Leaning Into Emptiness

I had the chance to spend last week in the beautiful mountains south of Lake Tahoe in California. I decided to spend the entire week painting. Just paint, journal and take walks (ok, I admit, I posted a couple pics on Instagram...). 

A lot of good came out of it. The main one being FOUR new paintings (to discover very soon - stay tuned).  I also had the opportunity to deal with emptiness... 

What I mean is: the more I let go of the things I kept around to entertain or distract me (habits, things and relationships), the more I meet EMPTINESS (*add Hitchcock's movie soundtrack).

Emptiness not as a state of lack, but as a space of "blank", devoid of emotions and thoughts to keep me occupied in my little world. It's quite disturbing at first. Like realizing I've been sitting with my coffee in silence for an hour and didn't even think to check my Facebook (I must have looked like a psychopath!).

This emptiness started appearing while I was painting. When I paint, usually I'm fully with the color I'm applying, the line I'm tracing. That happened with my last painting: I traced all the lines with a pencil, then hand-painted each one. It's time-consuming (especially for a 30x30 inches canvas), but it's the best meditation for me, and it gives it an "organic" feel that you can't get from computer engineered stuff, or even stencils and stamps... Anyway, I was painting away and suddenly realized "I'm done". I hadn't seen that it was the last line that just got painted. And I was a little sad actually that it was over because the emptiness I was in was so peaceful. 

I suppose that is what some people call being "in the zone" when you do something you really love. Though recently it has started to spread into my everyday life. It's not something that is deliberate, as in "let's try to be in the present moment" (I mean, aren't we in the present moment whether we want it or not anyway?) 

So I'm finding myself more and more in this space of "blank". I'm not sad, nor happy, nor scared nor excited. And I think that for a long time I was denying this state, because I mistook it for depression. And I sure didn't want to encourage that! I had judgements like "I'm lazy", "I should be doing something", "Is this normal?". But as I leaned in, I noticed that it actually doesn't impact what I get done each day or how present I feel. On the contrary, the more I allow myself to sit in emptiness without judging or trying to get away from it, the more present I feel...and the more productive I am when I start doing something. I'm so much more focused and clear then.

 Getting familiar with this emptiness while painting made me less afraid of it. So I can allow it more in my life. And I also discovered that it is the one thing that gives me the most strength and confidence. The more I'm in this emptiness, the more confident I am that, whatever happens in my life and in the world, I can find that place of emptiness to some degree. That no matter how much pain and fear I feel, I'll be able to handle it. My life needs not be a never-ending string of intense and overwhelming feelings. Phew. 

And yes, it still feels "concerning" at times. I can't help but worry: what is going to happen if I don't monitor, control, assess, visualize,  and consciously manifest? 

What about you? Have you experienced some sort of emptiness lately? How do you handle it? I'd love to hear your take on it (leave a comment below!).