This blog is inspired by the sacred emptiness that most often is the mental and emotional space we enter when letting go of patterns, attachments, identifications, and addictions.
Ego wants the immediate gold star or the metaphorical cookie whenever we do something we feel awards us. A feel good moment. Satiation. A happy arrival into a never ending sunset. These are expectations of ego when we do the healing work of letting go of what is not serving our health, thinking if we have the courage to let go, right on the other side is an arrival into fulfillment.
But the fulfillment of letting go takes time because you are reversing the flow from getting love outside of self to feeling love within self. Building a secure attachment with self is a learning process…
The reward for letting go of patterns, attachments, identifications and addiction takes time to feel in an embodied way.
Suffering initiates ego into the dark night of the soul or the process of letting go of what is not healthy for self. We are used to suffering and have become familiar with low self esteem, shaky self worth, self doubt, unhealthy relationships, addictions, and all of the patterns of thinking and behaving that support a comfort zone of pain.
Suffering only initiates you into the dark night of the soul when you are ready to face the new an unfamiliar suffering of letting go. Suffering that comes from letting go is temporary and necessary, unlike the chronic and familiar suffering of a painful comfort zone.
The familiar comfort zone of pain is a neural pathway in the brain paved over the years by patterns of thinking and behaving that form from attaching to a person or thing outside of self because inside a wounded self feels lost, powerless, fearful, and insecure.
For instance, you may have a pattern of thinking that love is stronger and more valuable than logic which rationalizes the behavior of staying in a relationship that is logically very unhealthy for you. You are used to unhealthy attachment because you grew up with it in your family system. The neural pathway has been paved in your brain to accept the current unhealthy union because your inner child ego developed self worth wounds early on and knows nothing else. Your adult ego identifies with a compromised sense of self worth either consciously or unconsciously.
You do not realize staying in the unhealthy union is a continual and often addictive attempt to get mom and dad’s love and attention on an unconscious level. The inner child in the shadow is operating through the adult ego by projecting onto the person the role of being your care taker or savior in some way. You do not realize you either play a victim role or blame self and glorify the other, when neither are true. The truth is that you need to let go of the unhealthy person, heal your wounds, and create a secure attachment with self. You need to be your own savior and heal yourself.
Addiction forms when the person becomes your everything and you can no longer live without them. This is when the brain chemistry relies on the external person or object to literally keep self afloat. Be it a person, food, drug, alcohol, shopping, working, you name the thing; when wounds are not healed and the sense of self is insecure, the external world holds all the power and we get hooked on it in one way or another.
Readiness to heal and let go is key.
When you are not ready, you are not ready. Our patterns, attachments, identity, and addictions serve the ego by helping us stay afloat, feel valued, safe, secure, and loved…until we are ready to let go.
Pushing before readiness might lead to a mental breakdown, too much fear at once, crisis that cannot be overcome. Suffering is our initiation into the dark night of letting go but suffering in just the right amount is key. Too much suffering and you won’t heal.
The timing is the timing. Patience and love for every stage is needed.
When you are ready you let go it may feel empowering or you may have to force it mentally and enter the grief despite your fighting heart and instinct telling you to hold on. Usually it is the latter.
Letting go and entering into the dark night means the ego is not going to receive the gold star or the metaphorical cookie. Letting go means entering the emptiness.
You may first may go into withdrawals, kicking and screaming your way through. During this stage of the dark night you might try to talk yourself out of letting go and you might succeed and hop back into the safe zone of the familiar pain.
If you make it past the withdrawal, kicking, and screaming stage you enter the stage of the sacred emptiness.
In the sacred emptiness there is nothing to replace the security of that well-worn neural pathway. Even though it’s a pathway of pain and self worth wounds, you knew what to expect and you were used to the crumbs and the anxiety. You did not have to try and risk failing or risk the vulnerability of succeeding which can feel very exposing.
There is nothing to soothe the ego in the sacred emptiness other than….
the sacred emptiness itself….
In the sacred emptiness you may find comfort in the nothingness if you can allow yourself to not resist the nothingness by trying to get that dopamine hit from the outside world, person, pattern or thing that feels like love (but isn’t). You sense of security that comes from familiarity will be gone so you must also not resist feeling scared.
If you can allow yourself to feel scared and empty without resistance to those feelings you can discover a sense of comfort and inner quiet as you traverse through this stage which may take days, weeks, months and maybe even a year.
Stop trying to make anything happen in the external world to try to get the cookie or sense of security and instead find a reliable and self soothing routine to support the emptiness stage.
Maybe you need more solitude, more sleep, going to bed and waking up early, exercising more, eating healthier, taking life more slowly, getting out into nature, coloring or knitting or some form of soothing creative outlet…watching Netflix may help or reading books and allowing yourself healthy escape in the stories of others…or maybe sweating, running, dancing and having a more fiery and yang type of practice is your balance.
Find that balance within self by rooting into a routine that becomes the foundational structure to build a new healthy sense of self, heal the wounds, awaken the soul, and fully shut down the old neural pathway.
If you can allow yourself to surrender into the emptiness and into a routine, slow yourself down, and move through the scary unknown….you will enter the next stage of the dark night.
Here, you may still be in the emptiness but also be tested and need to say no to the old pattern showing up again. If this is the case, do not take it personally. It takes a certain amount of experiences for a new neural pathway to become paved and it only becomes paved through experience. Each time you say no to the unhealthy pattern, you pave the new healthy pathway. It’s science You are not being punished.
Surrender is the key to moving through the emptiness stage whether you are being tested or laying low like a seed in the dark soil. Initiation is surrender.
The suffering of the emptiness stage may show up as needing to say no to the familiar pattern rising up again. If this is the case, say no as quickly as you can and if you mess up, it’s ok. Healing happens in a spiral not a line. Fall and get up again knowing every human being grows through making mistakes.
Suffering in the emptiness stage may also show up as feeling perpetually insecure, bored, doubtful, stagnant, confused, disoriented, and lonely. Know that these feelings are natural and do not take them personally. Allow these feelings to express as you would allow a child to express their feelings without judgement or making a big deal out of them. This will allow the feelings to leave the body.
Surrendering to a higher power is what the Anonymous (AA, NA, OA, etc) philosophy teaches and it is a real quality that provided real results. The transpersonal aspect of life is larger than self and requires no spiritual belief or experience. Call the transpersonal anything that feels right for you, the Collective Unconscious, Nature, Life, Consciousness, God, Goddess, Spirit, Source, Prime Creator, Oneness, The Infinite, Jesus, Isis, Odin, Lakshmi, Universe, Ancestors, Angels, Allies, Archetypes…it does not matter…when you call out to the transpersonal you invoke help from the great mystery and from love.
You do not have to do this work alone and truly, you are never alone. The sacred emptiness is here to serve your liberation and initiate the ego into becoming the true self securely attached and connected to your true source of power within.