I was stopped at a red light the other day and found myself reaching for the radio controls. While sitting on the toilet, I noticed that I was reading the exceptionally boring insert for contact lens solution. Sitting in the dentist’s chair yesterday I started counting the number of stars in the wallpaper around the windows. Between waking up and doing my morning meditation I often feel compelled to look at my phone.
These are some of the many gaps in my day, and there’s a part of me that wants to fill them all. But I feel better when I don’t.
Of course it’s okay to listen to the radio or use your phone to get something done while standing in line. But there’s a big difference between doing these things mindlessly versus choosing them consciously; and there’s a difference between filling every moment with activity versus leaving some space unfilled. Mindless and/or constant “filling” perpetuates the habit of continuous mental engagement.
Continuous mental engagement might seem inconsequential, especially if you don’t care for the spiritual dimension of life, you feel peaceful and happy. But if you do care for the spiritual dimension of life and/or you’d like to be happier or more peaceful, continuous mental engagement will be a significant impediment. It’s a habit worth breaking.
The habit of continuous mental engagement masks the spiritual dimension. It impairs intuition. And it gives us the false impression that our mind is in charge, or even that our mind is what we are.
I welcome you to join me in letting gaps be gaps. Whenever space arises, see if you can just BE in it. Being means abiding in the here and now. Not departing, not manipulating, not judging, not filling the space.
Being is different than waiting. When waiting, we’re oriented to an outcome that isn’t here and now – i.e., the end of the waiting – whereas in being there is no separate goal. Being is also different than thinking. Thinking takes us out of being because it puts us in places other than here and times other than now.
The gaps in our otherwise perpetual mental stream are opportunities. Openings. Let’s notice what happens when we take a week to practice being in every gap. Notice the expansion of the present when you stop trying to avoid it. Notice the underlying stillness and silence. Notice the depth you drop into. And notice who you become when you allow space into your life.