Labyrinth Walk

The Labyrinth at Pure Prana Yoga

I walked a labyrinth today.

I have walked them before in various places including the stone labyrinth 7000 feet up Mount Shasta.

DSC06897 Labyrinth on Shasta
Labyrinth on Mount Shasta

The one I walked today was a classical labyrinth design. Examples of these designs and others like the Celtic Labyrinth with its culture specific symbology have been found around the globe and in ancient ceremonial sites. The one I walked today is at Pure Prana Yoga Studio in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. Go there. Marie Elena Gaspari led our walk. Find her and Mariann and let them guide you to the entrance.

Classic Labyrinth with left, counter clockwise entrance pattern

Labyrinths have long been used as a moving meditation by cultures around the globe and even by organized religions; perhaps the most famous example being Chartres in France where a beautiful labyrinth is inlaid into the cathedral floor.

The point of a labyrinth is that the walker must continue moving along a specific path in a specific direction for however many repetitions are needed until they are able to understand why they are walking it in the first place.

Praying is too vague and random for someone like me. I’m of the ilk that feels that a higher intelligence did some pretty fine planning to drop me in the place I am right now, and *it* trusts my intelligence to find my way out of the paper bag I live in-all by my little self.

Perhaps you’re like me; forgetful of the experiential insights that I have after I return to the hectic regular world. I wish I could retain them every waking moment but there’s a long list of chores, appointments and important things that take up storage space in my head and so my brain files away insights in a synaptic *Insights Pringles Can* for future reference.

While I walked, I spent the first circuit of the labyrinth paying attention to my bare feet in the grass, stone, wild flower and dirt along the way. Trying hard to be spiritual about it all and failing as my monkey mind focus was looking for sharp and pokey things that would seriously damage my zen vibe.

The Labyrinth, like a maze, has a pattern that causes you to go wide to the outside and then weave in towards the center and just when you think you are on the final lap to the middle…Nope! You find yourself five more paths away. While I walked, I had that nagging feeling that I’d figured this out before and I started trying to navigate my thoughts to find a thread to pull on about this particular ritual.

Several circles in, I remembered what I stored in the Insight Pringles Can about labyrinths. It was this: The pattern represents every challenge we have ever had in every life time we have ever lived,  The turns that bring us near the middle represent those moments when we think we are done growing; understanding the lessons of life; the end in sight. The reward of completion feels close enough to touch.

But it’s not. There are more lessons and more work to do before we really reach the end; our end insight. The point is, until we actually do reach completion, we need to keep going. Along the way, we will learn the same lessons over and over again until we no longer need the practice. 

In the labyrinth, we traverse the same arch and curves again and again and though we can see where we’re headed with the smallest of eye adjustments, we will not get there until we do all the work. There is no cheating. There is no cutting the line in life. There is no paying someone else to learn our lessons for us. It’s our effort, our perseverance and our understanding the lessons that will be the only way we reach our goals.

At grocery stores, I’ve often found myself doubling back through aisles in search of something I was supposed to bring home but whose identity has momentarily slipped from my mind. “Was it a food item? A cleaning product? A bottle of wine? Oh, look! Dish sponges. I’ll get this but it’s not the thing I’m looking for. What the hell is the thing I’m looking for?”

So as I walked this hand built stone circuit today, I remembered how much I love these crazy puzzle walks. I remembered that it’s OK that I’m still walking in my life; still headed towards a goal.

Because on the way to *there* I will find wildflowers on the path, and soft patches of cool grass. There will be holes to negotiate and thistles to avoid or pain will be my companion. There are sharp stones that can bruise a tender instep and the echo of the injury can stay with me long after I have left the offending item far behind. And there are smooth, warm stone obstacles that come into contact with that same vulnerable place on me and instead of pain, they will give me a momentary massage that brings reprieve to the long journey I am on; soothing comfort to the sole/soul of my being. Still a rock. Still a foot. But the way that smooth rock has shaped itself over eons of its own transformation has made it a welcome friend to all who encounter it.

There’s another labyrinth not far from me at Cross Farms. Now that I remember why I love this time spent with mind and body and spirit moving with purpose for a piece of time that I re-assigned from *must be busy at work* to *must realign my internal spiritual gyroscope*, I’ll be doing this more. On a regular basis.

It’s a wonderful way use the small moves of our feet touching the Earth to put everything back in order and help us access our full potential with a focused clarity and a new commitment to keep on walking.

Karen Cross– I’ll see you soon at your lovely labyrinth just up the road from Willowbrook Mill in Northport.

See the little Pringles can just above my eyebrow?

Design coincidence? I think not.

Poetry Day: Willow

So summer came again-
With willow skirts sweeping the water
Drunk on warm moonlight-
Wild vines climbing to the sky
Startled by memories rising with the hollyhocks-
August carries me on a slow walk
Past every summer I have ever known.
Peach sweet sadness catches in my throat at the thought of all I’ve left behind-
And how far I have to go.image