I'm currently in the process of setting aside space for the things I love and want to make a priority in my life: a daily yoga practice, a daily writing practice, a daily meditation practice, daily prayer, more travel and excitement, and so on... The main thing I'm realizing in this process is that it's absolutely essential to "set the space" for these things in advance of doing them.
Setting the space is like setting the table; it sets us up for what’s to follow. Before we sit down to eat, we prepare our food, we set out plates and silverware, we get everything ready for the meal we’re about to eat. This is an effective way of setting our space. We are essentially creating a space that we can later fill. It’s one of the most effective ways of making progress in the direction of our dreams. Whatever it is we wish to create, we’ll be much more successful if we create the space for its existence in advance. If no space is set, it’s harder to get started because we aren’t sure where to go or how to get there. If we don’t set the table in advance of eating, we’re much more likely to sit down in front of the TV once the food is served, because when we have to make spontaneous, on-the-spot decisions about what to do, we usually opt for doing what’s easiest.
We don’t want to leave our dreams to spontaneous on-the-spot decision making. If there’s something we want to accomplish, it’s always better to set the space for it in advance. If your goal is to start running, set the space by choosing your running clothes the night before, schedule the exact time you plan to run each day, plan your route, plan your distance, plan your playlist. If your goal is to start meditating, set the space by finding the right spot for it in your house, set up the environment to fit your needs with pillows, chairs, candles (whatever you think will help you). Set the space from which you’re going to work. This sets us up for the step that follows, filling the space, which is much easier to do when we know where to go, because all we have to do is show up.
Setting the space prepares us by getting everything ready in advance. Then all we have to do to fill the space is show up and be present in the space we’ve created.
Setting the Space for Creativity
A music teacher once brilliantly told a friend of mine, “Don’t ever put your children’s instruments in their cases, or else they’ll never take them out and play them. Leave them out of their cases, in the middle of the room, and they’ll play them all the time.” How readily available are your creative outlets at the moment? Are they front and center in your life? Have you created a worthy space for them? If you want to paint, lay out your paints in advance, organize your brushes, make your blank canvas the focal point of the room. If you want to write, leave your computer on overnight to the page you’re planning to work on the next morning, sleep with your journal under your pillow at night, carry your pen with you everywhere (not in your purse, in your hand).
Setting the Space for Love
How often do you create the space for more love in your life? It’s probably a foreign thought. But it’s easy to create the space for more love in our lives – both giving it and receiving it. Creating the space for giving more love might mean waking up every Saturday morning to write a letter to someone you love, or making an effort to notice other people’s intentions more—what they’ve chosen to wear, how they’ve done their hair, what they’re making an effort towards—and compliment them on it. Creating the space to receive more love might mean making a conscious effort to recognize and absorb the love—compliments, appreciation, and thanks—that come your way every day (from friends, family members, and co-workers).
Setting the Space for Change
How often do you step out of your comfort zone, on a regular basis? We get into the habit of doing the same 5 or 10 things over and over—going to work, going to the grocery store, going to the gym, going to our favorite coffee shop.... So many of us want our lives to change, but we keep doing the same things, waiting for something new to surprise us. If we want our lives to change, we have to set aside space to go places we haven’t been and do things we haven’t done. Try setting aside 2 hours every week to explore a new group, museum, coffee shop, grocery store, garden, or activity that you’ve never explored before. Creating the space for new experiences opens the way for far more “newness” than we can see at first—new people, new opportunities, new ideas—to flow into the space we’ve created.
Setting the Space for Stillness
How often do you write into your calendar “do nothing, be still, enjoy the moment”? So many of us feel like we don’t have time to stop and be still. Our lives are filled with commotion and distractions, but that’s largely because we never pencil in free time on our calendars. If we make it a priority to pencil in free time devoted to doing nothing, just being still and enjoying the moment we are in, we will discover that we have so much more time on our hands. We have to value it and create the space for it, if we want to create more of it in our lives. Try penciling in “free-time” on your calendar a few times a week and see what a difference it makes.
Start setting the space for love, friendship, adventure, health, meditation, creativity, travel, stillness, and every other area of your life that you wish to experience growth in. Once the space is set, you will naturally fill it. Good luck and enjoy it!
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