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labyrinth by Gillian Rush
Photo by Gillian Hush

By Christine Falcon-Daigle

The labyrinth at White Sulphur Springs has become, for many Hoffman Process participants, an integral part of their emotional healing process, personal growth, and transformation.

Unlike a maze, labyrinths have a single path that leads to the center. Many cultures have used them throughout history, including Greek, Egyptian and Native American, to name only a few. In today’s world, labyrinths are used to help one achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the twists and turns, one loses track of direction and the outside world, thus quieting the mind and allowing for internal reflection.

Our labyrinth was inspired by Hoffman Institute CEO Liza Ingrasci’s journey through breast cancer 11 years ago. During this trying time, she walked the labyrinth at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, a replica of the one in France’s Chartres Cathedral. Even now, Liza says walking the labyrinth regularly is a way she stays connected with her whole self.

“For me, it was a way to process what I was going through and I found it deeply healing,” Liza explained. She shared her experience of the labyrinth with me, and her vision for one of our own at White Sulphur Springs, in 2012 when I started working at the Institute. The seed was planted!

I, too, had discovered the power of labyrinths while living at a rural retreat center in Marin County. I had just moved there after a difficult divorce and custody battle, and the loss of a dear friend to cancer. Every time I walked the labyrinth where I was living, it was like coming home to myself – something I desperately needed after being uprooted from my previous home of 10 years, where I’d given birth to and raised my daughter.

In August of 2013, a single graduating class decided to raise money for the creation of the Hoffman labyrinth. About the same time, it just so happened that a labyrinth-building workshop was being offered at the retreat center where I was living and working. My husband and I jumped at the chance to learn how to create this sacred structure.

In June of 2014, with the help of a staff member’s son, we spent a couple of days building the labyrinth in White Sulphur Spring’s redwood grove. The result is a peaceful, healing experience that enhances Hoffman’s healing retreat campus.

We may not be able to understand the sacred geometry – the way it mirrors the delicate circuitry of our brains – or the how and why of its powerful effect, but if you give yourself over to the experience when you walk among the twists and turns – just like the Process itself – there’s no telling what you will find.

According to Grace Cathedral’s website, there are three stages for walking a labyrinth:

  • Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
  • Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
  • Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work for which you feel your soul is reaching.

See more at: http://www.gracecathedral.org

Shawn McAndrew contributed to this article.

If you walked the labyrinth at White Sulphur Springs, or anywhere else, and had a profound experience, please share it with us below.

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