Every designer knows and values the power of white space. White space is the empty space between and around the elements on a page. It's the space with nothing in it. Although white space is made of nothing, it isn't meaningless. White space increases focus, brings more clarity and helps the important ideas on the page stand out.
White space works the same way in your world too. White space creates a context to experience the movement and meaning of your experiences. BIG Shifts, especially, are an intense training ground in which you are invited to let go of the noise and static in your world and bring in the white space.
White space is the space between your loads and your limits. It is one of the secret ingredients to go from struggling to succeeding.
So, if your BIG Shift has you feeling depleted, stressed, frustrated, and pulled in every direction, it's probably time to add in lots more white space. You'll know you're ready for it if you're experiencing:
How much white space do you need? It varies. Sometimes you need more white space in your life than you require at other times. Thresholds aren’t easily measured. But becoming aware that you need white space can help you find your own bandwidth.
Ready to add white space to your adventure? Try out my ACE formula:
Announce. Let people know. Once you tell your clients and colleagues, family and friends, it is now a commitment. By letting others know about your revised schedule and availability, you are actually helping them support you on your white space intention.
Calendar. Put it in your schedule, electronic or paper. If it's in the schedule, it's in. It's easy to let the hours blend together, but when you have specific time set aside for being in the ‘nowhere to go, nothing to do' space it's bound to occur. Even better? Treat it ALL like white space and determine the times throughout the week when you ARE available, for the other stuff.
Enforce. You've got to stick to it. No flimsy boundaries here. One of the best ways to ‘enforce' it is to change environments so that you are unavailable. When you take time off, disconnect. It's in the full commitment to the white space that the magic occurs.
Here are some ways you can incorporate more white space into your day to day adventure:
1. Lighten your load. Streamline down to the bare essentials. Give your attention to what is absolutely necessary. Pare back your schedule, take more time off. Make sure that you take a “day of rest.” Plan something that rejuvenates and nourishes you – a massage, bubble bath, relaxing music, or losing yourself in a good book.
2. Take white space breaks. Slow down and reconnect to yourself. Start and end your day with five minutes of pure white space. Between appointments, instead of a quick email check, take 2-5 minutes for white space. Use the time spent drying your hair or preparing a meal, and bring a white space intention to it. Connect with your body, your breath, or a part of nature. Try Calm, a free application that provides a meditative moment. It's also available on your IPhone. This will help you click into a white space frame of mind.
3. Create white space in your home. Use colors that invite ease and openness. Declutter your space, clear up countertops and surfaces, even walls and furniture. Creating a “white space” in your home can help make your home more relaxing, more comfortable and more yours.
4. Cut down on the noise. It might be the noise in your inbox, or from well meaning relatives and friends or even shutting off the radio while your driving and playing some soothing tunes. Feel into the places where there's static and bring in some space.
Creating consistent white space is, at first, a practice. Eventually, it becomes your way of being. If you give yourself permission to relax you will find that you can create a lot out of nothing. White space anyone? Let me know how you create white space in your world in the comments below.
Remember when you were a little kid and had a thousand questions? Boredom was out of the question! Your mind jumped from one exploration to the next, hands and feet scrambling behind you. Your insatiable curiosity about the world enraptured your every moment.
Think of any great scientist, innovator or genius. The common trait found in all of them – which led to their discoveries – was curiosity!
What if you engaged curiosity as a way of navigating your BIG Shift into your BIG Leap?
One of the problems encountered on the transformation adventure is trying to make sense of what has occurred through your mind. And being too much in your head can stop the flow of your creative expression. Curiosity is one way to use your intellect that actually frees, instead of constricting your creativity.
Engaging curiosity means you are open to investigation of yourself and the world. You open to your natural inquisitiveness, which frees you from your preconceived beliefs. When you begin to investigate and ask why, a world of wonder opens up.
According to studies on curiosity, there are also lots of benefits:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
Did you know that the human mind is hardwired to respond positively to curiosity? Here are some ways you can add it to the mix:
1. What If? This is one of my favorite self coaching devices. Step back from the surface view of your BIG Shift and curiously question everything about it. “What if this was the only way I could have made this move?” “What if this ‘bad thing' is really serving me?” Curiosity melts resistance.
