I have just returned from a wonderful and empowering business retreat at Serenbe with Dr. Ellen Britt's Pink Coattails Mastermind group. One of the highlights was our walk in the Serenbe Labyrinth, which we did on the last day of our retreat. It is quite large, so the best way to depict it for you was to take a snapshot of an aerial photo (above) hanging in the lobby of The Inn at Serenbe.
Labyrinths are quite ancient, and remnants have been found all over the world in a wide range of cultures, including those of ancient Greece and Rome. Unlike the multicursal labyrinth or maze, the Serenbe Labyrinth is monocursal, with only one non-branching path leading to the center. It was patterned after the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, and the pattern is intended to represent the sacred path to God (the center).
The experience of walking the labyrinth was quietly axis-shifting. On one level, it was simply a nice way to spend a morning in a peaceful sylvan glade. On another level, it was experiential learning at its best and surprisingly soul-nourishing. Ever since, insights and life lessons have bubbled up, and I'd like to share a few I've recognized so far:
- It's important to set your intention. Whenever you walk a labyrinth—or begin a project or have a decision to make—setting an intention sends a signal both to Holy Spirit and to your brain's creative pathways that you're calling on them for help and guidance.
- Life is full of twists and turns, but the journey still takes you to your destination. The path inside the labyrinth was quite serpentine, twisting and turning on itself so much that it was important to pay attention so as not to miss a turn and trip over the stones that created the edges of the path. The turns might have slowed me down a bit, but each step still took me closer and closer to the center.
- The external conditions may change, but the path still pulls you forward. The weather was beautiful the day I walked the labyrinth, but had it turned cold or rainy, I would have been tempted to stop instead of experiencing a little discomfort. Staying on the path, however, is the surest way to reach the center, and the weather always changes for the better eventually.
- Respect and give love to the other pilgrims you pass along the way. There were nine others walking the path when I did, just as others in life cross our path for good or ill. Their presence may be disruptive or it may be encouraging, but it's important to remember that they, too, are on a journey and we are all connected in the web of life.
- Everything that glitters is not gold. I often spotted stones in the path that sparkled with some kind of gold-colored mineral. It was tempting to stop to pick them up and put them in my pocket, but of course they were not real gold. Not only would giving in to that temptation have delayed my journey, but it would also have added to my load, much the way other “bright shiny objects” in my life can distract or derail me. It's important to recognize what's valuable and what's not.
- Creativity flourishes when you let your mind rest or play. One reason walking the labyrinth is such an effective tool for meditation is because you are so busy concentrating on where you're walking, the other distractions and worries in your life are temporarily set aside. It was fascinating how many other, more creative and interesting ideas came to the surface, including some that felt like direct answers to the intention I had set. Studies on creativity all confirm the importance of play and rest in allowing mental space for creativity to bloom.
- To run a healthy business, you need to nourish your own physical and spiritual health. The experience of incorporating an activity like walking a labyrinth into a business retreat and realizing how many great business ideas emerged from it was an important reminder that taking the time to keep your mind and body at peak performance is one of the best investments you can make in your business success.
- The ultimate goal is always in the center. No matter where you enter the labyrinth, the path leads inexorably to the center, where large stones invite you to sit and reflect and rest. So it is in life. Too often we seek success and happiness somewhere “out there,” when we would be better served to explore the depths of our own heart and soul, where God, in the form of Holy Spirit, resides and patiently waits for us to come home.
To find a labyrinth near you, go to http://labyrinthlocator.com. In its ancient and mystical pattern, it is a rich metaphor for life and a powerful tool for exploring your own heart and soul…and finding that God has been there all along.