A lthough New Year’s seems like it just happened, we’re 5 months into 2016 already.
Days blend in and weeks pass by and you keep telling yourself..
“Wow, time flies, I can’t believe it’s already [insert month]”.
As you get older, time seems to go even faster.
Most times you don’t even realize it’s happening and have zero capability to be present which means even if you’re getting awesome results, you don’t feel quite as fulfilled as you think you should be.
There never seems to be enough time, it always feels slightly out of your grasp and just past your ability to hold on to it.
I’ll have you consider the reason you feel this way:
You’re not taking time and space to slow down, look around, reflect and appreciate on a daily basis.
Time is an illusion, and in this post I’m going to share ways to be more present, feel more fulfilled and live a life that doesn’t seem to be running away from you.
I’m Not Spiritual
I recently had an amazing conversation with a serial entrepreneur and one of the things they mentioned was how their most dramatic breakthroughs came when he was able to create space and achieve perspective.
In fact, they blocked time out of their day in which they were virtually unreachable with the tag being “reflection”.
“I’m not spiritual”…is the first thing I hear when I mention these practices to others.
I, too, used to say this years ago when thinking about some of these tools.
Most people will see something about meditation, yoga, creating space, slowing down and immediately use this excuse that it won’t work for them by labeling it.
The issue at hand is our definition of what is or isn’t spiritual.
To me, being spiritual can be any activity that connects you to yourself..that’s it.
It doesn’t have to be a particular practice, a retreat in India or something religious.
Creating space is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal in a world that is hyper connected and never seems to stop.
Why We Need To Create Space
Creating space is all about creating a gap between yourself and your environment.
This gap does a few things, such as:
- Perspective. When you create space, you can step outside your usual reactive thinking and make a better decision based in clarity, usually with less emotion involved.
- Agency. Consider how most of us operate…we’re in the world, something happens, we automatically respond instead of choosing how to respond.
- Truth. By creating the gap, we open ourselves up to our own wisdom and intuition which many times is distracted by our daily environment, thoughts, people, gossip, TV and the countless stimulus that enters our world.
In Cal Newport’s fantastic book Deep Work, he mentions how the greats would create environments in which they were able to spend long times in isolation for their deepest, most creative work.
He quotes Carl Jung’s solitude tower in Zurich where he would spend months on end working on his craft in simplicity:
At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself — Carl Jung
Creating space, I’d argue — is simply a skill that requires practice turned into a habit.
In this post, I’m going to share 27 ways to create space in your life starting today.
27 Ways To Create Space
1. Nature. Spend time in nature, ideally alone with no phone or distractions. This can be a hike, walk, sprint, outdoor workout or a simply an easy walk where you are focused on being present and enjoying your surroundings.
2. Meditation. Daily meditation is a nonnegotiable and part of my morning routine. Do it laying down, seated, whatever — just “be” for a few minutes, there is no right or wrong way to do it and it must be done daily if you’re going to see any type of results.
3. Training. Physical training is a way to create space, moving your body through space is very primal and energizing as well as bringing clarity to your life. High intensity is a great way to connect with your deeper self or what Mark Divine calls “Warrior Spirit”.
4. Deep conversation. Turn your phone off and be 100% present with someone. Actually listen to each word they say without thinking of what you’re going to respond with, look into their eyes. Time will pass and you’ll be re-energized with the human need for deep connection.
5. Pattern interrupt. Feeling unfocused and sluggish? Perform a pattern interrupt such as an intense physical activity (say, 10 burpees) or a quick dip in the pool or ocean, or simply walking around your office 3 times and getting some blood flow.
6. Deep breathing. Take 10 deep breaths in any stressful situation or just to re-set your mind. The best way to do this is to inhale for at least 5 seconds, hold for at least 5 seconds and then release 5 seconds and hold at the bottom the same way. Do this 10 times, in particular, when you’ve experienced a deep rush of emotion.
7. Driving. Just get in your car and drive around, ideally with the windows down and just being, breathing and being spontaneous. You don’t need to be going anywhere in particular.
8. Journal. Journaling in the morning is an amazing way of creating space. Write some stuff down, how you’re feeling, your frustrations or even simply what you’re going through. Empty your mind and detach from any judgement you have on what you’re writing.
9. Rock out. Turn up your favorite music and dance, play, get pumped up, get moving and act like nobody’s watching. Play air guitar, sing, move your body. Live music is awesome for this, of course.
