One week recently was especially busy for me. Every day, there was not only the usual 8 hours or so of work, but there were meetings of one kind or another, or extra projects at work that required staying longer, driving to additional locations, and a few hours of prep work beforehand so that the meetings were actually productive.
I found myself, as I often do in a crunch like this, beginning to cave in on myself. The mental world I was operating in became smaller, tighter, more impossible to move around in. Mental breathing became difficult. Everything that happened, even the usual things, began to feel like disasters.
Then, in the midst of this, a moment of grace: could I be joyful about each one of these tasks that were still in front of me? Just the question seemed to open up some space inside of me. The truth was that each of these meetings, tasks, preps that I had to do, were things, in themselves, that I wanted to do and enjoyed doing. It was just when they were all jammed together that they began to feel like a burden. They had become jammed together in the inner spaces of my mind. Each time that I began to feel a little anxious about the week, I stopped and invited myself to consider doing each task joyfully, and again, each time, the space expanded and I felt less pressure.
Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Sumedho talks about this phenomenon in “Noticing Space:”
“Noticing the space around people and things provides a different way of looking at them, and developing this spacious view is a way of opening oneself. When one has a spacious mind, there is room for everything. When one has a narrow mind, there is room for only a few things.”
There is harvest of space that is ours to make.
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What a lovely and provocative post, Bob! Definitely sharing this along to friends who are feeling overwhelmed this time of year (and taking the advice myself, as well)! 🙂