Space with Nothing in it

by Jill Sockman

A quote from my teacher that I often share with students is “empty space is better than anything you can put into it.” A bit of unscheduled time provides an incredible release from the pressure cooker of life. It can be an experience of spaciousness and freedom that often cracks open the window of insight to see just how overly busy most of us are, most of the time. Just how disconnected we are from source. Just how far away we are from center. And just how perfect and beautiful the present moment is when we can completely drop into it.

It is a whole new ball game when the space isn’t in fifteen minute increments, or pressing into the ease of a 90-minute yoga class. I’m learning that when there is more space than filler, I’m not feeling exponentially more ease and freedom, I’m seeing that there’s way more noise in there than I thought. I mean really, I had no idea at all. (As usual). Here are some of my findings thus far.

1. I see that there is sometimes a significant incongruence between what I know to be true and what I am feeling in my heart on an emotional level. That dissonance is what one might call suffering. Or perhaps a growth opportunity. Call it what you want, it’s going to be a process to bridge that gap/chasm, and search though I may, there is no instruction manual or map provided. But the necessity of finding a way or holding the space open for the discomfort with eyes wide open is clear.

2. I’m being shown that for as much as I have worked on the voice of self-judgement, the art of doing nothing (please note that I had to correct that from my original words, the ACT of doing nothing) is really, really hard for me. Not because I can’t stop moving, but because I can’t quiet the critical voices screaming in my ear about what side of the productivity = value equation I am on. Doing something (anything) makes me valuable. Doing nothing makes me, well, not valuable. I know it isn’t true. I am 100% sure it isn’t true. But the feeling…the feeling is something different and I occasionally wonder if clicking my sparkly red heels together a few times might find me back in familiar terrain: get busy, increase your worth. But there’s knowing even there. You’re welcome to go back to Kansas, but you’ll go with the truth. As with The Matrix red or blue pill proposition, once you know, you can’t un-know. And pretending isn’t going to get you very far for very long.

3. On the other hand, I am learning what it feels like to not know in a more profound and all encompassing way than perhaps ever before. Maybe that is the point of all of this. Can you stand in grace while also not knowing? How much can you surrender? Where are you still holding on?

4. I’m reminded that faith isn’t something you get to put on like your favorite outfit- for special occasions or when the circumstances are appropriate. You have to wear it all the time, even when you don’t feel like it. Live in faith or don’t live in faith, but you can’t choose it only when it’s easy/popular/convenient. It is like a cotton jacket in a rainstorm. It is not going to keep you from getting wet, it’s more a constant reminder that you won’t melt, the rain will stop, and the sun will shine again.

5. I recognize that the approval, permission or agreement of others is not always what helps you get where you need to go; it is sometimes the cage that keeps you from taking flight. How much are you still doing to meet the expectations of others? Are you listening to the murmurings around you or the whispers inside? Addressing this question of to what or to whom are you listening seems exigent.

Even as I write this, I see a theme I did not intend. And that is how do we narrow the distance between head and heart? How do we narrow the distance between Self and Spirit?

I’m grateful that the answer is always the same, and you probably are too, or there would be a whole lot more to read. I get to these bottom line questions and the answer never changes. And it’s one of the foundational reasons I love this practice so much. Feet on mat. Bum on cushion. Attention on breath. Chin bowed with hands and heart open. Offer it all into the sacred stillness, and allow the light beyond all sorrow to bridge the gap, clean the slate, show the way.