Navigating the Labryinth of Love
- 2011 September-October
The Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth is a beautiful spiritual pathway originally built into the floor of the French cathedral 800 years ago. The pattern is now used worldwide. The labyrinth offers a contemplative path of prayer and, in my observation, a blueprint of the human being and a map for maintaining relationships. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth offers a single path that leads to the center, and the same path brings you back out, with no dead ends or tricks. While you cannot get lost, you can certainly think you are.
A model of the human spirit, the center of the labyrinth is ever-present, unwavering, and a place for accessing wisdom, strength, intuition, creativity, love, and peace. Surrounding that still point is a host of seemingly chaotic twists and turns along the path, much akin to the human ego. In our lives and relationships, these 180-degree turns on the path represent our egodramas of money, romance, jealousy, health, housing, career, etc. As we move through all these situations, we easily get lulled into believing that that is who we are and what the journey of life is about.
We get farther and farther from knowing that the center (our spirit) is who we really are; that it is there at all; that we have the ability to access it; or that living life from that center is the point of life’s journey. Embedded right in the center of the word “relationship” is the word “elation.” In order to be joyful in love, all we have to do is remember who we are, transcend our ego in any given moment, access our authentic core essence, and choose words, thoughts, and actions in alignment with who we are and what we want to create. That may sound like a lot, but in practice, all it takes is one thought, a breath, and a choice to come back to our center.
Let me put this into more practical application with five essential life and relationship skills.
Remember who you really are and what you really want. As you navigate your relationships, hold the knowledge of what you want to create — harmony, love, passion, friendship, whatever it is for you. Remember who you really are, or if that is a challenge, who/how you want to authentically be. If that is still unknown to you, make step one an invitation to your soul to reveal itself to you.
Develop a continuous practice of self-observation. Self-observation allows you to become aware of what you are doing, saying, and thinking. When you are self-aware, you become conscious of your choices. When you have choice, you become powerful. As you observe yourself in your relationships, notice when you are authentic and when you aren’t. Notice when your behavior is leading toward the goal of love and harmony and when it is not.
Notice when your ego is the one reacting to your loved ones and leading your choices and when it is not. Simply notice when what you are doing is working for you and when it is not. This observation will lead you to...
Transcend your ego. Transcending the ego sounds daunting and huge but in reality, it is a simple choice. Ego wants us to be right even more than happy, safe more than joyful, and acknowledged more than it wants us to be loved. Ego wants to control others more than to love others. Ego would rather stop loving than have its precious subject hurt again. Clearly, these goals are counter-effective in relationships. So the choice to transcend the ego is really a choice about which part of your being you want to honor in that moment. Are you going to honor fear or love? The choice to honor fear is fraught with chaotic twists and turns that keep you from your goal. If you choose love, the path is simple. Thank the ego for its effort to protect you. Assure it that from the center, from your center, you are resourceful (full of Source) and are able to make wise choices. Take a deep breath and move your attention from head to heart.
Realign with your authentic essence and your goal. In my experience, this is done with a breath and a choice—to bring your full attention and awareness into the present moment, unhampered by the past or the future.
Take aligned action. Choose your next words, thoughts, and actions in alignment with who you are and what you are trying to create. Often when I am working with couples, they come in for coaching in an attempt to save their relationship. They say that their goal is a loving, harmonious relationship. In essence, that is the target out in front of us. However, when operating unconsciously, all their words, thoughts, and actions are pointing the opposite way.
Once aware of the five essential life skills, they are equipped to bring their behavior into alignment with their goals, making their relationship thrive and deepening their spiritual life simultaneously. This is the path of love. I invite you to take the walk.