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The gap that isn't there

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life.

Gretchen Rubin

mindfulness and finding space
Quiet Rituals in your day

Our days amount to a list of errands. I have to pick up that shirt … Oh, wait, groceries first … Oof, it’s my nephew’s birthday, and the only store I know he likes is across town.


For a worrying number of us, the mind is whirring from the minute we wake up. The same kind of thoughts play on repeat, every day, and I put to you that the bulk of them aren’t useful or peace-inducing.


Ask yourself this: Where is your gap? Where is your quiet moment? When are you connecting to stillness or peace? Is the answer “Never”?


Time is constrained, I get it, but to introduce a more peaceful existence—one you can feel—it needs some time, my overwhelmed friend.


Most of our thoughts are self-critical: Why didn’t I get those errands done? Why did I say that to my coworker? Thoughts arise all day long; some are silly, some have no basis, and plenty of them make our life worse when we identify them. What if I suggested that we really shouldn’t be listening to our mind most of the time?


Instead, and bear with me while I sound like a song title, we should tune into our heart. Our friends at the HeartMath Institute, an organisation that likes to bolster good emotional practice with reliable research, have something to say about it. According to the institute’s director of research, Rollin McCraty, “The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body.” He cites the results of scans that put the heart’s field at sixty times the amplitude of the brain’s.


How many times has your brain told you to do one thing while your heart advised another? Among the HeartMath Institute’s library of healthy guidance is their Heart Lock-in Technique, which functions well as a daily reset.

Step 1

Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual.

Step 2

Activate and sustain a regenerative feeling such as love, appreciation, care or compassion.

Step 3

Radiate that renewing feeling to yourself and others.


Stay in that position for just a bit and imagine moving through the rest of your day feeling ease and flow. Try this for a week and tell me how you feel


Okay, now that we’re back to ideas, consider the well-worn story of new retirees struggling with the transition that they looked forward to for decades? How I read that particular problem is through the lens of what I teach: because our overworked fellow citizens never learned to move slowly, to be quiet, or to allow space in their day, when it’s foisted on them they’re not ready.


I feel like the queen of rituals. They sustain me and they form the foundation of my business. I practice, I teach, and I communicate. What motivates me because I know it works, and because I can be of real help to a frazzled public, is the power of daily rituals like meditation and qigong. I talk about mindful movement, breathing, and uplifting emotions. Our words and thoughts are composed of energy, and moving into my body moves me out of my mind. A more relaxed body creates a more relaxed mind.


And, hey “a more relaxed mind” is the sort of fuzzy idea it’s easy to ignore, but the work I do introducing rituals seeds real change. I often start clients off simply, though. Simple breaks that fit your day could be one of these:

· a 10-minute meditation

· a nature walk

· do the HeartMath Quick Coherence® technique (those guys are great)

- Mindful Qigong Session

· journal at night

· look out your window each morning with the conscious thought of connecting to nature


Learning to pause, consider and connect with what’s around you makes for a much more fulfilling day and, eventually, life. Ask yourself where your gap is and schedule it in like you do a meeting. Watch your temperament respond to this openness and flow.


Because it’s important, we find the gap, the stillness, the quiet; we remove distractions and overthinking to come home to our body again. Despite the apparent demands of modernism, we are not meant to be on all day. It’s not normal. And yet most of us don’t know how to handle the quiet.


Okay, now you've reached the end of this article. Pause for a sec before you jump back on the train of over-doing.


1 Comment


May we all find – and extend – our gaps, our true source of life and fortitude! "What if I suggested that we really shouldn't be listening to our mind most of the time?" What a wonderful suggestion! Aho!

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