Thursday, March 12, 2009

The LABORinth

Labyrinths.  They have been around for eons.  They represent every aspect of nature and natural order.  They teach us how to connect with the present moment and guide us through obstacles with gentle encouragement to merely place one foot in front of the other.  They are about much more than a simple film starring David Bowie.  On wednesday, Yana gave us all easels and large pieces of art paper.  We were to sit there and draw our own labyrinths per her instructions.  We opened our new crisp boxes of chalk pastels, the colors pouring out so vividly it was difficult to choose which ones to use, and began to scratch and rub and color our ways toward our creation.  We had no idea how or why we were doing this, but our trust in Yana yielded our inquisitions.  When we were finished, our creations stood before us.  It was so wonderful to finally get my hands dirty again, nurture my creative edge, and explore what was in my head that has needed so desperately to come out since I've been involved in the dreadful suppression of my art during such a daunting medical program.  I could not believe how liberated I felt to just be able to let loose and draw!  It was, indeed, a passion about which I had almost forgotten.  My favorite part was actually looking around the room and seeing the creations of the other students.  The colors they used, the straightness of their lines, the width of space between them, all defined to me the ways in which they move in the world.  It was very profound.  After our labyrinths were drawn, Yana instructed us to trace through them with our finger or a piece of chalk until we reached the center.  The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a maze has many routes and sometimes does not result in a successful exit, but a labyrinth has only one entry, one route, and one exit.  I began tracing and felt my finger move through the lines intently.  However, my mind started threatening to take over and began rationalizing how I was going to get through the labyrinth:  Did I draw it correctly?  Are my lines okay?  How will I get all the way over THERE?  It was here that I had the epiphany.  I had to force myself to focus on my finger, to focus on where I was in the tracing and recognize and acknowledge the corners I was turning over and over, the obstacles with which I was faced.  I could not deal with the obstacles if I was looking at the end.  (This approach was also what I used during the horrendous--and awesome--hike up the Precipice in Acadia National Park.  The entire hike involves scaling a mile high cliff with just enough width on the rock for a shoe or two.  I thought I would die until I realized that I had to just pay close vivid attention to my feet and they would take me where I needed to go.  Talk about a honeymoon marriage challenge!)  We later were told that this LABORinth represents labor itself and that we must treat labor like we treat our fingers running through the lines and scaling cliffs and corners without looking up or back.  Genius.  By practicing this, we are better able to maintain our presence and persevere in the face of all the obstacles we may face.  
Yana spoke about the birth fairy, a little character who represents trouble.  The story goes that her friend was having a baby and so the friend threw herself a shower and invited everyone but the fairy.  She had just forgotten to add the fairy to the list.  The fairy was so upset that she decided to crash the party anyway and she brought gifts that were not so pretty.  This represents obstacles for the laboring mother.  When her labor slows, or the pain increases, or she just feels like it is too much, or she needs drugs, or she needs a c-section, or she needs to be assisted in some way because of some complication or another, these all represent 'gifts' from the birth fairy.  So what do we do?  We welcome her in.  (It's rude to turn away guests that show up with a gift, no?)  By inviting her in and acting like she has done nothing wrong, we take away her power, we stop judging her, and we are better able to progress through our labors smoothly.  Yes, wednesday had many acute surprises which peppered the rest of our evening with introspection and thought.  The LABORinth will be upon us before we know it and we pray that our tools will help us reach our destination.  

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