10. Take a bath. I’ve recently done these almost every day. There’s something about sitting there with some candles and some relaxing music that allows the stress of the day to melt away, chill out and re-set your body and system.
11. Walk barefoot in nature. This technique is a way to “ground” yourself and feel your skin on the Earth. Something special happens when you do this and it’s a great way to connect with our source. This is an excellent practice in the morning and while you’re in nature.
12. Take a yoga class. Yoga is for everybody and it’s a practice that can forge your mind, body and spirit in many ways. If you’re like me and you’ve been used to intense strength training and conditioning, yoga will challenge you in a very real way. I guarantee you will feel better every single time you go.
13. Find a meditation group. The other day I went to an amazing meditation class. I went in scattered and stressed and left feeling present, fulfilled and alive. The power of having a group and a guided teacher was way more powerful than trying to do it by myself. Environment is important.
14. Take a solo trip. Travel somewhere alone, “unplug” and disconnect. I did this when I went to Costa Rica and it was absolutely amazing. In fact, most travel is an amazing way to create space and the #1 self development tool.
15. Get some healing or bodywork done. Massage, energy work, acupuncture — anything in this field can be super beneficial for your mind and body. Not only is the physical regeneration an important aspect of this but simply allowing yourself to receive healing from someone else.
16. Use a cold water plunge pool. Get into very cold water and force yourself to stay in for as long as you can. There is something powerful about how your body responds to this stimulus and how it makes you feel after as well as challenging your mind to slow down and accept what is happening. A daily practice can also involve ending with a super cold shower every morning or taking an icebath.
17. Have amazing sex. As a primal, evolutionary practice, having great sex is a way to create space. Understanding and having awareness of your sexual energy and how that affects your moods and even decisions is just as important as anything else.
18. Visualize. Sit down, clear everything off and start to intensely visualize parts of your life. Maybe it’s the way your body looks at the beach, or who you want to wake up next to or any other goals. Feel them, see them, be in the moment with them.
19. Read. Reading a book with no distractions is an excellent way to create space. The best type of books are what I call “higher order” thinking, something in the realm of the spiritual, growth, “thinking” type of texts.
20. Be social. Being social, like hosting or being part of a dinner party is an amazing way to re-charge yourself. Of course, it’s all about being around the right people. A better challenge is for everyone to put their cell phones in the middle of the table so there’s no distraction.
21. Floating. If you want to spend the most efficient time in solitude and truly let your body rest in both mind, body and spirit, find a floating or sensory deprivation tank. You’ll be in a tank with no sense of time or worry and reach deeper brain waves such as Theta and Delta.
22. Improv. Find a local comedy club and challenge yourself to an improv class — even if you don’t consider yourself funny. Improv forces you to live in the present and take the attention off yourself and will reinvigorate you.
23. Send encouragement messages. There is something about shifting the attention from your life to lifting others up that changes the person who is giving (and receiving) to a new state. The key is to be authentic and tell people how you really feel, everyone needs a push.
24. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. If you’re used to rushing out of your place like it’s on fire every morning, simply wake up and allow yourself to be for 15 minutes, or do something you love. Whatever it is, protect this time and remember it’s nourishing your mind, body and spirit.
25. Dissolve your thoughts. Our thoughts, feelings, moods and emotions are ever changing. By using tools such as Byron Katie’s fantastic Loving What Is, we can let our thoughts go and reframe them as powerful tools to discover that they are not who we really are.
26. Yell, or do something primal. Yelling, roaring, jumping or simply connecting to your primal self will make people think you’re nuts — and that’s awesome.
27. Ask yourself a better question. In the most challenging, stressful period(s) of life, ask yourself: how is right now serving me? Write down 25–50 benefits and see all your tension dissolve.
There’s two keys to making this work:
Picking something you love — is first. It doesn’t matter how amazing it makes me feel, it has to be important to you.
Second, be consistent with this practice. I want to emphasize that word…practice.
In our digital age, we’ve trained our bodies and minds with non-stop phone checking, email and scattered thoughts.
While creating space will balance this out and lead to deeper thought, more connection and next level creativity, it will take some practice to get back and your mind will resist these practices.
Remember: you’re the most important person in your life and all the above is designed to help you show up in the world with more presence, power and ability to give.