By Troy Rampy, Editor, The Wellness Blog™
“The only journey is the one within.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
I’ve just returned from a road trip. It lasted 11 days, covered over 3000 miles in 6 states, and involved 21 friends — both new and old. It rejuvenated me, inspired me, challenged me, wore me out, and occasionally brought me to tears.
So why am I telling you this? Partly because this is the subject matter that is uppermost in my awareness right now. And partly because I want to write about intentional journey … not just travel to entertain ourselves … but journey with a purpose. In other words, a trip that is taken where the main purpose is to expand ourselves spiritually and grow.
Not that we can’t have fun and enjoy ourselves along the way. Yes, by all means! Enjoyment is definitely part of the mix. And hilarity; even silliness.
Of course, it would be fun to share with you some of the details of this trip that I took with my beautiful partner Lynn. For instance, I could tell you about seeing the most dazzling double rainbow that I’ve ever encountered with the purest, iridescent colors imaginable and how it came all the way down to touch the earth at both ends. It actually followed us for over 20 minutes(!) as we traveled north on winding, two lane US-93 until we entered the little town of Jackpot at the northern edge of Nevada.
Jackpot? Oh, come on! Was this a sign? Should we stop to play a little Keno? Yep, we did. But the gold apparently was not to be found in some windowless casino.
I also could tell you about being an overnight guest at the home of influential author and psychologist Eduardo Duran; and maybe something about the cabin in the Montana outback that required seven, through-the-water stream crossings to reach and whose setting was blessed with the most perfect feng shui of any place I’ve ever visited; or perhaps I could describe my hilarious encounter with a bison; or the four-star, gourmet meal we shared with friends at their son’s bistro in Sequim, Washington.
And there’s a lot more. But sharing all that just would be personal indulgence. (Okay. So I slipped in a little bit, anyway.)
What I really want to tell you about is one small piece of my trip … the piece that most exemplifies “journey” and differentiates it from “travel”. This was one of those little ah-ha moments that can change everything. It involved walking a labyrinth on Mt. Shasta.
So here’s what happened. After camping one night under a bright display of closer than usual stars near the top of 14,179 feet high Mt. Shasta, and spending time the next morning meditating at the healing springs in Panther Meadow, we came across a labyrinth that someone had fashioned with stones just off the parking area near the trail-head.
Shall we walk it? Yes, of course. After all, these are the kinds of opportunities that often present themselves when the purpose is to engage in an intentional journey.
I paused briefly before entering the labyrinth to set my intention. Then I started walking and bringing my awareness into the moment. I focused on moving one foot consciously in front of the other as I navigated the intricate twists and turns of the labyrinth in this high mountain air. I was peripherally aware of Lynn somewhere ahead of me in the labyrinth as she walked her own intentional path. But the focus of my awareness was on simply being in the moment, within my own personal experience.
This was not unlike an experience that Eduardo Duran describes in his important book Buddha in Redface, of coming into present time. The labyrinth, like the “green powder” that Eduardo used, provides a way for us to focus our awareness, much like meditation does. Indeed, walking a labyrinth is a meditation. And that’s what’s so powerful. It can bring us into ourselves, into the now.
The design for the labyrinth on Mt. Shasta, like the one at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, is patterned after the original at Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France. It takes you in a steady, yet circuitous, path to a center point within the labyrinth that is your destination.
At times, as you walk this labyrinth, you can feel lost. In fact, I wondered if this mountain copy might possibly be a joke. That perhaps someone engineered this so you simply continue to spiral in an unending loop or arrive at some dead-end instead of progressing toward your goal. At various points it looks like you are moving further away from rather than getting closer to the center.
But this labyrinth is no joke. It’s the real deal. And I found myself enjoying the process that was unfolding, step by conscious step, in the now … moving toward my objective, but not driven or obsessed with achieving it.
Somewhere during the process I realized how this experience is very much like life itself: a journey that will inevitably bring us to our final destination and ultimately to the realization of our goals, despite a circuitous path.
And if we’ve set our intentions well and remain present in the now, our journey becomes one that is well worth experiencing.