For the past few months I have been practicing emptying my thoughts and detaching myself from my emotions. I call this state of ongoing detachment, living in the void, and have written two previous articles on how and why living in the void might be an effective preliminary exercise for personal change. When I started living in the void, I had a few presumptions:
- The void would naturally end, since as scientists say, “Nature abhors a vacuum.”
- I would know the period of the void would be over when I felt totally new ideas come in.
- The void would last no more than one month at the longest.
- While in the void I would have to do nothing except keep an eye on (detach myself from) emotions and thoughts.
- The void is a necessary preliminary to entering a new mental/emotional space.
Turns out I was wrong on most counts.
Only numbers 4 and 5 in the list above have turned out to be true, but more importantly, I realize that one of the things that is stopping me from “starting up again” are my expectations, re: the list above. Expectations stop us because they are necessarily are rooted in the known, while what I was wanting to experience was the unknown–some totally new path.
My ideas of what is possible and what is probable are still rooted in the “known” — what I have experienced and thought up to this point. Really new things have to be unexpected, and appear magically, or my mind won’t be satisfied that this or that idea is actually new.
So, while I have been really good at detaching myself from old thoughts, emotions, past remembering or future plans, I didn’t realize that starting up again would require a new effort on my part. What is that effort? Let me use a simple example:
Let’s say that you want to get in shape again, but since you are a natural athlete, it has always been easy for you to regain your strength and flexibility. Now, for whatever reason, you are finding it harder than ever before. Things that always were easy are suddenly hard, you feel heavy and stiff. You lack energy.
In the past, you simply remembered the feeling you wanted to have, and the feeling accomplished wonders. However, that doesn’t work anymore.
While the experience of the void may have successfully removed a lot of your old thoughts and emotions, you may find yourself running back to them out of habit and fear. You may experience emotions such as loss and regret if you allow yourself to recall what you used to have in your old life, whether successes or failures. Ultimately, you may find yourself renewing the past through your emotions–exactly what the experience of the void was designed to end.
You are getting frustrated. What can you do?
Start all over.
The way out of the void is to simply start all over again. You are in a totally new body/mind now (new reality); start slow, be happy with small victories, and focus on those things that you can do. Treat yourself as you would if you were trying to educate a small child–notice what you do well and capitalize on these good things, help develop new skills, and lavish yourself with love and praise.
A few years ago, when I was in a major transition, I kept on seeing (with my inner eye) the rotors of an outboard motor. I knew I was starting all over again, tossing out nearly everything that was familiar, learning new things, and finding wonder in the everyday. While I was good at charging ahead, I now needed to go in reverse. I was like an outboard motor; I had to first stop before I could go in a radically new direction.
Think of the movie Titanic when the captain tried to avoid the iceberg by reversing the engines; remember that heart-stopping moment when those powerful propellers had to first stop before reversing their direction? Did you notice how infuriatingly slow they were when they did finally start going again? In order to go in reverse, you have to first stop your forward motion. Then you can go in the opposite direction.
The void is the stopped motor. It can get scary to be in a seemingly empty space without all your old props–excuse the pun–and crutches, but the void requires discipline and faith. Exiting the void requires another kind of faith, a kind of humbleness–starting slow and small, and having the discipline to not allow your old ideas, emotions, or successes–which support your old reality-thought-system–to stop you from taking a new direction.
Starting over again has some really great advantages, but mainly it circumvents energy-wasting expectations. Expectations are dead ideas that can block new things from entering into your life. When you drop expectations, stay present, and relish every new sensation, you will find yourself exiting the void with very little effort on your part.
Now that you have trashed your old thoughts and emotions, and started over again, wondrous things can flow into your life, but don’t expect the leaders of countries to suddenly call you for political advice, or for six-figure job offers to start pouring in, or for your soul-mate to find you.
I once had a business card that had one of the images from my Transformational Tarot deck on one side, and the phrase, “Expect Magic” on the other side. I’d like to amend that phrase now to suit the energy of starting again, polishing it into an easy mantra for the majestic slow re-start of your engines as you leave the emptiness of the void. Don’t forget to:
Copyright 2012 Aliyah Marr