Walking the Labyrinth of Life
One day while meditating, I got a clear message, "walk the labyrinth". Prior to this day, I had not given labyrinths any thought, not even sure I had ever walked one. My initial reaction was this will be fun because I love puzzles and mazes. I was envisioning a corn maze. But after googling labyrinths, I realized labyrinths are different from a maze. In a maze, you are strategizing and thinking how to get out or get to a specific goal. But, a labyrinth, all you have to do is mindlessly follow the path - it always leads to the goal, which is the center. There is no thinking or figuring out required. I remember a mentor of mine sharing his experiences of walking labyrinths as a walking meditation. Labyrinths have been part of the spiritual tradition and used as a walking meditation, a way to quiet the mind and activate your internal guidance system (your heart). I love walking and I love meditating, so I thought, putting the two together should be fun. Now, I just had to find a labyrinth since I was sure I had never actually seen one.
I went online and found a labyrinth locator and found that someone in a neighborhood close by had built a labyrinth in their backyard. I am not normally the type to go over to a stranger's house, but the strong desire to walk the labyrinth coupled with the fact that it was 2 miles from my parents' house in the suburbs, seemed like a sign. I set up a time to walk the labyrinth on a rainy Friday afternoon. The first one I walked was designed based on the labyrinth in Chartes Cathedral in France, which has become the popular labyrinth that I have now walked a few times in various locations. As with meditating, it is amazing the thoughts that jump into your mind when you are focused on quieting the mind of thoughts. And, the added challenge of never having walked a labyrinth before, my mind immediately went to thoughts of "am I doing this right?". But, as a quieted my mind and just focused, the thoughts became fewer and further between. But, the ones that did pop up were pretty profound.
- The path always continues to the goal, just keep following the path.
- You can turn around, jump to another path, stop of have an emotional response anytime you want, it just makes the laid out, perfectly planned path, longer.
- Pain (I walked the path barefoot and got stabbed by a baby tree branch), nuances (and attacked by mosquitos), and stop signs can come up on the path, just keeping going, one foot in front of the other.
- Getting there is short lived enjoyment (when I reached the middle); the path is what is interesting.
- The only way out is back through the path. Now, that you know the path, there is so much less head talk getting out.
- It is all ok, always.
- Sometimes on the path, you feel like you may not be on the path (especially when I was in the outer most ring - I was not sure if that was an actual ring or if I had somehow kicked myself off the path). But, you cannot mess it up. Just keep walking.
A few days later, I got the opportunity to walk another labyrinth. It is the exact same design as the previous one I had walked, but still the thoughts flowed through my brain:
- When I was on the outer most ring - I feel so far from where I wanted to be. It brought up deep sadness, like how will I ever get there, and what if I never get there.
The response I got to this from my heart was - Why would you want to be anywhere other than where you are?
Love, peace, serenity, joy and life are right here in the present moment, wherever you may be.
- Halfway through the labyrinth, I decided to take my shoes off and walk barefoot. The ground was really hot! The first thing I noticed was how connected I felt to the whole world and how present I became immediately. It felt absolutely amazing. My next thought - This is helping me feel but really slowing me down. The response from my internal guidance system - what is wrong with slowing down and feeling?
All of these insights perfectly align to life. Life is also just a twisty, turney path, a labyrinth. It is not a maze. There is a path. It is perfectly designed and laid out for you. And no two paths are exactly alike. You have your perfectly laid out route and I have mine - so any comparison of our lives is just silly. They cannot and should not be the same - our paths are not the same. Imagine giving me directions based on a map of your city, when I am in a different city. No one can tell you what is right for you - it has to come from within. And, luckily, you have an internal guidance system, your own personal GPS, which is designed to get you through your own life. All you have to do is get quiet (your mind), connect with your heart, and tune in (meditate) to connect to it. There is no way to get it wrong. You can't mess up; you just have to keep going. And, you can decide to stand still, have an emotional response, figure out the past, or plan for the future, but all of that just delays your walking your path. And, as much as we all have a goal, a place we are getting to, once we get there (whatever current goal it is), the moment is short lived and we realize the precious moments were walking the path to get there, not the achievement itself.
Since walking my first labyrinth, I have seen them everywhere! I am shocked by how many there are and the fact that they keep popping up into my awareness. I was driving down a road I have driven down a million times and saw a huge sign that was advertising they had a labyrinth. I had never seen that sign there before even though the labyrinth (and sign) had been there since the first time I drove down that road over 20 years ago. My personal message I received from walking the labyrinths was to trust the process of life. I am a planner. I have a backup plan for everything but realizing that I cannot get it wrong has been liberating. It has allowed me to stay completely present in the moment and truly follow my heart, which is my life's mission. Each time I see a labyrinth, I take a few minutes to walk it, just to remember the importance of trusting and being in the present moment. Now, I can walk them completely mindlessly and it has become a true walking meditation and more importantly, a reminder that life is always working for me and never against me. All we have to do is let go of the desire to control how life flows and follow our heart. Your heart's path will always lead you to where you need to be.
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Hi! Welcome to my blog, Lunch with Cinderella. I love writing about my life experiences and the fact that they may help spur some cool experiences of your own. If you are here, leave a comment... I read them all and love hearing from you!
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