To learn more about what a labyrinth is, please see my earlier blog posts on “What Is A Labyrinth” written by Trish Kalhagen on April 27, 2010. Also check out the blog post on “Walking The Labyrinth” posted on May 12, 2010. This particular account is of my first time walking a labyrinth. It was an experience that I will cherish forever.
Today, I walked the labyrinth for the first time.
“I don’t know what they are doing but it looks nice,” said one lady.
“It looks like a nice maze or something,” said another lady.
Of course, these were the words I heard as I walked a portion of the labyrinth today at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, Florida. There was a group of ladies that came out to stand on the terrace, not knowing that we were walking a labyrinth as a spiritual healing practice. They did not realize what this was about and so I heard what they said, but just patiently focused my mind and continued my walk.
After all, it was not that long ago, where I would have probably said the same things and thought this was one fancy maze. I had no idea it was rooted in spirituality (note that I did not say religion) and is part of one’s own personal journey into reflection on life, releasing things not desired and integrating your life with what you receive. Even though I remember posting a blog entry on April 27, 2010 titled, Labyrinth Experience, I did NOT remember that these were the parts of a labyrinth experience – the releasing, receiving, and integrating. So now, any doubts I had about the experience have just been reduced to zero! I’ll explain more about this as I write this about my own labyrinth journey today.
I was the first to start walking and to be honest, I was a little nervous. I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do other than walk slowly and stay open. My fear of maybe getting off the path and getting mixed up weighed in as well as people were most likely watching me from the windows of the building that surrounded us. Of course, my friends were there and I was a little self conscious about them observing me, in case I might have been doing anything wrong.
So planting my feet firmly at the start of the path into the labyrinth, I just stopped and focused my mind, breathing in to my body and just feeling my body as it was grounded to the stones below my feet. I knew that it was all about putting one foot in front of the other and just following the path laid out before me. As I took one step after another, my legs felt so wobbly that I could barely walk, let alone stand up. I began to get fearful that I would not be able to walk which of course triggered many fears within me. In my mind, I began to rationalize that walking like this should be no different than walking in any other way during my day. Yet, I was really struggling to get my feet steady on the ground. It felt as if hurricane force winds were blowing me from side to side, yet the wind was gently blowing on me.
Finally, I just stopped and took some deep breaths, trying to honor and respect my body and just connect with my legs. It felt good to stop and just take in what I was feeling. Whatever it was, I knew it was very strong. Soon I was walking again, but as I did my feet became wobbly and I struggled to get my feet on the ground. Why was I having such a difficulty in walking, I pondered? I didn’t have an answer to that but I soon realized that I would just need to go slower and allow myself to be there with my wobbly legs and uncertainty and all my fears.
My breathing was somewhat difficult as well and I kept stopping along the path before me to just focus on my breath and keeping my feet planted firmly on the ground. At some point, I began to notice that walking became much easier, that my feet were much more firm than they had been. Yet, I was puzzled in my mind as to what changed? It was all the same material and all the same stones. The patterns changed in length but were all basically the same. I could not come up with an answer but knew that something had shifted. As I began to notice this, I realized that my breathing was becoming much easier. Up until this point, I felt as if a heavy weight was bearing down on my chest and diaphragm, making it difficult to truly breathe.
I kept my eyes on the path ahead of me and kept walking. I felt the ease of the moment increase which brought joy to my body. Then, all at once, I felt as if the sun was beaming down upon me and just as if I was getting a lot of information from some source. It was almost like a computer download. I could not make out the specific information but I could feel it as energy waves coming into me. It was a strange sensation that I felt but in many ways, there was a familiarity to it.
As I continued to feel all of these, I noticed that each step I took, it was easier and my walking was freer. I was not as concerned about where I was on the path or how I would stay on it. It just felt natural to continue walking. It was a feeling of freedom, of ease and everything coming together.
The more I walked, the more I felt almost like a child wanting to skip along. It was as if I could hear children laughing and giggling although none were present. It was as if I felt like a happy go lucky person with no cares or concerns in the world. It was a good feeling. It was a welcomed feeling.
Continuing along the path, my attention began to turn towards the building I was surrounded by and the people in it who were undoubtedly dealing with some of the most difficult forms of fear that they would ever deal with which was cancer. While I personally don’t know what that is to deal with, I’ve had enough experiences in my life to understand so much about fear.
