Do you ever long to just be left alone? Do you ever find yourself saying I just need some space? Does the phrase ‘Stop the world I just want to get off’ ever resonate with you?
I know I answer a deep heartfelt ‘Yes!’ to all of these questions.
I get over whelmed easily if my social diary gets too full, if the days are too busy, if I spend too much time with other people at the expense of time on my own and yet it is not easy to admit to the need for my own company, my need for time out from the routines of life, my need for space.
Time out for good behaviour.
We are all familiar with this saying. The idea behind it is that we reward ourselves with our much longed for, precious ‘time out’ ONLY when we have completed all, or the majority, of the things on our seemingly endless list of things that must be done. ‘Time out’ is seen as a reward for good behaviour. But what if our usage of this saying is all wrong and we’ve actually got it all back to front?
What if time out for good behaviour actually means that we need first and foremost to experience ‘time out’ in order to allow ourselves time to behave in ways that are different to our normal ways of behaving? This might mean having ‘time out’ for quiet reflection, to catch our breath, for meditation or just to relax and be still. In this way time out for good behaviour isn’t a reward for being good but a crucial and important way to connect with our own innate goodness, our own inner ‘good/god’ self.
I believe that our need for ‘time out’ is so much more than a need to withdraw from people. It is a need to connect with our own inner spaciousness. The word alone is often misunderstood - it is actually two words ( all one ) rolled into one. To be alone means to be in the place where we are all one, to be whole and reconciled to the Oneness at the heart of life.
We need space because we are space.
Scientists tell us that we are composed of 99.9% space. There is so much more to us than meets the eye. We are all energetic beings and at any one time we are composed both of energy that is unseen (i.e. empty of matter) and energy that appears as solid matter. The energy that is unseen is our spirit energy. Spirit energy is our own inner spaciousness, it is the non-material aspect of our being, the life that we are as opposed to the life that we have. When we can connect with this spacious part of ourselves we find that our lives are enriched with some wonderful qualities - gentleness, peace, joy, love, calmness, kindness and an enduring capacity for inner contentment. These qualities of spirit are vital to our health and well being and yet many of us still find it hard take the ‘time out’ that is necessary in order for us to experience these qualities on a regular basis.
Why is this?
Some of the reasons may lie in our need for acceptance, affirmation and approval. For instance if I tell my husband that I want to be alone there is a fear that he will read this as meaning that I don’t want to be with him. If he does this he may judge me, he may misunderstand me, and in his fear of being abandoned he may lash out in some way and hurt me. He may even leave me.
If I decline a social engagement because I just want to stay at home and have a quiet night in I run the risk of being labelled anti-social, a kill joy or a party pooper. Again I may meet with disapproval and rejection.
Our need for space and ‘time out’ can appear to go against the norms of a society that dictates that we stay busy filling our lives with endless activities. Many of us were warned as children that the ‘Devil makes work for idle hands’ and so at all costs we must avoid being unoccupied out of fear of being labelled idle or lazy or shirking our responsibilities. Further more people who prefer a quieter life are often viewed with suspicion and can be scorned and misunderstood by a society that places a high value on social interaction. Often we are judged by how many friends we have and how often we socialise with them – a full diary implies that we are popular, liked and accepted; that we are approved of. All too often in life we can end up conforming to the norms of society out of the sheer fear of being ridiculed, scorned and judged negatively by our peers and those people who are important to us. Striving to fit in and be accepted we can often neglect our need for our own company.
Often if we do manage to carve out some time for ourselves we rarely allow ourselves the luxury of just sitting still with ourselves, of just being here, present to our own lives; of feeling what it is to be alive. Instead we fill this time with activity - hobbies, games, TV, reading. We may take time out to think, to analyse our thoughts, to try to understand what is happening in our lives, to reflect on life and to reach some conclusions about what may or may not be the next step that life is asking of us. This can be a good use of time but it is still using time to achieve something and is not the same as just taking time out to be with what ever is arising in the moment.
When we truly give ourselves the gift of space what we are doing is just allowing ourselves to feel our own spaciousness; to feel the space in which our lives are lived. This is the greatest gift we can give ourselves for it helps us to come to the realisation that we are more than our physical bodies, our physical sensations, our thoughts and our emotions. These are all transitory things that come and go in the spacious energy field that is who we are at our most deepest and profound level. The more we can sit and just be with ourselves, without demanding anything of ourselves then the more we can begin to identify with this spaciousness as being a part of us and not something that is ‘out there’ and separate from who we are.
The life that we have is a gift given to us. This life that we have is not who we are – it is given to us and because we receive it this means that there is a part of us that is beyond this life. We are in truth both the giver of the gift and the receiver of it. Yet without taking time out, without giving ourselves the space we need we do not realise that we are more than the life that we have.
We are more than what materialises as a life; we are spirit too and connecting with this spirit is the one most single healing thing we can do for ourselves.
Practising what I call intentional solitude is a good way to begin to feel the spaciousness that lies at the heart of our lives.
You might like to try this simple procedure.
The opinions I express here are my own. However I offer them with the word 'syat' next to them. 'Syat' is a word used by the Jain Tribe in India which means 'To the best of my knowledge SO FAR.' In the spirit of openness I invite comments from anyone whether you agree with my point of view or not. In this way we can all learn and grow together. Thank you.