October 1, 2015

Mind the Gap.

Author's Own
When I lived in England, I took the tube everywhere.

When you board the train, an intercom will remind you to “Mind the Gap,” which is just a charming English way of saying, “Hey idiot! Try to not fall into the hole between the platform and the train!”

A mindful life encourages exactly the opposite.

When we sit still and become aware of the breath, we notice that there is both an inhale and an exhale. Pay closer attention, and you’ll see there is also a tiny pause at the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale, too.

You don’t have to force this little pause to happen; it’s already there.

You probably just haven’t ever noticed it before. Once you become aware of this gap, you’ll see how quiet and peaceful it is there. And this is an oasis of calm that is always available to you. You don’t have to lose weight to find it. You don’t need an advanced degree to notice it. You simply have to pay attention.

Falling into this gap between each breath will lengthen the gap between thoughts in your mind. And in this mind gap, some pretty freaking coolness happens!

Have you ever been going about your day—maybe pouring milk over cereal or riffling through the mail—when you get a twinkling that the moment is bigger and more important than it seems at first?

There is a profound shift of awareness. Your body might buzz a bit, and the moment might seem hyper-realistic, like you had just slipped on a pair of glasses and your vision adjusted to high def. Sometimes it shows up as Déjà Vu. Sometimes you feel like Life has hit some metaphysical pause button, and time slows way down or stops completely.

That is God awakening in you.

Yup. Divinity lives inside of you, but you’ll only notice it in the gap. When you meditate consistently, you cannot help but awaken to all the miracles around you every day.

When you start looking for the gap, you’ll notice this sacred pause exists everywhere.

It’s the pause in music, with an anticipation of the next note to come. It’s the tiny moment at the highest arc of the swing, where you are suspended, transcending the laws of gravity. It’s the stop sign, reminding us to stop and pay attention.

It is in this gap that we learn to respond to our lives—instead of mindlessly reacting all the time. It’s our internal reset button.

Now, I differentiate between spirituality and religion.

You can have divinity without theology. God may show up to you in the church pew, but She’s just as apt to show up as the homeless man panhandling for money. Or as the bird that builds a nest in the tree outside your bedroom window. Or as any moment that arises—be it ever mundane.

I hear God everywhere these days. It’s more that since I started meditating every day, I have deepened my sense of awareness and understanding to the point I can’t not see miracles everywhere I look. When you have a consistent stillness practice, you spend more time “in the gap” between thoughts. As that gap widens, you create space for holiness to arise.

The most spiritual experience of my life happened not in church, but in Nature, where God is evident everywhere.

I was lying on my front porch on an early August morning, an hour or so before the sun rose. I lay on my back to stretch and watched the stars. There was a half moon and the stars looked like God had poked a million holes in the sky and then turned on a halogen lamp.

We don’t have streetlights or houses near enough to ruin the moment with light pollution, so it was just me, the interstellar sky and the crickets singing the one song they know on replay.

I was lying there when my body started to buzz and a feeling of mild euphoria and hyper-awareness washed over me. Within the context of this ordinary moment, something extraordinary happened. I felt transcendence flow through me.

Rather than making me feel small and insignificant, seeing the far-away galaxies made me feel greater than I was—an absolutely crucial thread in the fabric of the universe.

I felt Divinity course through me. And then I realized I was in the Gap, and started thinking my way out of it. Was I hopped up on endorphins from my woggle? Had I had too much coffee? It was at this moment that a falling star streaked across the sky.

In actuality, a falling star is a meteoroid that burns up as it falls into Earth’s atmosphere, but the term “falling star” is perfectly apt. This celestial light show was clearly Divinity reminding me to stop over-thinking the experience and take it as the miracle it so clearly was.

So I would encourage you to take advantage of these gaps.

Start looking everywhere for gaps in the world. Look for gaps in your thoughts, in your breath and in the space between you and what you perceive as solid.

Then start noticing how these gaps create space for moments of holiness in your life.

When you take time for the gap, you’ll start mindfully responding to life rather than mindlessly reacting to it. After the gap, life resumes. But you are so much more present in that life.


Relephant Read:

Finding Space: A Meditation.


Author: Erin Smith

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Author’s Own


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