SoulCare® Practices

Lingering in "the space between"

I recently found myself standing in front of my refrigerator, door open, staring blankly at its contents. In the minute it took me to walk from one side of my kitchen to the other I had forgotten what I needed from the refrigerator. In the space between realizing I needed something and going to go get it, I lost my sense of purpose. 

There are many moments like this in our day to day. Moments I am going to call “the space between”: seconds passing between our experience of something and our reaction to it. These moments usually pass quickly because we react using our instincts or function on autopilot, like touching a hot surface and pulling our hand back as quickly as possible.

We are wired this way for survival. Consider the example of touching a hot surface, only this time your reaction time was longer. What if instead of moving your hand away immediately, you took a few moments to reflect on the pain to decide if it might do some damage before finally removing it from the hot surface. By the time you decide on a reaction, you end up with second-degree burns. 

Aside from reacting to danger, I believe, there are times in our days we need to turn off autopilot mode and linger a little longer in the space between.

Wait. What? Linger? Yes, you read that correctly! 

You may be telling yourself you don’t have time to linger. You have too many things to do. You need to be more efficient with your time, not less. If that's you, I get it. I have the same voice in my own head telling me to do more, faster, and with less.

However... There is a counterargument to these voices: when we bring more mindful awareness to moments in our day we experience a greater sense of well-being, increased joy, and connectedness.

Humans have a conscious self. Our consciousness interprets the world around us. It makes us both the observer and experiencer of life. For example, you get ready to go to work and, on autopilot, you grab your keys and your jacket and head to the car. What if you took a moment to linger a little longer in the space between your front door and the car to appreciate the beauty of the budding spring colors, smell of morning dew or look up to acknowledge a neighbor? By observing our experience more closely we allow our conscious self to connect to our physical self and the world around us. We integrate all parts of ourselves. 

Dr. Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, studies how mindful activities that practice open awareness activate and connects different parts of our brain regions. Studies show an integrated brain is tied to greater well-being. Some of the many benefits are improved cardiovascular health, decreased inflammation, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, and increased resilience and interpersonal skills.

Consider what it would like to take a short pause now and then to be fully present in the in between spaces. In these moments of transition from one moment to another, we can discover greater wisdom, beauty and meaning. We just need to linger a little longer. It can be a more formal practice of mindfulness or simply more fully experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells around us that we take for granted in the rush of the day. Forte Connections can offer a similar pause between day-to-day tasks where you can share and reflect on the moments past, present, future, and everywhere in between. The space between may be where we find we are most fully ourselves.