This—this practice, this time of year—is liminal space. The space in between. The gap, bardo.
If you look, if you listen, there is a gap, a moment of still silence in everything.
Between the mantra is the breath. Between the mantra and the breath is nothing: stillness, silence, no sound, no breath.
That nothing is something may be the hardest thing to understand.
I watched my niece count out gourds on my mother’s coffee table recently, and my mom said exactly that.
One at a time, six gourds came out of the basket, and one at a time, six gourds went back into the basket. Zero! My niece proclaimed, spreading her arms up and her hands out wide.
I looked at my mom. She counts zero as a number too? (She’s two and a half.)
She does, my mom said. Zero is a very hard concept for children to grasp: that nothing has a value.
That nothing has a value is a very hard concept for children to grasp?
Yoga could be understood as an entire system of understanding the vast fullness of nothing—the layered richness of the gap.
I spent a lot of time—this entire past year actually—facing the vast, blank field of Nothingness.
Every artist knows the psychic terrorism of the proverbial blank page. Nine years ago, while I was still working at a large law firm, I woke up every morning to a large blank white canvas on the white wall of my studio, directly across from my bedroom. It was powerful, and it was terrifying.
That was my entire year.
It began with two experiences of an empty, open field of possibility.
Every question I asked about my work and my business was answered with Silence.
“I woke up this morning with an emptiness, an openness—an almost permeability,” I wrote. Nothing had any definition.
This was not right. This was not comfortable. This was not Me.
I was directional. I had a sense of things.
I left Atlanta at the end of May with no sense of either what I was leaving or what I was embarking upon.
I remember looking out the window at the scenery as we traveled, thinking, I have no idea who I am.
It was like not only did my work cease to have any discernible edges or form, but because of that, so did I.
And yet, I did not cease to exist.
I was there, climbing mountains and snapping photos, making camp and writing.
And, in a real way, I was more myself than ever.
I just had no discernible direction upon which to set or define myself.
And that is the gift of the gap.
It is the field of possibility from which everything is born.
Every creative seed begins in this incubation of dark, still silence.
And we skip right over it. It terrifies us.
Do not skip it. Do not turn away. Something grows there. Even if you do not yet know what it is.
If you’d like to have an experience of and with Nothingness, I invite you into the final days of our journey Into the Void. CLICK HERE to join us.