Most of us spend a good part of our day with others, be it co-workers, clients, family members or even other commuters on the freeway. Noise and confusion are constant companions. A recent survey of 2,000 Americans reveals that the average “me time” is 43 minutes per day. Does that sound about right in your world?
So maybe the goal here is not to try and steal hours away from your business and family life. A more effective strategy might be to look for the places and spaces that revive you. A “place to go” that is all yours is vital to creating a healthy inner life. Sounds good, right? But sometimes that place isn’t where you expect. Here are five ways, from conventional to oddball, to find your private place in the world.
1. A sacred “mini” space for healing. This can be literally one of the shelves in your closet or armoire. When I lost my younger brother and then my sister within two years, I went on autopilot to survive the grief. My friend/therapist encouraged me to find a small area in my house for remembering Garwood and Gaby. For me, it was my clothing armoire. Fragrant candles (unlit), a couple of photos and a fragment of paper with Gaby’s handwriting adorn the shelf. When the armoire door is open it creates a privacy barrier as I pause. A few years have passed but I still rely on my sacred shelf for comfort.
2. A place with no sound but your heartbeat. Noise pollution is a real problem and when you think about it, your day is rarely silent. Plugging your ears might sound childish, but it’s really a desperate attempt to keep your brain rested. Consider noise-blocking earphones or well-fitting ear plugs, turn off all electronic devices and sit or curl up for a soundless time out.
3. Turn your back. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of rearranging furniture to get the privacy you need. Consider your desk or your favorite reading chair. Is it right in the middle of a room used by the rest of the family? Is the TV close by? Moving your desk to a different wall or in a far corner can make a significant psychological difference for quiet contemplation. And even though we like to see our loved ones, it might work better to “turn our backs” to help shut out distraction.
4. Transition from car to world. Start padding your travel time a little bit more, to allow for a five or 10-minute pause after parking. This is actually a very valuable habit for two reasons. One, it gives you time to complete your smartphone tasks in a quiet place so you can really concentrate on that important text message or catch up on voicemail messages. Two, it relieves you from the temptation to glance at your phone while driving. Knowing you have a break coming soon keeps you focused and calms your mind.
5. The backyard she shed. The she shed is all about building a detached room of your very own, a sacred space in the back yard. This is the ultimate way to reclaim sanity in an increasingly noisy, crowded and demanding world. You can do this if you have a back yard and the will to see it happen. Whether you rehab an old playhouse, buy a modest tool shed at the home improvement store or have a custom shed built just the way you want it, the result will be same: That private space will make your year.