Making Space for New Ideas

Written by Alison Gurevich

Over the weekend I painted a room so we could move the office in there from the room just down the hall. Just one year ago I painted the first room our agreed upon office color and we sort of moved everything in. But we never really moved into the space. We used it, but never really settled into it. Much of what should have gone in there was still in boxes.

Changing the use of a couple of rooms was a weirdly big and hard decision. We moved into this house a year ago and knew it the process of deciding to buy a two-bedroom home that we needed to put an addition on it before we could really move in. In all of that planning and designing we had committed not just to the structure of the house but also to a specific usage of each part of the house. Ahead of rooms even existing we had to know what it would all be for so we could know exactly what we were adding and how much to add. That was a lot of commitment to both form and function.

Now, a year removed from those decisions I sat in that office once again pondering why it just didn’t seem to work. Did we need to ditch the furniture and start over? Was there some way of rearranging the furniture that would magically solve the rooms weird overstuffed feel? Why was the room so full when it was not even unpacked?

Was the room too small or were we thinking too small?

In building the addition we took a phrase I had often heard in my yoga practice and turned into a very physical reality. We tasked ourselves to “make space for something new”, but we ended up just making new space. We constructed a very real space for something new. Then we moved right in and started using all those spaces for the same old things in the same old ways.

After yet another lengthy, detailed conversation rehashing every possibility we could come up with within those four walls I suggested swapping the room with another. Both rooms are rectangles with four walls. The new room is larger but the biggest difference is where the window is. The placement of one window was what was keeping the other room from working. We went through the options yet again then committed to the swap.

The new room worked immediately. It has a sense of ease, like it was made to be this room in this purpose. That might sound dramatic, but how you feel when you enter a room tells you something if you are listening.

The same applies to my yoga practice – how I feel when I enter a shape tells me something if I am listening. Sometimes the window is in the wrong place. Sometimes I’m looking to fix how a shape feels with what seems like every option but I’m making no progress because I’m still limiting the options I’m considering by thinking small.

In our vinyasa asana practice, we create space in our body before and as we enter the shape. We rise, and then we fold. We extend, and then we twist. We inhale for length, we exhale for depth. We create this space knowing we need it where we are going. But sometimes we are too attached to that one vision of where we are going to feel if that is the right space for us to fit into.

So this week, both on and off the mat I’ll be listening deeply to what my body is saying. I’ll make sure the window is in the right place, and that I’m not so focused on looking at an idea contained by just four walls to open the door and look at the other rooms I could be using.

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