The Quiet Space Between

Photo credit: Roberto Nickson

Make the deadline. Make the meeting. Make supper. Let the cat out. Take the dogs to the vet. Take the trash out. Take the call. Run to the shops. Run to the bank. The post office. Plan for the future. Plan for today. Plan for just in case. Think smart. Think fast. Think out the box. Let the cat back in. Beat the traffic. Beat the clock. Beat the odds. Be nice. Be good. Let the cat out again. Be everything to everybody whenever they need it, and make it look easy, because you get extra points for that, oh and there goes your phone again…

… and then there’s the quiet space between.

Um. Isn’t there?

Nobody needs to tell us how hectic we are, we already know that. Nobody needs to tell us we need downtime, we’d grab it if we could. But somehow, just the thought of scheduling in a little time away from ‘everything that life is’ can be enough to make us even more anxious.

Won’t the world somehow fall apart without us? Can we really afford that time out? What about all those hundreds of things that are going to fall through the cracks? All the things that are inevitability going to pile up higher than Mount Doom because we’re planning on taking half an hour out of our day to spend it in unproductive nothingness.

The thing is, that ‘nothingness’ isn’t all that unproductive. Apart from giving us the chance to take a healthy step back, a little solitary idleness can actually sharpen the mind. It can enrich productivity, creativity, and motivation. It can improve attention. Help us perform better. And make a little room for inspiration to strike. Because even when we’re zoning out, the brain doesn’t stop working. Especially the parts responsible for creativity and alternative thinking.

Sometimes it’s the one thing that holds your whole day together because it’s that moment that you’ve finally done something for you. Something kind. Something healthy.

Because we’re always busy. Every now and then I find a whole new depth of busyness. There’ll be a phase when life is throwing everything at me and I’m ‘the most hectic I’ve ever been!’ and I have no idea how I’m going to do it all, be it all, survive it all. And then there comes another phase where everything else that came before somehow pales in comparison.

So I’ve learnt that there’s never a better time to put even just one tiny healthy step into my day than now. Because there is nothing but now. Tomorrow never comes.

I’ve learnt that when it comes to that desperately needed quiet time, it’s not the length of time that matters, but the quality of it. It doesn’t have to be an hour. Or even half an hour. Especially if it doesn’t do anything for me. Five minutes can make all the difference to my day if it’s the right kinda five minutes.

It’s taken me years, but I’ve finally found practices that work for me. That make me calmer, stronger, sharper, more grounded, more balanced. Give yourself time to find your right thing. If it doesn’t work for you, there’s nothing wrong with you … you just haven’t found your ‘thing’ yet.

It totally doesn’t have to be about striking the Lotus Pose. You could stare at the moon. Let your mind drift along with the clouds. Smell an orange like you’ve never smelt anything like it before. Lose yourself in a song you love. Go for a walk. Swim. Run. Read.

When I’m frantically, out-of-my-mind hectic, I use my three minute, gotta-be-done, tooth-brushing time in the morning to become aware of all the space around me, to become conscious of all the space flowing around the objects in the room, all the space flowing within me. I allow myself to feel it completely. And somehow just that makes me infinitely calmer.

It’s crazy, but even just those three simple, quiet minutes can rewire my brain and change my whole day.

The more hectic we are, the more important it is to dedicate a few moments for ourselves. So give yourself permission to be still. Even if … just for starters … you linger a little longer in a candle-lit bath.

Because OMG how we really need that quiet space between.

Read more about playing with stillness