I noticed this image on a recent walk by a mountain lake in Wales. I was drawn to the reflection of the reeds and the twisted shapes, textures and colours emerging from the water.
Only one problem – the broken reed to the right of the picture.
When I looked at the image on my computer I noticed how frustrated I felt about how it ruined the symmetry of the image. I tried cropping it, photoshopping it, all sorts of things to get rid of the annoying reed.
Feeling curious about my reaction, I looked up ‘symmetry’ on Wikipedia and it offers one possible meaning: ‘a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.’
I delved further into Google hoping to find a definition, and found that words associated with symmetry include: ‘regularity, evenness, uniformity, equilibrium, consistency, congruity, conformity, agreement, correspondence, orderliness, equality.’
Mindfulness encourages us to welcome and embrace the not so harmonious aspects of our lives as well as the harmonious ones, so that we can move towards psychological balance or equanimity (calmness). I guess this is different to the apparent perfection of symmetry – but it is about balance.
The idea is that the more experiences, body sensations, feelings and thoughts we can allow in, then the more diluted and less intense everything is. If I pour red food colouring into a bowl of water, it will become red. If I pour the same amount into a lake, it will make barely any difference. In other words – we can cope with so much more when we allow everything in, even the difficult stuff. Then, like the lake, we may feel some disturbance at the surface but deep below the surface we can find an accepting stillness.
So I’m learning to love this picture just as it is, enjoying the feel of it, the atmosphere, and most of all – the broken reed.