One of the most wonderful benefits of a dedicated mindfulness practice is the spaciousness that develops. This is not something you can currently read about in the research. After all, how would we measure it? There is probably some brilliant scientist out there who can operationally define it, but let me do my best to explain.
To me spaciousness means having room in the field of awareness for whatever is present. This requires letting go of things we have been clinging to as well as being open to things we have a habit of ignoring or pushing away. We make space to welcome in whatever comes our way. I suspect our true nature is spacious, but we clutter it up with all kinds of distractions.
When the mind is unexamined, we tend to operate from a place of constriction and fear. We avoid phenomena that we perceive as unwanted, ignore things that have little valence for us, and strive after experiences that we perceive as desirable. Through the practice of mindfulness, we begin to open, more and more, to all experience regardless of any associated feeling tone (pleasant, neutral, unpleasant).
Non-attachment is not the elimination of desire. It is the spaciousness to allow any quality of mind, any thought or feeling, to arise without closing around it, without eliminating the pure witness of being. It is an active receptivity to life. – Stephen Levine
When we purposefully attend to the present moment without judgment, we begin to see things as they actually are and we are often surprised to find most everything is workable. Each time we discover this, we gain courage to face increasingly difficult or unpleasant things. We develop a sort of fearlessness. We also recognize the impermanence and emptiness of pleasant things, which allows us to release some of our striving after and clinging to objects of desire. Finally, we see the interconnection of all things, which opens awareness to phenomena typically ignored as valueless.
There is great freedom and ease in the rediscovery of this spaciousness – a sense of abundance, inclusion, and expansiveness – at times even a glimpse of the potential for boundlessness. We feel less driven to fill up empty space with distractions and instead we allow things to come and go naturally from awareness. We become more flexible, more welcoming, softer, and lighter. Others are touched by this spaciousness, even included in it if they allow it. In this way the benefits of our personal practice ripple out into the world, spreading far beyond the “self”.
There is a presence, a silence, a stillness which is here by itself. There is no doer of it, no creator of this stillness. It is simply here in you, with you. It is the fragrance of your own self. There is nothing to do about this, it is naturally present. This fragrance of peace, this spaciousness, it is the fragrance of your own being. – Mooji