Lifestyle · Mental Health · Mindfulness

If you need space, look for nothing

Work, family life, remembering appointments, meeting professional and personal deadlines, doing chores, rushing around…sometimes you just want to shout, ‘Stop!’ and for everything to halt. You need space but don’t have time for a holiday. You need space and you just can’t find it.

On weekend and the weekend before, I had been clearing the garden shed. I’d moved into my house over a year ago and the shed had become full of cardboard boxes that previously had contained the belongings my partner and I had moved here and the furniture and home appliances we had bought. The shed was absolutely cluttered. Slowly but surely I began flattening the boxes and cutting large pieces into smaller sizes so that they could be more easily placed into the recycling box.

What I found interesting after this process was that the shed had become very spacious, yet I hadn’t thrown anything away at all. It still contained every cardboard box that we’d thrown in there, but now that they’d been flattened and made into smaller pieces, the space that had been contained within and between the boxes were now visible. It wasn’t that there hadn’t been space in the shed previously, it was just that I hadn’t seen it.

I realised this too whilst taking the London Underground. Everyone says how rammed and busy it is. How they wished there was more space. I realised that it’s because we’re so used to looking for something. We’re always keeping our minds and lives active. We’re always looking for something solid. And this habit causes us to feel mentally cluttered in our already busy lives. I decided instead to look for nothing – look for the absence on the train platform, and realised there was in fact more space in the tunnel than there were things and people.

Another example is that during my train journey, my mind is the prisoner to my mobile phone. I stare the screen, playing some games or reading the news. But when I so happen to lift my head and look at the views passing by the window, my mind suddenly feels clear and everything seems spacious.

The labour I placed in to clearing the shed paid off as I found the previous owner had left a beautiful wooden deck chair. I decided to stop being a prisoner of the many items and busy schedules around me. It was a Sunday and I had an hour to spare. I set out the deck chair and did nothing. I enjoyed the sun, the wind, the colours of life around me and the sound of the birds.

If you need space, look for nothing
Deck chair in a sunny wild garden

There is space all around us and within us. It’s a matter of where we place our attention. Are we always searching for something? Because if we are, chances are that’s what we’ll notice more and ultimately what we will find if we place our will behind it. So no matter where we are, if we need space and to take a break, maybe we should look for nothing. There, we’ll notice a vast amount of space beside the very something we’re usually looking at.


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