The first Saturday in May is World Labyrinth Day – a day that is recognized by The Labyrinth Society (TLS) and other labyrinth enthusiasts around the world. So, when May 5th rolled around, I wanted to be a part of this ritual, this event focused on “walk as one at 1” in each time zone around the world that would create a wave of peaceful energy moving around the planet. So there we were – me and a handful of labyrinth enthusiasts putting Raleigh, NC into the wave by walking at 1 PM on the 11-circuit Chartres style labyrinth at Millbrook Baptist Church .
Having had the opportunity to train as a labyrinth facilitator with the grand-master of labyrinths, Lauren Artress, I eagerly want to teach others about labyrinths and ways to walk, as well as experience walks for myself. The typical pattern of walking a labyrinth is walking-in RELEASE, at the center RECEIVE, and walking-out RETURN. The theme for the day was to focus on peace. Walking-in we breathed in the pain/suffering of the world (focusing on any worldly issues that rested heavy in each one’s heart) and breathed out peace into those situations. At the center we asked questions about peace (How can I be a peaceful warrior? Or, what do I need to know to be more peaceful?) or stood in silence with the thought of peace. Walking-out we focused on situations in our personal lives where we wanted to infuse peace. Before the walk started, two of us opened up the labyrinth energy by walking clockwise around the perimeter.
So, how did it really go? To take in the pain/suffering of the world (tonglen meditation) is not an easy task, as there is so much negative energy around us. I chose to focus on the rain forests of the world – the devastation of which impacts worldwide ecology, unique plant and animal microcosms, and peoples who live in/near these forests. I would have stayed with this focus for the entire walk in, but there were black clouds and thunder nearby so I thought it best to leave “rain” out of my thoughts. I then focused on the 50 – 100 species of wildlife that vanish daily from our earth for the rest of my in-path. At center, I focused on how/where I show up as peace and where more peace was needed. In the midst of this centering work, the thunder roared louder, and with it I shifted into “storm thoughts” – What were my childhood storm stories that still ran through my head? Where are the lines drawn between being overly safe, sane, or stupid when it comes to weather? What are my past experiences with lightning and heavy rain?
I started the walk out, focusing on areas in my life where I wanted more peaceful thoughts, emotions, interactions. After a few minutes, the downpour began – and my walk ended. Several participants ran the out-path to finish. Later, two of us went back to close off the labyrinth energy by walking counter-clockwise around the perimeter – stepping in warm water puddles and getting fully soaked. There is no such thing as a bad labyrinth walk. And, absolutely everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that happens while labyrinth walking is metaphor – in much the same way as dreams.