Rocks on the Road to Transformation


in Happiness,Personal Growth

A friend of mine arrived at my house the other day with a stack of rocks. Beautiful smooth rocks. Flat. Some speckled. Others intriguing shades of gray.

Their simple beauty delighted me.

You see, I love rocks. I love to toss them in the water and watch them make ripples. I love to discover their exquisite colors and shapes as I wander along sandy beaches. I love to hear the crunching sound they make as I walk over them.  I love to place them in my garden and enjoy the contrast their hardness makes with the softness of the plants.

What a thoughtful gift, I thought.

My friend placed the rocks carefully in my family room – stacking them one on top of the other. “This is a rock cairn,” she said.

How nice, I thought, and nodded at her like I understood.

She clarified by telling me that cairns help mark paths so that people can find their way back when they are climbing or walking in the mountains.

How interesting, I thought, and continued nodding like I understood.

My friend, who is a brilliant teacher and coach, shared with me that she asks her students and clients to write down what their obstacles are on these rocks. To see them. To name them. To feel their weight. Because, she said, “the obstacles are the path.”

That’s when I got goosebumps and nodded because I finally understood.

What we perceive as being obstacles is what we need to pay attention to.

What we are resisting is what we must step into.

What we are preoccupied with is what is calling to us.

What we most want to avoid is what we most need to be with.

What we see as weighing us down is what has the power to lift us up and transform us.

Our obstacles are like rocks. Unique. Beautiful. Begging to be found and held. Explored. Perhaps marking the paths we need to travel. Perhaps tossed. Perhaps noted as a truly remarkable discovery.

Once we see our obstacles and choose to move through them – rather than going around them or avoiding them altogether – we are on the path of exploration. And, perhaps transformation if we continue follow that path where it leads.

Knowledge in the form of our “cairns” gives us permission to explore the unknown because we know we aren’t in danger of losing our way. We can find our way back if we need to. We’ve marked the path.

Have any rocks in your world?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandi Amorim January 17, 2011 at

This post is so timely as I feel there is a lot of unknown in my life right now. Like you I love rocks, they are everywhere in my home – touchstones that ground me. The idea that they can now help me explore the unknown feels right, almost restful in a strange way.

Today I will choose a rock to carry with me, open to whatever shows up.
Sandi Amorim recently posted..Giving With Both Hands


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

How incredible to discover that we both love rocks. Another reason why I like you! Glad today’s post struck a chord.


gee backhouse January 17, 2011 at

Hi Andrea,
As you know, I’m more than a little seduced by rocks! However, we still pick up a stone or a rock when out walking with friends from the village, adding to the way markers on the tracks we follow. Each of these walks incorporates a related history tale, so helps us to learn more about the area we live in. The cairns are ancient and have been added to by all manner of folk over the years. That’s something I relish being a part of, keeping up the tradition.
gee backhouse recently posted..Momentum


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Oh, I love that you do this! What a great tradition to be a part of and to help you feel connected to where you live. Thanks, Gee!


Sandra January 17, 2011 at

Funny, I always collect a rock on my various journeys. It doesn’t matter how small or large, I take the one that speaks to me. I thank the universe for providing a lovely, solid reminder of the paths I’ve taken. I love the idea of embracing our obstacles with the rocks. Now I have a means to make two different cairns. One to find my way home to myself and one to my way through to the other side of obstacles. Glorious!


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Sandra … That’s so beautiful. Thank you!


Angel January 17, 2011 at

This is so funny…. (funny ironic…). I have always adored rocks (although I always refused to call them ‘rocks’ for some reasons… but rather called them my ‘stones’). I used to collect them from the gravel road out near my grandparent old house. I’d constantly watch where I was walking in case a particular stone called out to me on my journeys. For a loooong time, I kept a soft velvet bag full of my stones. Some semi-precious, some precious only to me. I’m not sure where that bag went, but I’m sad now that I’m missing it.

What an awesome way to look at all of this.. “The obstacles are the path”, and how timely this is for me as well… I’m going to be making notes of your comments and questions above and carrying this with me over the next week or so. I have a very strong feeling that this is really important for me right now…

Thanks for always putting really great thoughts out there for us Andrea!! (Oh, and I’m getting the e-mails now… yaayy you!!)
Angel recently posted..The truth about a bug called- Me


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

I wanted this blog to be a gathering place for kindred spirits and now I find that so many of us hold rocks near and dear. What a lovely discovery! I’m glad this post is timely for you. Thanks, Angel!


Karen Paritee January 17, 2011 at

Hi Andrea!

Got here via RTs from Sandi at Deva Coaching and Angel at An Experiment in Gratitude. (I echo Angel’s sentiments on your title.)

What came out of your goosebumps reminded me of Lao Tzu, 300 BC…
“Empty the self, and be full.
Bend, and be straight.
Yield, and overcome.
Wear out, and be new.”

I am sure he would appreciated your post, too!


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Hi Karen! I’m pleased that you found me. :) Lao Tzu … exactly right!


Jesse January 17, 2011 at

Instead of trinkets, we bring home rocks as souvenirs from our trips.

Now to make a cairn with them.

Love this.


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Sweet! Thanks, Jesse!


Diane Easley January 17, 2011 at

I LOVE rocks and have several cairns in our yard and gardens. I also love the idea of writing down my obstacles on the stones. What a lovely practice. Thank you!


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Who knew that we all have this secret rock thing going on? :) The credit for writing down the obstacles on the rocks goes to my friend, Shelley Glendenning at Designing My Practice. Glad you liked it!


Ronna January 17, 2011 at

You are part of my cairn, Andrea. Beautiful post. Powerful thoughts. Truth. Truth. Truth. Thank you.
Ronna recently posted..What bathrooms- writing- and life have in common


Andrea January 17, 2011 at

Likewise, my friend, likewise.


Shingyo Shelley January 18, 2011 at

Delighted that the simple rock cairn moved you so. Ahhhh…I love that rocks stir so many folks.

This use of Rock Cairns as Metaphor, especially when creating/inventing and leaving the well-trodden path, is part of my curriculum for Designing My Practice, the transformation and change work that I offer.
If you’d like to know more simply get in touch!

PS The Tao passage above is the one that I mentioned when we spoke! Great minds, eh?


Andrea January 18, 2011 at

Amazing, isn’t it? Thank you for your insightfulness and for showing me a new way to look at my obstacles. :)


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