One of the coolest discoveries on my Sedona retreat involved a labyrinth and a relationship coach.
We were sitting on a bench overlooking the magnificent rock-lined path filled with shimmering gravel stones in the brilliant Arizona sunshine. One of the practitioners, Barbara, and I were discussing my year of business wins and failures.
“When things aren’t happening the way we might like them to go and we fail, it is important to defer to the mystery of it all. Maybe that’s not what’s meant to happen,” she says.
“But,” I ask, “What if some of my failures are the big hairy public ones? Like doing a selfie video series on YouTube, resulting in minimal sales and a significant loss in followers and Facebook friends?”
We both laugh through our social media war stories and share our utter dismay on what constitutes as an online “influencer” these days.
“But I digress”, I say. “Seriously, how do I walk in life, stay connected and trusting of myself even when my life doesn’t reflect what I want it to?”
She smiles and says, “It’s really about knowing in life, when to move and when not to move Sandy. Einstein said it best, ‘We cannot solve our problems from the same place they were created’. I think it’s time for you to walk the Labyrinth,” she said.
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is an ancient geometric form used as a spiritual tool and is found in many of the earth’s indigenous cultures. It’s like a maze except it has only one path into the center and the same path back out again. There are no choices you make after you decide to enter the labyrinth.
So I chose to enter it.
Apparently, walking a Labyrinth is a re-discovery of a long-forgotten mystical tradition. As the path winds back and forth towards the center, they say it can become a mirror for where you are in your life. You can experience healing and a balancing effect as your mind begins to clear and you become simply aware of your breath. Sometimes deep personal insights or new ways of perceiving life’s challenges will arise during the experience. The labyrinth origins are not known but they have been found in Egyptian tombs, Cretan coins, Celtic stones, Christian churches and in the Pima and Hopi Indian traditions.
There is no right or wrong way to walk the Labyrinth. Before entering I was instructed to take a few deep breaths and clear my mind. (Ya, not an easy thing to do usually, but this was day three on the retreat, so I was open for business in the spirit department). I set the intention on my first few steps to receive clarity on my career.
Three Stages of the Walk
While researching for this post, I learned there are three distinct stages of the labyrinth walk:
- Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind. (Definitely not an easy thing to me to do!)
- Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive. In my experience, I received insights rather quickly and I share them further in this post.
- Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining “Spirit”, “Source” “God”, your “Higher Power”, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work for your life purpose.
Well folks, I’m here to say that the Labyrinth walk worked for me. In the center of the Labyrinth, I received clarity.
What Were My Walk Insights?
I was standing in the middle of the labyrinth and a few thoughts popped into my mind. “Stop steering the ship,” I thought to myself. This made me blush with embarrassment, having spent the last few days feeling a strong presence of spirit.
I’ve always tried to steer myself as I twisted and turned through the curves of aging. And, always when I felt I could “control” the desired result, I’d be stopped cold with a blocked path. Ending in me feeling rejection, failure, and frustration.
I continued standing in the middle of the Labyrinth with my eyes closed. I focused on my breath and after two deep inhales and exhales, I heard my inner voice say, “You’re almost there, change the words.”
That thought gave me goosebumps from head to toe. I immediately thought of “Decision Drivers” – a communication technique I created. Even though I had some great successes with the Decision Driver platform I created from ten years of study, it was not connecting with people as easily as I had wanted it to. I suddenly realized, the program, technique, courses, and workshops were all written with a masculine tone and word choices. Perhaps if I change the words to embrace a more authentic and feminine tone, people will be more naturally attracted to it?
As I made my way along the path to move to the exit, I realized life is a lot like a labyrinth. It doesn’t do what you think it’s going to and can at times feel so deceiving you don’t think you’ll survive. Even when you are walking it, you can’t tell which way you will end up.
You can choose to skip over the paths to get to the center (our goals) but then we risk not learning the lessons and insights while walking our destined path. We need to trust that each step we are taking in life is bringing us closer to our life’s purpose.
If you are interested in experiencing a Labyrinth yourself, check out the cool Worldwide Labyrinth Locator I found. I was surprised to find two just ten minutes from my house! Enjoy!