Really interesting musings from the OP - and an interesting thread. Although not completely in line with the empty mind concept, it definetely points to one of the core problems of photographing, and that is to avoid visual clichés. If the "emptynes" works for you to get rid of visual preconceptions - fine. I tend to go another route (which you can see as a kind of"simmilar opposite").
I try to shoot two sheets of 4x5 film in my old Speed Graphic each day (one holder). Nice as a document of the daily routine, but, more important, a e reallly good lesson of judging the (personally) right from the wrong. The awkwardness of the 4x5, the slow composing (you can shoot handheld with the Speed), and the limitations of two sheets all help in bringing a certain aesthetic judgement upfront - which is helping me clearing the vision.
As a sideeffect I love to shoot grainy Tri-x in Rodinal again