On Emptiness

A common experience I encounter is that of a sense of emptiness – the feeling that “there must be something more”, that “I am missing something”, the sense of “my life should feel more fulfilling, more meaningful”.

This empty feeling is behind all addiction, consumerism (which is just another type of addiction). It’s also behind cults, religion, tribalism and the obsessive acquisition of wealth and power. This is the hungry ego in action… tooth and nail.

This feeling is most acutely experienced in such conditions as anxiety, depression and loneliness. 

But here’s the thing, this feeling cannot be “fixed” by the acquisition of stuff. There is nothing outside of you that can change this feeling in any real sense – not material things, not relationships. The most that you can hope for is temporary relief of the symptoms, but the emptiness stays essentially unchanged; if anything, it will get worse. As I said, this is the essence of addiction.

As a client once expressed so eloquently:

“I drink because I feel empty, but drinking I feel emptier”.

One could just as easily say: “I feel empty so I buy stuff which I know I don’t need. This gives me a short sense of relief but I end up feeling emptier and repeating the cycle, buying more stuff I know I don’t need”.

However, there are moments in which this sense of emptiness disappears. We escape the shackles of our consumerist mind-set; the sense of ego fades, the mind calms and we become fully connected to the present moment.  We have all experienced such moments: on an empty beach, looking out from the summit of a mountain, surfing, skiing, a perfect view, the joy of a child, an intense kiss, a loving hug, orgasm, the sound of the rain, watching leaves trembling in the breeze, eyes closed with the sun and wind on your face or when we are in full flow creating something. In these moments there is a blessed relief, a sense of wholeness, of not needing anything more to feel complete because in that moment our experience is of completeness, of bliss.

We just need to learn to get out of our own way to experience that sense of fulfilment and connection which reside constant and unchanging within us all. It is our birth right.

 Anyone can learn to live with a happier mind and a happier heart. All it takes is the right intention, the right perception and the right practice.

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