In today’s culture, it’s very easy to find things to be entertained by. And I’m not saying anything’s wrong with that! The experiences created through our senses can be pleasant, nice, or even beautiful. Watching a sunset, talking with a friend, listening to our favorite pieces of music, eating our favorite foods.
But what if we could have none of that? What if it all suddenly vanished or was torn away, and we were left alone, with nothing, nobody, nor a way of experiencing those things?
Sounds pretty bleak, right? Sounds like something to avoid at all costs! And it’s a very accessible experience, because if ever we decided to stop filling our day with things to stimulate us, then we’d fall right into the experience of emptiness. But we don’t have to experience that, because we can keep filling our lives again and again, moment to moment, with things that keep us from that emptiness.
But at the same time, there is a certain beauty to that experience of emptiness. And here is why, from my view.
Because even when nothing else is there – no input, nothing coming in and stimulating you - you are there.
Yes, when there is absolutely no input, you still remain. The one who’s receiving the input.
And why is that beautiful? Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it makes it so that even if you lost everything else, you’d still have a connection to yourself. Maybe it’s because losing everything outside yourself, or losing awareness of those things, at least, doesn’t necessarily lead you to an ugly, or bad place. It just leads you back to you. Your own little home in the world, so to speak. Yeah, you may not be perfect. You may not even consider yourself beautiful. But maybe you can see the beauty in being able to be with yourself.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s a stretch. Maybe emptiness really is something worth avoiding, but I don’t think so. Because are you worth avoiding? Not like you really can – you’re there with yourself all the time anyway – even when you’re being overstimulated, it’s you being overstimulated, feeling the overstimulation. And same when there’s absolutely nothing there. But if there’s nothing else there, then it seems like there’s nothing else to connect to, either, but you.
In any case, those are my thoughts on emptiness, and I thought I’d share them because it seems like a common experience to want to run away from emptiness, when really it’s not so bad after all, at least in my view. I just think of it as absolutely no input – and that’s not to say anything bad of the input. Just that a lack of input isn’t so bad either. And if you can be ok with being anywhere on that spectrum, well, that’s one less thing to worry about, or run from.
In other words, it can be acceptable to not be able to pull anything you desire into your life, because your life is still there, no matter what you pull or don’t pull into it. In one sense, emptiness is really about not getting what you desire, or feeling as though it has escaped your grasp, no matter how tightly you tried to hold on. This kind of experience can also lead to responses of anger, sadness, or pain – but after those emotions subside, it can leave an empty feeling in its wake. But sometimes life ends up that way, despite your efforts, so seeing a way to be at peace with emptiness may be able to go a long way in helping you to be at peace with the whole process of putting effort into something.
All this being said, I realize emptiness can be a tough thing to deal with. I just wanted to offer these thoughts on it for those who might end up there anyway, despite their best efforts, and to show that emptiness can, from a certain angle, have its own beauty to it.
Experiencing and gaining new Perspectives on Emptiness
This exercise might be a little tough, so use with caution. But for those who want to perhaps try changing their association with emptiness, following these steps might be helpful to you:
- Think about all the things in life that “bring you” pleasurable experiences and feelings – like your senses, family, friends, etc.
- Now imagine that all these things were to suddenly disappear from your life. What kind of feelings does this bring you? What kind of place inside you is it like? Notice the way you feel about these feelings.
- Is there anything redeeming about this kind of situation? You don’t need to be so quick to answer with what I shared in the article – maybe your solution or insight will be different. But if you can find anything positive here, just notice it. Or maybe you can’t right now, but that’s ok, maybe your insight is that there isn’t anything redeeming about how that might feel, but I’m not so sure. There may be at least one thing, and even if you can’t see it, at least you can recognize that someone looking at similar feelings can see something positive, even if they are crazy, at least it’s possible.
- Return to the present moment and how things really are – those things aren’t missing from your life after all, and even if it were possible, they aren’t right now.
Well, that about wraps it up. As always, thank you for reading.