An empty room with bare floor to ceiling windows, shining light into the room.
An empty room with bare floor to ceiling windows shining sunlight into the room.

When I first wake up in the morning and am still lying in bed. While brushing my teeth. While standing in the shower. While sitting in meditation. While eating breakfast. While walking in the neighborhood. While cooking dinner. While doing the dishes. When I am lying in bed at night about to fall asleep.

These innocent and harmless moments are what I call the empty spaces.

In these empty spaces, my mind is filled with thoughts about what I feel anxious about and what I feel inspired about. It is an unconscious process, one that I cannot control and do not wish to control. It is in these empty spaces that I am an observer, not a director. I become a follower, not a leader.

[Listen to me read this reflection here, if you prefer audio]

These empty spaces are not so empty though. They are filled with information, possibly the most valuable information and definitely the most relevant information that I have access to. The thoughts that naturally fill these empty spaces are an indication of where I may feel out of balance and what I may not be at peace with.

An example of what often fills these empty spaces is the infamous to-do list. Some mornings, I wake up with my mind racing about all that is that I desire to do that morning, let alone that day. This morning, my empty spaces were filled with thoughts about finishing and publishing this reflection. Yesterday morning, it was about moving out of our Toronto office space for good and helping my dad with a few computer requests.

The to-do list is an obvious source of thoughts that fill my empty spaces. My mind is not at peace, as it cycles through what has to be done, for fear that I may forget.

Beyond the to-do list though, sometimes when I have trouble falling asleep at night, my body is tired however my mind remains active. Proof that I am more than my body. My mind grips onto thoughts about something that may have happened that day that I feel disappointed with. It makes sense for thoughts of disappointment to enter my empty spaces, as I have not yet come to a place of acceptance. Once I do learn to accept whatever happened, or didn’t happen, then these thoughts leave my empty spaces.

Ideas that inspire and lift me also have a way to fill my empty spaces. I remain inspired by the idea that we are in a Year Zero moment, and have been given the space to make different choices and hit the reset button in so many facets of life and society. This idea has become a passion, spurring thousands of thoughts that find a way to come into my empty spaces when I may be journaling, showering or walking.

What I am learning though is that it matters less what fills these empty spaces, as it continues to change, as everything always does. What matters more is what I do with the information that comes into my awareness.

To become aware of these empty spaces itself is a meditation. To bring awareness to the thoughts flowing and floating through my mind is the meditation. If I tried to quiet, control or even calm these thoughts that fill my empty spaces, then I would be depriving myself of such valuable information.

This information is highly actionable. Once I am aware of what I feel out of balance about, what I am not at peace with, or even what I feel deeply inspired by, I will start to make different choices.

These choices will change my life in ways that make sense for me, in this moment.