Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Labyrinth

While I normally do not post my spiritual articles on this blog, since it is about the labyrinth at Chartres, I included it here. If spirituality is not your thing, then exercise your freedom of choice and read the next article about Sex & The City.

While I meditate daily, I couldn’t figure out what was compelling me to try a walking meditation on the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. But, ever since I found out about the maze, I have felt like the Universe was pulling me towards it. Why, I did not know. Was it going to be relaxing? Was I going to have a mystical experience? Or would I find the whole thing to be a bit silly? I would have to give it a whirl myself to find out.

I arrived early in the morning and was surprised to see the maze was actually crowded. I began my journey somewhere in the middle, trying to bypass incoming traffic. For the first thirty seconds or so, I was leaning on the side that this thing was just a silly pastime, but then my viewpoint rapidly started to change.

Almost immediately, I realized that I had to be mindful of the path I was taking. It was rather small and if I did not pay attention, I may step out of its boundaries. I thought about this metaphorically speaking how life is not supposed to be about achieving the goals we set, but rather the road we take to reach them. Nothing is important, but this moment we are in right now. Every time I make a move, whether seemingly good or bad, it is taking me where I want to go and I am learning along the way. It is all good. We just have to learn to break down the barriers that hinder our perceptions from seeing things in a positive light.

From time to time, I would briefly look up to see the entire labyrinth. Once again I was moved to visualize the lines on the floor in a greater context. It occurred to me that the labyrinth symbolically represented the Universe. It made me think how as an intuitive, I can often see the past, present or future with moments of deep understanding. Unfortunately, sometimes intuitives have a mightier than thou complex, thinking that what they see is always 100% accurate. I always teach that intuition is clouded by our own perceptions and it should be used a guide not as a definitive rule book.

Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things this sense of clarity that we often feel is simply a mere glimpse into the span of eternity. As I continued my mindful walk somewhere along the labyrinth’s path, I understood clearly how we are all given glimpses into the vast information the Universe has to offer, but for the most part we have to look directly at the moment we are in. Whether seeing near or far, it all can be celebrated. Being aware of where my feet were going was teaching me this.

I began paying attention to the nooks and crannies dug out on the floor from nearly a millennium of wear and tear. They formed many shapes that I could distinguish and it became a game for me. I looked upon a genie’s lamp, so I made a wish. I noticed a map of The United States and wondered if I were from Spain if I would have seen that country instead. The Statue of Liberty graced her presence and I though how we can all choose to be free if we want to. I saw several animals and was grateful that we share our existence with such noble creatures.

The crowds were still there and I noticed the sound from the beat of my footsteps matched the woman directly in front of me. While I started out on my own path, without realizing it, I began mimicking hers. That would not do.

Jodie Foster said it best, "Normal is nothing to aspire to. It's something to get away from." I did not, nor do I ever wish to succumb to the status quo. I want to express my uniqueness. So, I did the only thing I could do in that moment. I changed the pattern of my footsteps. The sounds being made were now mismatched from hers. It was like a symphony off key, but I didn’t care. I was creating my own music.

I soon made it to the center for the first time and the circle was surrounded by the crowd that had just finished. No one ventured inside. Were they afraid? For me, the circle represented The Creator. I wondered if these people saw it in the same way and somehow thought they were separate from the Divine Force. I knew otherwise and I made my move, celebrating my Unity with the Divine.

I felt extreme joy. I faced the stained glassed window in the back of the room. For about two seconds I battled with my ego whether or not I should remain quiet as the others were or should I express the rapture I was feeling. I laughed that I even doubted myself for a moment and did what I needed to do. I raised my arms in the air above my head as high as they could go and wiggled my fingers. With a smile on my face I created a made up sound, something between YES and BooYah. I had made it here and I wanted to share my enthusiasm.

The others surrounding me were not amused. Who was this strange woman and her strange ways they wondered. But I did not falter. I stayed my ground and did what I needed to do to create my personal reality. If the others chose to not see pure joy as part of God’s work, so be it. This was about me, not them.

Just because I made it to the center, I was not done yet. I walked the labyrinth many times over the next couple of hours. Each time I started in a new place; from the middle, the end, and the beginning. Why not, it’s my own journey. Human beings have created this sense of linear time where we have to move from A to B. The reality is we are Spirit Beings and can move from A to D and back to C if we so choose. Why not start at the end and work your way back? Seeing things from a fresh perspective is always a good thing.

The others that were in the room were experiencing their own journey. One women wearing sweats was on a mission to exercise on her path, racing past each of the other participants. One person held out her palms as she walked. Another stood in meditation for a half an hour just outside the center. There were a group of Germans sitting along the sidelines being told about the history of the maze by a tour guide.

The kids were more playful in their approach. They paid attention to what they were doing, but they didn’t object to moving out of the way when the adults walked in the opposite direction. Laughing all the way, it was simply about fun for them.

At one point there was a group that walked right through the middle of the design to get to the other side, completely unaware of its existence. By this time, there were only three of us in the circle. The woman standing in meditation with her eyes closed did not notice a thing. There was another woman besides myself with her arms outstretched. She became visibly annoyed with the audacity of the others for not paying attention to her space. In her eyes they were doing it “wrong”.

I, on the other hand, had been smiling on my entire sojourn. I enjoyed noting everyone’s different approaches. There are seven billion ways to express our realities and they are all perfect. No one is ever wrong. Even when we are oblivious to the fact that we are on the path to Enlightenment we are still learning along the way. Moreover, when we have reached some level of Spiritual Awareness where we undertake things such as a walking meditation, but still cannot see the beauty in individuality, it doesn’t matter. We are working our way up to seeing the Light. Each of us is on varying levels of the same path and it is all good.

Afterwards, a white haired elderly woman in a red blazer moved in the opposite direction from me. She contemplated her path as she moved along, but abruptly halted each time I approached her. Her sternness could be read on her face. She clasped her hands in prayer almost as though they were fists. She would never budge. I smiled and moved to the side each and every time.

As I ran into another woman we smiled at each other as we both moved off course to allow the other to move through. I realized then that there are hiccups in life. Nothing ever moves as smoothly as we would like them to¸ but so what. Sometimes we have to get out of life’s way and let it happen. Why not see life from the adventure that it is, smiling at our co-conspirators as we move along. There is no problem getting off course for a moment or two. We can quickly get back on when we choose to.

I tried different things on my excursion. Some people were teetering on both feet before taking the next step. I tried it. In Sangha Buddhism one breathes in with the left step and breathes out with the right. I tried it too. I walked fast. I walked slowly. Each time I entered the center I did it differently. All the while I repeated in my mind, “I love this labyrinth! I love this labyrinth!” What I was really saying was, “I love my life! I love my life!”…and the great thing is, I do.

Thank you for reading and bonne journée!

Please note: The labyrinth is available only on Fridays as it is covered with chairs for the church on all other days.