“Have either of you walked a labyrinth before?” I asked, standing only a few feet away from its entrance under the magnificent white pine tree.
One participant nodded her head YES and the other shook hers NO.
“Okay, so a labyrinth walk is considered a moving meditation or prayer. The best way I can explain it is that paying attention to the path distracts your mind, so that your heart and soul can see, hear, or feel the answer to your question. I’ve found them very helpful in clarifying messages AND revealing the challenges we are likely to face along the journey of writing,” I smiled, letting that last bit sink in, as I recollected the hundreds of labyrinth walks I completed with retreat participants, and the ones I did alone as I sought guidance about next steps in growing the business and writing my own book.
I can’t believe the synchronicity, I thought to myself as I took in the gorgeous trees and pond that surrounded us, that I just randomly chose a lake house in Minnesota on AirBnB, and then had a last-minute hunch to look for a labyrinth, only to find that there was one only two miles away. There must be something really important for us here.
Moving toward the entrance, I continued, “So, what we do is step up to the entrance and silently ask a question, and then we hold that question as we step in and walk to the center. Once you get to the center, pause and listen for as long as you want, but I find the answers often come as you’re walking out. You two have your question?”
They both nodded and smiled YES this time.
“Okay, great. I’ll go first,” I said as I stepped up to the entrance.
It was the evening of the first day of my experimental 7-Day Message Matrix Retreat, and I was standing in front of two powerhouse women who had cleared their schedules to make some serious progress with their message.
I stood at the entrance and silently asked:
What do I need to know, or release, in order to guide these ladies this week?
My intention is to get them clear on their message, uncover their memorable brand,
organize their story and expertise into a powerful experience for the audience,
and then help them write one model chapter.
But what do I need to know or release to do this effectively?
The truth is that I was taking a huge risk and feeling all the feelings. Excitement – I couldn’t wait to see what could be accomplished in seven days of focused intention. And fear – I had said YES to organizing three books in one day, when I usually took one full day to map a book…and some had taken even longer. Oh, and I was condensing the training time from ten plus hours to six to accommodate a virtual participant.
The minute I stepped into the labyrinth, I gasped.
Three entrances? No way! Labyrinths only have one path in and out.
I stood still, momentarily forgetting about the ladies waiting behind me. That can’t be right. Maybe some of the rocks got moved? Now I could feel the fear creeping up my chest and throat as I thought about the women waiting behind me. Which path should I take? Am I going to lead them on the wrong one? I shot a quick glance around the circle, trying to assess which one led to the center, but there were too many leaves to see clearly.
And then it hit me. THIS is the answer to my question! I need to release the idea that this process is going to look the same way as all the others have.
And I stepped in, choosing the path that seemed most likely based on my previous labyrinth experiences.
As we walked along the path, there were several places where I was completely unsure that I was on the right path at all; and at some point, I noticed that one of the ladies jumped across the rocks to get behind us.
I kept moving, and eventually, I was at the center,
where I stood there for a few minutes,
breathing in the fresh air and the profundity of this lesson.
I have spent the last eight years, working with messengers to map their messages… and through that process, I have witnessed a powerful approach to structuring emerge. The approach was virtually a divine download – something I witnessed once, and then saw again and again. It’s powerful and downright beautiful to see how all of the connections between stories and expertise unfolded in a person’s life. But it’s not the only way, and I know that. Just look at what I did with my other client last week – her message and audience required a different approach.
Just then, I looked down and nearly burst into laughter.
OMG – this isn’t the center of the labyrinth! I shook my head and took another five steps to the true center of the labyrinth. The ladies followed, completely unaware of the conversation going on in my heart and mind.
Just when I think we’re there, there’s always more. Yes. I get it. It’s true. How many times do I say that the structure simply creates the safety for us to move into the process of writing…so that the real message and stories can emerge? And how many times do we think we are at the end of a project when that one more amazing idea emerges to take it from really good to OMG-AWESOME?
After a few moments, I turned and led the ladies out of the labyrinth, smiling into the knowing of what I had to release… and what I had to KNOW and REMEMBER.
I had to release all pre-conceived structures and approaches to organizing the messages, and I had to remember to TRUST THE PROCESS… and MYSELF.
If I look back at all of the messages and messengers I am the most proud of, the one thing they all have in common is that we (the messenger and I) were able to stay present to what was unfolding in the process and writing (and living), and move with it into a deeper revelation of what was to be shared… and who we were as messengers to deliver it.
So I let go, and I just followed the best path I could see and listened and pivoted when I was guided in another direction. And I invited the ladies to join me in letting go of all preconceptions and being open to what wanted to come through.
Well, besides the healing tears, the stomach-splitting belly laughs, and the moments of confusion and uncertainty…
Two of the ladies wrote their introductions and five chapters (1/4) of their book in just a few days. The other woman wrote her introduction, one chapter, and her new signature talk based on the work we did together. And the one who had the most difficult story to share rocked my world the last day when she said, “Amanda, I’m actually having fun!”
Their results exceeded all of my hopes and expectations.
Hmmmm, what if I faced all of my 3-entrance labyrinths in my life this way?
- What’s the best way to grow my business in 2017?
- What’s the best high school for my son next year?
- What are the best workshops/communities to nurture my soul and my gifts?
One thing is clear…
As I look back at this retreat (AND my whole life story, really), I can know for certain that when what worked before doesn’t work again, there is a reason and I’m being guided to the true center…and things will unfold better than I could have ever asked or imagined.
Funny, how what we write always comes back to teach us…
The last few lines I wrote to my son in Upside-Down Mommy four years ago were clearly written for me too: “You are loved and supported unconditionally. You cannot mess this up. Life has your back, and so do I.”