Whitespace Warriors

“Within each of us, there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are…” – Gunilla Norris


Visual artists know that whitespace in art is an essential ingredient to aesthetic composition; as important as the design elements of a piece.   Without whitespace the beauty and complexity of art can be lost.

My friend and soul sister, Pat Curran is an amazing interior designer and real estate agent. One of the multitude of times I asked her advice on paint colors she told me “the eye is drawn to whitespace. When you enter a room it is the first place your eyes will rest.” I took this to mean, our eyes NEED to rest on some whitespace in order to take in the noise of color. A clearing of the palate of our senses in order to be more engaged with everything else.

In music, the empty space between the notes is essential in creating a backdrop for the notes that make up the composition. And in our breath, the pause between the actions of inhaling and exhaling can be a beautiful, sweet still point. A time of deep rest and absolute peace.

This path of yoga that we are traveling together integrates the body and mind so that we can better navigate and gain insights around the business of being human. My human body needs whitespace second only to air. Well… I am pretty attached to food as well. Ok, I’ll keep food but bump water down the “essentials” list. My basic human needs: Air, Food, Whitespace, Water (in the form of tea, please). What I know is that my soul needs some unclaimed time when scheduling my week; especially this time of year.

Sometimes the forces of busy-ness conspire against me and offers the opportunity to know just how essential this is to me–again. For the 343 thousandth time. The first week of November was a week of back-to-back meetings and appointments, some lovely visits with friends and an endless to do list. At the end of each day, when I finally had the opportunity to relax I found myself unable to settle. When I reviewed the week, I had accomplished a lot but did not feel engaged with any particular moment; all the days blended together—I just moved through them like a ghost.

I noticed myself thinking thoughts like, “I’ll get some time to rest on Monday, only two appointments that day.” This thought happened on a Thursday—my rest was 4 days away. Seriously?   I had just taught a class that morning; the theme? Finding time to recharge and restore. An announcer in my head boomed, “…and the mindfulness award for self-care and living in the present moment goes to….”

I remember attending a seminar with life coach Cheryl Richardson 20 years ago. Her big message and challenge to us all, “it’s not what you add to your week that will make a big difference—it’s what you take away.” She was advocating white space. Empty time.

This is such a great time of year to prioritize making whitespace part of your life. Outside we can see that our world is moving into hibernation-just as the frenzy of the holidays ramps up. Our instinct is for hibernation. Our culture is about busyness, overdoing and more (stuff, sugar, drink, work, socializing).

My concept of whitespace is unscheduled time that I am not working at home (put down the laundry, walk away from the dishes), on a device of any kind, making lists or even visiting with others. Totally unplugged. In the woods; meditating; yoga by candlelight; having a cup of tea while looking at the Christmas tree; giving my full attention to some Theo’s gingerbread spice chocolate. For me, white space offers an opportunity to connect back in with self; get grounded; be still.

It is fully embracing the “being” part of the human experience rather than the “doing” bit that can be bossy and take over. “Doing” is the ego steering the ship, “Being” allows our true essence to take the helm.

This time of year, empty time is hard fought for, but can feel downright luxurious if you claim it.

What do you do to recharge? To just “be?” To claim peace during the holidays? I’d love to hear…

In the spirit of slowing down, I will meet you on the mat