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  • Kimberly Peterson

The Path We Take

I want to take a moment and note on why I chose this symbol, the unalome, as part of my counseling practice. In short, it is a Buddhist symbol that means the path to enlightenment. While I don't classify myself as a Buddhist, I do appreciate symbols that can represent an entire idea or statement. Another popular symbol we have seen over time is the semi-colon (;) which in grammar world means that the sentence has not quite ended. In the symbolic world it provides that same meaning but with the understanding that you are the author of your life and your story is not over yet. It gives voice to those struggling with mental illness and suicide.

The unalome represents a path towards enlightenment to include all of the twists and turns that we have along the way. This is not the only way that the unalome is represented. A quick Google search will show many different forms of it. What I appreciate about it is the different parts of it and what they each signify. The spirals and curves represent the various paths that we take, the twists and turns, the ups and downs that we experience. The straighter lines represent moments of enlightenment, more peaceful and harmonious times that we may experience. And the the dots represent life and death; there is an end and there is a beginning. All of the things in the middle are our experiences, the good and the bad. Whatever it is in the middle is part of what makes us who we are, it has shaped us over time. It is a visual representation of our paths towards becoming who we are over time, exploring ourselves and our surroundings through experience and reflection. It is symbolic of a spiritual and personal journey.

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