This is so beautifully illustrated by a lecturer, who when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “how heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”
“If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem, if I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry all our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water. You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”
Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can, by mindfully coming into the moment. Life is short.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” Marcel Proust
Putting Down The Burden – Before you return home, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Every time the phone rings, bring your awareness to your breathing in the moment before you answer it.
Pay attention to transitions. For example, when you arrive at work take three breaths to consciously make the transition to begin at work. As you approach home after a day of work, be mindful of the transition you are making.
When you are upset or irritated, take three breaths slowly and purposefully, bringing your attention to the sensations of breathing. Then expand your awareness to the sensations in your whole body.
“Don’t let your throat tighten with fear, take sips of breath all day and night, before death closes your mouth.” Rumi
Start paying attention to your bodily sensations in this moment, and this moment, and this moment.
When driving, switch off the radio and observe all the other sounds coming into your ears, how they arise and pass away. Let them be. Spend half an hour with your kids, paying attention to them and your own sensations (of delight, boredom, irritation). Allow it all to be there. Honour it as this moment of your life, with them.
Notice how often you flit away from your current experience because it is not stimulating enough. Instead, stay with it, go deeper into the experience you would normally avoid. Find out if this leads to ease or distress. Explore it.
Get down on the floor at least once a day – for 10 minutes- without doing anything else but following the movements your body wants to make. This could include a stretch, a sigh or rolling around. See what happens. See how you feel.
“All our feeling, thoughts and sensations are like the weather that passes through, without affecting the nature of the sky itself. The clouds, winds, snow, and rainbows come and go, but the sky is always simply itself, as it were, a “container” for these passing phenomena. We practice to let our minds be the sky, and to let all these mental and physical phenomena arise and vanish like the changing weather. In this way, our minds can remain balanced and centred, without getting swept away in the drama of every passing storm.” MBCT 2002
(Source: Putting Down The Burden – Mindfulness Training Manual)
And as always please leave a comment below if you would like to share your experience or story of Putting Down The Burden. Looking forward to hearing from you!