new things, doing activities that aren’t patterned into our lives. Even the smallest change can rewire the way you think, predict, and respond. One of the hardest concepts for me to embody - but one I know will serve me so well - is unfilled space and time is good.

My natural inclination is towards doing. I am most definitely Pita (in the yogic tradition that’s one of three doshas which describes your natural energetic tendencies). I am a planner and a doer and all types of extra. Even when I landed in LA, two days later I bought a car and three days later I had three different jobs. This is how I go about my life. I do. That’s why I gravitated towards New York. We share a similar energy and drive, a similar mentality, a similar approach to getting the most out of every moment. This is also a recipe for burnout. 

The things that bring me the most solace involve movement, taking long walks, going for a run, yoga, bike rides, hiking.  All of these activities of doing. I’m so pita it’s not even funny. The idea of taking all of that fire and quelling it into stillness sometimes feels overwhelming. So this month, one of the concepts that I’m digging into is allowing for unfilled time and space. If you, like me, have a hard time integrating space into your life, try engaging with these ideas and see what comes up for you. WARNING: You will have to create unfilled time and space to engage with yourself. Godspeed.

Are You Afraid of Sitting with Yourself? It is MAD HARD to sit with yourself in stillness and silence and aloneness. Most people experience an onslaught of thoughts and rumination and judgements that happen when distractions are taken away. Honestly, this is probably why social media is highly developed. Many people are looking for a way to escape what we perceive to be the weight of our minds and thoughts. Why are we so afraid to be alone (which by the way is very different from being lonely)? Maybe, the idea of having to encounter all of the beautiful and ugly parts of the self is terrifying. The work in being okay with unplanned time is partly learning to acknowledge all of the thoughts without letting them define our identities. Thoughts are changeable. Not all thoughts are based in the reality of the circumstances. There are multitudes that live inside of each and every mind. If we are never still enough to reflect on what has happened and discern which thoughts are true and which ones are just thoughts, we deny ourselves the ability to keep the connection with what we truly want and believe. When we’re locked into showing up somewhere all of the time, when we constantly busy our minds, we take away our opportunity to reflect on what has happened and how we would like to move forward from that place. Reflection gives us the choice to grow or stay the same.

F.O.M.O Having empty space also means encountering the part of the self that is afraid of being left behind. There are people who exist where doing 16 hours a day, seven days a week is sustainable. Some of us probably moved through phases of life where that type of constant stimulation, constant activation from the environment, works well. There was a time where that way of being worked well for me too. Like everything of this world, that pattern of fullness will ebb and flow. When you find yourself sinking into burnout more quickly than before, pause and ask yourself, “am I doing too much?” It’s a sign that we’ll end up going through the motions of life instead of fully involving ourselves in it. What are you afraid of missing out? Is that fear rooted in reality? Are you afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or missing out on an opportunity to connect? Very real fears. Encounter those fears with a healthy does of reality. Taking care of yourself and integrating time and space that is unfilled will allow you to show up in the spaces that matter more vibrantly.

Your Worth is NOT Attached to Doing. One of the more toxic mindsets that I’ve believed to be true is that worth is attached to doing. In this mindset, having my schedule filled to the brim every day of the week means that my value as a person is high. Great. Definitely not true. My heart, mind, and body are super thankful that I’ve made it to the point where I no longer fear missing out on social activities and will leave when I’m tired or stay in if I don’t feel like being in large groups of people will serve me. In my professional life however, I still feel like I need to prove something. Perhaps because of the physical way I inhabit the world, perhaps because of the way I was raised, perhaps because of circumstances from childhood, no matter what I accomplish, I see it as never enough if I am not constantly involved in my work. When these thoughts arise, the true work begins. How can we take these thoughts and engage in a dialogue with them instead of shutting them down or busying the self to appease them? Taking a critical look at the quality of life and work is a great place to start. We don’t have to do everything all the time. Can we instead do the things that we do with such fervor and integrity that their quality speaks volumes about who we are? I remember a time when multitasking was a highly valuable skill. In many ways, it’s incredibly valuable to juggle many tasks at once. Thanks to four years of rolling around on the floor in conservatory, I know that you can only truly do one thing fully at a time. (And honestly, if you’re not doing something fully, is it really worth doing at all?) Slow down. Monotask. Allow there to be space enough for you to realize that quality is more impactful than quantity. 

I firmly believe that right thing for you will always happen at the precise moment when you make space for it. No space means no space to fill. I came out to the West Coast with nothing but space and time. It was that freedom that allowed me to rebuild a life that is sustainable and thrive-able. That doesn’t mean there are not challenges and fluctuations and friction.  These qualities are inherent in growth. It does mean, however, that generally I cry less from frustration and more from joy. Give yourself space to be with yourself. You will thank you.