October 12, 2014

4 Steps to Saving Ourselves from Mental Quicksand.


When I was a boy, I was afraid of quicksand.

The threat of it seemed to be very real to me even though I lived smack in the middle of an urban city.

At least once a month on my favorite television programs, either Wonder Woman, The Six-Million-Dollar Man, or The Incredible Hulk all found themselves either sinking in quicksand, or saving someone else from sinking. On the school playground there were long and deep discussions about what we should ever do if we found ourselves sinking in quicksand, and sometimes the teachers would even join in, hoping to teach us something about science, but only reaffirming my fears, and making the possibility of a horrendous death seem possible.

For about a year, I even wore an extra-long belt just in case I found myself sinking in quicksand and had to use my belt to loop around some low hanging branch, and pull myself free.

As I grew older—and as none of my friends or classmates succumbed to tragic quicksand related accidents—I relaxed a little. I felt safe and confident, which is exactly how the quicksand wants you to feel, because once you let your guard down, you will taste better as it eats you alive.

In my adult life, when I started to place goals upon myself and strived to be a better person, quicksand came back with a vengeance, and encountering it became something I had to watch out for every single day.

For example, quicksand often attacks me while I’m meditating.

During an hour long sitting session, quicksand draws my into this strange type of half-life game where I will look at my watch at thirty minutes, then at forty-five, then at fifty-two and so on, until the last few moments seem to last longer than the entire first thirty minutes before I looked at the watch.

During those last few moments, all hope of being mindful had vanished, and I’m drowning.

If quicksand can get me while I’m meditating and supposed to be all aware and enlightened, then what chance to I have to protect myself from it in daily life?

How many of you have found yourself in the following scenario? You’re working on something, something that you’re passionate about, and you think everything is going fine, but then one thing goes wrong, and then another, and another, so you try to fight back but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink, till you can’t move…till you can’t breathe, because you’re in over your head, like quicksand.

That self-sustaining, ever growing vortex of failures and negativity starts to pull you down under by your very soul.

Wikihow.com has four steps to survive quicksand, which I will share with you so you will know what to do when you find yourself sinking.


  1. Drop everything. You can’t fully sink unless you panic and struggle too much or are weighed down by something heavy. Let it go.
  2. Move horizontally. If you feel yourself getting stuck, take a quick couple of steps backwards before the quicksand takes hold. It usually takes a minute or two to liquefy, which means the best method of getting unstuck is not to get stuck in the first place.
  3. Lay back. Relax. Remove the pressure you create by scrambling to find your footing. You might get dirty, but it’s the quickest and safest way to free yourself.
  4. Take your time. If you’re stuck in quicksand, frantic movements will only hurt your cause. Whatever you do, do it slowly. Slow movements will prevent you from agitating the quicksand. Vibrations caused by rapid movements can turn otherwise relatively firm ground into more quicksand.Relax, be aware of what’s happening around you, and perhaps wear an extra-long belt.


Good Luck.

Wikihow.com doesn’t mention this, but it’s also a good idea to remember that no matter how deep the pit of quicksand is, it will have a bottom, and once you reach the bottom there is only one way you can go…and that’s up.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Eamon Curry at Flickr 


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