Monday, November 2, 2009

Negative Space

Here we are, trying to create more authentic, spiritually rich and peaceful lives.  We are doing the best we can.  Some days are easier than others.  Some days it is really difficult to maintain a positive outlook or a serene inner landscape.  And it's really no suprise:  We are confronted with hundreds of anxiety producing messages and images over the course of a day from sources such as the news, television, radio and internet.  We all know (or perhaps are) people who are habitually cynical, anxious, negative, depressive, angry, worried, paranoid and destructive.  We might even tell ourselves, "It's just easier" to keep watching, engaging or initiating negativity than it is to disengage.  We might be so utterly habituated to our own Negative States we cannot imagine behaving any other way.  It might feel easier to continue to deny the truth than to take a step toward change.
But is it really easier?  Taking one step toward change is easy.  We only have to take one step at a time. We don't have to go the whole distance today.  What are the long term health effects of anxiety?  How does cynicism help deepen your relationships?  Is habitual anger or paranoia really easier to deal with than taking time to notice beauty or cultivate healthy relationships?

We are all easily distracted from our goals to do, feel and be better.  The state of being distracted is a Negative Space, as are the negative states I mention above.  If we are really going to get anywhere on our quest for wholeness, we are going to have to make some new choices about what kinds of input we agree to allow into our environment.

We can't change other people, but we can change how we respond to them and we can make certain changes to our environment in order to generate less Negative Space and therefore more opportunities to pursue the positive things and states we truly desire.

How much time do you spend in Negative Space?  Simply begin to note how often you actively, passively, silently or vocally spend time worrying, complaining, telling negative stories, gossiping, angry, repeating fear-inducing news or judging yourself or others?  How often do you engage in Negative Space by entertaining someone else's negativity?  How often do you seek out alternatives to the negavity on commercial television, radio or internet?  When we begin to recognize how much energy we are giving over to Negative Space, then we will have a place to begin clearing it so as to open the way for Positive Space.

11-6-09. This week we've observed ourselves and even taken some action to move away from Negative Spaces as they arise in our environment. But what about the negativity which arises, unbidden from within? What about the running commentary on our ineptitude, insecurity, fear, shame and guilt? That's not as easy to turn off as the television. It's not as simple as walking away form a conversation you don't want to participate in.

Or is it?

Today, tune in once in a while to the commentary in your mind. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself? Are you feeling accomplished or anxious after completing that task? Are you comparing yourself to others? If you heard someone talking to your best friend the way you talk to yourself in your own mind, what might you say to that person?

When you find yourself slipping into negative self-dialogue, stop. Take a breath. Really slow down. Come all the way in to your body by following your breath. In that stillness, say to yourself, "I am sorry. I didn't intend to be so hurtful."

You may want to talk to someone about this experience. It may feel overwhelming for you--this tenderness and forgiveness. You may want to write in your journal or comment in this one.

When you apologize to yourself for being so hard on yourself, a space opens up in you. Where there used to be self-derision, there is room for beauty. Plant a seed. Breathe into that.

Each time you find yourself slipping back into habitual negative self-talk, stop. Apologize. Breathe into that seed of self compassion. Watch. Something glorious will grow there. This I can promise.

11-5-09. Today, we are going to take all this observing one step further. Today, choose one or two Negative Spaces to disengage from socially. It might be a choise to take a long walk outdoors or read an uplifting book or engage with different co-workers on your lunch hour. It may mean gently turning a conversation toward the positive rather than getting hooked in to someone else's drama. It might mean confronting a gossip or complainer once and for all, saying something like, "I really think that person has a lot of positive qualities," or "I have a different way of seeing that than you do."

Where can you begin to make choices for positive change rather than slipping into habitually Negative Space?

If you get scared or if you feel overwhelmed and shakey after disengaging from a socially Negative Space you usually engage in, take some time to breath and release all the places in the body where you are holding the tension of that fear/overwhelm. For example--let your breath open your chest, fists, jaw and buttocks.

We are learning here. Change involves action. Wishful thinking alone will not change anything. But, thoughtful action directed toward creating more positive spaces . . . just this one subtle move creates ripples, waves and even tsunami's you might not have expected!

Be proud of how courageous you are!

11-4-09. Today, begin paying attention to the social traps you fall into that drop you into Negative Space. Perhaps someone is gossipping, complaining, whining or just generally negative. How does that affect you? Do you slip into their space--allowing them to affect your mood or emotional state? How much energy do you give over to them? How much time? Does an interaction with a negative person or people take you a minute to overcome or hours? How do you shake that energy off of you? Or, do you just hope it'll dissipate on its own?

Are you attracted to the intensity of Negative Space? That is, do you find yourself drawn to converations where people are generally expressing unhappiness and slipping right into that groove? Or does it repel you?

Today, simply notice. If you find yourself beginning to judge yourself, your emotions or motivations, simple take a few deep breaths. We are only observing. In observing the Self in all our parts, we gain the knowledge necessary to being working toward positive transformation.

11-3-09. Today, can you commit to spending one hour doing something positive which will increase your Life Force Energy? Some suggestions are: Read inspritational writing or poetry. Put on your headphones and really listen to music. Go for a walk in nature. Gaze outside at the just-past-full moon. Turn on some music and dance. Call a dear friend or sibling and catch up. Get down on the floor and play with your kids.

There are two catches to this Daily Commitment. First, the activity you choose must not already be on your To Do list for the day. Second, it must take the place of an acitivity you usually engage in which saps Life Force or carries you into Negative Space.

Some examples of activities you might want to replace: Watching television. Randomly surfing the internet. Drinking alcohol. Engaging in conversations which erect Negative Space (gossip, complaining, worrying).

Are you up for the challenge? One hour out of twenty-four where you spend the entire time allowing yourself to enjoy Positive Space and increase your Life Force.

Ready? Go!

11-2-09. Today begin noticing the time and energy you give over to Negative Space. We are not doing this so we can then be negative toward ourselves. We are taking inventory and naming how we make use of our most precious commodities: our own Life Force/energy and time.

Today, it is enough to simply take note. It's not necessary to try to do or change anything. You might only be able to follow through on this for an hour or two. That's okay. Do the best you can!

1 comment:

k. sequoia said...

I truly feel that more than ever, we battle this Negative Space. Apparently, we love to be challenged! ;> The bane and boon of our current age is the Internet. Awareness and pure cr*p can be found & fed to us in an instant, like never before.

And I strongly agree -- being in a constant negative state has been proven to be very bad for the body as we are kept in a constant state of flight or fight mode, wearing down our adrenals. What does this do to our energetic bodies, as it strives to compensate? The medicine of the future will emphasize the energetic aspects.

From a shamanic perspective, I know that the more of our parts we call home and honor, the better able we are to create and live from Holy space, and not wallow in the Negative.

Love your writing!

Kim Sequoia