2. Find the unfamiliar in the familiar. One way to become more curious is to intentionally circumvent expectations, labels and assumptions about “seemingly” familiar activities and events. It’s easy to prejudge an activity because we think we have seen it before or avoid an activity entirely because we expect it to be boring or unpleasant. This same little experiment can be applied to any activity in your life. Consider the list of low-interest, but necessary, activities in your typical day. Choose one of these ho-hum activities and, as you do it, search for any three novel or unexpected things about it. The goal of discovering the unfamiliar in the familiar is to suspend judgments and attend to how things are, not how you expect them to be.
3. Do some free flow writing. Let your mind run loose! Start writing down your questions. Sometimes the more curious you become, the more the questions can freely flow out of your head onto paper. When you get your mind out of reactive mode, and get curious, your mind reacts more positively and can intuit more out of the box solutions.
4. Engage Your Subconscious In A Conversation. You don’t like being judged, and neither does your subconscious. However, most of us do like it when you ask questions about us and engage us in conversation. This is exactly what you do to your subconscious when you get curious, you engage it in a conversation. Go ahead, have a chat!
According to Mihaly Cskikszentmihalyi, psychology professor and the author of Flow, there is a direct relationship between your attention and your interest in the world: Nothing is interesting to us unless we focus our attention on it. Crystals are not interesting until we begin collecting them, people in the supermarket are not interesting until we become curious about their lives and where they are going, and cars are not interesting until we need to buy a new one. According to Csikszentmihalyi, we can develop our curiosity by making a conscious effort to direct our attention to something in particular in our environment.
So, I leave you with this Curiosity Challenge. Test Csikszentmihalyi’s theory in your own life today. During those times when you are struggling, tired or unstimulated, focus your attention on something that ordinarily might not engage your interest. Notice how much effort you need to expend to focus your attention. Is it worth it? Is there a trade off between being frustrated and being interested? I'd love to hear what you discover, post below.
Are you experiencing whiplash from the rate of change and yearning to find your own oasis of peace and presence?
BIG Shifts invariably take you down the road less traveled. The adventure of constant change can often prove far more stressful than you bargained for.
What if you could access a peaceful pool of presence in your everyday moments? What if access to infinite inspiration were within a moment's reach?
The greatest gift you bestow upon life is to fully and unabashedly own the light and truth of your own being. This doesn’t mean you are perfect. Quite the contrary, this sense of you is the fullness of your being. It is a pulsating rhythm, a heartbeat, that lives in this moment. It moves through you and is not ‘you,’ at least not the personal perspective of you.
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. Thich Nhat Hanh
Presence isn't something you learn. It’s a discovery, an authentic expression of your true being. It is a nowhere to go, and nothing to do kind of experience. Your power, your presence is already here, perhaps momentarily forgotten. It is merely a remembrance, a ‘welcome home.’
Here are three ways to remember:
1. Turn off the auto pilot. Take your routine, every day activities and turn them into opportunities for presencing. It could be doing the dishes or driving the car, feel every action as if it were the first time you were doing it. Focus on the feel of every movement until you are in a state of heightened awareness.
2. Tune into the ‘feel’ of your presence. Get intimately familiar with who you are being. Feel the primal energy of you lining up, amping up, propelling your being into a powerful, vibrant, kinesthetic symphony of beyond the edge sensing and infinite knowing.
3. Open to Divine Downloads. Shift from horizontal to vertical awareness. Your mind works in the dimensions of the past and the future, a horizontal orientation. To be present and totally aware is to be in a state of spaciousness, dropping your intellect. This doesn’t mean you drop into a deep slumber, it is simply a move into a depth of understanding and perspective. When you move vertically that is a movement of consciousness, which is awareness.
Something so simple and so profound gifted to yourself, and thereby, to all changes everything. As you allow the truth of this moment to touch you, it ripples through everyone and everything that you touch. Today, honor the sacred presence of your being and so gift it to one another