Making Space

Do you notice where your time goes? Beyond work, family, errands, and the normal day to day of life, where do you spend those mindless minutes/hours? Take a moment and ask yourself.

I spend a lot of time reading and I love it. Reading is definitely a good habit and when I was challenged to give it up for a week I thought the test was…to be totally honest…bullshit.

Why would I give up reading, of all things? Alcohol, sugar, negative people – yes, I see the benefits of limiting those, but to stop reading for a week seemed ridiculous. Until I did it.

For one week I read nothing (ok ok, besides Facebook status updates and Twitter feed when I was weak). I wasn’t allowed to read my book before bed, I wasn’t allowed to click on tempting links, I wasn’t allowed to open the magazine subscriptions that get sent to my email and I wasn’t allowed to google random interest stories that passed by my ears and eyes. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

One week. Seven days. I gave up something I love and made space to see what role it filled in my world.

I honestly didn’t think much would come of this exercise and was surprised to see what did. When I took away a habit I began to notice when I reached for it. Like a crutch, I was amazed to see how much I lean on other people’s writing when I’m having difficulty with my own.

Every week I teach yin yoga and I tell my students to face discomfort. “Rest in the pose,” I say, “Breath through it. See if you can find comfort in discomfort.” Little did I realize that I’d come home after class and sit in front of my computer and do the opposite. I’d face afternoons of writer’s block, a very uncomfortable feeling for me, and right away I’d escape it in the words of others. I’d leave no space.

Last week I left space. I faced writer’s block and I had nothing to distract me. I had to sit there. I stared at the wall. I let myself get frustrated and then angry, and then full of doubt. As it turned out, without reading I was forced to face myself.

It is easier to click on a link. Read something. Escape. Watch a cute video of a baby sloth making squeaking noises. It’s easier to do anything but make room for your own emotions to surface.

Without reading for a week I began to notice my own writing and it’s had a major affect on the direction I’ll take from here on in. Instead of ignoring the reasoning behind my writer’s block I faced it head on, asked it questions and left space to hear the answers.

It’s uncomfortable to face something that isn’t going quite as planned, but it also opens up a new road filled with possibilities for all the ways it could work out. Without leaving my crutch alone for that week I would never have learned to walk in a different direction.



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