A rock tumbler is a very simple device. It’s a small machine that turns a barrel round and round non-stop for weeks at a time. Inside the barrel are your rocks, water, and grit. The grit is what makes your rocks smooth and acts as the sand that nature uses to smooth and polish your rocks.

I like in this description how it talks about the rock tumbler being a very simple device. It turns the barrel non-stop for weeks to polish rocks. To smooth stones. To make them shine. It got me thinking about our own times of life where we feel we are continually turned round and round for weeks and weeks. Tumbled over and over as “nature” polishes our rock with the idea that we must have done something to deserve this. We must be being punished. Or thinking this is just how life is supposed to be. With the constant wondering when will it ever stop?

I can especially remember when I felt if the “rock tumbler” of life didn’t stop, there was no way I would survive. Do you know what I am talking about?

  • the constant chaos in the mind
  • the never ending wringing in the mid-section
  • the pounding beating drum of the heart
  • the whole body trembling
  • the fighting, explaining, defending seemingly upon deaf ears
The “lotioning, oiling, oiling, lotioning” until you can’t take it anymore.

In yoga philosophy we practice the Yamas and the Niyamas (you can think of them like the 10 commandments). The five Yamas are known as restraints and the five Niyamas are known as observances. One of the Niyamas is called Tapas. Tapas, to me, is our refining center. We look at what we do when we are in the Rock Tumbler of life. When you are thrown chaos, confusion, when you feel so beaten… what do you do?

This is the place of refining.
Do you continually let the rocks tumble you? Or can you tumble the rocks? What if instead of the agony of being tumbled by life, we observe it as a place of refining and step into the opportunity to shine. When you are thrown chaos, confusion, when you feel so beaten… what do you do?

Here are some of the things I try to observe in myself when I try to get out of the “being beaten” mindset:

  • Silence. I can’t tell you how powerful silence is. When the integrity of my person is being questioned I notice right away the thoughts of my mind. The racing rebuttal that automatically comes in aggressiveness or defense. I want to explain myself. Tell my story. Correct others perception of me. BUT, there is something so powerful about silence. As I recognize those thoughts, reactions, I try to breathe through them. Understand that that is my unconscious response. And sit. I have discovered with time that clarity comes. Who am I when the integrity of my person is questioned? Well, I am me. And I don’t have to explain or defend that to anybody. I can respond in a way of love and light and continue to maintain my dignity. I can be the tumbler. 
  • Accept. My body has a physical response to being tumbled, as described above. Sometimes they are pretty intense sensations. Very uncomfortable. Even though I am trying to step in to a new roll of being the tumbler, it’s still hard and my body has a physiological response of the beating. For me, it helps to recognize that they are there. To put words to them. To understand that the sensations are there to inform me, but I do not have to be controlled by them. Let them be. Be the tumbler.
  • Refine. In the silence and the acceptance comes the refining. When we act differently then we usually do. When we create a different pattern. When we respond rather than react. We are the tumbler.
When we can begin to see that the rocks in our tumbler aren’t there to beat us down, but to let help us shine. We do. We hop in and tumble along, breathing, moving, refining all along the way. The rock tumbler is a very simple device. It is life. What are you going to do with your rocks?

I love you!
Love, Sariah

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