Yesterday I was blessed to join a wonderful group as walked an outdoor labyrinth together. The morning began with some friendly sharing of breakfast and socializing.
What followed was a peace-filled presentation on the beauty of walking the labyrinth as a form of “Body Prayer”. The presenter began by playing her singing bowl leading us into becoming more centered as we focused on breathing…always good to remember to keep breathing. We became aware of our intention to be open with our mind, heart, whole being. It was an opportunity to surender to the experience of the labyrinth walk without grasping for any preconceived outcomes.
Silence was imposed for the duration of the walk as we headed out the door. Leaving the comfort of the air condition, we began the two block walk down the tree lined streets to the entrance of the labyrinth. It was an unusual experience to walk almost in single file without talking on a bright Saturday morning.
Most were anticipating the unknown…their first labyrinth experience. But, for me it was eager anticipation to experience this walk with so many others. Most often when I have had the experience of walking a labyrinth it has been alone. Walking alone is a much different experience than walking with twenty others. Walking alone you have no one in front of you, no one behind you. Walking alone you can be focused only on yourself…Is that being selfish? Who am I to say. But, this was a very different experience.
The leader acted as the gate keeper so to speak and allowed only one person at a time to enter the labyrinth. After a few minutes the next person was given the affirmative nod to enter the sacred space. There was a sense of calm waiting for permission to begin the walk.
Once the rhythm of walking the path begins the labyrinth holds you, guides you, and takes you in to it’s center. You can let your mind go and become more aware of each individual step you take. Sometimes walking straight, sometimes making sharp turns, sometimes being closer to the outside, then being closer to the center.
There is so much about real life that is paralleled in this “Prayer of the Body”. The person who was in front of me missed the first turn and I followed so the path led us around again. The next time I was paying closer attention and even though she missed the turn again I turned and continued the circuit. I reflected on how many times I have been following others and missed something I should have noticed.
At other times I had to pause and allow another to pass as the path was only wide enough for one at a time. I could have stepped around and passed using the adjacent path, but then I would have risked getting confused. There was the risk not getting back on the right track. How many times in life did I gat “off the path” and get confused…not bale to find my way back to the “right path” right away.
As I reached the center there was a sense of peace and accomplishment. I had completed the walk into the belly of this labyrinth, but I knew I could only remain ther for a short period of time. Others were on their way to the center also and there was only a small space for lingering.
The walk out was filled with a sense of release. I was comng out of the labyrinth. It was almost like being re-birthed back into the real world. This birthing process is gentle and familiar as you walk along the same familiar path that led you to the center. The path is the same, but you are changed because of this experience.
As I was coming out I walked a short distance along side my friend. Walking in silence it appeared that we were both walking in the same direction, but suddenly as we came to the turn I discovered we were really walking in opposite directions. Sometimes things are not what they appear to be! Much there for me to reflect on and carefully unpack in the future.
Each person who enters the labyrinth has their own unique experience. Each person has the opportunity to receive many gifts and insights along the journey. I find the experience of walking the labyrinth reflective of our lives in many ways.
May you always be Blessed in all ways!