Creating Space

A few mornings ago I laced up my sneakers and hit the Beachwood trail for a run. It was a perfect day for a run or walk. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, but still crisp. At my very first intersection there was a biker going one way and a truck going another. Each was politely waiting for the other to venture past the stop sign. Or so it appeared. After a few seconds the biker got frustrated and yelled “go, god damn it!” I was startled by the angry tone but kept to myself and kept going. Not too long later I was at another intersection when a car leaned on its horn with all its might, apparently frustrated that the driver in front of it had yet to step on the gas. The slow-to-hit-the-gas driver was apparently startled too and beeped right back, along with a few choice words yelled out the window. All righty then. A couple of miles along my route and I was lost in thought when a biker practically screamed behind me that I needed to move over in my lane. Fair enough; we all have to share the narrow path, but the message could have been delivered with a tad more diplomacy. Twice more on my route I noticed what I would call overreactions to minor annoyances. What was going on?

The idea of creating space between stimulus and response is something we hear about in yoga quite a bit. A teacher might tell us to feel the sensations of a difficult pose, stay, notice, breath, and let it go. By practicing this idea of confronting a situation without become reactive, at least for a few more breaths, we learn what it means to create this space between stimulus and response. At least we hope to. This is one of the gifts I’ve learned from my yoga practice. To sit with my feelings, whether physical or mental. To breath, and to take a little time – even if only a few seconds – before reacting.

Wouldn’t it be a more peaceful world if we could all learn to cultivate this kind of space? I love the idea of using our yoga mats as a laboratory for our lives. Practice on the mat, and hopefully take the lesson off the mat. This is one of the things that keeps me coming back to my mat, again and again.

By Sindy Warren