Connection: Empty Calories

Emptiness is a state we should all be seeking. Especially in the current love affair with information overload. It doesn’t take a genius to see that we are all running on empty, from a lack of emptiness. We are attainable pretty much anywhere on the planet, so peace can be difficult to seek. Our mobile phones are constantly pulling us in all directions with adverts and links to various pages, and don’t even get me started on gaming.

All this distraction pulls us from centre. So we feel unplugged, disconnected and out of sync with our natural rhythm. We fall out of connection with ourselves and then everything feels lacking.

Why should we be seeking emptiness? Because to have space means allowing the processing and digesting of all the information that is being taken; from within and from without.

Like all the best things in life; it’s about balancing the duality; emptiness will fill you up.

All these empty calories…you know that state where you are really hungry so you reach for some processed sugar? There’s no nutrients in these products; they’re just empty calories. So what happens after the initial rush and release of calories? We get hungry. Because our bodies are craving nutrition; it craves healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. If we lived on processed sugar alone we would end up running on a sugar high, yet in a constant state of hunger. There’s a movie/documentary out there somewhere about a guy who lived on McDonalds for a month (maybe?!) and he was constantly hungry; his nutrients were rock-bottom after, but he was eating a substantial amount each day.

Life has a tendency to be like this too. Empty conversations (you know the ones; ‘how old are you’ ‘what school did you go to?’ Like these things are ever going to paint a picture of who we are deep down), empty jobs, empty days, empty hours spent watching TV or on our phones. We are busy and distracted. But we remain starving for some soul nourishment.

We need space.

We need some fulfilling activities.

I see the term ‘self-care’ slung around pretty much everywhere. We’re guilty of it here too by using the term ‘Happiness Prescription’; like it’s all pretty and easy to take care of yourself. But actually, Keira and I were pretty conscious in using the term; like a ‘prescription’ maybe relates to a medicine that doesn’t necessarily taste good, but is necessary to help ease a symptom.

Self-care is not easy. The rituals are of great benefit to us, but they take hard work and dedication. And they have to be bespoke; like I can’t cope without having two days off in a row, but my sister is cool if those days are apart. I need routine in a job and set hours; she likes the thrill of mixing it up. And we’re sisters! Proof that we are all different; what works for one person won’t always work for another.

You have to find your rhythm and the version of emptiness that suits you.

But there are non-negotiables that everyone can invite into their lives; it’s just about getting the prescription right. And that takes time! So go easy on yourself when you start this work.

It’s all linked to connection. Because when we can get clear about what sustains and feeds us, we start to get healthy again; we refuel where there is lack and we start to burn off where there is excess. On all levels; physical, mental and emotional.

Some quick hit ways to write your happiness prescription (and I’ve tried really hard not to repeat anything we’ve said before!):

  • Take time out. Away from phones/TV/jobs/people. Have some down time completely alone (animal companions may be okay!). Make this happen at least half a day every week. If that’s impossible, then 10 minutes every day. Do nothing. Just sit and breathe. This is the reset. It’s encouraging that little bit of emptiness into every day. And it’s like a seedling that pushes through the concrete; in allowing it just to ‘be’ the seed of nothingness will grow into a flower of emptiness. There are no words to adequately describe the deliciousness that is empty space; t has to be felt. So keep at it.

  • Re-assess your relationships; who are the energetic vampires in your life? The ones that start to steal your energy the minute you think of interacting with them? You don’t have to analyse the reasons for the reaction, but it’s useful to acknowledge where you start to give energy away. Or where your energy begins to shift from high-level to low-level; as in you start to get anxious, unhappy or frustrated when in their company. Make a conscious decision to spend less time with them for the meantime.

  • (following on from the above) Give yourself a break and realise that self-care is an act of caring for all those around you. Because when you are nourished and sustained, you’ll have more time and energy to support others. Don’t make it your mission to ‘fix’ others, because people don’t need fixing. What we all need is to be held wholly; accepted as we are and encouraged to be the best version of us we can be. We don’t need to be analysed or judged. I make no secret of the fact that I’m going through a completely difficult time right now; and that’s cool. I don’t need to fix me and I don’t expect anyone else to do it either. All I need to do is hold space for myself; and what I mean by that, is I need to let it flow.

  • Understand that sometimes we busy ourselves to stop the flow. And that’s okay too. But look out for that. Are you eating certain foods to stimulate a certain feeling? Are you using jobs, sex, lovers, drugs, or any other stimulant/distraction in this way too? Notice it and see if you can lessen it day by day. Notice how changing that makes you feel. This is a yogic act; noticing things as they are and consciously, piece by piece, trying to shift them. No labels; it’s not ‘I’m a bad person because I’m relying on this thing to get me through the day’ I’m not a big fan of labelling anything; there’s plenty of things that happened in my childhood that probably determine how I go about my life now; but that’s cool and I’m alright with it. Because I choose to live in presence; yes it’s nice to know our ‘why’ and our ‘root’. But when it comes down to it, delving too much in the past could lead to a tricky destination. So I offer you this advice; give what is, space to breathe.

  • If you love studying, reading or writing and you find you are doing it almost every hour of every day, then start to consciously ease off it little by little. You really need to have one full day of not doing any of that stuff. No matter how much you love it.

  • Spend a day every week questioning everything. This one is a game changer. Trust me; my sister practices this every single day and it causes a lot of conversation between us (!). Get curious about why you are doing the things you do, just a few times throughout the day. I know that above I just told you not to delve to deeply and now I’m asking you to question everything! But what I mean is this; you choose a certain lunch; just ask yourself why. You go to a certain shop; why? You feel a certain way; why? What was put there by outside conditions; social/familial/judgements and what was conscious? It’s just interesting to see how many of your choices are conscious. How many of them are made from empty soul calories? Just noticing these habits may coax some positive changes about you.

  • Listen to no one, except you. You know what’s best for you. Emptiness may be dancing barefoot in the local park, it may swimming in the local pool, it may be silence, getting lost in a nightclub, eating in a fine restaurant, going on a coach trip…It may be many things or no things. No one can tell you how to find emptiness. No one can tell you what will fill you up from the space of no-thing-ness. So you have to get curious about it. You have to be willing to get adventurous and do the scary stuff. You have to be childlike.

You have to play light.

My light honours your light (the little particles and the blinding sun parts)

M x