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Meditation | Separating Rocks from Sand

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

I'm having a bad morning. I'm in a lot of body pain. My husband and I are trying to find common ground as we recommit to our marriage and counseling. Some days I head into meditation and just spread my blanket of woes to Spirit with my head down. This is one of those days.


My question to my horse guide, Winslow: Why is life so hard?


I'm lying on my meditation mat, twelve floors up in the sky of my condo in South Lake Union, across the street from Amazon headquarters, or as I like to call it, Sears 2.0. I can hear the bus traffic below and an ambulance siren, on Denny Ave., crossing from Belltown to Capitol Hill. I'm not confident in my recent life decisions. I don't know whether buying a home on Orcas Island is the right move, even though writing there comes easily. I am going there in two weeks to rent the place I wanted to buy. I need convincing and a run-down of what I am getting into, buying a home on waterfront property, and away from the health and wellness support system it took me years to cultivate and I was so dependent upon. Yikes…


In my mind’s eye, Winslow is already there on the grass in the front yard on Orcas, looking perfectly at ease. His tail and mane are waving in the breeze off the waters of the Strait, about 15 yards behind him.


In my mind's eye he places a picture of my fancy, robin’s-egg-blue lacquered serving tray—a representation of my “look good” life. It is filled with sand. Winslow is enlarging it to the size of a person. The bottom of the tray is gone and in its place is wire mesh. The tray is lifted and sand is pouring out the bottom, revealing a few large rocks and pebbles, resting on the mesh. It’s a bit like watching a Dali painting in motion or a Zen garden taking form. It’s quite beautiful. The sand pouring out the bottom is returning to the sand on the beach in front of me. One of the rocks left in the tray reminds me of Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, Oregon, a place I visited years ago and realized the Northwest felt like home.


Winslow: “Most people live their entire lives within the tray, walking on top of the sand, doing their best not to crash into the rocks. You are elevating yourself, your consciousness. You are letting go of what’s not important and focusing on what is.”


I’m barely listening, feeling good and mesmerized by the sand endlessly falling from the tray, when he shouts me out of my trance: “Let go of the constructs!” (Kind of like the movie Moonstruck when Cher yells, "Snap out of it!") He adds quietly, “Read the book,” and flashes in my mind an image of The Untethered Soul, a book I just bought.


This book seems to be about detaching myself from my thoughts, learning to separate the rocks from the sand. Even after this meditation, spirit has continued to flash in my mind's eye an image of the tray with the sand pouring out. When I am caught up in a sense of everything being urgent, this image reminds me that I can let things go, let the sand go, and see what rocks remain.


What I Learned:

  • There is a need to separate what I sense is urgent and what is truly important. As Michael Singer puts it, "We discover who we are by letting go of who we are not."

  • The constructs in my life are the rocks--or blocks--in my life, and those rocks are the trail markers that point me to what needs to be examined.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is the “sand” in your life?

  • What “rocks” are you avoiding that maybe you should walk toward?


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