Thursday, June 30, 2011

why labyrinths are needful things

Yesterday, Dirk and I walked Glenclyffe Loop which surrounds the Garrison Institute along the Hudson River. Tom started work at the local Recreation Center as a Specialist Counselor which shares the same space as the Institute. After three weeks of graduation, birthday(s) and visiting relatives, a space for contemplation was not only a welcome relief, but much needed. Along Marcia's Mile of the Loop, we passed the building and grounds of the Institute which was surrounded by a terra cotta tile-topped concrete wall and an inviting gate with a sign about a labyrinth being open to the public. We went in and saw the labyrinth, but two people were walking it. Having another agenda in mind, we continued on with our walk on the Loop. The walk was lovely with views out over the Hudson and fulfilled my need for some exercise and time in Nature.

This morning, after letting Tom drive to work, I left the van parked in the lot and walked down Marcia's Mile again with a different agenda in mind from yesterday's: a contemplative stroll through the labyrinth. I left my jacket, tea and shoes at a bench near the opening. I felt barefoot would be best to take in the feel of earth beneath my feet, keeping mindful of every step.

When one enters a labyrinth it can be with intention or none, a problem or worry-free, needy or full of gratitude. The labyrinth doesn't ask anything of you except to be present. And even then, it doesn't matter so much. Then perhaps it isn't a matter of being present so much as simply Being As You Are in that moment. Each circuit is like a dance going from near center to the furthest rim, folding in on itself, long before the center is ever reached. The labyrinth becomes a container for one's contemplation. Sounds may enter, but they don't hold much meaning. Other beings, human or otherwise, may enter, but one's own space is still intact.

One important piece of baggage to leave at the labyrinth's opening is Expectation. Whether going in full or empty, it's better to simply experience the path.

Did anything magical occur when I came out again? Nothing huge. I did feel a wonderful sense of well-being and a desire to continue my day in a centered and conscious manner. I made plans in my head to create a labyrinth of my own, but I suspect the journey to a labyrinth is just as important as walking one. I might still make one though.

No comments: