14 Jun What is Spaciousness in Mindfulness Meditation?
Take a closer look at your mind.
You will see that when you sit still, your brain starts thinking of something or the other. The mind will jump from one thought to another as if it’s on a trampoline and doesn’t have any intention of getting down from it any time soon.
Because the mind is so active, it has gotten used to being busy.
Imagine that you are cleaning your cupboard and all your clothes fall on you. Now multiply that by 10,000. That’s a lot of clothes!
You won’t be able to move or breathe. Now imagine that you were able to wiggle out of there and find a gap between two sections. Aah…air! You’re able to breathe, and you have found the strength to pull yourself out this huge mountain of clothes.
It is the same for your mind.
This is spaciousness. It is simply giving some space or a gap between two thoughts, so that you have the ability to breathe, find your center and stay calm.
When the mind is busy, you can never get an opportunity to live in that spaciousness of no thoughts. So, it is very important to do certain activities to improve spaciousness.
These activities include: 1. Visualization and 2. Mental Noting
During several courses, we encourage our meditators to visualize a speck of light. It can be any light, but let it be warm and full of positivity. We ask them to let that light expand from the chest to the top of their head. Then we further acknowledge it’s presence by expanding it from chest to all directions in the body.
This bright light can expand even beyond the body. Let it fill your house, then let it expand to your town/city, the state, the country, the earth and finally the solar system.
We then ask our meditators to let this visualization dissolve any tension from the body and enter a relaxed state. At this point of time, there is a certain gap between thoughts. Then, they will feel the spaciousness that can be created within their body. Spaciousness is a beautiful feeling of being free from a wandering mind. It is a feeling of being in the present and absolute calmness between two thoughts.
Some may ask but ” how can we feel spaciousness, if we are engaged in the visualization? ”
While we expand the bright light from our body all the way the universe, our mind is going to form imaginary pictures of the environment. The trick is to understand that we need to bring and at the same time absorb positivity from the environment. So not only is it important to develop internal spaciousness, it is equally important to develop spaciousness when we are outside.
For example, say you have a deadline and at the same time you’re stuck in a busy or noisy environment. In this particular situation, it is up to us to get angry or stay calm. It is up to us to listen to the noise or not. By cultivating spaciousness, we can push our mind to find some space between our emotions and reactions, and ignore negative thoughts about the environment.
This means to become aware of your thoughts. Studies show that the brain uses 60% of energy to do simple activities, and this percentage increases when we try to focus really hard. 80 to 90% energy is consumed as we work each day. When we are so consumed by thinking on a daily basis, it becomes really hard to not let thoughts overpower us.
Thinking is the source of a problem. Negativity is the outcome of this source.
In order to live a fulfilled, healthy, happy and a stress-free life, Aware’s meditation includes the aspect of mental noting, where we become totally aware of our thoughts and it’s patterns. It’s important because when we are asked to breathe and feel bodily sensations, we may get interrupted by our chattering thoughts.
So, we must become aware of our thoughts and you may try to label these thoughts as: memory or fantasy or critic or sad or happy, without any judgement on the thoughts or yourself. Then you will find the ability to let these thoughts go with mental noting where you simply note the thoughts, categorize them and then let it go.
Since it is the nature of the mind to be constantly chatting and forming opinions, it is becoming more and more pivotal to develop the habit of meditation so as to not fall down a rabbit hole of endless thoughts or a never-ending pile of clothes every time you open your mind’s cupboard.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.