Yutori is a Japanese noun for a sense of wellbeing that arises by living with spaciousness. I discovered this in the podcast: On Being with Naomi Shihab Nye.
Spaciousness is not very common in our daily lives, as we go from one thing to another, we barely give ourselves space for a break let alone allow for the spaciousness to simply be where we are.
Yutori is a valuable concept that we could cultivate in our lives to deepen our sense of wellbeing. Have you noticed in rare moments when there is a random gap in your schedule, or perhaps you must wait in line for something, we tend to fill that space by checking our phones? But what happens when we allow that space to just be a void of nothingness? We discover that it is not a void at all, space is pregnant with presence.
When we allow ourselves to just be in the spaces in our lives, we become present to ourselves, to our surroundings and to others.
Have you heard John Cage’s composition 4’33”? I discovered it recently while reading Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise. Here is an excerpt that moved me and inspired me to write this blog:
“Cage famously wrote a piece of music, titled 4'33", that consists of nothing but four minutes and thirty-three seconds of rest. The point wasn't to give the piano player a break. It was written for an open-air concert hall in Woodstock, New York, with the objective of bringing the audience's attention to the sounds of cicadas and the breezes in the branches. Later, when the piece was performed at indoor venues, the audience would take in other environmental sounds: the scuffling of feet, the clearing of throats, the detestable unwrapping of butterscotch candy. But the idea was always to use the music as a vehicle to expand people's attention to what's happening around them- to get people to consciously tune in to their surroundings.”
Spacious presence allows our nervous system to let out a metaphorical sigh. You know what I mean? Give it a try, close your eyes and take a deep breath in, letting it out as…
Yutori allows us to stop living in our head and notice that we inhabit a body, and this body of ours inhabits a world.
Are you someone who rushes from one thing to the next, barely arriving before you’re leaving again? Perhaps you feel like you never really arrive, your feet never really touch the ground, your mind never really inhabits the space that you find your body in. How many of us feel like we are just getting through the day so that we can rest in bed at night, and even then, we aren’t sleeping as well as we would like to. This feeling of living on a treadmill is an unconscious habit that we have adopted, and it is up to us to unlearn this habit. It is up to each of us to consciously create more spaciousness in our lives to breathe, to settle, to just be.
It’s the most beautiful feeling, like being child full of wonder and delight at nothing in particular, just existence. So simple and yet so profound.
“Real time is slower than social media time, where everything feels urgent. Real time often includes periods of silence, reflection, growth, space, self-forgiveness, processing with loved ones, rest and responsibility.”
– Adrienne Maree Brown
The next time you plan your day ahead of advance, try scheduling in an hour more than what you think you need so that there is no need to rush, so that you can take your sweet time.
We need time and space absorb our lives, it’s no wonder we feel so malnourished. Our small intestine is the site of absorption, do you know how much space we need to absorb nutrients? Roughly 7 meters. Our small intestine is roughly 7 meters long, that’s a lot of space to allow for optimal absorption. How much space do we need to absorb information? I am betting a whole lot more space than we are currently getting. Have you ever heard someone say something big, deep or painful and then feel a jolt in your gut when the space was filled immediately after with someone else’s response? We know instinctively that big things need space and time to absorb, to drop, to land. To be honoured.
Big things need space. Our lives are big, we need space.
Without that space we are not fully digesting all the information, we are not fully honouring the bigness of life, we are not allowing ourselves to be touched by the tragic tender beauty all around.
Yutori gives life the dignity it deserves, without it everything can seem meaningless because nothing is truly seen, felt, heard, absorbed and acknowledged.
Listen to our latest YUTORI meditation to have your own felt experience of it, to take your sweet time, to arrive, to land, to take up space, to breathe, to sense, to be.