Do you find yourself looking too much into the past or the future? Do you feel immobilized?

Over on the Rumie Discord server, we discuss the experience of feeling stuck in many contexts:

  • Creative blocks

  • Academic setbacks

  • Spiritual crises

  • Mental health

Alice in Wonderland GIF

What if this stuck feeling is simply calling you to observe the present?

Some psychotherapists call this the fertile void. 🌀

What is the fertile void?

Embrace that in-between feeling! Bring yourself to the present moment to inspire a renewed sense of purpose.

The fertile void concept comes from a psychotherapy practice called Gestalt theory founded by Fritz and Laura Perls in Germany in the 1940s. The Gestalt psychology pioneers wanted to emphasize this empty feeling as part of a Cycle of Experience.

In other words, you may feel empty right now — but you won't feel empty forever.

Image: person in white dress floating in purple water. Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

A fertile void can feel like:

  • No aspect of your life stands out for you.

  • You’ve lost interest in your goals.

  • You want to find a path forward, but you’re somewhere between giving up what once motivated you and finding a new motivation.

Lean into the empty feeling.

With some techniques and activities to bring you to the present moment, that in-between feeling can be embraced to inspire a renewed sense of purpose.

The fertile void is like a paradox that someone or something could be simultaneously both empty and full.

John Leary-Joyce, Gestalt Coach

What makes the fertile void unique?

The fertile void stands out as a unique approach to self-exploration as it focuses attention to the present moment instead of past experiences.

Smiling woman with purple hijab and praying hands stands in front of blue background Photo by Bangun Stock Production on Unsplash

The fertile void is a state AND a practice.

All at once, you'll experience profound confusion and hyper-exposure to reality. This means you DO have a job during this time, and that is to observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

It's an uncomfortable sensation, but this exposure to awareness creates a vacuum for ideas, knowledge, and truths that are difficult to see when you focused on future goals or past traumas.

GIF: Your mind matters

Psychotherapists sometimes guide patients through the fertile void by using the proven form of Gestalt therapy.  In Gestalt therapy, a patient exploring the fertile void might:

  • Take responsibility for their internal dialogue, without dwelling on past traumas or experiences

  • Relax from the labor of suppressing difficult emotions

  • Engage with mental blocks that have prevented emotional processing

  • Bring together fragmented perceptions of ourselves to feel more whole

How do I embrace the fertile void?

Our Rumie community has teamed up to give you some ideas for creative exploration. Here's how we become unstuck on any budget or schedule. 😃

Give short reads a try.

Reading an entire of work of fiction or magazine can be an intimidating task— but the benefits are huge! Reading enhances your imagination, vocabulary, and ability to visualize your dreams into reality.

If you have a short attention span or limited time for leisure, our Rumie Discord administrator, Kami, recommends trying reading one poem, article, chapter, or short story at a time.

Discover the bartering economy.

Why not trade your old monitor for a new 35mm camera? One Rumie Discord member recommends trading as a more accessible way to find books, equipment, and opportunities that will support you through times when you feel stuck.

You can check out bartering groups on Facebook, propose the concept to friends and family, or start your own group!

Experiment with mindfulness.

I recommend checking out these awesome techniques for bringing enjoying the present moment:

Step into nature.

Another Rumie Discord member even recommends rock hunting by a body of water as a mindful activity to bring you to the present moment.

P.S. They also mentioned not to forget your water shoes. 🌊

Enjoy some mystery.

What about exploring spooky environments like asylums and haunted houses? A Discord member highly recommends Rotten Manor and Erebus Haunted Attraction in Michigan! 😃

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Take Action

Do you think you're in a fertile void?

void floating GIF by akaidaia Fill that empty space with activities that will carry you through the motions:


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