Drawing a Blank

+ blank chalkboard on easel May 12 12687020_sIt’s happened to all of us. We see someone familiar coming towards us but we can’t call up her name. Or we’re in a meeting and when our turn comes in the brainstorming session, we have nothing – no inspiration, no ideas, or suggestions to contribute.

In moments of pressure or excitement, it can sometimes be hard to come up with the name, answer, or solution to a problem we’re looking for. We say we’ve “drawn a blank” and need a moment to re-group and allow our thoughts to form an appropriate response. It can be a frustrating and difficult experience.

But maybe the expression, “drawing a blank” has gotten a bad rap. While the experience can make us feel forgetful, inarticulate, and unimaginative, there are times and situations when blankness has benefits and brings opportunities.

I once gave a friend a deck of angel cards. Drawing a card such as Peace, Forgiveness, Love, Harmony, or Integrity from my own deck had been helpful and brought me insight at times. I gifted my friend the cards at a point when she was leaving a career in the arts but wasn’t clear what work she would do next. I thought it might be interesting for her to see what input and guidance the cards could provide.

Though delighted with the gift, she was rather taken aback her first time using them. Instead of displaying an illuminating quality, the first card she picked was blank! Unsure what to do with that response, she picked a second card…which was also blank! Having been all geared up for the perfect word and insight to be shown to her, she was a little frustrated!

Reassuring her that she didn’t have a bum deck, I explained that it included some blanks so that one could personalize the deck by filling in a quality that might not be included in the set. But I also felt that her picking two blanks at this juncture in her professional life was meaningful, that the Universe was giving her the opportunity to write her own ticket for the future, that drawing a blank was actually a chance to create her next move.

The Viking Runes, an ancient oracle composed of stones with stick shape pictures on them, also has a blank. In the explanatory text by Ralph H. Blum, we are invited to go back in time and imagine a circle of stones, each with a shape on it, at the base of a glacier. “In the middle of the circle, touched by the sun’s first rays, stands a blank and solitary stone: Both pregnant and empty, arbiter of all that is coming to be and passing away…” This central Rune is the symbol of “The Unknowable, The Divine.” Its text tells us about the “undiluted potential” that blankness holds.

With this interpretation in mind, drawing a blank no longer presents such a bad prospect!

In a certain way, blankness is the same as the empty mind that is cultivated in meditation practices. In fact, when meditating, one can use the idea of blankness as a tool for clearing the mind. You can picture a blank wall, an empty chalkboard, or a sky without clouds. You can let this emptiness extend into other dimensions. A physical form of blankness is stillness. The unmoving body is blank of motion. Closed eyes remove visual stimulation, creates a blank screen. Silence is an aural blank slate.

The removal of customary stimulation is vital to restoring ourselves. We need blankness, emptiness. Have you ever experienced the pleasure of sitting still with no particular thought in your head? We sometimes describe this  as “blanking out,” but quiet time such as this is a vital counterpart to the usual activity level we have going on in our lives.

My husband tells a story about blankness of sound, of utter quiet. Twice, out in nature, he has experienced complete silence: no birds, no wind, no voices or cars. Instead of feeling isolated or bereft, he experienced complete calm and bliss. It was peaceful, reassuring. These moments were divine experiences he will always remember.

The inner landscape of quiet and emptiness bring us into the fullness of a rich internal connection with Source.

Perhaps if we make friends with blankness, we will not be so afraid when we draw a blank. Instead of feeling panic at being devoid of a response, we might instead enjoy the clearness of mind. If we have cultivated the capacity to be comfortable with stillness and quiet, we can just breathe into and through such a moment and see the clean slate that it affords. We can fill in the blank, write our own ticket, or simply be comfortable with the restorative energy of silence and stillness.

Drawing a blank could provide a moment for spiritual practice. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

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