We understand clear communication with others prevents and resolves strife in our lives. Maybe we’re not always great at it, but we understand it.
But how often do we think about how well we communicate with ourselves to avoid and resolve that same conflict within ourselves?
Between rushing to get ready for work, hustling through our day, taking care of errands and watching television or cracking open a book before bed, where do you make time to listen to yourself and recalibrate? To plug in to determine if your actions during the day serve you?
When we fill every nook and cranny of our lives with noise – TV, internet, people, sounds – there are a couple side effects.
- We feel tension – in our shoulders, jaw, in that crinkle between our eyebrows. Maybe tension shows up in the way we treat people or shallow breaths. This tension is tangible. It reflects the fact that we aren’t in alignment with ourselves. This lack of alignment can also be described as a lack of integrity within ourselves. And that’s because,
- Without taking quiet time to ourselves, our minds don’t have the chance to process what’s going on in our lives. We don’t have a chance to connect with ourselves and think about whether what we’re doing – how we’re showing up in the world – reflects who we want to be.
I caught myself out of integrity this week.
I thought it’d be a good idea to try listening to audiobooks. I could listen to Brene Brown to and from work, while I was washing the dishes, and before going to bed…
I could become more in touch with my feelings on the go, right?
The problem was that I was scratching out all my white space.
White space is that space your brain uses to process what’s going on in your life. That time each of us needs to plug into our feelings.
I noticed losing white space almost immediately. I cut into my sleep because I listened to the audiobook longer than when I would usually have placed a physical book down. Which led to less relaxing sleep. Which lead to me waking up later in the morning than I would usually. Which threw my entire day out of whack.
You get the idea.
I basically filled every nook of my life with sound and gave away my white space for two days, and it had a negative effect.
I gave up the audiobook (and the “fast track” to enlightenment) to regain my sanity.
White space is crucial to our sense of self. If we don’t make time for quiet contemplation – away from phones, televisions, audiobooks – then we aren’t giving ourselves an opportunity to enjoy life much less create a life we’ll love.
How do you know if you need more white space?
Picture this: you wake up to your alarm, put it on snooze a couple times, then get up. You turn on the radio to catch up on the news while you get ready for work. You run out the door and turn on an audiobook or listen to music on the way to work. Once you’re at the office, you’re go-go-go until lunchtime when you manage to scarf down lunch while checking Facebook and email (for the 10th time today). Once you’re day at the office ends, you zoom home or grab drinks with friends before crashing on the couch to take in the Voice or Scandal. You check your phone (again) and read a few pages of the latest Danielle LaPorte book before you fall asleep.
If your day is anything like this, you’re in need of white space.
How do you make white space in your life?
The good news is that there’s LOTS of places for you to make white space. Take away time from your phone (the horror!), television, and even reading. Cut down on multitasking by eating lunch without the computer or phone in front of you. You see where I’m going: eliminate the background noise you turn on while you’re doing something else.
What do you do with white space once you make it?
Once you see where you’re robbing yourself of white space, you can replace those habits with a new ritual. One that allows you to connect with yourself and observe how you feel.
In the morning, your mind is at its calmest state. Instead of jarring yourself awake with a blaring alarm and losing precious time by hitting snooze, create a morning ritual you’re happy to wake up to. This may mean sleeping a bit earlier or placing the alarm in an adjacent room, so you force yourself to get out of bed. Do what you need to do to commit to savoring your morning. Savoring them instead of slamming head first into them is so much more enjoyable.
At night, we have the opportunity to reflect on what happened in our day and let our mind better process things during sleep. Instead of vegging in front of the TV, consider turning it off or eating dinner in silence. Think about your day. What went well? What could have gone better? Take this time for quiet (and non-judgy) observation. This down time before bed has the added benefit of helping you sleep more soundly.
You can also choose to use this newfound white space for meditation. Sit up tall, close your eyes and observe your breath flowing in and out through your nose. Your brain will naturally bring thoughts to the forefront of your mind. You can acknowledge them and (gently) tell them that you’ll think about them later, then refocus on your breath. This is another way to take advantage of your white space and let your mind process events.
Not into meditation? No problem.
Consider taking the 21 Day Tea Ritual Challenge to get you started. It’s totally free, and it’ll give you ideas of what to do with your white space.
Whatever you choose, creating white space paves the way for a more balanced you. You really can’t do it wrong.