The Circle of Life Is Not What You Think

There's one simple distraction to guide you toward the answers inside you.

Posted Jul 08, 2015

by Laura Berger

You rush from meeting to meeting, eat lunch at your desk, and need a texting helmet as you bolt down the sidewalk. I must admit I have had a losing confrontation with a parking meter once before—not as bad as a friend who lost a tooth to a light post. This type of behavior is even more problematic than unconventional and sometimes hilarious injuries. Namely, it becomes difficult to steer our short-term decisions toward our daily goals. What’s more, the resulting constant presence of cortisol in the brain creates conditions in the mind opposite to what is required to experience “a-ha moments” leading to Life Leaps, passion, and purpose.

Copyright Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago
Source: Copyright Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

Don’t despair, however, since amongst the chaos of scurrying city-dwellers (and in a b-classic David Bowie movie), there lies an outside distraction to keep you from self-inflicted walking injuries while surprisingly guiding you toward the internal answers inside you seek--the labyrinth.

The traditional labyrinth has but one path designed for clarity and simplicity. It’s an ancient symbol relating to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering, but purposeful path. Labyrinths represent a journey to our own center and back out into the world again. They have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. They or similar patterns are held sacred in many traditions, and the simple act or walking the path is, in itself, a form of deep meditation that we can experience every day, putting us in touch with the true self deep within us. For example, Christians often engage in prayer walking, and Buddhists in walking meditation.

In contrast, and to avoid confusion, mazes, rather, provide many choices of path and are often large puzzles. Having one path versus many is the distinction between a tool that promotes clarity instead of confusion. 

Author supplied, no copyright
Source: Author supplied, no copyright

As with meditation, there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.  You can simply meander your way, acknowledging whatever thoughts enter your mind. If you prefer, pick a mantra (or word) to focus on at the beginning of your mini journey or contemplate a question that is top of mind in your life.

By walking a labyrinth, you’ll enjoy one or more of the following benefits:

  • A contemplative path and an attractive focal point.
  • Access to your inner voice, often in overwhelming and frantic settings (i.e., downtown areas)
  • Empowerment and focus
  • Discovery of profound new meaning and insights

I have had the joy of visiting labyrinths all over the world and can share the following:

  1. Medieval labyrinth in the middle of downtown Chicago - http://www.yelp.com/biz/st-james-cathedrial-walking-labyrinth-chicago
  2. Los Angeles south of I-10 http://www.peacelabyrinth.org/
  3. New York’s Lower East Side in East River Park by the Williamsburg Bridge – http://www.placematters.net/east-river-reflections-labyrinth
  4. With an ocean view on the Dragons Teeth, Maui, Hawaii http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g209273-d1896788-r126008690-Dragon_s_Teeth-Kapalua_Maui_Hawaii.html
  5. Here is a Worldwide Labyrinth Locator to explore on your own – http://labyrinthlocator.com/home
  6. And if you have no time to leave the office, Virtual Labyrinth Walk – http://labyrinthsociety.org/flash/labyrinth.htm

Labyrinths certainly provide you a deliberate place to separate from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day on a simple journey to you. I truly hope that you get as much benefit from experiencing them as I have. Peace be the journey!

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Laura Berger, PCC and Glen Tibaldeo, PMP, CPA are authors and popular speakers at national conferences and for Fortune companies. Glen is a Project Strategist/Change Management Consultant and screenwriter for Radical Sabbatical, and Laura is an Executive Coach, both for the Berdeo Group LLC. Their Bestseller Radical Sabbatical(link is external) is described by Dave Barry as "the funniest book I have ever held in my hands" and is available on AmazonkoboBarnes and Noble, and at other major bookstores.