Learn more about the COVID-19 protocols we have in place.

Home / Massage / Empty Bowl, Full Life

Lao Tze was an ancient Chinese philosopher credited with writing the “Tao Te Ching”. Often translated as “The Way”, he composed the 81 chapter book as a guide to help establish the ethics and moral codes of Chinese society, and the work expounds so poetically his thoughts on how to live a good life.

Written thousands of years ago, the teachings are timeless, as are many of the writings of the Chinese philosophers. A closer study and understanding of Chapter 11 might be particularly helpful to those of us who may be experiencing the overwhelming overload of situations that life presents to us in today’s world.  The following is one of many “Tao Te Ching” translations. Translated by www.taoistic.com, Chapter 11 reads:

Thirty spokes are joined in the wheel’s hub.
The hole in the middle makes it useful.
Mold clay into a bowl.
The empty space makes it useful.
Cut out doors and windows for the house.
The holes make it useful.
Therefore, the value comes from what is there,
But the use comes from what is not there.

Metaphorically speaking, our lives are the center hole of the wheel’s hub, the clay bowl, the doors and windows. Paraphrased, the message is simple enough, “Only when the bowl is empty is it most useful.” Hmmmm.  I’ve always adhered to the “the fuller the bowl, the better!” philosophy. This is often true, but when my bowl (aka life) is too full I’ve observed that my creativity is stalled, clear thinking becomes cloudy, progress is hindered. Sometimes I feel like a hamster spinning on its wheel. Nothing much gets accomplished, and I am of little use to anyone in that mode!

So, I endeavor to make a conscious effort to hop off the hamster wheel, re-group, and create moments of quiet space in my life in whatever way I am able. Receiving massage is one of my favorite ways to accomplish this. I find it relaxing, rejuvenating, and restorative. It’s the sixty minutes of peace and calm that will go a long way to help with emptying my overflowing bowl. I feel recharged and ready to venture back out into the world with more positivity and compassion. I feel useful again!

When you are stressed and overwhelmed, I encourage you to step back and contemplate what your bowl looks like. Is it too full and overflowing? What would emptying your bowl mean for you?  Will your best self re-emerge as a  healthier, happier, more creative, joyful, and “useful” in-serviceto-the-universe you? My study and interpretation of Lao Tze’s lesson in Chapter 11 of the “Tao Te Ching” has definitely helped me move in a direction of purposefully creating moments of stillness and quiet, and has absolutely made a positive difference in my life. I hope that it can help you to do the same!



  1. Beautiful! Thank you for this, Cindy.

  2. Thanks for this. Sometimes we need a reminders to look at life and make adjustments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Yes, I would like to receive emails from Nature of Massage. Sign me up!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Nature of Massage. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact