And here's a secret: this practice of creating space is really the essence of all we do when we begin to live consciously both on and off the mat. In yoga, we spread the collar bones wide, drop the shoulders away from the ears, lengthen the spine, inner spiral the thighs, spread our toes and fingers wide apart and invite the breath to fill the vacuum, flooding the body with Prana and energizing every cell. The space we create deepens our experience of each pose; it strengthens our alignment and allows us to transcend the limitations we believe we have.
Imagine if we could invite this same openness into other areas of our lives? The good news is that we can, and here's how:
1. Claim a sacred space for yourself. I am fortunate enough to have the studio, empty and silent in the early morning hours, but your space could be anywhere. It can be as big as an open field or sandy beach, or it can be as small as your 68 inches of yoga mat. Make this an area where you can spend time undisturbed by the barrage of your electronic devices. Make it clear to the people in your life that when you are in this space, you are unavailable. Then be sure that you really do check out. Sit down and quiet the chatter of your own mind. Tune into the flow of your breath and the rhythm of your heart, and into that quiet space invite inspiration. Follow the impulse of the body. If it prods you to move, Move. If it beckons you to stillness, Be Still. We have become a culture on the go, constantly connected to inanimate devices, removed from our own spirit and disengaged from our own bodies. Taking time every day to simply make your own acquaintance will open you to the abundance of the universe in the same way that creating space in the body can open you to a deeper pose.
2. Clean the clutter out of your life. Most of us recognize that in our homes and businesses, every now and then we have to clear out what we no longer need. The same is true in our relationships and personal development. Take stock of the people and activities that claim your time and energy. Ask yourself if they still serve to strengthen you and help you grow or if they are limiting you in some way. Notice if you do things out of obligation rather than passion. Then eliminate what no longer brings you joy or invigorates you. If you are longing for deeper connections with people who are awake in the world, you may have to remove yourself from shallow connections that served a need at one point but no longer resonate. If you want to cultivate habits and pursuits that align with your heart's deepest desires, you may have to eliminate the ones that have grown stale. Give yourself permission to do this and follow through.
3. Let go. Really. Let. Go. Yes. This is the biggest challenge, but it is the most significant step to truly create space for possibility. If you are holding on to resentments, injuries, heartbreaks or unfulfilled desires, let them go. We store every experience deep in our bodies, minds and hearts, so start on the mat. Practice breathing in possibility and breathing out negativity. Practice shining the heart forward into the space you create by drawing the shoulder blades together and tilting the head back. Open the hips to release whatever stresses and traumas you've been storing there. Then consciously let go of the emotions and sensations you discover. Forgive the people who've hurt you no matter how deep the injury. Forgive yourself if you have been the source of your own wounds. Allow beauty and goodness to flood the space where negative emotions used to lie and bathe in the vitality you create there.
Easy? Of course not! Growth never is. It hasn't been easy to find the space for every new student at the studio this week, and it is never easy to find space in the architecture of the body to move deeper into our yoga poses. Creating space for personal development and self-realization is naturally even more difficult. Like yoga, it's a practice, and we have a lifetime to get it right, but imagine what may await when we create even a little bit more room....
Perhaps, as Thoreau suggests, we will become, "a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within... opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought." Perhaps we can even create the space for the life we dare to imagine.