I'm on overload. TV news at home, radio news in the car, New York Times Morning Briefing on my phone, social media news via computer. . . the latest number of cases, possible cases, deaths, closings, government actions/inactions, tests/not enough tests, quarantines, handwashing, more handwashing, social distancing, stock market plummets and toilet paper lines.
I tell myself – that's enough! Get up off the couch. Turn off the TV. But I linger, absorbed in the real life drama of how the coronavirus is changing our lives by the minute. My chest tightens, and I can't recall when I last took a deep breath.
It's time to move. No, not sell my house and relocate to a place where COVID-19 sounds like unintelligible gibberish, but simply put on my shoes, jacket, hat and walk into fresh air.
Ten minutes away is one of my favorite places, a labyrinth, on the campus of Hendrix College in our hometown of Conway, Arkansas.
Anyone who knows me, knows that labyrinths are a central part of my life. Walking their ancient, circular design is a meditation for me – a calming experience from entrance, to center, and back. No way to get lost, but rather a single path to follow, one step in front of the next.
The labyrinth can be a metaphor for what we may be experiencing in our lives, particularly in these unsettling times, when life feels more circular than linear... and change is a constant. And in times of change, walking the labyrinth reminds me to take my time, to pay attention to the journey along the way.
....which is just what I did as I walked through my neighborhood, across the pedestrian bridge, through the Hendrix campus to the labyrinth.
Ten minutes turned into thirty as I allowed the emerging signs of spring to determine my pace. By the time I reached the labyrinth, my body and breathing had relaxed and thoughts of the coronavirus felt like yesterday's news.
Labyrinths, nature and communication with family and friends are my principle ways of coping with a landscape that appears less familiar every day. They are constants that ground me, despite the upheaval, as do my morning cup of coffee, fresh flowers on the dining table, and gratitude journal on my nightstand.
May you find nourishment in your own heathy practices..... and peace on your path during these challenging times.
To locate a labyrinth in your area, refer to the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator where almost 6000 labyrinths are listed globally. If none exists, you can print a finger labyrinth and trace the design in a slow, meditative manner. (If no printer is available, trace the finger labyrinth design as it appears on your computer screen.)
To learn more about labyrinths, visit The Labyrinth Society and/or Veriditas website, a nonprofit located in Petaluma, California, which provides information, labyrinth experiences and facilitator training.