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Barefoot Labyrinth

labyrinth 500Mud squished cold between my toes in the shade, but iridescent green moss that had warmed in the sun eased the chill as I weaved my way barefoot through the labyrinth. I had retreated to a small island off the coast of Washington state to find my grounding again. The rush of life had depleted my energy to the point that I truly was not fit for anyone else’s company anymore. Time to take a break and recharge.

The labyrinth is laid in beach stones in a small clearing surrounded by wild rose, Douglas fir and alder trees. It is as beautiful a sanctuary as any great cathedral. Mother Nature seemed to be thumbing her nose at my calendar which indicated it was the beginning of March. She was cavorting as if it were mid-spring, not still winter. She dared me to take off my shoes and socks and walk the labyrinth barefoot. I had never done this before (note “mud” in the first sentence), but her invitation was too tempting. I’ve become intrigued with the idea of “Earthing” which suggests that we are healthier when we are directly connected to the earth’s surface, and therefore its energy field, through our bare feet.  (Visit the Earthing Institute’s website to learn more by clicking here.)

I have walked the labyrinth many times during past visits to this sleepy island. It is a ritual that helps me to return to my center. But on this winter day in March, I tried combining Earthing with walking the labyrinth. I could feel the energy flowing through my body. At various points on the path, energetic congestion bubbled up from some unknown place within me and released. Earth energy and labyrinth energy seemed to be a powerful combination. Consciously letting go of old energy in this place where so many people had previously brought their devotion, intentions and love was freeing. I felt lighter, as if I really could lay down my burdens and leave them there.

Sacred Garden labyrinthI had been re-energized and returned home as much better company. The question became, how could I make this a regular practice in the midst of everyday life? Escaping to the island is not always possible, of course. But I had discovered a way to return to my center that was immediate and powerful—I wanted to continue this sense of well-being and peace.

The weather hasn’t cooperated entirely since I returned home. And there aren’t any public labyrinths close to my house. But on the sunny days when I work at home, I eat lunch sitting on the front porch steps with my bare feet on the ground. It’s a start. As the weather warms up and dries out, maybe I’ll draw my own simple labyrinth with sidewalk chalk. It won’t have the same wild beauty as on the island. But thankfully, when we get creative and take the time, we can connect to Mother Nature and our own center anywhere, even in the midst of everyday city life.

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