I've been reviewing my Sacred Art of Living and Dying seminar notes.
Drawn to the topic because Pauly and I had a wonderful experience caring for my grandfather during his last days, this seminar is a two year program taught by a surgeon, an OB/GYN and a scholar/former Catholic priest. We attend these weekend gatherings which happen every 6 months.
Last night I reread their definition of spiritual pain which is "resisting what is". That means if there's something I don't like about life and I'm suffering over that dislike, I'm in resistance and in pain. They went on to discuss how spiritual pain can be at the heart of all other pain.
I love that I keep running into similar body/mind/spirit connection concepts in all of my readings, even though they're from uniquely different sources.
And this morning I recalled last weekend's seminar where I walked through a giant labyrinth. The labyrinth experience is meant to be a quiet, thoughtful inner journey as you move towards the center and then back out again.
We were told it takes about 20 minutes on average to walk it. I've always thought labyrinths would be too boring of an activity for me; however, I was gonna give it a go since I'd never done one before.
I entered the labyrinth with an intention to have a sacred experience. And as soon as I began walking, I found myself behind a woman who liked to pause at every single turn. Trouble began brewing immediately because this is what labyrinths are made of - loads of turns!
This meant I had to stop each time she did. Not only that, the paths were super tiny, so every time we passed each other, which was constantly, we'd make way for the other person by stepping outside of our labyrinth lanes.
This quickly got on my nerves. I like to mooooove! Plus, I wasn't getting the experience I thought I was gonna get because I was barely ever on my path! My smooth, sacred labyrinth experience had turned into a maze with obstacles and blocks!
But then I remembered that the point is to have an inner journey and I was focusing on the externals, so I shifted my perspective. I allowed myself to focus on my inner state.
As I moved toward the center of the labyrinth, meandering through the many sharp and soft curves, pausing often, I noticed that my breathing was slowing, my thoughts were getting quieter, my body was more relaxed. I was turning inward to the peace that's always there whenever I want to notice it.
When I got to the center, I saw that the woman ahead me was stopping for a long pause (Of course she was. She's freekin' nuts about pauses!) and I immediately thought, "Oh Goody. Now I can pass her ass!" This is the little rhyme I love to shout while whipping by snail-like drivers in my Mini Cooper.
I only stopped for a second in the center and then went back on the twisty turny journey that was just as long out of the labyrinth as it was to get in.
After the excitement of getting past Miss I'm-The-Most-Pensive-Person-On-The-Planet, it took me a while to settle down from being judgmental into an inward mindset that felt calm and natural again.
This morning it struck me how I regularly do life like a maze instead of a labyrinth.
A maze is built for drama. The point is to get blocked, lost, afraid, try to remember where you've already been, and to work at finding your way out.
Last weekend I managed to create a maze on top of a labyrinth using only my "resistance to what is" thoughts.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with that.
Suffering from resistance is my choice, just like feeling peaceful is.
And peace is easy when I remember that there's nowhere else to go or nowhere else to be except here with myself right now. Then I can move smoothly with the flow of life as it arises on my path.
Which quote best suits you today?
"We're all simply driving each other crazy." Dana Bergstrom
"We're all just walking each other home." Ram Dass