Creating mental space - five ways that I create space in my life
We've been back from holiday for almost a month and we're both back into the swing of things. Back to work, back to training, back in Auckland traffic and most importantly, back to juggling daily life.
A few weekends ago I went to a workshop run by Sattva Soul Retreats and it was focused on creating space, being present and setting intentions. It was an incredible way to start a weekend and it only affirmed for me how important it is to create space in our lives as much as possible.
Workshops, mini-retreats or full retreats aren't always feasible to get to, so how can we create space without removing ourselves from our everyday reality?
Creating space starts with deciding that having that space is important to you, once you make the decision, you need to take actions to ensure you practice it. It doesn't mean it's set in stone and you can't be flexible, you can always make adjustments if necessary but keep the intention in mind when you do make those adjustments.
It can be really easy to give in to outside pressures like having to stay longer at the office to finish work or attend an event because you feel you have to, so it's important that you remember why you are creating this space. You're creating space for more peace, calm and relaxation. These things should not be compromised just because you feel you "have to".
Here are five ways that I create space in my life:
1. Disconnect from technology
Two hours before bed (usually) I set aside my phone and turn my laptop off and start unwinding for the night. I tend to find myself scrolling endlessly through social media, checking emails, reading articles at night, so if we're trying to find ways to de-stress, how is doing any of that going to help? I find practicing my evening routine helps me so much with giving me some balance. In the mornings try and avoid email or social media checking until you're at the office, this will help keep your mornings calm and relaxed. I have such peaceful mornings with doing something so simple.
Start with disconnecting for 15 mins. Put your phone in another room to minimise the temptation. Once you've nailed 15mins, go for 20, then 30, 1 hour then 2 hours. You'll be amazed at how good you feel.
2. Read, write, draw
As I disconnect from technology more often, I fill the time with reading, writing, and drawing, which has been very relaxing and therapeutic. I'm reading a lot of self-development books, which I struggle to read just before bed when I'm tired, so I do this on weekends or early evenings. I've also started writing using pen + paper again (how often do we do this?!), all of my TashTastic plans are done this way which is opening up so much more of my creativity. Taking time to do this and creating this space is also making a huge difference in releasing stress. I'm starting to develop some workbooks and guides for TashTasticNZ and drawing has become a fun part of that too.
Find opportunities to write and draw more often - if you're feeling the pull to grab the phone, grab a notebook instead and see what adventure your mind takes you on.
Since being back in NZ it's been cold and raining more than I'd like and with that, I am starting to feel a bit cabin feverish (which has never happened to me). When we were in Bali we were outside every day because it was hot and easy, and it's been hard here with the weather. So I've been heading out for short walks when the weather clears, my intention is for them to be 15mins, but they always end up being about 30-60mins. I take Duke with me, which makes it so much nicer. I've also started listening to podcasts while I walk which is so lovely!
Head out for a walk, even a quick one by yourself or with a friend - breath in the fresh air, actually feel the wind on your skin and take a moment to think of what a privilege it is to be able to do it.
4. Being in silence
This was a tough one for me to get used to! Most days I sit in traffic for up to an hour, at first I listened to the radio every time I was in the car, then I switched to podcasts (which I LOVE!), now most days I drive in silence. It's so therapeutic. I notice how people drive around me, I notice the rush everyone is in even though we are in bumper to bumper traffic, I notice how I react when something happens around me (and how irritable I usually get by someone's actions), but most importantly it gives me time to think. I practice deep breathing and mindfulness while driving in silence, allowing myself time to just be. Most nights we also cook dinner and potter around the house in silence. No tv show or music in the background.
In today's world, we don't realise how noisy our days are until we give ourselves the opportunity to be in the silence. It can be uncomfortable, but if it's uncomfortable it's likely something we need to do a bit more of.
Give it a try for 20 mins at first and see how you go. If you get bored, try to sit with it, see what happens - that's when our imagination has the opportunity to run wild, that's when our best ideas will come, that's when your soul will speak to you.
Most nights I journal before bed (I try to every night, but hey, I ain't perfect). I write out three things for each of these topics -
I am grateful for...
These are sometimes as simple as eating a healthy dinner, having a warm bed on a cold night. Other times they are huge things that happened to me that day.
I am letting go of...
Every day we encounter things that hold us back, makes us doubt ourselves, frustrate us, makes us unhappy, so I've started writing out the things I want to let go of. After each one, I take a deep breath and I feel them leave my body. It's ok if they are the same as the day before (I've had the same ones for a whole week sometimes), feel it and then let it go.
I am welcoming in...
I usually link these in with what I'm letting go of. For example - I am welcoming in patience to deal with XXX, courage to do XXX, commitment to do XXX. As I write these three things out I visualise how I will feel when I experience them, as the energy of them makes them real.
We need to do what makes us feel good, not what we think we "should" be doing.
We can only create space if we really want it, there are plenty of things that we can be doing instead of taking time away from technology, journalling or going for walks, but what will actually make us feel good? We need to do what makes us feel good, not what we think we "should" be doing.
Most of these things are part of my evening practice and my practice is non-negotiable for me. I pulled together a little mini-guide to create peaceful evenings that I'd love to share with you if you haven't already grabbed a copy. If you would like to grab a copy, you can sign up here.
What do you do to create space in your life? I'm always looking for new things I can try, so please do share!
P.S. I've also recently launched my monthly TashTastic Letter, which will be filled with all sorts of tips, resources, and inspiration on living a more intentional and minimal life. If you're keen on receiving it and being in the know of programmes I'm developing, you can sign up here.
P.P.S. I want to know what you're looking for so I can create content that gives you what you want! If you'd like to share your thoughts, please do so here. I'd super appreciate it ☺
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