“Make space and let the universe fill it.”
This isn’t some new age quote but an anatomical fact from Leslie Kaminoff.
He was referring to the diaphragm and how breathing occurs in conjunction with shape change. When the diaphragm closes more space is created in the trunk of the body allowing the air from outside the body to pour in, filling the void due to the different forces of atmospheric pressure. What is even more fascinating to me than anatomy and respiratory functioning is the how spirituality of the breath mimics nature. That idea of making space and allowing the universe to fill it is something we can all experience on a cellular level the next time we inhale the breath. The sanskrit word sukkha literally translates to mean “good space” and the more sukkha we can create within the body the better the breath. Try this pranayama practice:
- Find a comfortable seated posture and close your eyes.
- Begin by simply watching the nature breath for a few minutes.
- Now on the next out breath take a comfortable pause at the bottom,
- Allow the next breath to pour in from the top to bottom…
- filling upper chest,
- mid trunk,
- and lower belly.
- Exhale slowly and completely
- Pause at bottom
- Welcome the universe in from top to bottom once again.
- Continue for 5 more minutes
As you do visualize the diaphragm as an umbrella shape expanding, opening as you breath out and contracting, closing as the breath enters the body.
On a creative level – and let me just preface this with my belief that we are all artists – if we don’t give ourselves space we block inspiration from entering our lives. I believe what we create comes from outside of us, flows in and through us as we become the artist. That simply does not happen as often or as easefully if we don’t make space in our body, minds and spirit.
I’ve recently taken a 3 week pause to make space in my own life, like the pause at the bottom of an exhale. It has left me with a sense of breathing space. As I breathe in today I’m inspired, not grasping or pulling at the breath in a muscular way but simply allowing it to move into the space I’ve cultivated to animate my being. As that naturally happens I recognize the connection or yoga between the Physical Nature of things and the Spiritual Realm. Here are some suggestions on how you can create more sukkha in your life and experience more fullness….
- Cleanse your living space. Get rid of stuff you don’t need. Whether it’s clothes, furniture, or simply cleaning out your fridge. The purge will literally leave more volume for air and leave you feeling liberated and light.
- Take a break from Facebook, a “Facebook fast”, even if its just one day.
- Take a day of silence… no TV, internet… no speaking, just a simple day to turn inward. If this is not possible, then take an afternoon or even just the time the kids are at school. Anything is better than nothing.
- Journal for 10 minutes before falling asleep or upon waking.
- Try a mono diet for 3 to 5 days. Eat the same thing; kichari is a great food for this. I will be offering several fall Ayruvedic workshops if you’re interested in learning how to make this dish.
- Make time to practice meditation every day. There are wonderful guided meditations free online. Here’s one…www.themeditationpodcast.com
- Don’t over-schedule yourself. Purposely leave time in your day for a walk, a cup of tea, a chat with a close friend, maybe even a luxurious bubble bath.
- SLOW DOWN! Stop rushing, allow yourself to wait… in the car, in conversation, to take the next breath, to think, to move. etc.
- SIMPLIFY! Stop overdoing, overworking, and become aware of where your wasting energy in every facet of your life…the way you practice yoga or work out, the way you relate to your dear ones, the way you breathe!
By creating more space in our busy lives we can live a more easeful existence that is with less stress and suffering and more freedom and light.