Only in emptiness can we be truly creative and imaginative.
Like an empty teacup or a blank sheet of paper, emptiness is unlimited potential. In emptiness, literally anything can happen.An idea, a scribble, a masterpiece, a to-do list, a mind map. It’s when clutter and noise and distraction fill us up that there is little room left for greatness. So if emptiness is so great, how come we don’t all achieve more of it? Because emptiness is really scary.
Ask any writer staring at a blank screen “how do you feel?” Writer’s block is total sweaty-palmed panic. An interesting analogy can be made between emptiness and the color white. White is not color. It is the absence of all color, ie “empty.”
The Japanese character for white is this:
It turns out that this character, or pictogram, is based on the original image of a skull. Imagine for a moment the feeling you would get when stumbling across a lone skull on a barren landscape in ancient Japan. Bleached by the sun, wind, snow and rain, this lone skull, stark white, gaping up at you, is a blatant reminder of death. White, or emptiness, is death. It makes sense now why emptiness is so scary.
We feel our mortality.
However, white is also opportunity and life. The color of sustenance-giving milk the world over? White. The color of every single kind of egg, whether a bluejay or a snake? White. White is life. Potential. Opportunity. Pulsating energy. Emptiness is life and death. Living with and striving for more emptiness is scary, but also incredibly rewarding. The hard part is in doing it.
I believe that as we increase the emptiness in our lives, life actually gets better. Emptiness leads to increased awareness, creativity, communication, health, and effectiveness.
10 Ways to Blissful Emptiness
- Wake up and admit it. Emptiness is scary and challenging. But also totally worth it.
- Get rid of clutter, static, noise. Take everything off the desk. Stacks of mail, magazines, books and bills just all get dropped in a box and dealt with later. (Sometimes procrastination is good.) Turn off any music (and of course TV). Be alone and quiet for a bit.
- Wake up early. The previous day’s worries aren’t so present after a long, good sleep. Emptiness is easier with a refreshed mind and an empty desk and quite surroundings. Arising early, before the day’s pandemonium begins, cultivates emptiness.
- Turn off distraction. Phone gets powered down. Email and web browswers closed. Social media and alerts shut down. Make it a ritual to shut these things down, knowing that the coming empty, disconnected state is going to be scary but awsome.
- Get a sheet of blank paper and keep it next to you for random ideas and inspirations. The head stays empty when you can jot down things that arise.
- Use the breath as the base. Good breathing = good thinking. Follow a few deep breaths to start things off, and as you get off on tangents or distractions, just come back to paying attention to the exhalation.
- Notice time. With every breath, and every meandering thought, realize just how much time there is. There is plenty of it. Expand into it.
- Take breaks and reward yourself. Allow the flow to occur, but also recognize that it’s good to stand up and stretch, get some tea, go for a quick walk, eat something. This isn’t a marathon or boot camp, so use balance.
- Use gratitude. When you feel stuck, focus on one great thing in life. You’ll find that more good things come to fill your reality.
- Remind yourself again, emptiness is scary, but it’s also really good.