Making room for emptiness
How are you?
In contrast to the lockdown months, I’m finding life more hectic than ever – the roads and streets are busy and our family diary is full of activities and events. While I wouldn’t want to return to lockdown times, I do miss the stillness and silence.
In our culture we seem to value ‘doing’ over not-doing (or ‘just being’). Often our ‘doing’ is habit or routine, carried out without reflection, almost as if we’re half asleep.
When we manage to strip away our habits of moving, breathing and thinking – ‘going through the motions’ – we can be awake to the present moment. As we ‘empty out’ we notice what arises (sensations, thoughts and emotions). We watch these things arise and we watch them disperse, like ripples on a pond, returning to stillness.
A goal of the yoga tradition is to experience emptiness. When you hear the word ‘emptiness’ it may conjure up thoughts of something bleak, desolate, lonely and lifeless. But in yoga, emptiness equates to openness, potential, receptivity. And emptiness (pure consciousness) is something far from lifeless – it’s a totally alive, vibrant stillness that’s full of energy.
When we make room for emptiness we can notice what arises from the stillness at the centre of all our ‘doing’. In the words of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we can ‘rest in our essence nature.’
As the Christmas frenzy starts to build, you’re welcome to join me for a rest from all your habitual ‘doing’. Sometimes in class we move, sometimes we’re still. We’re always shifting sensation, thoughts, emotions, energy (which are all different aspects of the same thing) to shake off those habits that get us stuck, weigh us down and cloud our perception of the world around us.