The Way of the Labyrinth

Muskoka Labyrinth - Private Residence
Muskoka Labyrinth – Private Residence

“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now…”  —  Caroline Adams

I was invited to walk a homemade labyrinth on a friend’s property.  Honoured and excited by the invitation, I deliberately resisted my natural inclination to hit the Internet to prepare myself for the experience.  I have long wanted to do a labyrinth walk and intended to face this new experience with a fresh and unclouded mind.  Let it show me – no expectations.

When I arrived, I couldn’t see the labyrinth initially but as we walked down a small slope it came into view carved discreetly into the calf-high grass of a long-gone farmer’s field. The sky, like my mind, was clear and cloudless.  The gold of sunshine shimmered in the waving field of grass.

I approached the labyrinth’s entrance, which was freshly mowed and ready.  My friend presented a lit stick of incense to discourage mosquitos from getting too close.  I puffed out the flame and enjoyed a delicate whiff of sweet grass from the plume of smoke wisping from the stick. With bated breath and thumping heart I entered the labyrinth.

Unlike a maze, which is design to baffle and confuse, a labyrinth is a single path that winds eventually into its centre calling upon receptivity rather than logic.  There are no wrong turns, no dead ends.  The only decision required for the labyrinth, or spiritual life, for that matter, is whether or not to take that first step.

Based on spirals and circles found in nature, labyrinths all lead circuitously into the centre and back out again. Found across cultures, religions and time labyrinths are an archetype thought to represent the journey of the pilgrim or the spiritual journey of venturing upon the path inward, finding the seat of the soul where transformation occurs and returning home bearing the gifts of transformation to share with the world.

Releasing my breath, I silently began my journey, step by tentative step. The first turn was to the left as the path wound its way around and back again.  I walked mindfully with my breath, birdsong and bug buzz in the air, feeling the firm plant of my feet with every step.

Head down as I walked, I saw what appeared directly in front of me rather than trying to determine how far I had come or looking ahead in anticipation of my arrival in the centre.  This reminded me that I can only really be with what is, where I am, in the moment, and to look back or too far forward is to lose sight of the journey.   When my attention drifts backward or forward, I may trip over the debris in my immediate path or miss the beauty around me.

Staying with each step, I kept my awareness focused on sensation – the light touch of the summer breeze, the delicate scent of sweet grass, the warmth of the sun and the call of a far off rooster beseeching me to wake up.  It is in these small but grand moments that our quest is satisfied.  It may not be the big answers that will come to us in moments of clarity but perhaps gentle reminders that we are on the right path after all, that we are moving in the right direction, to trust we are exactly where we need to be and not second guess our own knowing and intuition.

Arriving in the centre, I paused at the small bench, sat and reflected on my journey inward to the heart of the labyrinth.  I reveled in feeling peaceful and delighted but knew that I must begin the meandering way outward.  This too shall pass.  I journeyed three times, inward and outward again, step by step.

Quilted Pocket Labyrinth
Quilted Pocket Labyrinth

Heading home, I experienced a flush of contentment and a deep sense of connection to earth and sky and everything in between and beyond.  I was momentarily overwhelmed by the ways of mindfulness that are available to us should we choose to accept.  All paths with heart that serve to raise our awareness and remind us of our magnificence, ultimately bringing us closer to flow and to each other, lead inexorably to our centre, to our vast potential for healing and transformation.

“And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”  — Caroline Adams

Resources:

http://www.bethuneunitedchurch.com/labyrinth

http://www.labyrinthnetwork.ca/ontario-labyrinth-directory/

http://www.laishley.com/luna/ways-of-western-wisdom/labyrinth/

http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth.htm

http://www.veriditas.org/aboutlabyrinth

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