Everyone seeks freedom, be it financial or simply time. If freedom is a “thing,” it is essentially a “space” — the gap that provides opportunities. Somewhere in the midst of society modernization, space was seen as waste at best and as useless at worst. If there is free time, we will do something to not waste it; if there is free space, then we need to put something there to fill it.
For any element, the atom is made up of 99 percent space with 1 percent from protons, neutrons and electrons. The fact that we need space is a reality that comes from within. In this case, space does not refer to areas with only air or vacuum, but Eastern philosophies of emptiness rather than the Western definition.
Like plants, we need space to grow. As evolved mammals, humans require emotional and mental space while some find spiritual space through religions and/or meditation. In modern society, technology became intrusive and invasive to the extent that there is little space in between us.
Physical spaces are easy to create but even easier to fill up. We love moving to bigger, but over time, we accumulate more and fill it. To train the mind to create physical spaces start by leaving an open shelf or section of a room empty on purpose. That spot will serve as a reminder as to why we need to create physical space.
White spaces and margins are known as breathing space in books and on websites. Similarly, in crowded areas where it can get stuffy, most of us will feel uncomfortable even though we are not agoraphobic. While some like the vast outdoors and others prefer shopping malls, all of us have the innate need to find sufficient breathing space and not feel suffocated.
Creative space is a must-have for writers, artists and designers. That’s why Google and design companies created specific areas for the purpose. The same holds true for the average individual — having a space allows for expressing emotions in a creative manner.
In relationships, especially with intimate partners, we need to allow each other space to grow. Everyone needs different amounts of emotional space — some need an hour daily while others are happy with an hour weekly. It is a human need to have emotional space with other people and even soul mates spend time away from each other. Partners in a healthy relationship create space between them to do their own things.
We cannot be with one person for extended period of time — even family or close friends. During confinement, when mothers spend extended amount of time with their newborns, they tend to be emotionally drained. A way to create emotional space with someone is to be away from him or her physically.
Creating mental space is more difficult because we have so many thoughts that travel through our brains daily. On top of these, we have our personal challenges, from family issues to work-related stress. But, when there is mental space, solutions and creativity flow in. While meditation is a great way to create mental space, it is not easy to dedicate 30 minutes to it daily. Although not the most optimal two-in-one method, some meditate while in the bathroom.
A good time to create mental space is right after waking up and before falling asleep. By clearing the mind purposefully for 5 minutes each time, it allows ideas and solutions to flow in. Another suitable time will be when taking public transport. Instead of playing with phone or listening to music, spend 5-10 minute in your own bubble. This can be challenging, as there is constant stimulation of our senses. Perhaps we can learn a little from French culture, by taking a 10-minute mental break during lunchtime.
In the technologically addicted society, we need to also create digital space, when we deliberately unplug. A good method for disconnecting regularly is to set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode from 9pm to 9am. If possible, avoiding the computer, TV and tablet for a few hours weekly can do wonders. The reason why we lack free time and creativity today is because we are addicted to constant stimulation of the mind and senses.
Many of us have schedules so tight that a delay of 15 minutes can affect the day or even the entire week. By allocating a 10-minute resting space between activities, you will improve your mood and work ethic because you will switch to the right frame of mind. It is the same reason why being 10 minutes early for an interview is considered to be ideal.
Spiritual space is a place to calm us down and ground us to the present moment. For some, it may be a church or temple, while for others, it can be in the bedroom. If nowhere else, a natural environment like the park or beach can help us to relax and rejuvenate almost instantly.
Travellers with wanderlust enjoy getaways as a spiritual space between present moment and reality back home. When we travel, the challenges and problems become distant while we enjoy the present moment in a new environment. This is a reason why many of us love to travel whenever we feel the need for a break.
When we create space for growth, movement and transition, it improves the overall flow in life. Even with challenges and daily hurdles, it feels more effortless when we have a sufficient space to maneuver, just like how much easier it is to walk along an empty street.