Have you ever gone on a vacation but found that you had a hard time slowing down…?
I have. And I noticed it a few times this summer.
We can sometimes be so task-oriented in our lives, trying to cram so many things into a short day or week — even if they are rich, meaningful experiences — that we can suffer from a lack of spaciousness.
Spaciousness is that luscious time that unfolds naturally. In the unfolding, we have room to breathe, to create, to reflect, to have insights, and to really connect with whomever is nearby. I consider spacious moments to encourage creative and spiritual growth spurts. I connect with my truest self, and I and grow more deeply with family and friends when we have some lazy, unstructured time together.
I also notice that the active, productive, movement-oriented part of me struggles with unstructured time. I get a little restless. I need a balance of doing, being, and creating, and I am appreciating and trying to listen to this more and more as I get older.
I talk with clients often about how those mini food breaks during the day (you know, the ones where you aren’t really hungry, but find yourself foraging) may sometimes be the sensory part of us yearning for some downtime. Something rich to eat might give us a 5-minute moment of bliss (goddess forbid we stop for more than 5 minutes!), but is that really what we are looking for? Perhaps what we really want is the richer taste of spacious time to do or be or make whatever it is that calls to us. We might not feel that we deserve those regenerative moments, but maybe we do deserve a bit of chocolate.
What would it be like to fill up space with whatever calls to us in the moment — with what we really want to do, not what we feel obligated to do? Perhaps a few moments to sit meditatively under a tree, or look at the stars, or putter around the house, or write a letter or poem, or maybe even begin to prepare a more spacious and delicious, health-filled meal. There are other things that call to us besides something to eat. I have heard my clients and those in my groups talk quite a lot recently about the spiritual food and connection that we all really long for.
As I said, I’m not so good at this practice of spaciousness, but I am striving for it in my busy life of juggling family and work responsibilities. The summer is a fitting time to practice being a bit more spontaneous and slow. I recently visited North Carolina and wrote a poem, as a result of taking a few quiet moments with a (now dead) tree in the forest. I’m doing something I’ve never done before in this blog: I’m sharing a deeply personal bit of writing that I never meant for public consumption. The poem came to me in the spacious moments that followed my tree encounter. It was rattling about in my head for a bit until I took the time to write it down. I asked my family and travel companions specifically for time and space, both in the forest and later when I wrote the poem. That’s not generally something I’m great at doing, but I learned how important it can be to ask for quiet and creative space when it’s needed.
A couple of people that I trust told me that my blog readers might appreciate the poem. I hope you do, and I hope you allow yourself some spacious, open, creative moments this summer.
There are many ways to kiss the ground, says Rumi.
I choose lying in the palm of the hand of Nature.
So much more than a felled tree,
I am cradled and filled with comfort that never came easily.
Amid the clear spring water, the moss, the turk’s cap lilies,
I took a breath,
And connected with my soul
Because my soul is
the clear spring water, the moss, the lilies,
the smooth bark of the supportive tree.
After kissing the ground, I kissed a man.
A bee stung me mid-kiss, as if to say,
“No, my dear, not back to this world yet.
Stay with us in the woods,
stay with your soul.
You need more work before you are ready to merge with another.”
I must embrace my wise,
and feel that Self solidly connected with everything
like I did when the palm of the hand of Nature
cradled me close.
I became a tiny child and my wisest oldest self
and the smooth, supportive tree
At the very same time.
When I feel the nudge of a bee,
I respond by picking some plantain,
chewing it up,
and drawing out the sting.
When I feel the sting of his words,
I can turn to the plants and
not let the words hurt me.
For the sting is not really about me.
That little bee just wanted my attention.
To share his not-so-sweetness.
That little bee just gave me his message,
the repeat of a message I’d received in other ways.
It’s time to forgive.
It’s time to write.
It’s time to let things bounce off and back.
It’s time to sit in the palm of the hand of Nature,
Alone but not lonely.
I will be ready for
Blessings on your summer,