“The empty space. It is one of our greatest luxuries.” –Pico Iyer
Lately I have been planning moments throughout my day for pause, moments when I search for empty space and simply exist within it. It’s hard. It’s challenging. It seems nearly impossible to find this thing called silence and this idea of stillness. I have to look hard for them, which is precisely why I need them.
I carefully crawl out of bed before the sun comes up, tip-toeing around my sleeping husband and toddler. I sneak away, feeling like I’m getting away with something, stealing a few moments to be alone in silence. I sit on my meditation pillow, close my eyes, take a deep breath and…just…sit. And it’s quiet. And it’s dark. And it’s just me. And then Toren screams for me and the cat bites my hand and it’s over. But man, it felt pretty amazing.
I drop my son off at school at 8:30am. I wave good-bye and then switch to Era on Pandora radio. My 5 minute drive from his school to my office is a meditative one. I breathe deeply, drive slowly, empty my mind and allow myself to find some stillness…as much stillness as I can while driving safely. It seems like a very small thing, but I find myself looking forward to these 5 minutes. And then I walk into my office and get smacked in the face with a huge inbox, a ringing phone and a million interruptions at my door. Thank goodness for a little grounding before the storm hits.
I have a meeting with myself every day at 11am. My phone buzzes to let me know it’s time. If I’m able to pause from work (which isn’t always the case, but I’m working on it), I close my office door, turn on some Krishna Das and just sit in stillness, eyes closed, deep breaths. It’s a pretty fabulous luxury in the middle of a frantic work day. It’s grounding. It’s restorative. And then my large to-do list calls to me, actually it kind of yells at me, and I’m back in get-it-done mode.
Pico Iyer is wise. He’s one of my favorites right now. He says “In the age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
We see going slow as something that needs to be remedied. Paying attention is fabulous in theory, but we live a life of multi-tasking and our attention never stays with one thing for very long. And the moment we sit still, we remember the many things we absolutely must accomplish immediately.
Carving out empty space isn’t easy. But it’s in this empty space that we find a moment to pause, to step back from the canvas of our lives and really understand what the meaning is.