January Week 4: The Principle of the Plumbline
Vertical thinking vs horizontal thinking
When we measure something, we take it against a standard. We take a length or weight that we know to be standardized and compare it to whatever we are trying to quantify or measure. That standard may be a ruler, a scale, or simply, a measuring stick. (A bathroom scale is a good tool unless you can shift your weight by leaning on your left foot and have it say you weigh less. I know it’s comforting, but it’s really not accurate or helpful.) We are by human nature, measurers.
Ideally our standard is unchanging, or of fixed proportion. In that definition, a ruler or an accurate scale could be a good way to measure. In today’s society our measure could very easily also be an advertisement, or an Instagram post. It could be our neighbor’s new car or a news story. Those are the blaring measuring sticks of our time, but they are not unchanging or fixed, so although they are loud, they are not a true measure.
Advertisements, social media,and the news are the things that will connect us horizontally. We reach out to those around us- sideways, if you will, and try to connect and find our direction along the sideways lines of our peers and society. With society constantly changing, new trends and times, there’s not much to count on in the long run. Sideways, horizontal lines leave us unsettled and, in large measure unhappy.
Enter the plumb line. Have you ever seen one of those? A plumb line is a heavy weight hanging from a string. When it stops swinging and becomes quiet, the string will be perfectly vertical. Used by builders through the centuries- as early as the pyramids, plumb lines are accurate because they measure vertically, to see if something is “upright” or standing up straight.
A plumb line is exact. With it you can find a perfectly vertical line. The earth’s unchangeable gravity will assure your line every.single.time. From that perfectly vertical line you can, with the help of a carpenter’s square, create perfectly horizontal lines as well. You can be sure that your measure is straight and true. You can count on it.
Are we thinking vertically, like our precise plumb line? Or are we engaging in some funky horizontal, variable cogitations? Social media can make for some wonky horizontal lines. Standing there, measuring yourself against a skewed horizontal and changeable line will make for some difficult days. Let’s shed some light and hope on the creation and cultivation of the vertical thinking that brings peace.
With your plumb line of peace, close your eyes and let your imagination observe the swinging of the weight in your life. I’m sure things have periodically been off balance this week. That can make life feel like it’s swinging in wild and unpredictable patterns. Let’s pause for just a minute for some soft belly breathing and let things slow down. Commit to 10 breaths.
With closed eyes, settle in comfortably. On an in breath through your nose, quietly think the word ‘soft’. Breathe all the way in. On an exhale through your mouth, think ‘belly’. Just slowly and softly, let yourself breathe in ‘soft’ and out ‘belly’ for those 10 breaths. We hold so much tension in our bellies- let’s give them a rest. Soft….Belly…. 10 breaths, eyes closed…then come back. (Come on, you have time- go back and do it. It’s only 10 breaths- you’ll be glad you did.) Long and slow and quiet.
Better right? Your plumb line has stopped the wild swinging, hasn’t it? It’s beginning to slow down. Now, check your posture. Come to a relaxed position of standing or sitting tall and straight with your chest lifted and head connected to the heavens. Just let your sternum lift you up. Your head will naturally connect skyward.
As you connect vertically and allow your plumb line to quietly still, you will come to find a true connection to your centered self. This is your inner truth. Feel her in your heart, in the quiet still space of your soul. She may offer you hope. She may offer you contentment. She may offer the still small voice of eternity. Just be still with your plumb line connected and settled. This is your plumb place.
From this vertical connection it’s easy to feel the inaccurate horizontal thoughts fall away.
Let the principle of the plumb line continue to guide you throughout the week. Take time when things start to swing wild, to breathe those soft belly breaths, connect your heart and head to the heavens, and feel the perfectly plumbed vertical connection. Find time to become quiet. It only takes a few breaths……Let life stop swinging you. Stay with your connected, vertical thinking and allow the horizontal simply lay there. You don’t need it. Stand tall. Just be you. Be plumb and true. Nobody does it better!©2021 CMH Coaching