Ep. 202: The Healing Power of Emptiness

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I’ve had clients who worry about the impact their energy might have on me during a session. They say that when they’re processing during a session they feel so much darkness and heaviness being put into the space, and don’t want it to negatively impact me.

They say things like, “Are you ok? This is really heavy stuff.” or “I hope you can protect yourself from this energy… there’s so much darkness,” or, “It’s so toxic, I’m sorry.”

I feel such compassion for this because I think many of us doing shadow work wonder how our energy is impacting others around us – not just in a therapy or coaching session, but as we move through the world.

I remember one client said they were afraid I would get sick from their energy. They saw it as black, thick, and dark.

And I responded that they didn’t need to be worried because I saw that their interpretation of this energy was an illusion.

In other words, I was able to see the energy as just… energy, empty of independent, inherent existence. 

It doesn’t have to be experienced as heavy, sticky, or toxic. In the bigger picture, this energy can also be seen as, for example, the energy of shame and disgust that can be transformed into grief, or compassion and love. 

I told them I’m not afraid of it. I welcome all of it.

Do I always see things this way? Hell no. I’m human and imperfect and definitely not enlightened. That’s why I also rely on other methods of protecting myself, like crystals and protection practices and cleansing rituals. Seriously!

But when I’m able to be present and in my most wise mind, I can see emptiness of the energy and perceive what it truly is – empty of inherent, independent existence, and able to be transformed.

Energy is experienced in a certain way due to how it’s perceived, and our perceptions can be changed.

This is how the concept of emptiness can help us heal from things that lead us to feeling shame, worry, anxiety, rage, and more.

It’s not just saying, “It’s empty, get over it – it’s all in your head.” 

Rather, it’s about having a felt experience of interdependence, compassion, and the potential of our minds. When we’re able to see things in this way, we can see that this feeling of our energy being toxic or shameful or disgusting has been shaped by our real-life experiences – trauma, racism, patriarchy, homophobia, late-stage capitalism, ageism…

It’s shaped by our childhood and life experiences. By the core sensitivities and vulnerabilities we’re born with. And so much more.

As someone holding space in this way, I do a lot of personal work to make sure I can try my best to see the energy and experience the energy for what it is; to see that it can be transformed.

AND I use my other practices to protect and cleanse because I’m not perfect and I know my mental obscurations are impacting my own experience as well. So I can be impacted when I have moments of incorrectly perceiving the true nature of this energy.

Now, when I’m the one experiencing this heavy energy myself, can I see that my energy is empty? Ha! Good luck. I often feel my own shame or rage as VERY real.

So in my experience, it’s much harder to see this in ourselves than in others.

But just like I can do this for my clients, my own dharma teachers can reflect back to me compassion and understanding and help me see that I can transform my energy into a different experience. A different kind of energy.

Their capacity to see this in me allows it to be possible for me to see this as well.

This is what is possible for all of us to do for one another as well. We can hold space for each other and see suffering with compassion.

We don’t need to preach emptiness. We can silently hold space in our understanding of the potential of this experience to be different.

AND we can also not buy into the story of the other person that isn’t serving them. 

Doing this allows possibility and freedom to be more accessible to them.

And if we are in the darkness ourselves, we can try to seek support that isn’t always someone jumping into the pool of our misery with us, telling us “Yeah you’re right, life sucks.” 

But eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later), we can say, “Okay, I want to decrease unnecessary suffering. I’m ready to pull out these second arrows” – those arrows after the pain of the initial event that come from guilt, shame, and disgust with ourselves.

THEN we can really invite in remembering the Truth. Remembering our Buddha nature and that we can actually choose to experience this differently. And we can see that we don’t have to do it alone; that we need sangha, community. And we can ask for help.

What’s one perception you have that you would like to transform into something more helpful for you?

What can help you hold the spaciousness of possibility for a different way of seeing a very painful experience for someone else?

In this episode, you will learn:

// Why energy is neither inherently good or bad – and why we can still use protection and cleansing practices

// How we can learn to view our own felt experience with emptiness and potential

// How we can help others see their energy in this way, while protecting ourselves

// Why we can’t do this work alone


// Episode 24: How to Be With Any Emotion

// Episode 28: Practical Emptiness

// Episode 46: Letting Emotions Be Your Guide

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