Automatically, as if following some unknown script, my prayers began thinking of these people. I began to ask for strength for those that faced these things and for support for them during these times as well as their loved ones, the doctors and caregivers. As we were walking out to the labyrinth on the terrace of the building, a patient was walking out the door with a caregiver and exclaimed “Oh it feels so good to see the outside”. My heart heard that and connected with some of my old fears of the past as I was moved to tears. For this person and the others, I offered the prayer of support and love and healing to them. I was a guest in their building.
My next prayer drifted to the thoughts of the meditation prayer Dr. Masaru Emoto had asked the world to contemplate. It was the prayer for the Gulf Of Mexico and the oil spill. I offered my own version up to the labyrinth and the universe asking that the reefs be protected and the oil be contained before it did any more damage.
As I continued to walk, my prayers turned towards all those around me in the world. It was a collective group of people that I focused on, asking that they open their eyes and become aware of more than they currently see. I long for people to wake up and connect with a part of life and the universe that they now treat as a stranger. The hearts that have closed, the anger that rules while the bodies and minds are at two opposite worlds. I cry for the hurt and pain inflicted within humanity. I weep for the people who struggle to see with eyes that are closed. I weep for the hatred and fear that has infected the lives of many. My prayer is for all the people of this world who are still trying to find their way along their own paths.
The next prayer then turned towards myself knowing that I have been struggling through some intense times of wondering what’s next for me – where do I go – how do I get there? Filled lately with so many questions and not allowing myself the time to ponder the answers that most likely lie before me. I want to know – where do I go? What steps must I take?
As I began to ponder that prayer, my attention turned toward the labyrinth. Here I had entered the beginning point, not really knowing where or how the path would get me all the way back to the starting point. If I looked at it carefully, the labyrinth seemed very confusing and yet, it had a particular flow and shape to it. You really didn’t have to worry about where to go because if you just followed the path and put one foot in front of the other, you found yourself moving through the patterns. It wasn’t a difficult thing to do but yet, if I had stopped to worry too much about how to get through this maze of geometric shapes, I would have never taken a step. Yet, all of it unfolded as I journeyed on. I really didn’t have to think about it. It just unfolded as I moved forward. It happened as I needed it to happen and if it was coming to fast, I could slow down. If I wanted to go faster, I would just pick up the pace. It was a path. It was a journey and all I needed was right in front of me the entire time.
Much is like my life. As I look back on the path that I’ve already walked, I can see how it is connected. At the time, I could not see that but then if I just continue to walk the path, I will be on my journey. I need not worry about what is coming up in the next section or how I will get around the next bend. All I need to do is put one of my feet in front of the other and keep following the path. That’s it. That’s all I need. The rest will be waiting on the path as I approach it. It will not come a moment too soon nor will I walk by it for it is all on my path. It is all part of me to hold, honor and cherish. It is there to sustain me, give me direction and help me on to the next bend, twist or turn in my path. How hard is that? How easy is that, I ponder to myself?
As my thoughts grew to a close, I noticed that I was coming upon the beginning point. It was where I had started this particular part of my journey and where this part of my journey came to a close. What comes next is as unknown as walking on the labyrinth path. Does it matter? Most likely not! For if I get worried and concerned about having to know all what lies ahead, what do I profit? I’m just robbing myself of the useless energy of trying to control something which is not ready to unfold or appear to my consciousness. Instead, if I use that energy to welcome all that I’ve been given and all that I’ve learned, realized and grown through, than there is the possibility that I am taking giant leaps on my path rather than small baby steps. There is so much that I’m realizing that the “now” is the most important thing I have. It is more precious than gold. It is all I have. The next minute, the next project, the next income source is beyond my grasp. It is in a moment we do not have and cannot obtain. In much the same way, if I focus upon the moments gone by, than, I am taking away from the joys of my current moments. It is best if I can remember to live with the “now” because it is what I have and it is what is the most important for me.
Walking the labyrinth was my first time and I’ll be forever grateful for the experience, the wisdom and the courage that I had to do this. It was a very spiritual experience with friends that helped me to see what lies before my eyes. I’m honored to have walked this labyrinth. After I began to write this experience up, I realized that I had went through the stages of releasing, receiving and integrating without being aware that these were the stages you would experience. What a wonderful gift to realize just how this was manifested when I was not consciously aware that it would happen in this way. I am forever humbled by this experience.
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