Creating and Expanding Space
In my last Gratitude and Meditation post, Beginning a Mindful Meditation Practice, I briefly touched on the concept of “creating space”. This may be an old-news-idea to some, confusing, misunderstood or even brand new to others. Regardless of where you fall, creating space in the context of developing patience and ego-free reactions, is a skill that takes attention and intention to hone. It can be especially challenging to bring into practice in the most intense situations. For this reason, I thought it was worthwhile devoting a whole post to this concept.
I was first introduced to the concept of creating space through my decision to practice positive parenting. In a nutshell, positive parenting is a choice towards raising a family with loving guidance that is offered in a constructive way. It focuses on respect, consideration, responsibility, and discipline over punishment and punitive methods of parenting.
On the topic of creating space, through the lens of positive parenting I read that:
“In between every action and reaction, there is a space. Usually, the space is extremely small because we react so quickly, but take notice of that space and expand it. Be aware of that space that you have a choice to make. You can choose how to respond, and choose wisely because the next step you take will teach your child how to handle anger and could either strengthen or damage your relationship.” -Rebecca Eanes
When I read this, my world and all the relationships I held opened up and I felt clarity. Like so many parenting discoveries, I have found when I apply the lessons I learned in a maternal context to my greater life, specifically interactions with others, magic happens. When I began to expand the space in my daily life in all manner of settings I gained time. Time to breath, time to consider, time to check my ego and react in a balanced and positive way, if even react at all, (more on this in a future post on ego).
I learn through doing, so examples are my friend 😊:
My son went through a phase when he cut his first teeth where he bit everyone and everything in sight. “Everyone” was mostly me because we are attached at the hip. I heard from more people than I asked opinions from, “just bite him back”. However, in the space I expanded and created, it resonated that this would be a short-term and potentially damaging solution. I instead I breathed deeply. I dove into my knowledge base, sought additional information and chose a calm reaction. When babies are born the Medulla Oblongata also known as the survival centre, is the section of the brain that is most fully developed. It controls autonomic functions, among other things, instinctual behaviours. And boy-oh-boy, are our little mammals instinct driven. Like all mammals they use the tools at their disposal, (claws, and teeth), to deliver their message. Unfortunately for the ones holding them, it takes a while for them to figure out how to use their claws and teeth and what message they want to deliver with them. If I responded by biting him, in the long run, all I would be doing is reinforcing the message that this is an appropriate way to communicate when you are emotional. I would be paving this information into the areas of his mind that are hungrily searching for new patterns, the areas of his mind that are so rapidly growing and forming new connections. Instead of biting him back, I chose to calmly set him down, get to eye level and tell him, “ow, that hurt Mommy and made Mommy sad.” I chose to treat him in a way that I would treat anyone else.
In the context of adult relationships, this method of expanding space has overhauled my interpersonal relationships. As someone who use to deal with high social anxiety and replay conversations over and over in my mind, it has transformed my life. Have you ever look back at an argument and had no idea how it began? Thought about what you fought over and realized what a small thing it started over? Often true problems and conflict don’t come from the initial stimuli, they grow from our reactions to that stimuli. We have the power to leave conflict alone, to set it down and walk away down a healthier path. Expand your space and realize that no one has power over you, you control how you feel. When you do this, you realize you have the ability to recognize a sharp comment for what it is. Not a reflection of you, not anything to you. Simply just words that another person spoke in your presence. Breath into your space, expand it and find wisdom in the time you have created.
The only opinion of you that matters is the one that you have of yourself.
With love and light. Lauren xo