Emptiness

Emptiness is something that not just our patients, but also a lot of people feel at one time or another in their lives.  One of the ways I’ve learned to work with people who come in with a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness in their lives, is that we’ll sit. We sit quiet for at least five minutes and we pay attention to their body, where they feel (the emptiness).

Sometimes there’s actually a hole in their body. “My heart feels empty or my gut doesn’t feel anything”, or maybe they don’t feel their whole body. They come to be in relation to their physical experience and then to explore the emotions…

There’s emptiness, but with it there might be grief or sadness or actually fear or anger – all kinds of other things.

We begin to name what’s there around it. There’s the story, “Oh, this will last forever; nothing has any meaning; I’ve felt this for so long.” We begin to make all that conscious.

Then, what becomes interesting is to say, “All right, now that you’ve explored and described this, let the emptiness get bigger. Let’s sit and practice together this attention, this deep mindfulness, and let the hole, the emptiness, and the meaninglessness grow.

Let it fill your body. Let it fill the room. Let it fill the whole world if it needs to – even the universe.” Some will get frightened and say, “If I let it get bigger, I’ll be lost. I’ll never come back.” That’s true with anger. If it gets bigger, it will just kill everything. We’ll say, “Let’s just try it. Let it, in your imagination, grow as big as a wind storm, as big as a tsunami – however big it needs to be.”

When you allow (emptiness) to open, at some point, it changes. It shifts from being a contracted deficient state to being spaciousness in which…it turns into its opposite. There comes an experience of the space that contains everything and allows it. There comes a kind of well-being. If we resist it, we are identified and it feels small, but when things open, there is a remarkable shift.

When contraction around desire opens, you let yourself feel all the desire there is and let it get huge. At some point that desire becomes a desire to express, to love and you feel this tremendous abundance in life – you feel connected.

It’s the same with emptiness – it opens from a personal emptiness into a glorious emptiness and that is the space from which everything is born.  I trust this process of the reversal of experience (from the small or contracted to that which we can inhabit and connect) because I’ve personally experienced it and seen it over and over in people.



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