A misplaced click makes a document disappear, and suddenly I’m in “fight, flight, or freeze. My body, mind, and focus are constricted; my ability to think clearly is disabled. I’m wound up tight.
Just below panic is the place I most often live. Tara Brach calls it “The Trance of Anxiety.”
This is also a constricted space. I vigilantly watch out for the next thing that’s going to derail me. Pressured with deadlines, expectations, and scarcity of one sort or another make me feel like I’m in the trash compactor from Star Wars and the walls are closing in.
I know I’m in the Trance of Anxiety when I lack patience or have no space for others to be different. My hands are in tight fists, mirroring the constriction I feel and the instinct to defend myself.
Anxiety is a real place. But there’s another place I live that’s just as real.
It’s where I feel “Aah!” and my hands relax in a vulnerable, open posture. This is a place of peace, abundance, and spaciousness. I taste it when I have a Saturday with nothing on my agenda or when I can finally unwind after I’ve finished a week of facilitating.
But this spaciousness is not limited to a day of the week or outer circumstances. It’s an inner reality, and (I love this): it’s always there.
The spaciousness that God gives is in the core of my being. In this place, I know that God is here, God is with me, and no matter what happens, all shall be well.
Listen to how the psalmists experience God’s spaciousness.
I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; you saw my pain, you disarmed my tormentors. You didn’t leave me in their clutches but gave me room to breathe. —Psalm 31:7-8
God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life. —Psalm 56:12-13
Pushed to the wall, I called to You; from the wide-open spaces, You answered. —Psalm 118:5
I can sink into those “wide-open spaces” simply by slowing down for a moment, taking a few conscious breaths, and remembering what’s true.
One spring, I was biking with my brother in the Okanagan. I said more than once how much I loved the rolling hills and the wide-open spaces.
“You could always move here if you really want to,” he replied.
Yes. I have a choice about where I want to live. I can choose to return to God’s spaciousness at any time.
When I reside in spaciousness I’m more able to slow down and allow ‘what is’ to be there. I’m more comfortable in my skin and more accepting of others.
I cannot choose to live in permanent residence there. I can only, in this moment, choose to return or rest there.
God stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
—Psalm 18:19 (The Message)
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Every day we enjoy the love mischief of trees.