These are turbulent times in general, aren’t they?
With the emergence of a new coronavirus and the physical, mental, and fiscal challenges of the yo-yo financial marketplace, there can be a lot of anxiety. There are so many unknowns as to how we, collectively, will move beyond the current times, and about the overall costs to us collectively and individually we will bear in our futures. We have lost what is usual and customary in our lives, and it creates unsettled feelings.
Perhaps you feel like so much in life is not in your control. Perhaps the loss of daily freedoms and interactions are starting to weigh heavily on your emotions. What can bring your attention away from the media, which can alarm and focus only on the down sides to what is occurring, as you deal with these times? How can you look within to find your inner wisdom when the speculations and models of experts ‘might’ happen, not happen, or doesn’t fit with your current situation?
These are all big questions in their own right, which don’t always have quick answers. I recalled recently a period in my life when I felt life was way out of my control. I was socially isolated. I wasn’t sure of what the future held for me. There was one afternoon when my perspective totally shifted. I found solace in walking a labyrinth. It allowed me to have the experience of moving forward, toward the heart of my issues in baby steps. It showed me how there can be beauty and merit in taking a journey forward when I could not readily see ahead to all of the twists, turns, and even joy of traversing a nonlinear path that a labyrinth brings. I felt the anxiety float away as I walked and allowed for me to continue to move forward when I headed home.
A labyrinth as a metaphor allows us to see our journey and situation in a different, very visual way.
A labyrinth shouldn’t be confused with a maze. Both are similar, but the experience is somewhat different. Both start at point A and end at a new destination. Neither provides a direct, linear path to the end destination, which is where we want to be. Both have dead ends that cause us to sometimes double-back and make different choices. The differences between the two are the actual experience, and to me, the value. Mazes often have high walls and require a bit of problem-solving to navigate a bit blindly. Labyrinths are circular in nature that (which) draw(s) you to their centers then reverses you back out to where you started. Mazes offer a starting point but end on the other side of the maze. A labyrinth is constructed to draw you inside to the center, which I deem a metaphor to your inner self and your inner wisdom.
Why do I suggest using a labyrinth?
I learned the following about myself and my situation that afternoon when I walked the labyrinth.
Here are some snippets of what I learned:
- Shutting out the surrounding noise of the world, I could give myself space to think and feel what was causing me angst.
- By moving slowly along the labyrinth, I saw the value of going to the center of looking within to what I needed for me.
- Because I was focused on one step at a time within my experience, I could see multiple perspectives of what was around me and within me.
- I learned to relax and just trust the flow and my ability to work through the process.
The metaphor of the labyrinth is a way of walking through change one step at a time, gaining clarity along the way, and finding the patience and trust you will get to the heart of what is stressing you. From there, you will know how to find your way out of what you wish to change. Along the way, you’ll see rich landscapes and experiences that would have been missed had the path been a direct line to the goal. In many ways, it really is about the journey, not the end goal. But it takes the goal to move that journey forward with conscious intent.
Have you ever had the experience of walking in a labyrinth? One can do so physically if there is one close by. It can be done in ways that honor social distancing. But one may not be able to travel and physically walk a labyrinth. If that is the case, there are several ways to experience a virtual walk-through of a labyrinth.
Try it out – walk a labyrinth and reflect upon your journey of change. Nearby labyrinths can be located using a website: http://labyrinthlocator.com/. Can’t find a labyrinth or get to one, did you know there are virtual labyrinths out there? The Labyrinth Society has posted a virtual walk for you at https://labyrinthsociety.org/virtual-labyrinth-walk. They let you choose the center icon, whether you want it to be controlled by your mouse or is self-guided. It can come with music or not – all your choice. There is even a free app in the Apple Store (sorry, I’m an Apple person) called Maze Walk VR – Virtual Reality.
For me, the most challenging part is to TRUST, trust that all roads lead to home. The labyrinth is a visual that will get you to the heart of your anxiety and give you the space to resolve it. When I walked the labyrinth that day, I really let go and trusted the outcome of my personal challenges in addressing my world of crazy change and the anxiety I had been holding. I found by letting go and trusting, it made the path forward so much easier for me. And quite importantly it allowed me to gain clarity on what steps to take.
Trust is handled differently by each individual. Some have strong faith that guides them, some naturally relax and enjoy the journey, while some rely on guidance with the help of others in the form of coaching, mentoring, or consulting. What do you need to trust that all you need is within you to address whatever might be causing you anxious moments? Discover your own way of navigating your changes and stressors at hand and I invite you to try using the labyrinth metaphor to move you through. Happy Travels!
“If you practice turning your attention inwards again and again, then you can find peace – no matter how turbulent
the outside is.” – Johanna Schuh Naikan