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Navigating Locks

I am currently on a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, my first. If you've ever seen any of the advertisements for these excursions -- Viking, for example, does a good job of tempting you with the video of their ship gently gliding down a river with local towns along the banks. That's exactly how it is. Smooth, interesting, and elegant.

I love being completely cared for by a wonderfully attentive staff and crew. At one of our dockings, the gate where our ship has regularly stopped for many years was inexplicably welded shut! With no one around to address this and with a walking tour awaiting us, it was fascinating watching several men create a new gangplank that allowed us to disembark in a safe way.

I also am thoroughly enjoying meeting people from other parts of the world. On this particular ship with about 100 guests, there are not that many Americans, but lots of Australians, Canadians, and some New Zealanders. I look forward to mealtimes when I can sit with different people, find out about their lives or chat with someone as we stroll the cobblestone streets in a quaint village.

But, one of the most interesting and unexpected parts of this journey is the locks we must

pass through to get through the rivers. I knew what a lock was before I boarded, however I don't remember having gone through one. As a reminder for anyone who doesn't remember what a lock is, it's where the level of water in a canal or river suddenly changes and so it must be raised or lowered in order for the boat to continue on. Traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest involves going down the Rhine to the Main and then, the Danube Rivers. The Main River alone has 34 locks!

The last 24 hours have been a series of locks and as I experienced coming into the lock and watching as our barge is raised up and then released into the next part of the river, I realized there was a life lesson in it.

See if you can stick with me on this metaphor ... As we navigate life, we will naturally encounter rough waters or ebbs and flows, not to mention depths and shallows. If we aren't paying attention we can run aground or go off in the wrong direction or even get way off course. If the waters around us aren't deep enough, we get caught up in the superficial and insubstantial and we can feel like we are "frittering" our lives away. On the other side of that, if we are in waters that are too deep, we risk drowning in the deluge, A fathom is a unit of length used to measure water depth. It makes sense that when something is unfathomable it's way too deep to understand or make sense of it.

What if the solution to all this were to stay on a previously charted course and to slide into a lock whenever the waters became dangerous or impassable? Here are just two possibilities:

  • Glide into a meditation lock. Allow yourself to be held in a safe place where you can get quiet and connect with your inner soul. We all have the truth inside us that we can access through stillness and being present. As we rest in "what is", we can then rise up to where we need to be to move forward OR we will disengage from the drama or story that is holding us back. I have observed this in both myself through my meditation practice and in others with whom I've shared meditative techniques.

  • Create a lock of support. Reach out to friends who support you. Consult with mentors who can assist you in climbing up to your fuller potential or even out of anxiety as you rechart your course.

There's no reason you can't have smooth sailing. You can become the captain of your voyage if you learn some simple guidelines and surround yourself with a good crew.


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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

the Mindful Maven and Mistress of Meditation, is a sassy Queen-ager, mentor, confidante and trusted guide who provides people with everyday life support. 

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