Monday, July 28, 2014
Walking the labyrinth of life.....
In the past couple of days I’ve walked three labyrinths here on Maui. Two of them in a beautiful setting at The Sacred Garden (www.sacredgardenmaui.com)on the lush, tropical side of the island and the third on a magnificent, wild and windy headland jutting out into the ocean on the west coast.
Labyrinths are an ancient and sacred symbolic manifestation of the journey of life, the spiritual journey, the journey within. They wind slowly and methodically back and forth, sometimes appearing to lead one close to the center only to be led away again back to the very edge of the circle. Eventually, after meandering through its lengthy pathways one arrives in the center. After spending as much time as feels comfortable in the center of the imaginary cocoon, one turns to retrace one’s steps back to the beginning.
What a metaphor for our life’s journey!
As I walked the labyrinths many things came to my mind. As I slowed my pace and became aware of each time I placed my foot on the ground, I began to wonder why I was not always this mindful in my everyday life? My usual modus operandi is to get up in my head thinking of this and that, having ideas, wondering how I will carry them out. When I do this, I am definitely not thinking about where my feet are in relation to the rest of me. The result is that often I trip or bump into furniture or other people. Walking and thinking at the same time are clearly a challenge for me!
The gentle wandering of the pathways seemed to mimic the wandering of my mind. Often I think of one thing and, a few minutes later I find that my mind has wandered many miles off its path. Now something else has grabbed my attention and the original thought – or deed – is left incomplete. I felt almost as if the labyrinth itself was mocking me and gently prodding me to look at my ridiculousness and laugh at myself.
Reaching the center of the labyrinth brought me a feeling of peace and calm. I had slowed down and relaxed on the journey and now reaching this place of balance and serenity gave me a fresh perspective on what it means to be on the journey of life. I am not meant to be racing into the future in competition with everyone else and even with time itself. My life journey is meant to be calm and measured. I am meant to breathe easy at all times and not be affected by what is going on outside. My calm comes from my center where I am always at peace.
Retracing my steps in the opposite direction reminded me that there is nothing new in this world. Everything has been done before. Therefore I need not worry that I will be alone or unsupported. If I reach out for help, if I ask, someone will have been there before me and can give me encouragement to walk my own path.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to build two labyrinths outside of my previous home. Now in a new home with a much smaller outside space, I am considering how to create a labyrinth type walk in my backyard. Although I cannot construct a full size labyrinth out there I am beginning to see that I can make a walkway that meanders around and through the yard coming to a central space and then returning to where it began. Strolling mindfully around this on a daily basis will keep me connected to all that I learned walking the labyrinths in Maui.
The Labyrinth Society (www.labyrinthsociety.org) has much information about labyrinths and you can locate them worldwide through their search function. I intend to seek out labyrinths whenever I travel from now on and to check out those in my own neck of the woods. Won’t you join me?