Awareness and insight Integral Meditation Meditation techniques Mindfulness

The Discipline of Emptying (Emptying to Fill)

Dear Integral Meditators,

I’ve had a few conversations recently with clients who really feel as if they have been mentally drained by the sheer volume of information that they have to deal with on a day to day basis. I could certainly sympathize with their story, and I think it is a challenge that a lot of us face. This weeks article focuses on using mindfulness as a way of emptying out our mind on a regular basis in order to prevent information overload and make it more resilient when we have a lot of things coming at us.

In the spirit of emptying,


The Discipline of Emptying (Emptying to Fill)

One aspect of mindfulness meditation is the practice of what I would describe as ‘the discipline of emptying’. This means taking time each day to reduce the amount of information that your mind is processing, and allow it to become more empty.
The function of emptying from a practical point of view is:

  • To make your mind a more relaxed, enjoyable place to be, a place where you like to hang out, rather than a place that you find yourself trying to escape from, but (of course) stuck in!
  • To allow the things that are unimportant – the ambient noise in your head to get de-cluttered and released
  • To allow the important things to start coming to the surface of your awareness so you can prioritize them
  • To have enough space to really appreciate what is happening in your life and enjoy it in the moment
  • To bring attention to the problems that you really need to pay attention to, but that you are avoiding by just ‘keeping yourself busy’

At the present time in my life I practice a ‘big emptying’ of my mind once or twice a day in meditation for 20-30mins at a time, but I have also gotten in the habit of pausing for a minute or three once every 20mins if I am working by myself. So for example if I am doing a three hour shift in the afternoon in my office, then I will be pausing once every 20mins, relaxing, emptying, getting my energy back, re-focusing on my goals. I presently find this way of micro managing my time to be both relaxing and productive.

The Emptying Sink
One simple image that you can use for the discipline of emptying is that of a sink filled with water. Your mind is the sink, the contents of your mind is the water. Pull the plug in the sink and see the water draining away. As you do so, feel all the contents of your mind emptying away, so that by the time the sink gets empty, you feel like your mind is totally relaxed and empty too. Sit and relax in this ‘empty sink’ space for a while. When you are ready, let your mind start filling up again, but focus on filling it up with things that:

  • You are appreciating and enjoying at the present time
  • The things that are most important and that you need to focus on
  • Challenges that you may be avoiding but need to address

Regularly empty your full mind, in order to fill it again with better quality, more enjoyable content!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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February 2016

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