I have been walking labyrinths, and facilitating others using them as a walking meditation for over twenty years. The labyrinth is not a maze; there is only one path that has a continuous flow to the sacred center, and the same path is followed back out. Even after all this time, I am delightfully surprised by a new awareness that emerges as I walk.
Symbolic of taking a pilgrimage, here are the two main secret keys to making sense of a labyrinth walk: 1. You are not walking the labyrinth to learn about it, you are walking the labyrinth to learn about you. 2. The message of the labyrinth is metaphoric. What you experience on the labyrinth is symbolic of what you need to notice in your life. When you know these two points, the labyrinth becomes a rich field of self-discovery. Often the metaphor on the labyrinth helps us understand our own self, our problems, or our relationships with greater clarity.
This month at our full moon labyrinth walk, I looked up to see the brilliant light of the moon. I stared in awe for a moment, and then realized that the moon seemed way lower in the sky than it normally has at that same time on other moonlight walks. I strained to determine what was different—Were we walking earlier in the evening? Were we walking later in the moon cycle? Why would the moon be so much lower in the sky? Finding no understandable answer, as all other factors were the same, I continued my walk. A few twists and turns later, I glanced up at the moon again, but this time it was high in the sky—where I normally see it on our monthly walks. For a moment it seemed the moon had jumped significantly from the horizon just above my house to far above, but my rational mind could not make sense of how that could have happened in a matter of a minute. I stopped my walk to analyze the placement of the moon and question what I had seen. It is then that I realized the first sighting had not actually been of the moon itself, but rather of the moon’s brilliant reflection off of the solar panels on my house.
Since everything noticed on the labyrinth is a metaphoric message, I pondered what this one meant. I wondered about how we humans may get enamored by something that is not actually the real thing, and miss the real gem while admiring the mere reflection. As I walked I questioned what a real-life example of that metaphor would be and completed my walk without a concrete example.
I then entered the area where the sharing from our walk would take place between a beautiful statue of Buddha and a stunning painting of Jesus. I looked at them both all lit up and felt a rush of love and admiration, when I suddenly realized neither of these, the statue nor the painting, were the real thing. They were just the brilliant reflection of what they represented. Suddenly, I saw a powerful example. Our churches, places of worship, images and altars are merely reminders of God, not God Him/Herself. It is our responsibility to look past these reflections, deeper into our own souls, to find the real presence of Spirit.
I then turned my thoughts to love and relationships and considered how our imaginations, projections, and infatuation may be the reflection we get enamored with while missing out entirely on what is really in front of us. And, how many of us react to our perceptions, certain that our interpretation of what we saw was correct, while we entirely miss the truth?
I invite you to step back from your life and view it with these questions in mind: Are you enamored or disillusioned by a belief or perception that may not actually be true? Does reality need to shift, or do you merely need to alter your perceptions?
This contemplation will allow you to evaluate whether your perceptions and beliefs are on target or off base and to determine whether anything in reality actually needs to change.
Perhaps all that is needed is a subtle shift in perception to see where the “moon” actually is, rather than where you perceived it to be. Perhaps your relationship isn’t the problem, but rather your perception (or judgment) of your partner is what needs adjustment. Perhaps your body is fine as is, or you are already “enough” and what actually needs to change is your self-perception and sense of self-worth.
Sometimes we simply need to stop our walk through life long enough to contemplate what we are seeing, and question whether it truly makes sense. Then, look more deeply for the actual truth, to move forward powerfully. This practice may lead you to discover a delightful awareness of your own on life’s path.