Walking the Labyrinth for Self-Discovery
"If you walk embracing the principle that you are walking the labyrinth to learn about yourself, rather than it, you will become aware of your tendencies. This awareness will offer you the opportunity to experiment with other options, other ways of being, to try them on to see if they are a better fit."
One of my favorite ways to walk the labyrinth is as a path of self-discovery and self-mastery.
I have come to believe the labyrinth is actually a blueprint of us as human beings. Within us each is a sacred, still, ever-present and accessible center that is surrounded by the chaos of stress, drama, challenges, and the behavior of the ego-mind.
While we all have the ability to access our own sacred center, most of us have forgotten that it is even there, within. Walking the labyrinth is a beautiful metaphor of this as the center reminds us of the stillness, strength, and beauty of our own true nature and the twisting, turning path reflects to us how life can throw us for a loop. Our job is to remember the truth of who we are.
If you walk embracing the principle that you are walking the labyrinth to learn about yourself, rather than it, you will become aware of your tendencies. This awareness will offer you the opportunity to experiment with other options, other ways of being, to try them on to see if they are a better fit. Unconsciously, we tend to show up the same way in all areas of our lives when in fact it would serve us to alter our way of being to match our present circumstances.
One man walked the labyrinth and afterward shared that he didn’t really get much out of his walk. He explained that he was wondering how many bricks were used to build it and how long the path would be if you stretched it out end to end. He noted that the labyrinth isn’t actually symmetrical. While he thought he was learning about the labyrinth, had he looked at himself instead, he would have seen how his mind is constantly analytical.
Being analytical at work, for instance, may serve him well, but being analytical in his relationships may be frustrating. Being analytical in his spiritual life could be discouraging. When we see what we tend to do and then realize that there is a time and place for that way of being, but it may not be in our best interest in every time and place, we become more creative.
Being mindful of what the present moment calls for allows us to be flexible, accepting, and fluid, rather than rigid and resistant.
As we walk the labyrinth in self-reflection, we also begin to recognize that it is not the twists and turns or the events that life throws at us that cause us suffering, but rather the way that we respond to those events. As we observe ourselves, we begin to recognize that we not only have choices about how we walk the labyrinth, but also what we think about, decisions we make, and beliefs we hold. That ability to make choices makes us powerful.
Ultimately, we are what we practice being. If we absentmindedly practice being unaware, angry, jealous, impatient, judgmental or full of self-doubt, we master that way of being. As we walk the labyrinth mindfully practicing being centered and drawing strength and wisdom from the stillness of our own sacred center rather than being reactionary, that self-discovery leads to self-mastery.
This ability then follows us right out of the labyrinth into our daily lives where we are empowered to live more consciously, purposefully and joyfully.
Once as I walked the labyrinth with my parents. As we sat in the center together, I felt so joyful and complete to be sharing the experience with them. Then, one after the other, they got up to leave the center before me. Suddenly, I felt so saddened by their leaving, as if the metaphor was that they had died, leaving me there.
Torn, I felt their loss, yet I knew I must stay in the center; it was not my time to go. As I sat there and they moved around me in the labyrinth, I realized that we were still on the same path, just at different stages. I could sense them out there, leading the way.
Our ancestors die and walk the path ahead of us, just as we will die and walk the path ahead of our ancestors. Regardless of our sequence in this, we remain on the same path, sharing the experience. Death is a part of existence, not the end of existence. It is simply the part of the journey before we enter the labyrinth again.