Void. Nothing. Numb. Missing. Ache. Bored. Lonely.
These are feelings that we often describe along with the word "empty." We are often fearful of emptiness. It's a thing that most of us would say we don't wish to experience.
In one of my first Buddhist meditation experiences, they were talking about the experience of non-self, as if this was the ultimate goal of spirituality and meditation. Immediately, me: "uhhh, not what I signed up for, y'all." I'm here for being more in touch with myself. I'm here for finding out who I am at my innermost, not for whatever non-existence craziness y'all are talking about! I'm here for fulfillment. Definitely not emptiness.
I think that we think of emptiness as empty of happiness, of joy, of love. But I'm not sure we can ever be empty of those things. When I experience emptiness, it's empty of the exhausting swarm of thoughts, empty of to-dos, empty of shoulds and why-did-yous, empty of anxiety, empty of shame, empty of ego, of striving, of judgment. And into that emptiness, like air into empty lungs, floods silence and peace. Divinity, if you like. A different kind of energy.
Then exhaling again fully, and noticing where in the body you most feel the sensation of emptiness. Breathe deeply into that space, imagining that the feeling of emptiness would grow and expand as you inhale and exhale, emptying more and more space inside of you. Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, eventually you clear out the whole space occupied by your body - you are embodying this feeling of emptiness. Allow the emptiness to flood your mind as well. Noticing the space and silence between your thoughts, and then allowing that space to grow. Sit silently, noticing your experience of emptiness.
I would love to hear from you! Share your experience in the comments, or email me!
For another perspective on emptiness, check out my discussion with Brett Bagley of Purple Treatment Center and Sober Adventures in Be Well ATL podcast episode Hollow Bones.