I’ve always liked my own space. Even as a little girl I would happily do my own thing. I’ve never felt hugely comfortable in large groups; maybe it’s because I’ve often had to fight for my voice to be heard, and frequently found myself a mere shadow in the room. It’s kind of ironic considering I spend my working hours in a huge open planned office with thousands of people, and live in one of the world’s biggest cities.
I crave the sanctuary of my own space, and love nothing more than to come home to my little flat and shut the world outside. Throughout my twenties I flat shared and often felt lonely despite having a constant presence of another nearby. These days I rarely feel lonely, yet live on my own; that’s another gift of recovery. I feel more content inside than ever.
As I sat on the tube this morning on my usual commute to work, I looked around as I often do (I’ve always loved people watching). Heads down, phones in hand, ear plugs in; oblivious to their surroundings. Living in the city has made me ponder more and more about the importance of creating physical and mental space. I’m not sure we give enough time to shutting down, slowing down and pressing pause. We are constantly ‘engaging’ in something; a book, a laptop, crossword, newspaper, iPhone, social media, TV. We are perpetually seeking distraction, but from what? Why do we want to fill our space with stuff? I frequently hear friends and family saying “I’m so busy,” yet they are often the ones who are constantly updating their Facebook status. Instagram story or Twitter account.
My ultimate place to feel free is in the countryside – this is where I can make room in my head. All the ‘stuff’ that occupies my mind is only ever fully released when I’m with nature, the horses, in a huge field or by the ocean. I breathe in, let go and I’m immediately released from busyness of my thoughts. But what I’m talking about is not physical space so much, but space in our heads to ‘just be.’ When was the last time you sat on your own in silence and didn’t feel awkward about it? I don’t mean lying down, chanting or even practicing ‘mindfulness’ (which I find really hard), I mean just being in silence without distractions for just a few minutes a day. When did you last look up and notice who or what is around you?
I can’t tell you how much value I find in unplugging for a few minutes a day. I can’t say I always find it easy, but when I am free in my head from distraction, I am rewarded with clarity and peace of mind.
Given a choice I wouldn’t live in a city. I would love nothing more than to wake-up surrounded by hills, mountains, water; I’m not too fussy! The reality is though that for many of us, this simply isn’t possible – which is why it is even more important to declutter your mind.
This is not a post about ‘self-care’ which is the latest buzz word; space really is an absolute must for my sanity. I have put a great deal of effort into nurturing meaningful relationships, connecting and interacting with others, but these are only made possible because of the relationship I now have with myself. When I feel overwhelmed and tired, I’m no use to anyone, so my relationships suffer anyway. I remember many days when I couldn’t bare to be left with my own thoughts, but I now appreciate time alone more than ever.
I encourage you all to disconnect from life every now again – it is only by actively doing this, that you will ultimately be able to fully connect with life.