Thursday, December 2, 2010

MD Anderson Cancer Center Labyrinth

Today, I went to a class at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando on labyrinths. While I had already walked this labyrinth two times before, I wanted to learn much more about them and understand a little more what is behind this spiritual tool. My friend, Trish Kalhagen does labyrinth workshops and until she started doing them, I knew nothing about labyrinths. Of course, up until 6 months ago, I did not even realize MD Anderson Cancer Center existed in Orlando.

One of the things I find very refreshing is that every employee and person I have met in the MD Anderson is so polite, friendly and overall warm and caring. They go out of their way to make you feel good and welcomed and cared about. I have never seen a medical center like this before and it warms my heart that the compassion exists within this center. Many of the people who are patients here are most likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives.

The class was so informative and I learned a great deal there. This is the first time I have walked the labyrinth with other people present and so it was different. I found myself preoccupied with other people around me and making sure I did not run into them. At the same time, I felt like there were many more around me walking than just the people there. The instructor, Jeanne Miller-Clark, told us that as many times as she has walked a labyrinth, no two times were the same. In the 3 times I have done this, I can definitely agree with her.

As we walked today, I almost tuned out everything going on around me or any noise, if there was any present. I felt like I was off in a world disconnected from everything going on, even the traffic on the street. Sometimes I am not able to do that but today I could.

When I first started out on the walk, I focused on my breathing as I like to do. It helps me center myself in my body and in the present moment. Almost immediately I began to hear the communication that I get very frequently now and while it was very distinct, it was very simple in what was being said to me. As I began to ponder the question on my mind walking into the labyrinth, I realized that the communication I was receiving was helping me find the answers I was looking for. It brought tears to my eyes and made my heart feel so warm.

As I reached the center of the labyrinth, I could feel so much being shown to me, and my understanding of the answers to my question were making sense. At the center, I just paused for several moments taking in all that I was getting. It was a beautiful moment filled with peace and love and connection.

Once I began to walk back out of the labyrinth, I noticed that my steps were easier, my breathing much more relaxed, and my pace had picked up. I felt a smile on my face coming from a joy within me and I felt like I could go jump 500 feet into the air. I felt so connected, so peaceful and just like I was doing what I needed to do at this moment in time. It was so healing to just feel all of what I was taking into my life.

I am now hooked on labyrinths. They are special places to me to help take myself deeper into my own awareness and consciousness. I know that if I stop and slow down - look, listen, and feel - that is where I will find my truth and the core of who I am. There is something about allowing myself to walk through the labyrinth that just gives me a moment of stepping back and connecting within.

From my own work that I do and the table-work that I experience, I understand this. Yet, what sometimes seem so difficult to get to in life is not as difficult as I make it out to be sometimes. Where this experience will take me, I'm not completely sure and I'm fine with not knowing the answer to these questions. All I know is that there is a connection between me and the labyrinth and in some way, I feel there is a connection between myself and the cancer center. I cannot explain that one, but I know what I feel inside.

If you have never walked a labyrinth, I urge you to give it a try. You can find labyrinths through the labyrinth locator and most likely there is one close to you. There is no right way or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. Just step in and follow the path to the center and then follow the path back out. As you go in, you may want to ponder a question or think about a concern you have. Then as you come back out from the center, integrate what you have learned. I find it helpful to journal about my experience because it helps me integrate more what has happened.

Further Reading:
1) My First Time Walking The Labyrinth (Jun 28, 2010)
2) Labyrinth Communication From Angles (Nov 16, 2010)

(c) 12/1/10 by Don Shetterly - Use by permission only

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