making space sacred in your life

Life in Space

There’s been a lot of space in my life lately. Or, at least, the concept has been popping up a lot, which is a good indicator of a need to pay attention to it.

Why? Because if you don’t make space, you don’t notice when your mind starts drawing your attention to the specific things that require space. It’s a subtle thing, and tricky to catch.

For me it started early this week, when I was working at my cobbled-together standing desk (a mishmash of milk crates, storage containers, and screens, computers, and hard drives precariously teetering). While I enjoyed the benefits physically of a standing desk, the clutter of the makeshift platforms was playing havoc with my ability to concentrate.

So in a fit of IKEA-envy I tore it all down. I pared the desk down to the bare minimum, cursing the fact that my video editing workflow actually necessitated two screens instead of one. Other than that, my keyboard and my mouse and my coffee cup were the only things on the desk. I sat down, and breathed in the space…and got back to work.

Putting the Pro in Sacred & Profane

A day or so later I came across Scott Belsky’s 99U article about the loss of sacred, unconnected space in our lives. He had a different kind of twist on that “gravy hose concept I’ve mentioned once or twice.

He links our need to be relevant with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the craving for connection. For the first time in history, he argues, we actually have the ability to consistently have that need met, through likes and retweets and IM’s and You-Are’s (ok, that last one was mine). However, rather than satisfy, this simply increases the withdrawal symptoms when that reassurance is withdrawn – leading us to engage in what he rather ingeniously calls “insecurity” work.

I can’t say that my own “gravy hose” addiction has benefited (though there is a tiny voice that asks “Is this Insecurity Work, Gray?” whenever I’m about to check twitter). However, there was another quote that really did resonate: “Protect the state of no-intent.” It’s the idea of finding leisure time in your day – in short, getting rid of the glorification of “busy” and actually just opening a space where nothing can happen.

Which is another way of saying anything can. Personally, I’ve stopped scheduling my work segments (video, writing, working out, lunch) back-to-back. Instead, I put fifteen minutes to half an hour between. Most workers get this by factoring in transit times – the times to take the bus, to walk to lunch, to change into your workout clothes. When you work at home, though, lunch is three steps away, the office is 15 feet from your bed, and the gym? Well, on a good day the gym is a walk of about half a block to the fitness center because you’re getting fancy with weights and stuff.


Of course, I’m not getting quite so fancy these days – I’m working on another kind of space. The creation of yoga space. The folks at Dirty Yoga Co. have hooked me in again, luring me back with “Dirty Yoga 2.0.” Which has, among many other cool things, a set of workouts called “SPACE.”

This workout is designed to be a stretching kind of workout, bare-bones (like all of Dirty Yoga) with none of the frills that you sometimes find in more “serious” yoga lessons. While I still hate doing it, I also still love having done it. I’ve also found at least three things that are advantageous:

  1. When you’re doing Dirty Yoga in your living room, it does not matter how sweaty you get in your workout clothes. Nobody can see anyway.
  2. Similarly, when Jess blithely suggests you move into yet another agonizing pose, no one can hear you fill the room with invective and depredations aimed at his well-meaning tuchis.
  3. While he keeps insisting that you can’t actually “win” at yoga, I’m convinced that if the pose makes you actually growl you can take comfort in at least being a little scary.

There’s also the simple fact that when I am doing the yoga, without anything but me and the workout video on my iPad, I am creating a space for my subconscious to step out of “busy” and get back into my body. This is a kind of micro-sabbath, when I am dedicating myself to improving the only temple I really own, and leaving the “profanity” of everyday life outside of that sacred bubble for just a while.

Finding these spaces in my life over the past week has improved many things…my sleep, my mood, my ability to create. I took a nap space just before writing this today, in fact, as part of research, and it was written in one of the many beautiful spaces here at my home.

It’s not easy, I know, especially in this day and age, but I hope you can start to notice the places where you may be cluttered by the gravy hose and insecurity work. Once you notice them, you can start clearing the space out, and see what comes out of the infinite possibility of no intent.


1 thought on “making space sacred in your life”

  1. Space

    It’s space that allows stars and planets to be. A room with no space is impossible to use, a cup with no space can’t be functional for drinking, and a day in the life is no different. Alan Watts used to point out that space gets a bad rap in our stuff-obsessed culture where our personal worth is primarily determined by our productivity. We have a strong prejudice against nothingness, emptiness, rest, darkness, death, absence, solitude, and the negative principle in general. “Ex nihilo nihil fit” (nothing comes from nothing) has been part of our common-sense worldview for centuries, but it is an old lie. EVERYTHING comes from nothing, and a thing can cannot be known except by contrast with its absence. We’ve been trained since birth to fear, avoid and live in denial of absence, rest, and emptiness, and it has made our culture neurotic insofar as we are trying to live half a life in half a universe. So it’s a good step towards rebalancing to cultivate a love for and appreciation of space, and I enjoyed seeing your post acknowledging its possibilities and value.

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