Have you ever looked up at the sky and remarked how the space between the stars is like the space between atoms? Everything manifests itself in space, including you. Without this space nothing could exist. It carries everything and binds everything together. When you allow that space in and you walk into it, all becomes still. At first it may seem empty, but when you look deeper you will see that this space is, in fact, love.
Everything needs space in order to grow. Take a tree, for example. When it is given enough space it will grow, but if there is no space available it will remain small or even die. Space is a precondition for growth and life. This principle can be seen in everything around you. At work, in your children and in your everyday activities. For example, you will develop more quickly in your job if your boss gives you more room in which to manoeuvre, and the same also applies to young children when they are allowed to play and experiment.
These spatial processes take place not only in the world around you but also within yourself. For example, stress is caused primarily by a lack of inner space. If you have little or no inner space left over, time itself and the things you are required to do in it feel like a never-ending, pressure-filled sequence. It is as if time becomes compressed, as if there is no space between the seconds, minutes or hours anymore.
Mindfulness is all about regaining your inner space by focusing your attention on those things that are filling up that space unnecessarily. If your inner space becomes too crowded, it will end up causing you trouble. This overcrowding is often a long process; first you develop the feeling that you have too many obligations, and when these obligations persist they eventually result in a feeling of unrest. Before long this feeling turns into one of constant tension and hurry. When this tension persists for too long it becomes stress (and if you suffer too long from stress you will become ill).
These days, stress is an all-too-common problem, even among young people. We are obviously doing something wrong and have lost touch with how our inner space is supposed to be used. The following is a powerful exercise that you can do to prevent the symptoms of stress from arising:
Power pause exercise
- Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, allow yourself to be pleased with what you have just done and be grateful for having being able to do it.
- Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, enjoy the stillness around you.
- Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, greet the next thing you are about to do with a smile.
This is a simple way of creating space between your activities; space that is essential to your good health.
In addition to our so-called obligations, there are two other important ‘fillers’ of our inner space: thinking and feeling. Thinking and feeling manifest themselves in a variety of ways, but if you look carefully at your tendency and need to fill your inner space, you will see that this can traced back to your thoughts and feelings about yourself, other people and the world. Your ‘obligations’ can also be traced back to your thoughts and feelings about yourself, for example in relation to your job.
Keeping your inner space free of clutter—the concept that lies at the heart of mindfulness—is both good for your health and very practical. It can prevent problems and help you to think clearly and be happier in general as a result. You can keep your space neat and tidy through meditation and by paying attention to your daily activities, which means being fully aware of everything you do. You could even try doing this tonight by paying close attention when you are chopping the vegetables for dinner. Try to banish all other thoughts from your mind, like making plans for tomorrow. See how long you are able to focus your attention solely on chopping your vegetables.