I was born a busy body. I go, go, go and do, do, do. For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me to relax, to pause, to take a moment. For a very long time, these instructions were met with intense resistance - an almost unconscious reflex to push away what I really needed the most - s p a c e.
Well, no more! Awhile back, let's say 3 years ago, I realized that the way I was doing life just wasn't really working for me. I was constantly stressed out - my thoughts were always scattered, my body was reacting with severe migraines and my relationships were suffering because I just couldn't chill the f*ck out. But, from the outside looking in, you may not have known this. You may have thought - "Damn, she's got her shit together. She's creative, productive and incredibly organized." We know, though, that appearances are just that, appearances. They are not reality.
I think I really had to hit rock bottom to realize that I had to make a change. I had to gain weight despite being incredibly active and eating really well. I had to be so tired that I required a 3p nap almost daily. I had to demolish my social life because I couldn't see the value in taking time to just have fun. I had push away those I love the most because I didn't realize what was most important. And then...I had to wake up one day with a deep sense of knowing that life could be a lot better. I could be healthier. I could have more energy. I could kick ass in my professional life and still have plenty of time for fun. I could put my loved ones first and feel incredibly fulfilled and grounded by giving them the attention they deserved. And the way that I could DO all of this was by practicing the art of BEING - by creating more s p a c e in my life.
It's funny. When we are overwhelmed with our work life, home life, social life and creative life, the last thing we think we can do is dedicate time to practices that support more s p a c e in our life. It seems there is no time to spare. But, that is the ego speaking. There is always time to create more s p a c e - to rest into our inherent nature of just being. We simply choose not to utilize our time in that way. The ego screams louder than the spirit - you must DO - while the spirit is quietly whispering - all you have to do is just BE, the rest will flow.
But, HOW do you create more s p a c e when it seems completely out of reach? What does it mean to 'just be?' How can 'just being' and more s p a c e make me healthier, happier, grounded and more fulfilled?
I'm committed to shedding light on these concerns and answering these questions. As a teacher, I believe what I teach is most powerful when it is a reflection of my own experience. What I share with you may not be the right fit for you, but it may inspire you to explore what does work for you. What I share with you may just be the planting of a seed that over time will take root and grow. What I share with you is REAL. It comes from my practice, my life and my experience. I'll unfold these teachings over time because this concept of creating s p a c e is central to my purpose as a teacher. And because creating s p a c e takes time - it doesn't happen overnight. So, we start small and go from there.
If you're with me, keep reading to find 11 Ways to Shift from Chaos to Calm Now.
11 Ways to Shift from Chaos to Calm Now
When we lack s p a c e in our lives, we often feel stuck in a state of chaos. Now is the time to create s p a c e and experience calm..
Say no more often. I know it's hard, but you gotta. I'm a recovering people pleaser, someone who is easily guilted into doing things that my gut instincts say 'don't do!' Start practicing the power of saying no. When your friends invite you to dinner, but you'd rather relax at home with a good book, say no! When a job opportunity lands in our lap, but it's not really aligned with where you're headed, say no! When you think you 'should' go to the gym, but you really want to cook a nice dinner at home, say no! Your time is a precious commodity. Use it wisely. Trust your gut. If your stomach ties up in knots when someone asks you to do something, that is your spirit saying no. Your ego will fight you here with guilt. That's a tell-tale sign that you should be saying no. Disclaimer - this is not permission to be a selfish asshole and watch Netflix all day, but rather, it is permission to make Self-centered choices. Serving others, for instance, is a promised path to feeling centered in your Self.
Accept help when it's offered. Also challenging for the natural busy body...but, when help is offered, that is the Universe's way of supporting you. So, say yes to this! Delegate tasks at work if you can. Allow your roommate/spouse/partner to assist with household chores. Remember that you don't have to do it all and controlling every project, every aspect of your life is exhausting. In fact, when others support you, you are also supporting them. Think of how good it feels to help someone out...don't you want to give someone the gift of that feeling?
Do one thing at a time. I know the to-do list is a mile long, but you must take it one task at a time or you will just continue to feel like you are underwater. If you are a professional list-maker like me, consider prioritizing your list so that it's not a mile long. Separate the things you have to get done into Today, This Week, This Month. This serves as a physical reminder that it doesn't all have to happen today. If you are not a list-maker and you feel a lack of s p a c e in your life due to everything swirling around in your head that you have to 'do,' try making a list! It might help to put things on paper and get it out of your head for good. If you keep trying to remember everything you have to do, you waste so much energy with your thoughts swirling around the same shit again and again. And, when you start working through the stuff you gotta get done, be totally present in the task at hand. Multitasking is a sneaky bitch. On the surface, doing more than one thing at the same time seems more productive, but in reality you are 'switch-tasking' and that takes a TON more energy than just dedicating time to one task, completing it and then moving on to the next. Don't believe me? Believe neuroscience.
