For the first maybe ever, I was able to fully relax. I mean fully relax- no lingering concerns, no anxiety about upcoming events, nothing. It was just me and my completely empty thoughts, experiencing existence without judgment or presumption.

It only lasted for about ten minutes. It wasn’t long before a thought entered my head. I don’t remember which one it was, but after the first came another, then another. Before long, the feeling of total emptiness was a memory buried under the weight of the rest of my life.

What was interesting about the experience was two-fold. First was the feeling of being relaxed. As I got deeper and deeper into relaxation, I could feel just how tense my body was. My hands opened, my jaw unclenched and the tension in my legs finally eased. My body felt loose, like water. I was sprawled out across my bed, oozing into my comforter.

The feeling in my brain was similar. It was like my brain was unclenching too. I was holding tight to all the thoughts and situations that were bothering me. It reminded me of Agent Smith’s line from The Matrix, when he said that humans define our reality through suffering. I was holding onto negativity, doubt and insecurity for dear life, because those traits have always defined me. When I let them go, I did feel better, but I wouldn’t say I felt good. It was more like I felt open, like a window that was finally letting air pass through.

The other thing that I noticed about the experience was the order in which my concerns returned. As I began to worry again, it felt like each new problem was being laid upon my psyche like a new sediment layer. My feeling of openness was now a fossilized remain, and anxiety lay upon it like so many tons of earth and rock. I could see each layer and why I felt the way I did about it. But as my relaxation faded, my biggest worry came to the fore: why was I worrying so much?

I’ve often though about studying Buddhism, because the idea of “emptiness” as a state of being has appealed to me. After experiencing relaxation, I think I’m less interested in “emptiness” and want to do more exploring to find the state that allows me to feel open instead.

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