I remember it well, following the small, quiet woman down the hallway that led to the candlelit room. She talked softly as she told me her name and explained how long she had been a massage therapist. As we reached the doorway, she paused and said,
“Before we go in you must leave your burdens here.”
She reached for a basket that was hanging next to the door. How did she know I was overflowing with worries? Burdens? I was holding more than would fit in her small basket. Was it that obvious? Were they clinging to the white cotton robe I wore like lint balls that you want to pick off before someone notices? Smiling at my puzzled, fearful expression she explained,
“The Native American Culture believes in leaving your worries at the door before you enter a place of peace. You must put your burdens in this basket, so our time together is free of worry, concern or despair. This will free your spirit and you will relax into clear serenity.”
I looked at her dark, sincere eyes and began mentally going through the list I carried: my father’s illness; work; family; appointments; bills; the list went on and on. I cupped my hand as if I were pouring these worries, and so many more, into the basket and silently hearing them clunking as they piled in. She smiled broadly as she saw the weight lift from me and become the duty of the basket.
For the next hour as I inhaled the smell of lavender and my muscles were relieved of their stress, I thought of the basket, the ritual, the splendor of it all. My mind had also been relieved of tension in a very real way. I left feeling warmer, lighter, happier. That evening I realized what I had forgotten. I had not stopped to gather my burdens from the basket as I left. Was I supposed to? Did I fail Burden Basket etiquette?
I couldn't forget the experience - The reverence I felt as the basket was explained to me, the seriousness of the ritual and the calmness as a result of the process.
I needed one. I needed a basket of my own. So I began searching.
It wasn't until several years later in a small shop in New Mexico that I found one. A Burden Basket! With great excitement I purchased it. Once I was home with my treasure, I hung it high at the entry of my meditation loft. I took joy in the dumping of my burdens before I would enter my quiet space. Now, it was more peaceful without the chatter -the irritating chatter of my worries.
And still, after years of this daily practice, I forget to gather my burdens as I leave the room.
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Pennie's Life Lesson: Do not allow burdens to hold your mind, your heart or your home as their resting place. Remove them from your space of serenity.
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