The entire story: Labyrinthine Inspirations

Entering the garden I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve walked labyrinths before, but I didn’t know what exactly I was in for when pursuing this particular experience. I was with a group of strangers, after all, and participating in a week-long Maui retreat where anything could happen, and I was open to anything happening.
                Eagerly, I sit down and await the introduction and interpretation of what we could experience during our labyrinth walk. Eve introduces herself and explains the purpose of the labyrinth so that we might be able to experience the walk more wholly. Without this explanation, I would not have been available to understand the meaning of my journey through the labyrinth.
                As I stepped up to the labyrinth, I set my intention: Be open to the process. Although Eve shared with us how we might be able to interpret our individual journeys through the labyrinth, she was unable to tell us exactly how completely we might each experience the walk. I expected something to happen; I did not yet know what that something was. The only thing I could promise myself was to be open.
                I entered. As I took my first steps, around each curve, along each drawn-out path, I felt uneasy and unsure of myself. I didn’t want to be the person to break down with unknown reason. I didn’t want to allow my feelings of insecurity and uncertainty to overcome me in front of my new stranger friends. There were six of us experiencing the labyrinth together. It felt overwhelming. I walked with my hands fidgeting, shoulders hunched over, trying to recognize the journey but not yet understanding how to interpret the journey at all.
                As I walked, I noticed subtle things, which Eve told us was the key to the labyrinth. I noticed the trees and the very slight, warm breeze. I noticed the shadows cast along the paths. I noticed the grey stones held in place by the deep red bricks against the yellow leaves that had fallen into their places along the path. I noticed a beautifully angled, off-centered brick that I accepted and loved in its displacement. I noticed a spillage of rocks over the side of a perfectly placed brick at the corner of a turn in the labyrinth. As I walked around and around and up and down, along straight paths and tightly curved corners, and long flowing aisles, I noticed the visual sensations of the labyrinth.
                I try to dig inside of myself, and I find that very difficult to do. I return to my hesitations, my personal barriers. I recognize the bricks in the path are also the barriers that are keeping me inside the walls of my journey. Don’t step over a line or you may return to the beginning and have to start over. Oh, universe, please don’t make me start over. I’ve already come so far!
                In front of me, a friend begins to cry. Silently at first, as she continues through her journey until she comes to a halt. An embrace between her and another friend follows, as I sit back and grant the space to allow all the feels.
                Suddenly, the emotions escape the confines of the embrace between these two friends, and the emotions hit me and others standing nearby. Everyone pauses to hold space in the labyrinth. We wait. We allow our own emotions to encompass the emotions of those around us. We are all one in the space of the labyrinth, yet we are all separate. We are each experiencing our own paths and our own journeys and our own perspectives, and yet we are connected in this particular timeline.
                As my friends embrace, as all of our emotions merge within the circles of the labyrinth, I notice subtle funnies. I enjoy the emotional process of this journey; it feels enlightening to me. I feel a heaviness lift, and it makes me giddy. The vulnerability feels uplifting. When the people in the labyrinth begin to walk again, I smile. I find humor in what is happening. 
                Following the allowance of our emotions to be shared with one another, it becomes easier to focus less on the visual experience of the labyrinth but rather to delve deeper into the soul of the labyrinth. Not only is the emotional experience accepted, but also the lifeline, the timelessness, the path of time, the melding of our individual experiences along with our personal and our combined journeys.
                I feel myself opening, sort of blossoming like a flower. I’m less aware of the visual interpretations, and more aware of the oneness of everything. As I walk along the prescribed path, following in step with each person, curving around in each step of the process. I might find myself facing one of my friends. Sometimes locking eyes, sometimes extending a hand to touch them as we cross paths, sometimes holding my arms in tightly against my body, and sometimes finding our paths allowance to walk along with one another only to find the other turning a bend moving us each in our own individual directions.
                I focus on that familiar spillage of dark grey rocks over the side of the bricks. This area is one I cross over multiple times because it happens to be in the corner of two turns as well as along one longer path. Every time I cross the spill of rocks, I notice it. The spill makes me smile though I can’t tell you the reason. It just is. At one point, I realize that spill represents my life right now. If the labyrinth were to be my personal timeline, this spill would be my current now. Life has spilled a bit, but it goes on. Sometimes I will notice the spill, sometimes I will ignore the spill, but the spill will always be inside of my timeline. It is the representation of my current-ness. And my current-ness is what it is. I can get stuck, sucked in, and focus on the spill; or I can notice it and step over it and move ever onward. Wisely, that’s what I decide to do.
