Oprah Winfrey created a blockbuster with her live web class with Eckhart Tolle, author of the book 0">0′>A New Earth. Over a million people have watched some portion of the ten-week series that highlighted the main concepts of his book. The staggering popularity of Oprah’s event demonstrates that humans all over the world are becoming aware of the need to awaken to their own spirituality. In his book, Tolle calls this awakening an imperative, given the earth’s ecological peril and the escalation of the human race’s technological ability to destroy life.
In an interview in the May, 2008 O Magazine, Eckart Tolle answered a question about how to become a non-judgmental space - in other words, how do we incorporate a sense of spirituality in everyday life. In response, he talked about bringing space, or awareness, into your everyday life. He said, "Bring those spaces into your everyday life, as many as possible….Even the busiest person has time for 30 seconds of space." (page 299)
We’ve talked about incorporating spiritual practices into everyday life in this blog before - after all, that’s what an Everyday Mystic does. Let’s examine again some ways to observe 30 seconds of space in your life:
1. Breathe. Choose a reminder to consciously take a deep breath at intervals during your day. I use the sound of the ringing telephone to take a quick but conscious breath. You might set your clock to discretely chime on the hour, reminding you to breathe. You might breathe every time you get up from your chair, get in your car, or step out on the street. I make a habit of observing my breath when I am waiting in line. Hey, it makes the wait go much more quickly!
2. Observe. Be aware of your surroundings and notice what is different. I notice the changing of the seasons, the emergence of new leaves in the spring and the shedding of them in the fall. Notice colors, sounds and people around you. One December in the past, I was working in a tall office building. While making small talk before a meeting started, people remarked about the spectacular Christmas decorations that had just been mounted in all the entrances to the building. My colleague looked up and said, "My goodness, I didn’t even notice them. I guess I should take time to smell the roses!" How right she was in her figurative allusion to being observant. We miss so much of life’s rich pageant when we sleep-walk through life. Be observant.
3. Appreciate. Give thanks for the blessings in your life, both small and large. I recently looked up while waiting in the car and appreciated the color of the red car that was in front of a dark green tree - I gave thanks for the stark contrast of the red against the green. Appreciation can be that small. Appreciation can also be transformational. A friend was on a business trip to Japan on Mother’s Day, feeling sorry for herself because she was separated from her children. She took out a pen and wrote down all the things she was grateful for in her life. She says her pity party stopped right away. "I realized I had nothing to be sad about," she wisely remarked.
4. Smile. Along with appreciating the small blessings in life, appreciate the human beings around you with a smile. It costs you nothing to smile at another sojourner on this spacecraft called Earth, and it can mean so much. Look someone in the eye and smile - yes, even a stranger might smile back at you. See if you can be aware of invisible people - such as the receptionist at work, the waiter and busboy at the restaurant, the checker at the grocery store - and make it a personal challenge to "make their day" with a sincere smile and a short greeting. Sharing a smile is a spiritual practice that bridges our illusionary separateness and acknowledges the oneness of us all.
Why should we take 30 seconds to bring space into our daily lives? Because it reduces stress, reminds us of our connection to Source, and brings us back to the present moment. This is enough for me.