I was recently watching Kris Carr's (author of “Crazy Sexy Diet” and “Crazy Sexy Kitchen”) talk about vacations. On her website she posts information about health and wellness from a variety of professionals. Kris met with a well-known holistic oncologist for a personal check-up, and also to discuss his potential contributions to her website. During her visit, this doctor prescribed more vacations, and emphasized the importance of taking vacations regularly. He recommended at least one day/week and 1 week of vacation every 6 weeks. These “vacations times” are times when everything is turned off (e.g. email, television, cell phones) and I would bet that almost none of us get this recommended dose of vacations/year. Kris Carr emphasized the importance of “creating space” and it got me thinking.
In yoga, we try to create space in asanas, moving our shoulders away from our ears to create and open space in our shoulders, performing back-bends and chest openers to create space in the front of our bodies. When we are tired, or depressed our tendency, physically, is to scrunch and shrink…to diminish space in a sense. When we are feeling powerful we often stand up straight, open our shoulders and assume a stance that occupies more space. So, what is the importance of space, and what is the link between creating space and the way that we feel?
In today’s American culture, a sense of busy-ness and constant cognitive stimulation is common. You can browse the internet while you watch the morning news, simultaneously eating your AM oatmeal and checking your emails on your smartphone. It’s also not uncommon to have your entire week planned out, weekend activities included. Current technologies provide us with entertainment at our fingertips, but also make it harder to create space and downtime from being “tuned-in”. The trend of busy-ness has almost (if not already) become an expectation. Email and cellphones allow employers to feel entitled to contact employees anytime. One didn’t have to worry about getting called into work while grocery shopping, or receiving a work related email on a Saturday morning 15 years ago. Boundaries between personal time and “official business” were more clear before the creation of these technologies.
Certain things, special things can only happen during open space. Inspiration, creativity, emotional connection, clarity, and introspection can only happen in an environment free of distractions and pressures. I remember reading a book called “The Psychology of Romantic Love” written by Nathaniel Brandon a psychologist specializing in couples counseling. Brandon explained that one thing he prescribes his couples is an entire day spent in the same room with one another completely unplugged. He argued that when couples spend an entire day in the same room together, absent of distractions, they begin talking about things they've never talked about with one another before. They open up. They connect. The thing is, you can’t plan for these things to occur. You can’t pencil in “inspiration” to your daily planner and yet current cultural values don’t necessarily support the notion of making oneself “unavailable”. So what would happen if you rebelled against this notion and asserted, your right to free space, open space. What if you set aside weekends for you and the people you loved just once every 6-weeks….set an automatic email that let people know you were unavailable until Monday, updated your Facebook, Instagram, twitter of your temporary absence and then unplugged? What could be created in this space? You’ll never know unless you try.