                It’s as if life is interpreted in this labyrinth. Sometimes I walk along with someone for a while, and then we don’t see each other for a while, then we’re reintroduced at the perfect moment, reunited for a bit, and then life turns again taking us in different directions. Sometimes I want to extend myself to a person, and sometimes I want to withhold myself. I realize it has nothing to do with the other person, but my interpretation of that person in that particular moment. With every turn, there is a different immediate emotion. A resounding Yes; a hesitant No. Every moment defines an individual feeling. Ever-changing; ever accepting; ever truth.
                As I reach the center of the labyrinth I walk around inside the circle to find my place. This is me. This is my truth. The center is witnessing me. I sit.
            Looking up at the canopy of trees, inhaling the fresh scents of the forest, visually recognizing the ins and outs of the circles surrounding me, I allow the epiphanies to emerge. Remain open. Notice things. Recognize emotions. Remember memories. Where am I now? Here. Be here now.
                I witness a friend who started the labyrinth first. She had a very quick pace throughout her journey. She made it into the center, and shortly after I made it there, she took off on her journey out of the labyrinth. As I sat in the center of the labyrinth, I noticed her. I didn’t judge, but I questioned myself in what I was noticing. I asked myself whether she was able to allow herself the space to feel what she needed to feel with her quick pace. As I remained in the center, she made it outside of the labyrinth, and immediately brought out her camera and started to take pictures of the rest of us during our journeys. I noticed, but I didn’t label.
                Later that evening as we discussed our journeys, this friend stated that she realized she ran in and out of the labyrinth because she was afraid to feel the labyrinth. She decided to go through the motions, reach the goal, head back out and record other people’s journeys instead of taking the time to dive deep into her personal emotional state. She said the labyrinth frightened her. Took away her control. Interesting.
                As I sat in the center, I wrote in my journal. Still, I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel inside of this process. I just noticed things, noticed people, noticed myself; I noticed how I viewed people. Without judgment, I recognized how others walked, how others were experiencing their journey. I read into myself through my view of their experience and their body languages.
                Another friend joined me in the circle. She stayed with me for a little while and then headed out. As she reached a bend, she stopped. I was bent over my journal, sitting on my brick, writing. I felt her watching me. I looked up at her and smiled. She smiled in return and said she wished she had brought her journal with her. I said, “Go get your journal. I think you need it.” She said, “But I won’t know where I’m at in the labyrinth.” I told her I would remember her spot. She was hesitant, but she placed her faith in me and said okay. I noticed the strength it took for her to first, allow me to hold her place in the labyrinth; second, to step outside of the confines of the labyrinth boundaries in order to walk a direct path leaving the labyrinth.
                As soon as she left, I realized I didn’t take note of the direction she had been facing, the direction she had been headed before leaving the labyrinth. Immediately I felt as if I had let her down. I felt as though I had made a promise and I had failed her in her own process. You see, if you are walking a particular direction in the labyrinth, and get turned around, you could wind up either in the beginning or in the center again. No one "wants" to face the wrong direction and have to start again. Robbie sat next to me in the center, and I turned to her to let her know of my failure. She assured me it was all okay, and that I can tell the friend that she gets to decide which direction she should walk. It will all be perfect. Whether the friend chooses the direction she was heading in the first place, or whether she chooses the direction that will bring her back to the center of the labyrinth, either way, it will be perfect. I don’t need to hold the weight of her choice. I simply get to support her in her process. What a great life lesson!
                When the friend returned, I asked her to try to guess where she had been standing. She chose, and I corrected her. She took a deep breath, now holding her journal, and she looked as if relief had overtaken her. She took a deep breath and smiled. Then she looked down and realized she had another question for me. She asked, “Oh, which direction was I going?” Together, mimicking the oracles in The NeverEnding Story, Robbie and I said in unison, “You decide.”
                This was a profound statement because at the beginning of our week together at this retreat, each of my new friends and I had drawn intention cards. This particular friend of ours had drawn the card that said, “DECIDE.” Of course, inside of the labyrinth, our statement was perfect.
                She looked at us, and pointed her finger coyly and smiled, and said, “Cute.” It was cute. Again, I felt giddy.
                In that moment, I allowed the weight of my control to escape me. I had been fearful that she might think I let her down. I made a promise to her that I would hold her place, and I felt I had only done so to a certain extent. She might have expected more from me. Oh, the weight of my responsibility! But I realized when she said “cute” that it’s not up to me. I can hold space for those around me, but it is not my place to guide them in their own decisions. This was a crucial moment for me. I can assist and I listen, but whatever happens for them is not mine to own. I found such relief in that realization.
