When in New Mexico at a place called Ghost Ranch – do as the ‘citizens’ of Ghost Ranch do.
Sleep in tiny rooms on beds that look and feel like a cowboy bunkhouse.
Take your shower in a communal space where the faucets are reversed; leftie-tightie and rightie-loosie and the red faucet produces cold water.
Check the sidewalk for HUGE bugs when walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Take a deep breath when you see 3 scorpions hanging outside your room every morning.
Double check the hole right by the bathroom door where the gopher snake lives.
Feel the quiet night air.
Gaze at the carpet of stars that seem to have no end.
Stand in awe and reverence at the carved red rock.
Listen to the wisdom of the people who inhabited this land.
BELIEVE that there is something special for you here at Ghost Ranch.
Yes, at dinner the very first night, our host told us “Even if YOU don’t know what it is yet, Ghost Ranch knows why you are here.”
I don’t typically buy into that ‘stuff’, but three days later when I was walking a labyrinth in the 99-degree hot afternoon sun, I started to believe that something was happening and it wasn’t heat stroke. I was getting messages or having thoughts that I wouldn’t get sitting in a workshop in the middle of a crowded city. I want to share what I wrote in my journal, but perhaps a few facts about labyrinths would be helpful first …
· They are ancient and are found all over the world
· There are two main types; the maze labyrinth where you have to make choices at intersections in order to figure out how to get out, and the meander labyrinth where there is only one undivided path in and out.
· The purpose is a bit for entertainment like a puzzle (the maze) but also for a walking meditation to focus the mind and get in tune to receive messages and inspiration.
· The winding pattern of the labyrinth reflects the circulation of the body energies – the two poles of intestines (physical) and brain (consciousness) represent wholeness. The belief is that as we walk to the center (representative of our own centeredness) of the labyrinth, we become better connected and find ourselves.
· There are ancient ones all over the world, but modern ones are being built all the time. Many healthcare systems/ hospitals have them for patients and family to use as part of holistic care.
· When walking the labyrinth in groups, we are told to find our own pace, and make space for others to do the same.
· It is a silent process!
I spent about 40 minutes walking to the center and out again. As skeptical as I was of this ancient practice, before I started, I can’t deny that some powerful (albeit simple) thoughts came to me as I walked.
· Slow down – this isn’t a race, and neither is life
· Don’t worry about anyone else’s pace
· Stop and look up sometimes
· Give thanks
· We break down like the rocks – it’s a natural process and not to be feared
· The worn rocks are beautiful; the wearing process might have been hard or painful, but the end results is beautiful
· Stop looking for the way out – just keep walking
· We all walk the path in our own way
· Disconnect from trying to prevent people from hurt or challenges – it’s part of the path we walk
· Leave the old stories and old guilt behind
· You’ve been forgiven - now it’s your turn to forgive
· People are all searching for answers in their own way
· These answers to our questions are available anywhere if we focus, notice, stay open and receive
I am grateful that I was able to truly set aside my skepticism long enough to open my heart, body and mind to something new. I do believe that a key ingredient to learning WHAT we need to learn WHEN we need to learn it is our choice to be OPEN.
What lessons are waiting for you?
How are you going to move yourself to that OPEN state of mind, body and heart?