Striving for Emptiness


There are a number of religions that strive for emptiness.  The idea of emptying the mind of conscious thought to allow the unconscious to unfold.  This is actually one of the concepts I give people who can't sleep.  Put a pad next to your bed and before you go to sleep, write down all the things you have to do, all the worries you have, all the niggling little, tiny thoughts that are circling incessantly in your mind ... and then go to sleep, peacefully.  Emptiness allows you to do that.  Even if you don't have all the answers, even if you will wake up with the same problems that you had when you laid your head on the pillow, taking them up after laying them down somehow seems lighter.  And the sleep is quite nice as well!

The idea of emptiness is something we struggle with.  There seems to be an unending supply of peanut butter in the jar, there is always dirt filling in the edges of the house, there is always something on my To Do List, there is always another bill on the desk.  This also extends into our digestive tract and if you think about it, this is an area of our body that is never empty unless we make a very focused concerted effort.  When it is completely empty, there is a very odd feeling of wanting to start over, being much healthier than we were before.  It is almost a feeling of euphoria, which may go a long way to explaining the lure of eating disorders.

The reason I'm telling you this is not just that it's 3:00 in the morning, and I'm wide awake, just coming off a few days of food poisoning.  I'm telling you this as a sort of revelation that we really take our digestion for granted.  We assume it works all the time, no matter what we throw at it.  We also assume that it will manage everything exactly the same as it has for our entire life.  It never occurs to us that it may begin not to manage wheat or dairy or nuts or cupcakes or that delectable ribeye (which was my downfall this week).  

But this experience has reminded me about cleansing.  It has reminded me of the tremendous benefits to giving our digestive tract a break, time without food, time with lots of fluids, time taking clays and probiotics to restore the actual living terrain of our gut.  Purifying our gut is something we should all be doing a few times a year, which brings us back to religion again.  Because every religion has, for centuries, had built-in periods of fasting.  These were not just to remind us of the importance and blessing of food, or to mark specific religious times, but also to naturally provide a healing break for the gut.  

So as the new year turns, consider doing a cleanse, a fast, a clearing of your mind and your gut.  You may just remember what's important in your life, including your life!

Karen Clickner