I’ve recently found myself falling into some old bad habits: staying up late, taking on too many projects, and basically filling up my “free” time. It’s only February and the assertions I made at the start of the year (assertions… not resolutions) to honor unscheduled time, seem to be falling prey to the routines of old.
It’s easy to stumble into this trap, even when we’re trying to stay intentional about unstructured spaces. The American work culture has seeped into weekends, vacations, and even sick time, causing us to check email, finish up a project, or “just get to one more thing” before we can tend to our own needs and allow ourselves “unencumbered” mental space.
Yet, when I can prioritize my needs outside of those external demands and protect some time for myself during the week, my spirit seems to come alive, thirsty for a space for my creativity to run free, with no agenda, no timeline, and most importantly, no need to produce tangible evidence of “good use of my time”.
It is well documented that mental spaces free of the cognitive demands of others yield greater inspiration, creative drive, and sense of well-being. True, one needs to be committed in our culture not to give into the temptation to cannibalize this time by treating it like “emergency” or “back-up” time. Instead, we need to step outside the regimented requirements of ordinary life into a sense of expansiveness. After all, this is our life we are talking about. No one will give that time back to us. It is up to us to ensure that we take it in adequate amounts to maintain our health and our sanity.
When we are listening to our own clock, responding to our own needs, doing what is necessary in that moment to honor our deepest needs, we unlock the ability in all other areas of our lives to listen more intently to our own internal rhythms.
Often, we discover this on the third or fourth day of a week-long vacation (sadly, a dwindling practice in modern times) and feel the accompanying relief only briefly before having to prepare for re-entry to our over-committed lives. Perhaps, if we could attend to this need weekly, or even daily, we would feel less desperate for elusive time off.
This is the space that might be occupied by a daily meditation practice, a creativity practice, or a regular walk in which you remain present to the sensations of the body. Any practice that is not bound to time, and keeps you experiencing the present moment, will do.
I am re-pledging to give myself the gift of time. Perhaps it will be a few hours a week, or even a few minutes a day, but they will be my minutes, informed by whatever interests me or is needed at that time. I invite you to join me.
Blessings on your journey,
Louisa has always enjoyed writing and is thrilled that she now has a way to share her musings with a larger community of like-minded seekers. Her writing is often an extension and exploration of the struggles she faces in integrating her own spirituality, scholarly study, life experience, and nuggets of brilliance from her teachers in the hopes that it might alchemically transform itself into something approximating wisdom.