“Begin from a place of emptiness”
During pranayama practice (or breathwork) we often start by emptying our lungs. This can be a great way of expelling stagnant air from our system, creating space, and preparing us for receiving fresh energy.
I feel that starting from a place from emptiness holds an even deeper meaning, and the phrase popped into my mind during my meditation practice this afternoon.
Calming the mind is the goal of many approaches to meditation, and whilst not all of us may be able to empty it completely, it is worth remembering that this ’emptiness’ could also be thought of as ‘non-reaction’ or ‘non-judgment’.
If we can rid ourselves of the inclination to judge or react to our thoughts, we can propel ourselves forward in our mindfulness practice, and help us to invite deeper levels of peace into our lives.
Non-reaction, or detachment from our thoughts allows potentially faulty or ‘surface-level’ interpretations of our world to pass easily through the net of awareness.
A net, whilst comprised of holes, has the ability to contain, but this does not mean that we should ensnare every thought that comes along, reel in each interpretation, and greedily consume the result.
We must remember the mind is always churning out thoughts. If we were to believe every thought we have as true, we would be left spiraling in a daze of confusion. We at times have contradictory and paradoxical thoughts, so by virtue of this alone, we can determine that not all our thoughts should be identified with, and we can spare ourselves from responding to everything emotionally. Once we involve our emotions, it becomes much more difficult to release our thoughts.
Without an ability to release unhelpful thoughts, we can be left over-associating with the myriad of interpretations that our mind churns out, and many of them can be harmful to our sense of well-being, delusional, or downright false.
Many thoughts are based on the beliefs and opinions of others, or perhaps are born of anxious ‘might-be’ scenarios outside of our control, or even thoughts punishing us for past events which are no longer part of us. This can create a drain on our mental and physical energies.
Much of the time our thoughts can seem troubling to our sense of self, but we must remember that they are only interpretations.
We can deal with these interpretations by first accepting they are there, before consciously deciding to not react with our emotions, then choosing to release them back into the void. We can inwardly nod at them, signaling our recognition of them as a thought, and silently wave as we wish them well, emptying our net, and preparing ourselves to receive the next.
At times, this can feel like a continual ‘resetting’ process and one that can be exhausting on first consideration, but with practice, and by always inviting our awareness back to our breath – just as with pranayama – we empower ourselves with the capacity to empty our net of whatever it is that got caught up in it.
Thus, every inhalation – and every exhalation – allows us to begin, once again, from a place of emptiness.