There's nothing quite like a wide open sky or the endless expanse of an ocean view to create the sensation of spaciousness within my being; clearing my mind, opening my heart, and expanding my spirit.
Neither of which are readily available in Toronto, a city blanketed by streetcar cables and at least a thousand kilometers away from the nearest coast. Instead, we've got an abundance of towering trees and a Great Lake pretending to be an ocean. Both of which have provided me with much solace. But it's not the same. Not nearly as mesmerizing as that endless Arctic sky that I spent two years living under, nor as cleansing as that salty sea breeze that 15 years of Pacific coast living, and a childhood of Atlantic coast summers, provided.
Toronto has been my home base for 9 years now, and my love for this city has grown exponentially but so has my need for spaciousness.
Implementing a daily meditation practice has helped. Leaving the city on a regular basis, into nature, has provided me with some much–needed reprieves. But these days, that doesn't seem to be enough.
So I've begun exploring and experimenting with ways to incorporate more spaciousness into my daily life, within the city, within each moment.
Here's what seems to be doing the trick:
YOGA. Every time I bring awareness to my breath, creating expansion in my body by breathing mindfully, while stretching and opening, I access that sensation of spaciousness.
UNPLUGGING. Taking breaks from all forms of social media on a regular basis (blog post on this coming soon!) has created so much more space in my life for contemplation, inward looking and listening. Opening me up to the expansion of my being and bringing awareness to my heart's desires.
ANIMALS. I've always had a deep love for animals, for their presence, their honesty, and their lack of judgement. Spending time with them brings me into the moment, into the NOW, which is the most spacious place to be.
MUSIC. One of my absolute favourite medicines! Music has the ability to transport you, uplift you, move you, and create expansion in your life.
QUIET/STILLNESS. I can't speak to this enough. Sitting in stillness, quietly observing your environment, whatever it may be, is the simplest way to create spaciousness in your life. Pausing for 5 minutes, sitting and listening, is so good for your central nervous system and essential for wellbeing. Read this article for the health benefits of doing nothing.
My need for spaciousness stems from a schedule that's a bit busier than I'd ideally like and a life that has been moving at a rapid–fire pace for a few too many months in a row. Implementing these five tools on a regular basis has allowed me to maintain some much–needed balance throughout the turbulence of my life.
So if your plate is full, if your life feels overwhelming, I encourage you to create some healthy pauses in your day. Try out any or all of these five tools and see if they work for you, or experiment with your own ways for creating spaciousness. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you. I promise.
Fragments of Iceland from Lea et Nicolas Features
Top photo, taken from my window seat on my flight home from Northern Baffin Island, NU 2014