How I Realized the Value of Empty

I know that my thoughts and feelings create my experience of life. And, I am still sometimes tempted to change external circumstances to shift my experience.

I’m especially prone to this in the area of spiritual study. I tend to think if I read the right spiritual book or listen to an uplifting audio, then I will “feel better.”

Recently when neither “worked,” I called my coach. She asked me if I’d done any silent meditation or shaking (a simple body practice to release from my body anything I don’t need).

I hadn’t done either, so I immediately did both. And, they did “work.” I finally felt better. More present, more light. Now this was super curious to me because I know that my experience of life comes from the inside, from my thoughts and feelings. Yet, I had just changed my experience of life by the external shift of meditating and shaking.

What was going on?

Now that I was more present and lighter, I had more capacity to be curious without judgment. And I had a light bulb moment. When I was reading and listening to the audio, I was filling my head with more thoughts, which also created more feelings. This compounded my “problem.”

When I did my silent meditation and shaking, I was emptying. Less thought. Less feeling.

It would be easy now to think that I must do silent meditation and shaking to feel good. What actually helped me feel better was having less thought as a result of meditating and shaking.

No wonder I love trees without leaves and wide open space - empty feels good to me!
No wonder I love trees without leaves and wide open
space – empty feels good to me!

Less thought and new thought are always available. This particular time, less thought happened via meditating and shaking. How wonderful is that? And, next time, new thought might happen from noticing a billboard. Or, my thoughts might settle down when I’m falling asleep.

While we can’t control when we’ll have fresh thought or less thought, we can be grateful when it comes and gentle with ourselves until then!

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for returning to the joy of you”)

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Ann Strong, founder of Strong from Within and Thriving Coaches.

Author of Thriving Work.


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