Declutter your house! The stuff around you affects how you feel. And if there is a ton of stuff cluttering up your home, you're going to find it challenging to feel a sense of s p a c e. So, take some time, declutter. Put everything in it's place and if it doesn't have a place either make a place for it or donate it. After you've finished decluttering, acknowledge how it makes you feel. There's a good chance you'll actually feel lighter. Enjoy that feeling and take it with you throughout the day.
Turn off the stimulus. TV, radio, podcasts, books, magazines, newspapers, phone calls, conversations, social media, emails...all of it. Set aside time each day to go silent. It could be just a minute or two, it could be much longer. Start small and increase the time you spend in silence. Let yourself be totally absorbed in the task at hand or relax and bask in just being. A tangible example - when you get home from work, instead of turning on the evening news while you cook dinner, just cook dinner...and be totally absorbed in this meditation of doing something you love that nourishes you.
Clear out your email inbox. Seems petty, but remember, one small shift can make a huge change. If you have 100s (or God forbid 1000s) or unread emails, make a cup of tea and get to work clearing out your inbox! Address the stuff that is priority. Unsubscribe from the stuff that's not valuable to you. And, delete, delete, delete.
Stop over-scheduling yourself. As a contractor, I am responsible for my own scheduling (HUGE plus). I am also responsible for my experience if I over-schedule myself...and I do that all too often. I've learned over the years what my limits are (no more than 4 in person sessions - privates, group classes, corporates a day, no more than 4 virtual sessions - phone, skype, etc a day). I've also learned that while it seems productive to schedule sessions back-to-back-to-back, it doesn't work well for me in reality. I find myself eating a hurried lunch in the car while driving, fighting road rage while rushing one place to the next and generally increasing my stress and anxiety levels. And all this for what? To get home 1 hour earlier at the end of the day? I've learned that I need some literal space in my schedule between sessions - just a few minutes to reset and recharge before giving of my own energy again. We each have limits, boundaries and needs when it comes to scheduling. And some of us don't actually have the ability to control our work schedules. But, to the extent you can control your schedule, do so intelligently. When you figure out what your limits, boundaries and needs are, HONOR THEM.
Put yourself first. Quite literally, put yourself first every single morning by creating some type of ritual that is all yours. It could be just 5 minutes brewing your coffee, taking in the smell and savoring the taste (no multitasking here). It could be an hour of yoga and meditation. It could even be 30 seconds in bed the minute you wake up reciting an affirmation or intention that will set the tone for your day and commits you to putting yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup. And starting the day by serving yourself is a small shift that can create huge change. Take it from me: for 2 years straight, I start every single morning with a cup of tea (1 tbls Bragg's apple cider vinegar, 1 tbls fresh lemon juice, 1 tbls honey), some movement (a run or yoga asana), meditation (sometimes 5 min, sometimes 20 min) and reflection (journaling, card pulling, visualization, affirmations). I'm not rigid in how long this ritual is, but I am committed to doing it every damn day and it has made a world of difference. Yes, I still get scattered, stressed and overwhelmed, but I always have the ability to pull myself back to my center because I start each day there and I know the way back.
Pause and just breathe. When you are triggered by a situation or a conversation, pause and just breathe. It doesn't have to be long, but by putting a little bit of s p a c e between you and the stimulus that triggered you, you will be able to respond instead of react. We have all gotten an email at some point that has triggered anger or frustration...and we have all clicked reply and pounded out a reply filled with that anger or frustration...and we have all regretted it 30 seconds later. In some email systems you can actually set a delay on sending messages. I swear, they invented this function for exactly this situation. You have that function too. It's called breathing. So use it! Pause. Breathe. Respond. You will never regret that. And when you respond instead of react, you create more s p a c e by avoiding the stress of regret, of confusion, of anger. Win/win.
Get moving. Go for a walk or a run. Take a fitness class. Head to the gym. Or roll out your mat at home for some Vinyasa. Creating more s p a c e in your body by moving will always translate to more s p a c e in your mind and your life. I know, when you're busy, the last thing you think you can do is cut away from the task at hand to exercise, but trust me (and research)...it's exactly what you need. And you'll be far more creative, focused and productive when you return to the task you hit pause on.
Stop moving. And, then, sometimes, you gotta just hit pause for real. Sit the f*ck down. Take a nap. Meditate. Take a bath. Go to bed early. Even when everything you have to do is not yet done. Especially when everything you have to do is not yet done. REST. RELAX. RECHARGE. It's a must. In order to create more s p a c e - you must practice being comfortable with spaciousness, with silence, with stillness.
Try implementing just one of these shifts into your life and let me know how it goes! If you're not sure how to get started and feel like you need some support, let's talk about one-on-one coaching. I'm here for you.
Cheers to more s p a c e my dears!
*Image provided by Karis Munley - Golden Creative Photography + Design