After wearing my worry beads as a bracelet last week in hopes of gaining more insight as to what was going on with a sore wrist, I did a body-awareness meditation in which I asked my body whether it wanted to tell me anything. As I focused on listening to my body, I began to notice little achy feelings not only in my wrists and arms, but also in my ankles, knees, and hips—as if I had been holding up something much too heavy for much too long.

“I don’t want to bear the weight.”

This sentence flashed into my head. It wasn’t a reference to anything literal; I rarely carry heavy things, and I am not overweight. Whatever my subconscious mind was trying to tell me about weight had to be meant in the metaphorical sense. There are plenty of metaphors relating to weight—overburdened, weighed down, carrying the weight of the world.

Where might that have come from? At present, things are going pretty well for me; I have no problems that I would describe as heavy burdens. But like everyone else, I “bear the weight” of all those cultural expectations and past criticisms that sit in the back of people’s heads passing judgment on whatever thoughts go by. Trying to push them aside can feel like standing under a huge tree in a forest, with branches looming overhead everywhere, and trying to push it out of the way.

View of large tree from directly underneath it.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Of course, in a forest there are always paths around the trees, and the same is true of the barriers created by limiting thoughts and attitudes. We don’t have to let them block our paths or weigh us down, and there’s no need to be constantly in fight mode chopping at them with battle-axes either; we can simply choose to walk around them.

Instead of trying to push or drag obstacles out of the way, often it’s best simply to take a step back and look around for other paths. Just like trees in the forest, they’re not blocking the only way through, and they won’t be there forever. As time passes, nothing will be left but old forgotten trees with vines thickly covering the branches, until the rotten wood falls and there is no one around to hear it.

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