“Can you speak about emptiness?” a young woman asked at my talk. As those words came out, she circled her hands in front of her stomach, as if she was rubbing a hollow belly.
“Is it numbness or emptiness that you’re feeling?” I asked. A key distinction. Numbness is the result of being overloaded—too much pain, too much information, too much medication. Emptiness is very different.
Her response was poetic. She wasn’t stressed, or heavy about it, she was truly curious about her experience, “I feel this emptiness when I walk through the world, like the wind is blowing right through me.” Ohhh. I know that gusting.
“Well, I could be wrong, and this may sound perverse, but I’m excited for you. Because this…” and I waved my hands around my torso, “THIS is spaciousness. And it’s a powerful thing.”
“Sunyata” is a Sanskrit term for emptiness. It speaks to the concept of not having a “self”, the voidness of being. You could say it’s one of the aims of enlightenment itself, a supremely big deal. But most of us are terrified of going there.
Much of our personal and global (same thing) problems are a result of trying to stuff our emptiness—with food, power, noise, gadgets. We cram our lives with people—virtual, in-person, strangers on screens, so we don’t have to be alone. We’re raised to fill the void. Like little robots. Fill void, fill void.
But what if we rocked our emptiness? Felt the perimeter of ourselves. Relished the silence. Made friends with the peace that’s always waiting for us. What if we got off on the discomfort of our emptiness and let it be creative tension?
Maybe we’re just one mental reframe away from turning our universal emptiness into personal power.
“Because, you’re not empty. You’re full of space,” I said to the girl who was feeling the elements of life moving through her core. “Which means that you can walk around feeling like anything is possible.”
“Ohhh. I like that,” she said. “Empty, but full of possibility.”