Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
– Lao Tzu
This week I experienced emptiness. True, physical emptiness. It was grand (well, it was grand after it was miserable). My emptiness occurred out of pure accident. Food poisoning (PC term: Food born pathogen), left my husband and I in, eerr… a rather precarious state for about 36 hours. I’ll spare you the details, except for the glorious feeling that I had once the trauma was over.
Physical emptiness feels enlightening to me. In part, this is because I really rarely allow myself to feel it. Hunger is uncomfortable for me, so I’m always rushing to fill its need. Yet here I was, able to survive on little but tropical fruit (the only thing I wanted) and bubbly orange water and ice for nearly 2 days. Once I felt better, I felt truly refreshed – like I’d been ‘reset’ by some divine force of nature. It was refershing to allow my body to NOT have food it it and to allow my mind to NOT think about food.
Physical emptiness is also enlightening because it creates internal space. Not just physical space, but emotional space. Lying on my back, with little energy to do more than watch HBO movies and sleep, I could think in a way I’ve not given myself permission to do in a long time. I could think without boundaries, expectations, deadlines or pressure. I allowed my mind to be idle. I wish that I could tell you I devoted some of my illness time to deep meditation or even journaling, but I didn’t. In a way, this is my journal entry of all those feeling that fed my spiring during my hiaitus from life.
You all have heard me say, in one form or another, that my relationship with food often mirrors my relationship with life. Of late, I’ve been cramming it in – food and life. Going too fast, expecting too much. Not allowing space for emptiness or freedom from the ties that bind. So nature found its own way to set me right again. It dawned on me that it had been a long time since I simply thought about doing creative things just for the sake of them, or since I just took a walk for a reason other than to boost my cardiovascular health or that I allowed myself to rest, to just be. Why do I forget how essential these elements to life really are?
So, I’m going to thank my period of emptiness for helping me resent my mind and body, and for reminding me of how far off the mark I tend to get. Happily, I found myself eating much less today and appreciating what I did eat for what it was -a nourishment to my body and spirit instead of something to soothe my worrisome soul that has been overworked and under played for the last 8 weeks (School!).
We live in a time where emptiness only comes when we get ill or we deliberately seek it out through fasts or cleanses. How lucky are we? Fortunate yes, but also I think we miss out on something really powerful that only happens when we do go without, even for a short while.