Ways to Create Spaciousness

Lots of us tend to rush headlong into what’s next.  But what would it be like to create a kind of intentional spaciousness?  This is not a squishy place, but rather a place filled with air and light and breath.  What might happen if you intentionally slow everything down and ask yourself, “What do I want to do or be next?”  A different quality comes alive with this question—one that contains desire, yes, but also trust and a belief that something will arise if I just quiet myself and let it.  

If you say to yourself, “What do I want to do or be next?” invariably there will be other voices vying for attention.  Some of these are likely to be critical in nature, “shoulds” or judgmental in some way, or  diversions. Some of these objections or diversions might be necessary or true to some degree.  You might hear: “I need the money, so I need to offer another workshop.”  Or “Wow, if I weren’t so lazy I’d be able to decide what’s next quickly.”  Or “I’m not clear enough (wise enough, smart enough, funny enough—whatever!—) to keep doing this work.”

With each of these critical voices there is a bodily response.  For me, it is often that my chest tightens and I can feel an intense pressure around my heart.  I can’t feel the field in front of my body, but rather feel a tightening in my back.  My feet are not solidly placed on the ground.  I feel a restlessness that makes me shift my feet and legs more than usual.  My breath is shallow.  

Now I want to ask you:  What can I create or be from that kind of space?  Not much, other than anxiety.  

In becoming aware of the areas of constriction as I begin to consider “What’s next?”, I can already feel a slight loosening in those areas.  We’re not going to delve into why I feel the constriction; in many ways, it just doesn’t matter. Instead what I am going to engage in is how to create more space in myself.  

First I will place a hand on my upper chest and let myself breathe into my palm.  I’ll breathe more deeply than usual and let my breath come from my hara.  I might even breathe in deeply, then let the breath out in a huge sigh.  I might also stretch my arms back in an open-chested move and tip my head back so that my neck is exposed upward.  In this shape my chest and throat open and I let breath into those spaces. 

Then I just sit back and notice.  What is there to notice?  A lightness at the crown of my head.  A slight softening in my upper chest.  Oh, and both feet are now on the ground.  The area between my eyes feels more open.  I feel a bit more vulnerable.  And yet grounded.  I can sense a bit of excitement in my belly.

Now I can ask myself again: “What’s next? What do you want to do or be next?”  And I can consciously feel the tightening begin to happen at the question, but I can also feel the loosening that I just experienced and exaggerate that.  Breathe into that.  Don’t ask for an instantaneous answer, but allow myself to feel excited at what arises.  To begin to imagine what that might look like. 

feeling spaciousnessAllowing spaciousness lets me settle into myself, feel what I value, and move forward from that grounding, which is very different from moving forward from my anxiety, isn’t it?  Intentional spaciousness.  Choosing to settle and see rather than move forth and worry! 

Try this on for yourself.  Think about a situation or person that recently caused you to constrict or become small.  Something that makes you less-than.  That creates anxiety for you.  Much as I described above what goes on for me, come up with your own picture of what happens in your body when you constrict or lose ground.

You might do a quick body scan to see where you hold tension or constriction.  Ask yourself:

  •   when I constrict my head feels_______________________
  •   what I notice about my face and jaw is___________________
  •   my throat feels like _______________________________
  •   what happens in my chest is ________________________
  •   when I lose my ground, I can sense that my pelvis _____________________________
  •   constriction causes my legs to _______________________________

Fill in the blanks for those parts of you where you most notice something happening and leave the others alone.  Once you have a good idea of where you hold constriction, then work with each place to intentionally bring spaciousness there.  Use moves that counter the constriction—that is, stretching, opening, widening, breathing, swirling, dancing, shouting, exhaling.

Once you do these “counter-moves”, then let yourself notice the difference it makes in your body-self and also in your thoughts and emotions.  Write down what you notice.  Then ask yourself again: “What do I want to do or be next?”  

If you are so moved, comment about what you find.

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