            The friend took a deep breath, and as I watched, she lowered her shoulders into an acceptance of her own choice and continued to walk. It was beautiful. I believe we each had our own personal growth in that moment – me, Robbie, and this friend.
             I continued to sit in the center. Robbie sat with me. I wanted space and didn’t want to ask for it. I wanted to be alone in the labyrinth's center.
             Eventually, Robbie did leave me in the center and continued her journey to exit the labyrinth. Finally.
         As I remained sitting in the circle, there were others walking all around me as they followed the path of the labyrinth. All I wanted was space, so I made the decision to remain seated as long as possible. I wanted those who were on their path to get farther away from me. I wanted to have the labyrinth to myself.
           I realized I was bored. It was quiet and lonely in the center all by myself. I felt my heart tug to leave the center but also my mind wanted to control the situation and force me to stay until I could have the labyrinth to myself.
            That’s when I realized, “I’m holding myself here.” I realized the day before that I have been stuck in my bitterness, resentment, and my anger. These feelings were so familiar to me, that I allowed them to act like comfort. I was attending the retreat to process deep, grieving feelings. I had recently sent Tierzah to college and three weeks later, Mommer passed away with very little warning. I had lost the two most important women in my life in very different ways within 3 weeks of each other. The feelings of bitterness, resentment, and anger were so familiar to me. They were subconscious and this was shown to me as I sat lonely, keeping myself in that center; keeping myself inside of my bitterness, resentment, anger. I noticed.
             Get up. Get out. Stop holding yourself in here. It’s time to move out of those negative feelings.
             Immediately, I got up and began my journey out of the center of the labyrinth.
             By the time I hit my first curve in the labyrinth, the words JUST GRIEVE hit me as I inhaled. I had meant to think “Just breathe,” but my thoughts landed perfectly on “Just Grieve.” Again, I felt elated and I smiled.      
          “I don’t know how to grieve anymore.” And as I thought those words, it occurred to me that grief doesn’t need to be sad. It just needs to be noticed.
           Still, not quite sure how to feel the grief, I decided to begin spelling their names in congruence with my footsteps: M-O-M-M-E-R. T-I-E-R-Z-A-H.
         As I walked along the path, I kept spelling their names with the rhythm of my steps. And I realized that they are with me. Tierzah and Mommer are with me now and they always have been. From the beginning of the labyrinth, my very first steps inside, and continuing into my center and then walking toward the finish line, they are with me in every step. This is my grief. The experience itself is my grief, but it’s not painful, nor does it need to be painful. It needs to be recognized and it needs to be noticed, but the grief isn't necessarily painful. In that recognition, I was able to begin to release small parts of my bitterness, resentment, and anger. 
             As I continued to walk and spell their names, I realized the labyrinth was beginning to empty. Only Robbie and I remained in the timeline. I noticed Robbie take a turn so that she and I faced one another. I didn’t want to be contacted by her or anyone else Not right now. Not yet. Not while I deal with this new grief. I wanted space. I slowed my pace so that she and I wouldn’t meet so soon; guarding (controlling) my space once again. As I slowed my pace, she quickened hers.
       I then realized whatever happens in the labyrinth is supposed to happen. The happenings are here to reveal something to us that we need to experience, that we need to notice and recognize. I need to relinquish control. At that moment, I surrendered to the process, and as Robbie and I were to meet, her path turned as mine continued forward and we were headed in opposite directions in perfect timing granting me the space I had requested.
          Again, I felt elated! I realized while processing these emotions that all I need to do is surrender and everything will be perfect.
           Then, Robbie exited the labyrinth.
           I slowed my pace to look around. I was all alone. Finally.
       It was peaceful and it was quiet and it was colorful and it was emotional and enlightening and it was beautiful.
        I had everything I needed all in perfect time within the labyrinth. When I asked, it was presented. When I was open, it was directed. When I took notice, I was present.
                As I continued my journey all alone around the bends, turns, and pathways of the labyrinth, I found myself bored and lonely once again. I made the decision that after the next turn, I would simply walk out of the labyrinth. I had been shown what I needed to be shown, and I was finished. It was time to exit.
                As I made this the decision, I turned the next bend and found myself at the exit of the labyrinth.
                Because it was indeed the perfect time to leave.

I have since built my own labyrinth and host evening labyrinth retreats! For more information about the retreats, please email me:

(An abridged version of my labyrinth experience has been published in a book compilation. Link: Inspirations: 101 Uplifting Stories for Daily Happiness)

Left to right: Ali, Ronda, Julia, Natalie, Adrianne, Brooke, Robbie.
Behind us stoically sits the labyrinth.
Not a big deal, and at the same time a really big deal.

My bestie, Robbie and I discovering ourselves in the center of the Labyrinth.