Rahima's Inner Views Blog

Posts on Creativity, Writing, and the Inner Life

Avoiding Emptiness

Last time, I wrote about Finding Quietness (and thanks for the thoughtful comments!) Yet I’m finding myself  avoiding emptiness these days. If it isn’t the To Do list or appointments or group meetings, it’s TV or Facebook or Twitter or Angry Birds or Words with Friends. I feel very modern and up-to-date with my smart phone, tablet and laptop!

But I have to ask myself, what am I avoiding? Why am I filling up almost every moment with some activity or distraction? Why am I not letting myself take the time to meditate, or work on editing the second book of my trilogy, the Star-Seer’s Prophecy, or go for a walk somewhere quiet and beautiful?

Anxiety comes up when I ask these questions. There’s that voice again, wailing “But there’s so much to do!” And I sense something deeper: a sense of terror, which was crystallized into awareness for me and many others by the massacre at Sandy Hook. Feeling this terror makes it difficult to settle down into myself, makes me want to run away to some place where kindness and beauty rule, or at least to watch some program where the good guys win.

I’m sensing another layer to my avoidance of emptiness. If I’m not doing something, then … who am I? At first this is a scary, even terrifying, question. “What do you do?” is often the first question we ask someone we’ve just met. We define ourselves so often by our work, careers, accomplishments. Take those away, and how do we know who we are? I recently saw that who I think I am is just a pile of pictures in my mind, poses and attitudes that I assume are me.

Fortunately, I’ve also learned through meditation and other spiritual practices that there’s a quiet presence underneath all my busy-ness and thoughts, poses and plans. Very simple. Very quiet. Very still. Yet present. Awareness without content. Emptiness.

From the busy ego’s point of view, this emptiness is scary. So it takes a conscious choice to let go of all the “to do’s” and go into the emptiness. Yet when I do, it’s like finally arriving home after a long, challenging journey.

Contemplation Questions

  • How do you define yourself?
  • Does emptiness scare you, or do you find it restful?
  • Do you have ways to let go into emptiness?

Here’s a poem I wrote after spending a few days alone in the desert by Pyramid Lake on a vision quest. I hope it may bring you into that delicious clarity of emptiness that I found there. (Note: the spacing is part of the poem.)

EMPTINESS

Crystal clear

Silence

Sea becoming desert

No desire

                                 Impartial    perceiving

 Stately circling stars

 Changeless cycles

Serene repose

No fear

 Endless  dance of lizard love

 Life is

Death is

Peace within

Emptiness.

 

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5 Responses

  • Jan 14, 2013

    What would happen if we went into the middle of our avoidance? Embracing it without judgement? Could it be that in an attempt to cure ourselves of avoidance, we end up strengthening the avoidance response?

    Cheryl Jan 14, 2013
    Reply
    • RWarren
      Jan 14, 2013

      Great questions, Cheryl! What would doing what you suggest look like? How do we proceed? When I imagine doing this, what I get is to embrace the fear that underlies the avoidance, to just sit with the fear, knowing that it will evolve into something new. Is that what you mean?

      RWarren Jan 14, 2013
  • Jan 15, 2013

    This title caught my eye, Rahima, since I have been paying attention, with interest, to the “empty spaces” for a while now, empty spaces left by losses, empty spaces created by clearing out what is finished or not connected to essence. Sometimes they are uncomfortable because of what you describe, defining myself by things fulfilled and established, but more and more, I feel them as spaces in which to catch new inspiration and have room for new development, as well as spaces in which to sink, restfully and with refreshment (though sometimes also with resistance and anxiety over letting go), into the timelessness and spacelessness of my merge with an infinite universe.

    BarbaraR Jan 15, 2013
    Reply
    • RWarren
      Jan 15, 2013

      Ah, yes, ‘sinking into the timelessness and spacelessness of the infinite.’ That is the ultimate blessing of allowing ourselves to welcome emptiness, isn’t it?
      And it’s so true that emptiness allows for new creations/inspirations to evolve. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here!

      RWarren Jan 15, 2013
  • Tetja
    Jan 15, 2013

    Emptiness has always been a place where I feel safe. No one else can harm me there, just a quiet space void I am able to fill with anything and untouched by past and present traumas. Thank you for reminding me of the peace I can find today, blessings Rahima!

    Tetja Jan 15, 2013
    Reply

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