Empty Come, Empty Go : The 4 Ways

I am over fifty now. I have traveled and changed locations 12 times in my career. I have lugged my trucks full of load all over the country and frankly I am done. There is a sense of suffocation and dread when the next posting order comes. What earlier used to be exciting and adventurous has now become poison.


(photo credit : Ashutosh Tewari)

We all come to life empty handed but are full with our innate virtues. Just as a puppy or a calf come alive with only their ‘skill sets’, so do we. The creator has packed in us, all that is required to survive happily in life. No calf ever went to any school or college to acquire more skills. We as humans acquire so many degrees and things and yet we are not whole and complete. The gap always remains for most part of our lives and it keeps nagging us – silently demanding more from us, pushing us into a world which eventually becomes difficult to control with our innate ‘skill sets’.

“We often confuse acceptance with approval. Acceptance is a loving act of an open heart. Approval is generally tied to judgement. Our hunger for approval is partly why we are so easily hooked by the critic. We try to fend off unworthiness by seeking our value from external authorities whose voices we long ago internalized. We try to satisfy the enormity of our wanting through accumulation. We hope that if we get enough, do enough, change enough the one day we will be finally enough”.

The Five Invitations, by Frank Ostaseski

Over the last five years this self created suffocation sourced in seeking internal and external approval itself provided me the clues. As if, life took mercy on her child and   offered the clues to break the bondage. In my life journey, I realized that there are mainly Four types of chains that can possibly bind us.

Chain One : Our Emotions

Perhaps, the strongest chain which can bind us is our emotion. There was always a tussle between the emotion and the mind to make decisions. Invariably, the emotion used to win. The eternal duel between the heart and the mind often sways the emotion way as the emotional energy is stronger and is similar to a tornado sucking up anything appearing on its course. As I look back, I see that much of my accumulations today can easily be traced back to emotional spending and buying stuff.  This virus was not centered around me alone but I would buy recklessly for everyone and anyone! Well, today when I see that in awareness, I accept how incorrectly I made my decisions.

Chain Two : Our Thoughts

The mind can think fast and process information fast. All my life, my friends and family have called me a super computer. My appetite for information and knowledge is so well known in my family that invariably I would end up with a book trying to know more. Reading, taken as a hobby is sweet exercise for the mind.  However, if it is done for unrelated and disconnected subjects as research work then obviously it will take its toll. I must have done over twenty courses of all kinds and have over 1000 books in my book shelf. Today, when  I engage myself with life mindfully, I realize that all the knowledge and knowing was only good to satiate the  mind in its various day to day battles with friends, peers and family members. While it made a difference here and there but then I was mostly trying to prepare my mind for the next battle to score a small victory over others. Today, its very clear that to relate with others all that is required is one’s presence and love. How we manage our tons of thoughts is not a simple thing until we mindfully decide to do so.

Chain Three : Our Physicality    

The third internal dimension is our physical self. The physicality is a complete regime including health, fitness and appearance. I remember my school days where my classmates would call me a leopard due to my physical abilities acquired by doing Yoga. But, as I moved from posting to posting enjoying my success, my eating and sleeping cycles changed. Few injuries further accentuated the agony of carrying too much physical pounds around my spine. The leopard lost its agility and struggled with many spinal and other issues. So, I added the extra ‘pounds’ to the treasury of my life!

Chain Four : Our External Stuff 

The fourth chain is the constant conditioning to which we are exposed from birth onward. Almost a never ending barrage of DOs and DONTs. From my parents at home to my teachers at school and the friendly neighbor, everyone seemed to know what was good for me. Not to forget Google! All, except me, had a perfect solution for me. Well, I was no different. I kept on accumulating all the advice given and put it in my life’s locker as ‘things & stuff’ and simple ‘inspirations’. I collected so much over the years that until recently, I had no idea what I was doing with all of it.

The Unchaining Process

Stuffed with my mental, emotional, physical and worldly stuff, I was about to drown in myself. However, life smiled at her ‘stuffed up’ child and I reclaimed my life back. Thanks to some excellent friends, peers, spiritual teachers and  my family, I began the process of de-cluttering my thoughts, emotions, physicality and worldly stuff. The two main things were my ability to radically accept the isness of things. The whole thing shifted from approval to acceptance. The relationship, I re-developed with my ‘self’ by taking to Yoga and meditation had a profound effect. By mindfully listening to life and living in awareness, I was able to separate my self from my emotions and thoughts and the need for approval. I practiced this by actually de-cluttering my mind, emotions and lifestyle.

I realize today that simple and less is more. The child who was born empty is happy again. There is nothing to accumulate here. I am whole and complete in my isness. I accept myself first with all my limitations, potentials or the lack of it. I don’t need the ‘stuff’ anymore now for approvals. In the last five years I have become a life coach and by  including the ancient teachings of the Hindu sages, I serve others to de-clutter. I take them away from their cluttered mind, emotions and ‘stuff’ right back to their  quintessential ’emptiness’.

Empty Come, Empty Go

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