Meditation, Patience, Nature, Sleep, Mindfulness, Alone, Self Care & Saying No

Clearing Space

Leigh Johnson | 21 October 2021

We hear so much about the importance of focus, goal-setting, and having a vision in life. Whether from an individual perspective or from that of a business. Having a strategy on how to progress and move forward is a given in our modern Western culture. 


However, there is a crucial oversight to this mentality, and it is this that is costing us dearly both individually and collectively. 


This oversight lies with the perception of what ‘forwards’ looks like. Generally, we think of moving forwards as a good thing. It evokes a feeling of progression, getting better, gaining more, a sense of achievement and success. And this may be true, but it is true from only one perspective. This forwards striving has us designing our own change and growth and generally the increase of what we have already. Organisationally, it involves an increase in revenue, market share, brand awareness. Personally, it looks at increased financial wealth, influence and increased access to opportunities. There is, in this outlook, the assumption that where we are currently is not good enough and we must get more in order not to be left behind…


Even the popular word - gaining momentum in modern culture - of ‘abundance’ contains within it this limitless sense of gaining within it, if we aren’t careful to define and reflect deeply on what we really mean by this word. Abundance is a far better mindset to have than a fear-based, scarcity mentality. But, when applied and attached to the constant gaining, consumerist mentality, it invokes and actually wrongly supports the ‘bigger, better, faster’ treadmill that is costing us all so dearly. When viewed in this way, it results in that continual race towards more, with no end to this forward planning and movement, no end to the pushing towards something, no end to accumulation, no end to the ridiculously destructive pathway we are on as a species currently. 


And then there is no chance of balance, homeostasis, equilibrium. No chance of rest, reflection, healing. No chance for the emergence of truth and wisdom, which – let’s face it – we are in dire need of right now. 


The crucial question is: When is it all ‘enough?’. When do we rest, reflect, take stock, and let things emerge without continually pushing and striving? When do we release some of this ‘forwards’ mentality which is rooted strongly in the future, and let in some of the presence and ‘now’ awareness? 


This is what we see in nature with her seasonal motion. Nature is never growing and striving forwards in a ‘ spring’ mode all the time. There is also the necessity for Autumn where a clearing and trimming back occurs, and Winter where things are still and allowed to wait and rest before the busy-ness of the next seasons. 


This, for me, is where it feels like we have reach as humanity. We have stayed far too long in our spring with the constant progression forwards, exploding consumerism, and accumulation, without the clearing and reflection time. Now we are addicted to it and we can’t even see a different way forwards. And we are not willing to look – to admit – that this particular path of ‘growth’ that we have embarked on since the first industrial revolution is actually a fast-growing cancer that is killing us and everything else we impact on this planet. 


What are the symptoms of this cancer? 


Well, globally (and locally!) they include: climate change, extreme weather, war, astounding inequality, food insecurity, pandemic, economic collapse, increased polarisation & fundamentalism, political upheaval, refugee crises, global skills shortage, 4th Industrial Revolution, widespread corruption, gender-based violence…


Personally, the symptoms are: burnout, anxiety, depression, addictions, suicidal thoughts, increased withdrawal from others, deteriorating health (mental, physical, emotional and spiritual), hopelessness…


In order for us to craft a new way forward, – which absolutely has to happen in order for us to solve these intractable problems we have created - we need to clear away the old and let go of toxic patterns and ways of being that have been entrenched for centuries. We need to recognise and release old mindsets that are no longer serving us. This act of clearing and letting go is profoundly healing and brings with it increased space for something new and previously unseen. We have to let go in order to let come. 


When it seems all too much to bear and impossible to do alone, we can each go back to our own space and start making a clearing there. This is step one and it is also the most important and impactful thing we can ever do. We can, after all, only change ourselves. It all begins inside of us. We each need to ask: ‘How do I make a clearing in my life so that new opportunities, hope and joy can emerge?’


Doing this for yourself absolutely will have a ripple effect on our sphere of influence – which is usually greater than we think it is – and will start to encourage others to do the same. 


So, how can we start clearing things, spaces (internal and external) in our lives? 


Here are some ideas: 

  • Meditation/ mindfulness: clearing out thoughts, beliefs, repetitive patterns and connecting to my true self

  • Releasing negative relationships that are toxic: Spending most of my time with people that allow me to be authentic, vulnerable and that bring out the best in me. 

  • Practicing patience: Allowing some of the projects I am involved in to wait…so I can focus on just one or two and do them well. 

  • Increasing my time in nature: just being! Watching and experiencing without doing. (This might simply involve looking at a pot plant for 5 minutes every day). 

  • Unsubscribing from (most) of my online subscriptions. 

  • Eating less: Including fasting some meals and between meals so that my system can rest and heal. 

  • Clearing out my clothing: Living with less and learning about the astounding impact our addiction to fast fashion has on the world and our psyche. 

  • Sleeping more: This is how I allow my brain and body to rest, heal and process. 

  • Reducing social media drastically: Limiting the constant stream of inputs and other people’s thoughts to my brain.

  • Speaking less: So that I can concentrate on listening, deeply to what is really being said and going on around me. 

  • Creating a space of time each day to be alone with myself – early morning is the most impactful as it impacts how I show up in the day, but any time is beneficial. 

  • Practice saying ‘no’ and not feeding into my compulsion to do everything that comes my way. This is not sustainable. 

  • As often as possible, through the day, connecting to my breath. Just feeling the inhale and exhale and the spaces in between. Just notice… Ultimately, my breath IS my life and is the only thing I actually ‘have’! 

And, perhaps the most important thing we can do is to clear away the negativity and toxicity we allow into our lives, by shining the light from within that each of us has. Healing where we need to and committing to rediscovering the powerful, hopeful, loving being that each of us is at our core. Not easy work, this! But so utterly worthwhile and so utterly crucial… 


Author: Leigh Johnson