“What you leave out is just as important as what you put in.”
During a conversation I recently had, I was reminded of this powerful statement I first heard when I was in college for art.
I realize now that this principle can and should be applied to all of my life, not just to art. What we choose to leave out of our lives is essential to living well, just as much as what we choose to leave in.
It seems to me that today, most people pursue filling their lives. Filling them with relationships, things for their houses, tasks, knowledge, people, lists of things to do. It appears that we have ended up thinking that a full life equates a successful one.
How did we wind up here?
When I reflect back on my life, I can certainly find evidence of me buying into this belief.
In my 20s, I was focused on finding a partner and in my desire to fill that space in my life with a relationship, I made some choices that didn’t serve me or my partner. When I allowed some space for myself to be single in my 30s, I met the man I eventually married.
In the early days of teaching yoga, I felt the need to fill up my mind with as much information as possible so as to feel authentic and real in my work. Now, mainly through circumstance of being a mother, I have spent more time reflecting and practicing rather than training and reading, and it’s been enriching. It’s not that I don’t value other people’s thoughts and knowledge, it’s more that I’ve come to realise the beauty of what can come from space not filled with it.
I can also see this in my social life. For years I used to fill it, thinking this was how to live well, to feel connected, to feel valued. Now I am more careful about how much I fill my schedule. I know I need space in it, space in between activities so I can be on my own or quietly with just my family.
In that open, free space, things can grow.
I think all of us, from time to time, should take a few moments to reflect on what space we have in our lives. Space between our tasks to rest, space in our social calendars to be alone, space between relationships to remember who we are on our own.
We should also take time to recognise what resistance, if any, is arising around making space for ourselves in our lives. Taking time to look at what we leave out of our lives as well as what we put into them can help us to understand ourselves better and find greater balance.
Through this reflection, I came up with a new definition of what yoga means to me: Yoga is insight into space. Insight into our own space, space in the physical body, mind, and heart. But it’s also insight into how we relate and conduct ourselves in the physical space around us, our environment, our world.
I hope you find some insight and some space in your life soon. Hari Om Tat Sat.
Author: Helen Moss
Editor: Callie Rushton