Continuing the conversation on Just Be.
There are hundreds of books and websites on walking the labyrinth. They include meditations and prayers to use while you’re walking. Most extol the benefits of “using” a labyrinth. I haven’t read or watched any of them.
But I have been told somewhere that walking a traditional labyrinth (one that is actually a path that goes to the center as opposed to a maze), is a useful practice. So I walk them whenever I get a chance, even if I’m not sure why.
A few days ago I found myself with a free afternoon in San Francisco and headed to Grace Cathedral where there are two labyrinths, one inside and one outside. As I’ve been deliberately going where my body and the moment want to take me I wasn’t surprised that, while I headed toward Chinatown, I ended up at the cathedral. Plus I was tired of walking so just sat for awhile after I got there. But I’d promised myself that I’d walk the labyrinths, so I slowly started on the beautiful inside one.
Just being. Quickly I learned that if I didn’t look without distraction at each step as I took it, I’d get off the path. The path wasn’t that wide and certainly not that straight. Even regular walking became too active. The only way around the turns was taking baby steps. Watching each one. So, as I walked, it actually didn’t matter where I was going. Or if I were going anywhere. The important part became each step. And whenever my mind wandered (which of course it did, being human and all), I found the wandering didn’t work. There was a sense that I was missing something by worrying or planning. What was missing was my actual experience of the steps. That process was what was important and interesting.
Sometimes when I looked up I was almost at the center, but then the path curved away. And then came a wider turn or a long straight stretch. Step by step. Suddenly I did find myself in the center. But while that was, in a way, exciting and fulfilling, it was also only temporary. Again, it was step by step leading where? Oh, I knew it was to the exit. And it looked a few times as if I were almost there. And then suddenly I was.
Outside, half the labyrinth was in shadow, and as I’d already walked one, I found myself noticing other things as I continued step by step. First, anywhere I stopped was perfect. A lily-shaped flower. Tourists engaged in that random, but deliberate, curiosity tourists seem to have. Seeing my shadow. Had I already reached the center? I didn’t think so, but really couldn’t remember. Just keep going step by step. Ah, here it is. I sat on the ground for a while. Because I could? But then I had to get up, and again, it was step by step to the exit.
So what does this have to do with Spirit Moxie? Somehow it was the strength of trusting the path and that my steps were going in the right direction without my really knowing what that goal or destination might be.
I suggest you try it. You don’t need a labyrinth. Go to the park or even a city sidewalk and just walk. See what you see. Go where you go. Be. You.
Information on Grace Cathedral’s Labyrinths
All photos by Spirit Moxie: from the top
inside Labyrinth, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
Outside Labyrinth, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
A flower on the cathedral grounds
Shadow of author on outside labyrinth