There is a limit to what each life can hold.
Historically, I packed my life to the brim—full of activities and obligations.
Ironically, I always felt like I wanted to stuff in a bit more.
I was constantly on the verge of suffering from burnout because it was just too much. Sound familiar?
In each of us exists an empty space that never entirely gets filled up.
This is the longing in life that never goes away.
In Portugese it’s called it saudade.
It is an emotion to be enjoyed like fine wine or aged cheese.
It is described as an emptiness, like someone or something is missing and the individual feels this absence.
This void can be an uncomfortable place.
In my busyness, I was classically “filling the void.” Yet unsuccessfully.
My life was being overrun with unhealthy “fillers.” Refined sugar, endless social engagements, useless activities.
Much of the struggle in life comes from trying to fill up this hole—in an attempt to be whole.
All sorts of stereotypical vices can be used to fill this emptiness—alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food.
Other, more subtle, things can be used to fill the void. A common “filler” for me was excessive talking and interrupting. This literally “filled” the empty parts in conversation.
Which was good for me, but not necessarily others.
A good friend pointed out how selfish my interrupting was. I was constantly running over him in dialogue. Which was neither polite nor fair.
Something had to change.
I began a regular meditation practice.
This is where I’ve learned to sit in the fire with my emptiness. Meditation helps me feel comfortable, literally sitting in this void.
It comforting—feeling the spaciousness of the empty part inside myself.
Meditation helps me feel at peace with the void. The perceived discomfort of being empty is really not so bad after all, when I practice spending some time there.
My past suffering, from filling the void, was simply my perception that feeling empty equated with being incomplete.
When I practice meditation, I accept the emptiness in myself and have no desire to fill it up.
There is a certain freedom to sitting in my own fire.
Meditation has taught me to let go of the struggle to fill the void—to just relax and be content with myself and the situation as it is.
And it works.
Now, when I meditate before social engagements, I really do interrupt less. I get cozy with the emptiness of staying quiet and let others enjoy the limelight. I’m participating in the discussion rather than filling the empty space with excessive chatter.
“Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.”
~ D.T. Suzuki
Author: Ashleigh Hitchcock