We live in a sensory overwhelming environment. We are so used to it, that modifying it may be a new skill we need to master for physical and mental health.
As I am typing this, there is light coming from the computer screen, a different shade of light from the lamp on my desk, I can hear distant noise from the traffic outside, the TV echoing from the living room (as the kids are watching ”The Big Bang”, so add some laughs to that), I am getting new email notifications and my Skype buttons are flashing. Texts are coming on my phone. I can smell dinner. My feet are cold. Did I file those papers yesterday? What’s for breakfast? Is it too late to call my mom?
We exist and survive in a colorful mix of external and internal information, and whether conscious or unconscious of it, we are processing it all the time. Then, when we add a new stimulus, a new goal, a new task, we wonder, why can’t we make it? Why do we burn out? Why do we give up? Why do we fail our resolutions?
With the start of the new year, many of us have focused on new dreams and goals, and working towards them – you went shopping for good quality food, you’re reading a book on changing your habits, bought a new gym membership, started a new breathing meditation. That’s all well and good, but where do you fit all of this? How do your family, your roommate, your spouse, your parents, your job, your gym, coexist with your new dreams and goals.
Have you planted new seeds without securing enough soil to grow them? If you are going for ”a healthier 2013” what does that mean to your environment? As you are stepping into the new year, take a minute and evaluate where you are, where you want to get and whether your environment is fit for your journey. Do you want to sit less? Maybe you should start with burning some chairs.
Here is me.
I love to stretch. It’s my whole body equivalent to flossing my teeth. It keeps my tissues well, it allows me to move free and untroubled by aches and pains. I stretch daily. Sometimes I stretch for 5 minutes, sometimes for 105. When I stretch at home I need my mat, a couple of yoga blocks, a strap, a bolster. Those are my five star stretching experience props. I set up my mat and all props in front of my closet, in the bedroom, in a space that’s just enough for one 5.2′ girl stretching. Not even a cat could join me. That’s my space. When I go in the bedroom and close the door behind me, I walk into my world of flow, concentration, mindfulness. I can recharge a little or a lot, but I have that space.
I could have filled that space with a love seat, a couple of plants, a statue of a Greek god, another desk, a couple of armchairs, a dresser, an ancient chest that my husband’s dad brought from Borneo (we can never find a spot for that clunky piece of art). Instead that space is empty, housing only a basket full of props and a yoga mat. Sometimes I light a candle or play some jazz. I have claimed that space to be my space for regaining my health, my flow, my peace and my energy.
Maybe your personal health space is the floor of your bathroom, where you read, pray, recharge and ”hide” from your kids. Maybe it’s your kitchen, where you get lost in peeling, chopping, smelling, tasting, photographing and experimenting, delighting in the meals you create. Maybe your personal health space is a kettlebell on a patch of grass, a towel on the beach, or that side of the desk where you journal about your food.
You may think that your personal health space is your iPad, or the fitness forum where you log your successes and share your joys, and those are fine, but those places are full of stimulation, distraction, noise and interactions that don’t really let you experience your new habits and actions in the peace of your own presence. You need a space where you can observe your new skill and your new art from the inside, know how it’s making you feel and learn how to make adjustments, whether it’s peeling a carrot or stretching your foot.
So many of my clients come to me frustrated, because they made a resolution or set a goal and a week into it, they can’t stick to the new routine. I help them work out the details – the where, whens and hows of what that goal means. Taking TIME and SPACE to tweak their environment to be supportive of their dream is a big part of it. I have had some of them say: ”Just give me an year on a tropical island, with a personal chef, time, money, sunshine and maids to take care of my house and I will do great!”. This is all environment, and if you don’t have a ticket to that tropical island, you have to create some version of it here, where you are.
This week, look at your home, your workspace or the place you exercise and claim your necessary space. It can be a path in the woods that you know well, a rock you climb on to look at the valley, a corner in your living room that has your dumbbells, or a yoga mat between your bed and the closet. Then start your ritual – you will visit your health space a few times a week, remain with yourself, practice the skill you want to grow and remind yourself of your dream. That health space is sacred because it’s true soil you have for growing the seeds of your future self.
Once you claim your space, remember to inform others around you about your new habits: ”dear, I am going upstairs to do some Yoga, I will be back in 30 minutes”, or ”I will be in the garage” or ”I will have headphones on for a while, please excuse me”…
Creating boundaries for your personal health space, staying respectful of others, and mindful of the needs of your new healthier self will propel you to achieve your dream sooner, and more that that – saner and in harmony with an ever so overwhelming world.