A Prelude to Nothingness
“Only nothingness can be infinite; somethingness is bound to be finite. Only out of nothingness is an infinite expanse of life, existence, possible – not out of somethingness. God is not somebody: He is nobody or, more correctly, nobodiness. God is not something: he is nothing or, even more correctly, no-thingness. He is a creative void.
Never for a single moment think that nothingness is a negative state, an absence, no. Nothingness is simply no-thingness. Things disappear, only the ultimate substance remains. Forms disappear, only the formless remains. Definitions disappear, the undefined remains.
The awakening of a buddha is total. In that total awakening there is a luminous awareness surrounded by a positive nothingness. It is not empty, it is overfull. Things have disappeared… and what has remained is inexpressible. We try to express it as blissfulness, as ecstasy, as eternal joy, but these are just faraway echoes of the real thing.”
My Float Experience: A Journey into Nothingness
Disclaimer: This is simply my float experience. Floatation therapy, like anything that consists of going within, is completely unique to everyone. So while I hope you find value in my personal experience, keep in mind that your experience could be different in every way. That’s the beauty of it.
When I got in the tank, it took me a few minutes at first to find a position that “felt right.” After a little trial and error, the chosen pose consisted of having my arms above my head, elbows slightly bent (floating on my back of course). From this position, I relaxed into a state of acute awareness. This is the kind of awareness that is virtually inaccessible in our world of constant noise and distraction (to all but the experienced meditator).
Soon enough, I became hyper-aware of facial tension I was holding onto, particularly in my jaw. I brought my awareness to the jaw tension and it dissipated a bit. It was stubborn though, so I opened my mouth as wide as I could, stretching my jaw and exhaling the tension out. Little did I know, this would become my release valve for the rest of the session. After I released this tension from my jaw, I moved through my cheeks, eyes, eyebrows and forehead. With the tension in those areas, all I had to do was bring my conscious attention to them and hold the intention of letting go.
I relaxed back into the void again; pure awareness. From this second level of awareness, I became aware of a recurring thought pattern. I kept thinking of telling people about floating, how amazing it is, how “nothingness” is the answer to everything and playing out conversations in my head. Each time I became aware of these thoughts, I would immediately cut them off (almost with a sense of disdain).
As the thoughts faded, I became aware of another, deeper layer of jaw tension. Again, I stretched my jaw open and exhaled the tension out. I knew it worked because I relaxed back into a third level of awareness.
From this third level of awareness, I started dissecting the root of these thought patterns and this is when my float session revealed itself to be a bit of an internal scavenger hunt. I called this phenomenon of plotting futures scenarios “Reverse engineering from the future.” I realized that when I’m immersed in these kinds of thoughts, my mind is in the future and I’m reverse engineering that future until it connects with the present moment. This mindset can be useful (this is what allows for meticulous planning and much worldly success) but it robs us from the present moment. It takes away that gratitude for just being and replaces it with an endless chase for the illusory pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Following this revelation, I noticed another layer of tension in my jaw. Yet again, I opened my jaw as wide as I could and exhaled. This created space for me to begin addressing some questions regarding these conversations that were playing out in my thoughts. I was now in a fourth level of awareness, but there’s no need to get hung up on the numbers.
The question that came up was “Why do I even want to tell people about this?” Well, I want to inspire and help people help themselves. That’s my heart-based motivation, if you will. But my ego piggybacks on this motivation and uses it to make me look interesting and pioneering in the eyes of others. I also realized that the ego will always do this. It’s fine that it’s piggybacking, as long as my prime motivation is heart-based. As long as the ego is not my master, it can go on doing “ego stuff” while I amusingly observe it.
This led to a second question, directed at my ego: “Why do I want to look interesting anyway?” Which really meant “Why do I want to win love or approval?”
I instantly knew where this came from. When I was younger, my father put pressure on me to perform my best at everything I did, whether it was sports or tests in school. Because of this, I inherited a limiting belief that I had to perform or prove myself to gain acceptance. This is also one of the reasons why I constantly place immense pressure on myself. But I also realized and truly understood that my father had the best intentions. It may have came out a little intense-sounding at the time (he’s a fiery Italian), which was that good intention filtered through his own limiting beliefs, pain and imperfect perceptions. And what I did was take it on and apply it to myself in an amplified way. The term “belief amplification” came to me, so that’s what I’ll call it. As kids, any beliefs we inherit through our parents are amplified because they are essentially our superheroes and their words literally mold our psyches. Additionally, any belief that is applied to ourselves will be stronger than beliefs we apply externally. This is the phenomenon of belief amplification. With that mini-epiphany, I was able to forgive my father with ease.
With my being permeated by forgiveness and gratitude, I drifted back into pure awareness. Out of that awareness emerged a theme of self-acceptance. “It’s ok,” became my affirmation. “It’s ok if I want to tell people about this. There’s no need to judge that part of me. It’s ok if my ego wants to look cool (as long as it’s not running the show). It’s ok if I don’t always perform up to ridiculously high standards. It’s ok. There’s no need to always put pressure on myself.” I basked in this dialogue of self-acceptance, feeling the love ripple through every part of my being.
Note: This self-acceptance is why I’m able to share this right now. It’s ok to share. And if my ego likes it if people find value in it, cool. It can do its thing while I playfully observe it from my heart-space.
The self-acceptance slowly transitioned into another mini-epiphany. I had realized that I was being my own therapist, shaman and guru all at the same time. While this initially felt empowering, I soon drifted into fear. “How deep is this going to go?” I asked myself worriedly. My state of grace quickly darkened to that of fear, almost panic. I had let myself plunge into the hell of endless chaotic thoughts. They violently swirled in and around me, to the point where it felt tangible. My heart was beating furiously in my chest. It felt like a distant drum whose drummer had gone mad. The only way out was in, in through the present moment. The phrase “here’s the now” came to me. It felt right. So I repeated “here’s the now” to myself over and over again, while taking some deep breaths, until I was back in a place of tranquil awareness.
This is where yet another epiphany struck me. This game, this internal scavenger hunt, can go on forever if you choose to keep playing. The sentence that came to me was “If you’re looking for something, you will find it.” If you’re looking for problems, you’ll find problems (or even make them up). It’s also like what the physicists are doing at CERN. They’re always trying to find smaller and smaller particles, so as a result they’re always finding smaller and smaller particles.
This insight made me realize that I didn’t have to keep playing this game forever. However, I became aware of one last layer of tension in my jaw. I also knew somehow that it was tied to a deep fear. It frightened me to even entertain what this fear was but I knew it had to go. So I tapped into the depths of my being for courage, stretched my jaw and exhaled to release the tension. As soon as I did this, a phrase popped into my mind, “The fear of nothing.”
“Wow. The fear of nothing? That’s final layer of jaw tension? This “ultimate fear” was the fear of… nothing?”
“There’s NOTHING to be afraid of!” I chuckled to myself and broke into childlike laughter.
I repeated it again with even more amusement… “There’s NOTHING to be afraid of!”
At this point I was overcome with delight. I wiggled around in the float tank, giggling like a little kid until the gentle music came on. The session was over.
I lifted my head, ever so slowly out of the water. It felt as if I was being rebirthed into a new world.
Let go completely and allow yourself to dip into nothingness, for that is where all possibility resides.
– Stevie P!
PS – I’m releasing a new online course soon, called “Primal Release.” In it, I give you the tools to release all kinds of unwanted baggage you’re holding onto, which goes far beyond what I did in this float session. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to hear about it.