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My husband and I recently met up with good friends on the coast in Bandon, Oregon.  One of the highlights of our trip came from my husband researching Bandon Dunes Golf Course. He found they had a Labyrinth!

He and I have a fun history with Labyrinths that began in San Francisco one rainy night a few years ago. As we passed by Grace Cathedral, we took a chance to see if it was open. We’d never been inside and I’d wanted to visit for ages. We got lucky! While there,  Lauren Artess a Canon at the cathedral, came in and began a candlelight ceremonial Labyrinth walk. We were mesmerized and she invited us to participate.  It was an incredible experience we’ll never forget.

After that Labyrinth encounter, my husband bought me Lauren’s book on Walking the Labyrinth. After reading it, I took a weekend class with her on the subject. She’s a great teacher and I highly recommend her classes.

So, when my husband asked if I’d like to go and try to find the Bandon Labyrinth, of course I said YES!

Our friends were willing accomplices although I’m not sure they understood what it was we were in search of. It had been raining heavy all day and there was a brief break in the weather as we headed out late in the afternoon. Within ten minutes we were at the spot the article offered as its clue for the trail head.

Our friends were skeptical as we got out of the car, but I was excitedly on a mission. As my husband convinced our friends we were in the right location, I had eagerly found the trailhead and was on my way down the path.

Our starting point was Bandon Dunes Golf Course Lodge. Down a narrow path off to one side was a small sign that pointed towards the Labyrinth. The path wound its way into the forest with a few signs posted along the trail. The tall pines were dripping from the recent rain and the path was covered in wet pine needles and bark. The scent was aromatic and fresh.

My husband and friends were a small distance behind me and I could hear their voices through the quiet. The forest was cool and still after the rain. I found the entrance to the Labyrinth area. There before me, cathedral like, welcoming and ready was this beautiful sacred circle.

This Labyrinth is like the one found at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France which was also duplicated at Grace Cathedral. The Chartres Labyrinth is filled with multiple layers of symbolism, sacred geometry, and ancient cosmology. Labyrinths offer a sacred path.

 

Labyrinths are used as a form of walking meditation or prayer. An intentional offering is given as one walks the narrow, meandering, circuitous path, eventually finding the way to the center and back out again. A Labyrinth has only one entrance/exit and one path. It is a metaphor for our life’s journey….and the place in our journey we now find ourselves.

I entered the Labyrinth and began my spiritual walk. My husband and friends soon joined me in the circle, each at their own pace. The atmosphere was magical, quiet and sacred.

As I slowly and intently made my way around the circle I encountered feelings of great joy and moments of great sorrow. Memories and feelings flooded over me and I allowed them to inform me as I released them over to the Divine. At times I asked for forgiveness, other times I offered my gratitude, or lapsed into silence. The process is spontaneous, raw and incredibly healing.

Like many, our friends had confused the Labyrinth with a maze. Mazes are left brain activities. They’re like a puzzle to be solved using logic and analytical skills. Walking a Labyrinth is a right brain activity that involves using intuition, creativity and imagery.

Our friends tend more naturally to left-brained activities. This walk had one of them somewhat distracted and the other trying to quickly complete the task. They both hung in there and found their way to the center and back out again.

Upon finishing, I went up to the area’s entrance and read the monument that I had previously not noticed. The plaque explained the Labyrinth perfectly.

I asked my male friend if he’d read the inscription? My sense was he hadn’t quite understood the purpose of walking the Labyrinth. He was currently going through a difficult health challenge and I knew there was an energetic healing opportunity for him here. I was hoping he’d be open to it.

Upon reading the monument, he quietly told us he felt he needed to walk the path again with this new awareness. As he began, I watched him take his first few turns, and then I closed my eyes, lifted my arms just out from my hips, and opened my hands palms up, holding his space as I stood there, energetically, prayerfully following him around the path.

As he encountered specific turns in the circle I started to cry, sobbing silently and deeply. The release was profound physically, emotionally and energetically. The energetic imprint being displaced was very old and very deep. The shift was immediate and immense. I felt it move through my body, mind, and spirit, like a deep soul cleansing, leaving feelings of clarity, peace and serenity vibrating within me.

The beauty of spiritual work is all who are engaged experience healing. This Labyrinth walk provided significant healing for each of us, but especially for our friend.

