Empty Your Cup

August 30, 2014

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. The professor talked on and on, telling all he knows of Zen, and sharing his life experiences.

While the professor is talking, the Master offers him some tea. The professor continues with his stories as the Master begins pouring the tea. The professor keeps talking. And the Zen Master keeps pouring.The teacup gets full and begins overflowing.

The professor watches the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. Annoyed, he flails his arms at the Master and says, “The cup is overfull! No more will go in!” The Master gently replies to him, “Like this teacup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I teach you Zen, unless you first empty your cup? 


Our lives are sometimes like that teacup, overflowing with activity, opinions and habits. To invite something new into your life, whether an activity, a thought, or a new way of being, you must be willing to empty your mind and your schedule to create space for new ideas and possibilities. And that is often the biggest hurdle in transformation.

This week, I invite you to focus purely on all that is within you and all around you without a need to change anything. As the seasons shift from the activity of summer to the quieter months of Fall, allow yourself to invite a way of creating space for something new, even if you are not looking for it.

Empty yourself out.
Take time today to just BE no matter what activities you are engaged in, let yourself be completely present in the process. Absorb each moment with your full attention, whether you are on your yoga mat, washing the dishes, driving the car, negotiating with your child, or involved in a conversation. Can you empty your cup and allow it to be filled with all that is presenting itself to you, moment by moment? Feel the flow of letting go, emptying out and being filled again, with sensations, ideas, and experiences. Notice if this attitude of being empty brings more fulfillment at the end of your day. Just right fulfillment, not over full.
Allow yourself to take some deep breaths and become centered in yourself. Eyes may be open or closed.  With full attention simply notice whatever catches your interest. No requirement, no to-dos, just drop in for a bit to the places that call to you.  A physical sensation, a thought or image, a wave of emotion, an outside sound, a shift of light....simply notice. And continue to breathe deeply and evenly.  Empty of any need to do or change anything.
Gift yourself 10, 20, even 30 minutes to practice this concept of EMPTYING YOUR CUP. Set your intention on letting go of desire, plans, shoulds, and if onlys. Simply be in the present and allow each moment to unfold from a place of letting go. Reflect on all that you have receive from the art of doing nothing. No expectations. No attachments. Just noticing.


There is an aliveness in you that you can feel with your entire Being, not just in the head. Every cell is alive in that presence in which you don’t need to think. Yet, in that state, if thought is required for some practical purpose, it is there. The mind can still operate, and it operates beautifully when the greater intelligence that you are uses it and expresses itself through it.
- Eckhart Tolle

It's time to enjoy the balance of labor with the art of relaxation by emptying your cup and allowing it to fill with the present moment.


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