How To Still Your Mind With a Plumb Bob

There are times that my thoughts and feelings seem to swing like monkeys in a tree.

My mind just seems to go everywhere. It swings into depression, anxiety and then back into depression.

My mind seems to have a mind of its own.

Recently I was speaking on a podcast and suggested that it’s like a pendulum swinging back and forth, but actually, I think I can refine this down to an even better picture.

Back in the old days, and still today, when builders wanted to check to see whether the wall they were building was vertical they would hang from the top of the wall a plumb bob.

Roman Plumb Bob
Roman Plumb Bob

This is a heavy weight tied to a piece of string. The force of gravity acting on the weight would create a vertical taut string line from which they could measure their wall against.

The weight at the bottom had to be heavy enough to hold the string taut. Imagine a feather being placed at the bottom of the string. That string line would just float around with any little breeze.

Plumb bobs work really well when there is no wind.

They stay straight and true, but when any wind comes along, that thin string and the weight on the end can act like a sail. The wind moves over it and pushes the string line away from vertical, from being centred.

Then when the gust of breeze stops, the plumb bob swings back the other way.

The wind comes, the plumb bob moves out.

So how do we keep a plumb bob still on a windy day?

You stick the plumb bob into a bucket of water.

The water stops the plumb bob swinging around. The presence of the water acting on the surface of the bob creates resistance to movement.

Here is how this plays out in my life.

When the inevitable winds and storms of life roll in and my mind starts dancing a ‘non’ merry tune.

When it begins to swing around I take these steps.

  1. I picture my life being like a plumb bob on a stormy day. It is tossed around from side to side. I see the pendulum swinging  and rocking back and forth.
  2.  I ask for help from Spirit (Holy).
    I recognise that I need help from outside of myself, that I can’t live this moment without some external stable presence.
  3. I picture Jesus bringing a bucket. Into this bucket, he places my swinging pendulum of thoughts and feelings.
  4. Jesus then pours water of divine truth around me.
    In particular, I like to focus on the words ‘I am with you’. This sense of ‘with-ness’ brings incredible feelings of peace and quiet to my mind.

    “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12

This is an exercise that you need to train yourself in.

It certainly won’t come naturally.

In fact, it may seem totally unnatural to you.

You may well want to take charge, be in control. You may think you can handle all those thoughts and feelings yourself. That you can problem solve and control the winds and storms hitting your life.

Jesus wants to be involved.

To come as a dear friend and sit with you and say ‘I’m with you, let’s do this together’

This is all part of training the brain to invite Gods presence to be your still point, to help you centre.

Quotes to consider

  • Prayer that gives God the most penetrating access to our depths is prayer that is offered in stillness. Dr. David Benner
  • The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. Søren Kierkegaard
  • Prayer is talking with God about what we’re thinking and doing together. Dallas Willard

Questions to answer

  1. What causes your mind to swing into rhythms of depression and anxiety?
  2. What verses could help you to become centred?

Barry Pearman

Image: pandevida



4 Replies to “How To Still Your Mind With a Plumb Bob”

  1. What a wonderful and useful illustration. It helps to have a visual in mind to use when the storms of life hit. I also love the quotes.
    Beckie from Spotlight,

  2. When my mind swings, I use the Scripture verse ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ I concetrate on each word separately.
    BE (God calls us first to be,not to do. And to BE with him. We are created as human be-ings, not human do-ings.)
    STILL (deep, even breathing watching a sleeping baby, heavy in my arms)
    AND (There’s more, always more that God has for us.)
    KNOW (Repeat the truth I already know)
    THAT (Specifically, the truth about God, our Father.)
    I AM (No beginning, no end, omnipresent, all knowing.)
    GOD (call to mind the character of God so far revealed to us in Scripture. Faithful, trustworthy, loving,holy, just, unwavering and constant, keeper of promises, etc.)

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