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What I Learned From The Kripalu Labyrinth

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What I Learned From The Kripalu Labyrinth

Iíve always wanted to walk a labyrinth – you know those spiraled paths that lead nowhere and everywhere.

I was in luck. Kripalu, where I was teaching a workshop recently, had one that was reputed to be particularly magical. And I got enmeshed in walking the labyrinth as the sun set for over an hour.

The First Time

To enter the labyrinth, you walk through a gate and then follow the blossom-lined path, where tall grasses brush your bare legs this time of year. You curve right and then start to spiral around – and then the path changes and suddenly youíre going the other direction.

You walk quite a while and find yourself parallel to where you just were, a ways back. Your legs start to feel tired, and you find yourself a bit frustrated because youíre really not getting anywhere. At least thatís how it feels.

Just when you think youíre approaching the center of the labyrinth – PSYCH! You were wrong. Itís time to double back and go the opposite direction, away from where you thought you were going. You feel like youíre backtracking. You wonder if youíre lost. You consider turning around. You hunt for someone who might give you directions.

Then you remember that thereís really only one way in and one way out of a labyrinth, and you simply must trust the path.

But you cling to your faith and you keep walking, turning blind corners, following the well-worn trail. As you go, you start noticing the variety of the flowers. You notice how the sky is turning pink. You hear the birds singing.

Suddenly, you get lost in the journey. You stare in wonder at the butterfly on your way. You stop and smell the earthy scent of the loamy dirt beneath your feet. You look behind you at where youíve been to make sure you didnít miss something.

You start humming to yourself and barely notice that the other person is now gone, somehow escaped form the labyrinth altogether.

Then the path ends. You are there. In the center of the labyrinth lies an altar. People have placed notes and stones and sacred trinkets at the base of a pole that marks the center. You kneel at the altar, grateful for having arrived.

Then you realize you havenít arrived. You have only just begun. The only way back out is the way you came in. You retrace your steps. You can see where people have skipped the walk back, where they have jumped the hedge to hopscotch straight from the altar to the gate where you entered. You wonder why someone would want to rush it. You notice the path, twisting and turning.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

18 comments

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3:23PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Perfect illustration!

12:22PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

great article, thanks for sharing :)

2:14PM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Thank you

10:18AM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

thanks

10:11AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

The destination is every bit as important as the journey. You just may not recognize it till you've gotten there, maybe even gotten past it. Yes, the journey continues, but it is really a whole new trip.

3:36AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

thank you for sharing this experience. Never would have thought of a labyrinth as a great lesson to gain more trust. Maybe one day I find mine, too - I'd take the chance.

11:47PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Great description - thank you for sharing this piece.

7:49PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

I have walked the giant labyrinth of the forest many times in my life, from my childhood into adulthood. At this stage, I am truly appreciative and cherish the experience and the resulting memories.

7:45PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Beautiful article, thanks....need to take the time to smell the roses too.

2:10PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Wonderful. I'm lucky to have walked several labyrinths and I love it. One in a natural setting would be even more evocative.

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