5 ideas to daily nurture empty space
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my minimalist and slow nomad journey are the tremendous benefits of empty space for the body, mind and soul.
Our surroundings greatly influence our inner state, and vice versa. You can probably relate to one of these situations.
When the places we are in, are full of objects and details, we tend to easily feel distracted and overwhelmed. Similarly, when our life is full of possessions, it tends to make us feel too comfortable, avert to risk taking and in the long run more sedentary and stuck.
On the opposite, when we find ourselves in a neutral and airy new environment (like a hotel room for example), our mind expands and we are somehow given the permission to fully relax and daydream. The same happens when we travel light, it provides freedom and give us limitless possibilities of movement.
Eastern philosophies have talked about the concept of empty space for centuries.
For example, in Chinese medicine and movement disciplines like qi gong, tai chi, shiatsu it is said that to acquire optimal health and happiness, the chi (ki in Japanese) or the life force that flows through everything, needs to flow otherwise it creates blocks that then creates disease. In other words, when the things that have been stuck around ourselves begin to move, our chi flows better.
Chinese Taoism and Japanese Zen philosophies have also influenced the use of empty space in creative disciplines. For example, in literature it becomes the gap between words; in music it becomes silence; in painting it is the void where no brushstrokes and details are added. In his book « White », Hara Kenya MUJI’s creative director explains that emptiness doesn’t mean '“nothingness'“ or “energy-less”. He adds “a creative mind does not see an empty bowl as valueless but perceives it as existing in a transitional state, waiting for the content that will eventually fill it; and this creative perspective instills power in the emptiness.”
The wisdom of the empty space are also very prevalent in Japanese tea house’s and shinto temples where emptiness turn those places into a catalyst on which human consciousness can rise to the metaphysical level.
If you’d like to embrace the concept of emptiness to enhance your creativity or your life overall, here are 5 ways to nurture it daily:
1. Develop your intuition
Learning to respect our mind and body by being more intuitive in our life is key. Usually the more balanced and healthy our life becomes, the more we realize you actually need less than you thought. Not all empty corners in a room have to be filled. Eating 3 meals a day isn’t for everyone. You do not have to wear bras or to wax. That natural product magically cleans your face as well as your dishes… By listening more of your inner desires and discarding external rules, you’ll know more about yourself and leave room for more of what you love to fulfill you!
2. Accept the idea of not knowing everything
What if we stopped compulsively Googling everything, and filling our brains with excess historical facts, important names, concepts, places and informations?
Knowing it all can remove the wonder and curiosity in our daily life. One idea could be to adopt a toddler mindset and look at the world with innocent eyes again, and for a day, learn to unlearn all the labels and facts we put on the things surrounding us.
3. Cultivate silence
Most people tend to feel embarassed with silence, in conversations tend to overlap to make sure the flow doesn’t stop, and avoid moments of solitude by playing music, listening to the news or putting TV on the background. In Japan, communication between people are often filled with long periods of gaps and as little details as possible. Communication and ideas emerge from emptiness. All this allows time to appreciate the message that have been shared and invite more mindfulness into the conversation so that no words are too excessive. What if we invited more moments of silence into our life? By adopting silent retreats, digital and news detox, donating TVs and radios, refrain from playing music to avoid silence, and discard anything that creates visual noise.
4. Adopt a nomadic mindset
Going on retreats, trips and simply taking the habit of leaving familiar places for a day, a week or longer are great ways to reset our mind to gain more clarity, welcome curiosity and new perspectives into our life. You can do it in the way that best suits your circumstances and needs. For example you can decide to book an appartment in a neighborhood you’ve never been in your own city for a couple of days, home swap with friends, book a solo trip or simply break your daily routine with experiencing new activities and learn new things.
5. Spend time in untouched nature
Wild nature has its way of freeing us from limited man-made structures and labels. It humbles us, forces us to slow down and embrace the natural cycle of life. There’s nothing more liberating that witnessing how fauna and flora are doing exactly what they are supposed to do, their own way, with their very own authentic rythm. True authenticity requires embracing emptiness. As you fill your cup with what’s meant for you and occupy your own space, it’s necessary to learn not to overfill it and accept it being half full.