I was off on one of the many adventures I share with my fifteen year old daughter, and she asked me if we could go to Glendale to walk the labyrinth at Forest Lawn Cemetery. I was delighted at the idea, as it had been a while since we had done that. We got in the car, and headed off.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. Unlike mazes, which have many dead ends and traps, a labyrinth has only one path- into the center, and back out again.
It is a fascinating practice to do alone, noticing how impatient I am upon entering, how quickly jolting my steps are, fresh from the crazy world. After a while I find myself decelerating, the rampant thoughts easing as the gears in my head slow down, and my breath and heartbeat calming. I let the thoughts flow through me as I do this walking meditation until I reach the center. There I often sit and be, allowing whatever questions that may have arisen on the way in to be answered, or let go of. When I am ready, I take the walk back out out, calmer, more peaceful, yet energized.
It is an even more fascinating practice to do with loved ones. Depending on how long we instinctively wait before entering after them, different things will happen. Sometimes we will pass each other, letting our hands graze as we pass. Sometimes we walk in different lanes, but side by side, reaching out to hold hands as we do. Sometimes we are head-on for a moment, as two curves meet, and we exchange loving glances. It shows me the way people come and go in my life, and the rightness of it all.
It is ironic that we do this practice in a cemetery, but perhaps that is part of the magic. We emerge more balanced and centered, and better able to appreciate the life we have been given. I urge you to do some research and find a labyrinth near you. It is one of the best ways I know to find one’s center.