I want to be like clear water. Still. Transparent.
I, like many others, use water in my meditation space. I pour it from a clear vase into a decorative shallow glass dish at the beginning of my time in that space, and often I then place coloured stones into the water. These stones represent various things at various times. Issues on my mind, people I am thinking of… They are placed in the water as a symbol of acknowledging them, bringing them into consciousness, honouring them, and occasionally letting them go. They remind me of what and who fills my time, my days, my life.
But today I didn’t use the stones.
I work a lot with my Third Culture Kid clients about identifying the issues – all the bits of them that fight for and need expression, honouring… all the pieces of themselves that have distinct needs that need meeting. And this is important work, hard work… it is work that leads the way towards better self knowledge and understanding. Marking and allowing these pieces to take up space in your identity, in your life; this is stone work.
But the water work is also important. Water work is the piece of work that allows the stones to be heard… it is the precursor of active sorting out and shaping, it is active stillness. We engage in water work when we actively make a decision to pour out our selves, and gaze into their waters. In my meditation, water work is where I simply AM. I don’t try to make my mind a blank or put away my thoughts, rather I allow them to bubble to the surface and I notice them. I notice my feelings. I notice my self; not as I wish I were, not in problem-solving or moving forward mode, but just noticing my feelings and allowing myself to feel them in all their fullness. The transparency of the water mirrors the transparency of my self as I sit in active stillness.
Water work is the part of therapeutic work that is often the most challenging. The stone work feels more pressing, more active, more ‘doing’. But the water work is where we learn about our selves, where our stones can take more precise shape, building a life on a transparent relationship with our Selves.
This week I have been distracted by my stone work, and frustrated by a sense that all my striving is trying to build an aspirational image that doesn’t really reflect who I AM. It isn’t my stone work… it’s the stone work I feel I should be doing. And it’s been hard going.
So I’m going back to water work – establishing actual, rather than aspirational feelings, noticing myself and what I’m feeling and doing moment by moment – active stillness. And the stone work? They are forming more precisely and organically, and I feel more accepting of the tasks or needs they express as deriving from me – the transparency of water work illuminates both the Now and the Next.
Does any of this make sense? I’ve been known to run away with a metaphor. But as I sat down to write this post, contemplating what to communicate about TCK processing, this is what happened. A life time of identity (re)construction can make us very gifted when presented with stone work. But while our gaze, for years perhaps, focusses on the stones, we lose sight of our water. Perhaps we rarely had time or space to notice ourselves in our current state, to notice our present feelings (both the comfortable and uncomfortable). Perhaps we focused on what we needed to be next… what we needed to feel to meet the needs of the community or culture around us… What stone work have we done to build lives that satisfy others?
Water, stones… these are just pictures, symbols, tools. Could they be useful to you on your journey? I wonder which work you prefer, and which you are facing at this time in your life… get in touch here and let me know.
Way to throw us a curve, Dr. Rachel! I thought surely this was going to be a riff on the patient working of water over time to wear away at stone. But you whipped up a different metaphor from the same ingredients. I do have some favorite smooth, oval rocks that sometimes I hold in my hand, just because it feels so good, and lets the mind briefly lift up from the present externals. Not much of this directly applies to your water/rocks imaging, but it’s where your interesting piece took me. Now . . . go to an image of water burbling over rocks; use both sound and sight. Another good way to chill . . .
I like to keep you on your toes, Dan 😉 Thank you for reading and letting me know what this piece sparked for you – holding stones can be very grounding, keeping us mindful of the moment… and yes, the sound of running water is very relaxing to many of us… so many ways we can use these ingredients!
And here I sit on a train reading your blog. The silence around me (quiet zone) forcing me to listen, really listen to what you are saying. More so, following your outstretched hand that beckons me to listen to me. In this no-mans-land of transition, travel if you like, there is a voice calling out. There is you, sitting at the water side. Patting the grass: come, sit and listen. Listen to yourself, hear you.
So I sit down and I am.
He leads me besides the still waters, He restores my soul. And sometimes He used others to get me there.
Thank you so much for reading… and for writing. So glad and so touched that this moved you and helped you towards stillness and restoration. Thank you for sharing.