I had an opportunity this week to go on a one day spiritual retreat. As we all know, the hustle and bustle of every day life is known to, at times, get the best of us; I was feeling the need to get away. I have learned in my process of recovery, and in life, that scheduling "me" time, to just "be", is an essential part of my own self care. Even if just for an hour. I was lucky to get 7 consecutive hours on this retreat.
At this particular retreat center, there is a walking labyrinth. If you are not familiar with walking labyrinths, I invite you to do some research on them. They can be wonderfully meditative.
As I approached this labyrinth, I took a moment to study it. I had walked it twice before - both times not getting much out of it, and it leaving much to be desired. I noticed the intricate spirals, and immediately found myself wanting to get to the middle of the labyrinth. It dawned on me that's the way I am with life - wanting to get in the middle of it. Interesting, because when I was in my eating disorder I wanted to be anything but in the middle of life. I began my walk through the labyrinth, noticing the red brick stepping stones that outlined its path. And while, there was a clear path, and a clear middle, the stepping stones too were obviously their own entity and part of a bigger whole.
It seemed to take quite a bit of twists and turns to get in the middle of the labyrinth. And as I found myself trying to rush through those twists and turns, I stopped and took things a bit slower. Eventually, I got there, only to find myself wanting to get out of the middle and start walking again.
How symbolic this is of the process of recovery, and the process of life. In recovery, I wanted to just get there already. I wanted to get to this place of "recovered", this place where things just magically fell together and I no longer had an eating disorder. In my own process, I thought that once the eating disorder was gone, then life would "fit". Much like in the eating disorder, I thought that once I got to a certain size or weight, or if I found some "magic formula", things too would then come together. In both circumstances, I have experienced this was not the case. I am learning that balance is the key.
As I reflect on walking that labyrinth, I am grateful for the experience I had. I am sure that when I walk it again, I may have an entirely different experience. And further on, another different experience. Or perhaps, no notable experience at all. That, in and of itself, is an experience.
That is not only the beauty of symbolic experiences, but concrete life experiences as well.