Dealing with your emotional voids

In the Meditation Course, a student asked me:


"Speaking of fears and shortcomings, I realized that the two people who I felt loved me unconditionally and who are no longer here - my father and my grandfather - left a void in me that has been difficult for me to balance. My question is: How can we fill these emotional voids when we are not surrounded by our loved ones? To what extent can this be part of the existential void that we all suffer?"


In my experience, life is made up of opposites, you cannot recognize the experience of fullness without also having experienced emptiness. One requires the other to exist. It's the same thing that happens with insecurity and trust, light and darkness, love and heartbreak. Instead of seeking to fill the voids, rather consider that, like fullness, emptiness has its value, perhaps it is opening space for something new to emerge.


By seeking "fullness", you are putting yourself in resistance to emptiness, and this resistance is the cause of your discomfort. Every moment of your life has its value, it has its beauty. Only now will the experience you are having be possible, you will never be able to feel exactly how you feel now. Appreciate the love you feel for your loved ones and also appreciate the sadness of their absence, since they are two sides of the same coin, both are a consequence of your love for them. In psychology they would tell you: "live your grief fully." If you live it fully you receive the teaching or message that it brings you, or as my spiritual teacher would say:


"If you surrender completely to the experiences of life then

you will be able to surrender completely to the experience of death."


This is why in the philosophy of Tantric Yoga we talk about the practice of Ashwada (Savoring). I am grateful to my mother for insisting that we eat everything that was served to us at the table, because although at first we did not like it, over time we learned to expand our palate and now, one of my greatest pleasures is exploring a new gastronomic adventure. Likewise, tantric yogis urge us to learn to savor these complementary opposites and the full range of experiences that life has to offer. Instead of clinging to one state and rejecting the other, recognize that the discomfort does not come from the state itself, but rather from our resistance to feeling and accepting different emotions and experiences. Perhaps we tend to repress our emotions since we harbor the prejudice that there are bad or toxic emotions. (I do not agree with the idea of negative emotions. Every emotion has its value, since it speaks of our wants and needs). Therefore, we tend to resist these, and we want to avoid them. Instead of accepting the loss, we resist it, either by avoiding it or falling into a mental drama about out suffering, which only increases the emotional pain.


Tantra invites us to savor our experience of the present moment as it is, in the same way that we savor a plate of food and learn to distinguish the different flavors and the synergy between them. For this, we must learn to detach ourselves from the mind and its reactive nature. Through a regular meditation practice, you gradually learn to feel your emotions and witness your thoughts, without judgment and with compassion. In meditation we want to grow in our ability to digest everything that life has to offer us: love, terror, anguish, gentleness, bitterness, sweetness.


On the other hand, if we approach the question from a psychological perspective, I share the good advice that a friend gave me a few years ago. In the context of having grown up with an absent father, he told me: "The way to heal the absence of the father is to become your own father." Imagine, if you had children, what you would be like with them, and put that into practice with your inner child (the emotional world is often seen as a child that we carry in our psyche, since many of our emotional tendencies were formed in childhood). And like your own father, give yourself the support you need when you are agitated, stressed or insecure. At the same time, be the accountability partner that a present parent would have been for you. Since I did not have a father actively present in my upbringing, I did not develop those skills and now it is my turn to lovingly accompany me in the process of developing them. It is a way to put self-love into practice, developing our inner adult, the one who cares, protects and guides. Instead of remaining unconsciously helpless by being identified with the child who experienced absence, disability and perhaps even victimhood, we can literally speak lovingly to our inner child from the adult that we are whenever we need containment.

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