Emptiness: the Full Story

How do you know when you have too much on your mind and have to empty it out? This is not quite the right question. Meditation isn’t about emptying the mind—that’s about as impossible to do as emptying out the ocean with a thimble. Rather, make willing allies with the mind and its myriad thoughts. Delete some, clear out the inbox, or redirect sticky thoughts down a more productive path. Ask the most tricky, sticky, icky thoughts if they’d like to sit on a shelf for a while (maybe forever). Sing them into a song or tape, or cook with them as company.

If you want to lead a full life, a life of fulfillment, fill the mind with the good calories of positive thoughts. Start to do this in meditation. Then, throughout the day, notice when negative thoughts come up, and how you can more easily handle them. Put another way, what better way to catch thoughts “coming up,” then in the quiet, non-distracting place of meditation? And if your mind (in or out of meditation) is clear of unwelcome thoughts, then skip to the end of this post.

Thoughts can be deeply entrenched and hard to uproot, but in the practice of meditation, we get to choose which thoughts we “want,” and which we want to let go of (or redirect). A mantra, or sacred sound vibration, is an example of a “wanted thought.” So are prayers and blessings. Make yourself a deal. For every negative thought, mentally repeat two positives. For every complaint, two complements. You may not be emptying your mind of thoughts, but you will be cultivating fulfillment and filling your mind with greatness.

What great thought can I fill my mind with right now?

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About sheilaklewis

As a writing coach, meditation teacher, writer, and academic tutor, I'm passionate about words and the silent spaces between words. In this context, I run book clubs and writers' groups where the resonance of carefully crafted words can spark readers and writers to share their own stories. Connecting through conversation; making memories matter; embracing editing and revision, and imaginative wordplay are some solo and collective outcomes. I came to what I call my "Meditate Write Now" practice after years of art-making, writing grants, curriculum, children's stories, and more. Meditation kept my mind from meandering too far off point and also led me to write from the still point within. May our paths cross in creative journeys across time and internet connections! Other details: My husband and I are the parents of two amazing sons and one daughter-in-law, and smitten grandparents of Micah (born December, 2013). I don't drive, and have lived in the same apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, for too long.
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6 Responses to Emptiness: the Full Story

  1. I love the concept of a wanted thought. I experienced the immediate response of the universe with just that experience you are describing when I stopped to enjoy a moment of nature and really allowed myself to one with it and felt happy instead of grumpy. Thank you Sheila for a wonderful blog.

  2. sheilaklewis says:

    Thanks Barbara. It comes from working it, we have a lot of thoughts we don’t want, so why not have wanted ones? Yours sounds perfect.

  3. merrieway says:

    So inspirational. Love the art concept… to visualize and let the thoughts become color and light.

  4. Kathleen Ellis says:

    I like the 2 for 1 concept!

  5. sheilaklewis says:

    Yes, we always like to multi-concept as long as we don’t get confused.

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