At one point I briefly opened my eyes and saw that I had been joined by my friend’s wife and my husband, silently holding space with me, also with their eyes closed. My husband later told me that when he joined us to hold space, the energy was so powerful it gave him a jolt that went through his entire body. He had never felt the power of sacred space and prayerful intention so strong.

As our friend finished his second walk around the circle and came out of the Labyrinth it began to softly rain. God’s offering of a cleansing finish to this incredible ritual. The entire experience was simply beautiful.

This lovely Labyrinth is located where the filtered light and trees combine creating an outdoor cathedral and sacred sanctuary.

 

 

Just like sitting in meditation, each time we walk a Labyrinth it offers us exactly what we need; Reflection, prayer, release, answers, a glimpse into ourselves and into the Divine within us. We are in sacred communion with the Divine.

Deciding to enter the labyrinth, we choose to walk the spiritual path, to walk with the Divine.  And…as in life, we can get a little bit lost along the way. Eventually we find our way to the center, to enlightenment before heading back out onto the path.

 

 

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Over the past few weeks I have spoken with both friends and family who have travel plans in place over the next couple of months. Some are going to exotic places like South Africa, India, Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Thailand. Others have Hawaii, Italy and Cabo San Lucas on their schedules. I enjoy hearing of their plans and the excitement that lights up their face as they share the details and research of their trip. I also love to hear about their trip upon their return home. The images they paint from their stories I find as interesting as their photos. Don’t get me wrong the photos are cool but the stories are their experiences!

Some are going in groups, others with friends or family, and others as a “single” while participating in a group tour. I know folks who like to bike or hike through regions of Europe, others who like to take River Cruises and others Motor Coach Tours. I admire them all. It takes planning, tenacity and an adventurous spirit to travel.

I think there is a difference between vacationing and traveling. Vacationing to me is about relaxing somewhere, playing and being in safe and reliable environs. This takes on many vistas…camping for some, at the beach for others or perhaps Disneyland. Traveling on the other hand is stretching our boundaries, seeing new vistas, meeting new people and exposing ourselves to different cultures. It can also be immersing ourselves in history, art, spiritual/religious pilgrimages or researching our family’s ancestry. While we certainly can use vacation time to travel and we can have fun and play while traveling, there is a different energy around travel than there is vacationing. I think both are necessary to feed and renew the soul.

Travel gives us an education unlike any other and helps us to be better citizens of the world and to appreciate home. As I see it, when we travel we become guests of the countries, cities and regions that we visit. We observe the culture, landscape, architecture and people and experience life from their point of view and existence. There are colors, smells, tastes, sounds and climates that are specific to each place we visit and we bring the memory of these back home with us. Travel of any kind expands our minds and opens our thinking, our compassion and personal insights. We are different when we come home, our life experience has changed and grown. We begin to frame how we live in the world differently.

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Vacationing also changes us. It renews us, gives us new vitality and resets our fun meters. It reconnects us with our inner selves and with our family or friends we might be traveling with. Vacationing gives us time to vacate the stale and stagnant mindsets and physical weariness we have fallen into through everyday life. It mixes things up and lets us enjoy different foods and drink. It gives us time to rest and be “on vacation.”

Most people find planning the travel as enjoyable as the actual going. We set our itineraries, begin to make arrangements and reservations while engaging our travel or vacation mindset months in advance. The planning is fun, gives us something to look forward to and offers interesting conversation with those that have already explored our travel destination.

Planning and traveling are exciting but what I try to remind myself of everyday is to pay attention to the beauty of where I live. It is easy to forget or not see the beauty of our own backyard (literally and figuratively). I know the sunsets in Hawaii are exquisite but so are the ones outside my home. The wildflowers blooming in the fields, the trees beginning to blossom, the rolling green hills and the clouds hovering over the foothills are just as pretty here as they are in Europe.

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Living in Northern California I consider myself extremely lucky. People pay thousands of dollars to come visit our area from all over the world and I live with its beauty and bounty every day. I bet wherever you live, you could say the same thing. And, while we all enjoy travel and vacation the simple truth is there is no place like home.

2d5e15dda3fee4120d88db625acfd38cHappy trails!

Lisa Joiner

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© Lisa Joiner and HighRoadpost, 2014 Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Joiner and HighRoadPost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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