Between Stimulus and Response There is a Space

That space is the clearing in the forest of our life.

Forest clearing
Photo Credit: Valeriy Andrushko

Psychologist and author Tara Brach mentioned a quote and a poem in a meditation she offered recently that really moved me.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

That space.

How many times have we reacted and regretted it immediately?  We made someone feel bad, we yelled, we pressed send, we wounded with words.

If we breathe or close our eyes or count to ten after the stimulus and before the response, how might our day or year or life change?  How might our friends and family and colleagues see us?  How might that moment make all the difference?

That space is a little thing.  A little thing we can do every single day.

As Martha Postlewaite wrote in her poem The Clearing

“Do not try to save the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.”

That space is the clearing in the forest of our life.  It will allow us to be in the moment, recalibrate, decide and accept.

Creating that space is in our hands.  Our power is in our hands.  We can choose freedom, peace and growth if we take a moment to sit in our clearing.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.