What you leave out is just as important as what you put in

May 9, 2017

I was reminded during a conversation today of a statement I heard at art college 'What you leave out is just as important as what you put in'. I realise now that this principle can and should be applied to all of my life, not just art. 


A wonderful women Toni Roberts talked at a training I was on last year and she said 'Yoga is insight'. I was captured by this and sat with it for a while and then added a bit on 'Yoga is insight into space'. Insight into our own space, space in the physical body, mind and heart. But also insight into how we relate and conduct ourselves in the physical space around us, our environment, our world. 


It seems to me that today the pursuit of most people is to fill their lives. Fill them with relationships, things for their house, tasks, knowledge, people, lists of things to do. It appears that we have ended up thinking that a full life equates to a successful one. How did we wind up here?

When I reflect back on my life I can certainly find evidence of me buying into this belief. In my twenties I was focused on finding a partner and in my desire to fill that space in my life with a relationship I made some choices that didn't serve me or my partner. When allowed some space for myself in my 30s to be single I met the man I married. 


In the early days of teaching yoga I felt the need to fill up my mind with as much information as possible so to feel authentic and real in my work. Now I have, mainly through circumstance of being a mother, spent more time reflecting and practicing rather than training and reading and it's been very enriching. It's not that I don't value other people's thoughts and knowledge, it's more that I've come to realise the beauty of what can come from space not filled with it. In that open, free space things can grow.


I can also see this in my social life. For years I used to fill it, thinking this was how to live well, to feel connected, to feel valued. Now I am very careful about how much I fill my diary. I know I need space in it, in between things to be on my own, to do things quietly just with the family or on my own. 


I think all of us from time to time should take a few moments to reflect on what space you have in our lives. Space between your tasks to rest, space in your social calendar to be alone, space between relationships to remember who you are on your own. And also to recognise what resistance is arising if any, around making space. Taking time to look at what we leave out of our lives as well as what we put in can help us to understand ourselves better and I believe to find a greater balance. 


I hope you find some insight and some space in your life soon. Hari om tat sat.


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