I relate to the image of the labyrinth as life path, because my journey has been anything but linear. Looking back, I have sought out different paths in career and spiritual exploration, sometimes returning to the same work or practice that I thought I would never do again, only to experience it differently, because I had changed and grow
I relate to the image of the labyrinth as life path, because my journey has been anything but linear. Looking back, I have sought out different paths in career and spiritual exploration, sometimes returning to the same work or practice that I thought I would never do again, only to experience it differently, because I had changed and grown in the intervening years. For me, life is a process of integration and embodiment that always offers the possibility of greater understanding and greater wholeness.
The beauty of the labyrinth is that as long as we are moving forward, we are coming closer to our goal, even though at times we seem to be as far away as we can get. On one level that is true - we may indeed be at the outer edge of the labyrinth when we long to be at the center. We can get stuck if we refuse to move forward, or we can choose to walk backward, but a labyrinth is not a maze. If we trust the process enough to put one foot in front of the other, we will not get lost, even if we feel like we are.
For more about my life in the labyrinth so far, please read on...
I started my career in publishing on the East Coast of the US in the mid-90s. At the end of 1999, trusting a deep-felt sense of promise, I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok with the intention of being a freelance writer and editor. Instead, I ended up working for an investment bank for several years. With money in the bank but an emptiness in my soul, I left a secure job in 2003 to go on a spiritual search.
At the time, I was young enough to believe that The Truth existed in a neat package somewhere, and it was just a question of finding it. In the space of 4 months, I studied with energy healers, went on a spiritual pilgrimage to Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina, did a shamanic course in Northern Thailand, fasted at a wellness spa on Koh Samui, and completed a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat at Suan Mokkh monastery in Surat Thani.
My wanderlust still in full gear, I moved from Thailand to Melbourne, Australia, enrolled in a professional massage certification course and subsequently pursued a master’s in divinity. I volunteered as a massage therapist at a community clinic for the homeless in addition to having a private massage practice. As part of my master’s degree, I trained in healthcare chaplaincy at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
During my time in Australia, I became very interested in yoga. After I completed my master’s degree, I lived at a yoga retreat in New Zealand for 8 months, serving as the office manager while learning about yogic philosophy and techniques. The first couple of weeks were blissful, and then the process of purification set in. Living in community while engaging in intensive spiritual practice guarantees repressed emotions and unowned aspects of the self will rise to the surface. I experienced massive amounts of anger and jealousy, which I had a lot of difficulty embracing. The resistance I put up to the overwhelming emotional states only made things worse.
In 2008, I returned to the US because my father was dying, and I was with him for the last 6 months of his life. He struggled to accept that his death was imminent, and I struggled to accept that our relationship was not going to have the kind of closure I wanted.
After he passed, I continued my training in healthcare chaplaincy at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I was assigned to specific floors during the day, talking to patients who were there for brief stays as well as ones who were facing terminal conditions. On overnight shifts I carried the trauma pager and did my best to support patients who arrived in the trauma bay and the families of victims of accidents, gang violence and homicides. After my training, I went on to work fulltime as a spiritual counselor for a hospice. I also completed at 200-hour yoga teaching training certification.
Working in hospice made me more aware of the vulnerability of isolated, elderly people. At the beginning of 2010, I relocated to the Big Island of Hawaii to help a widowed aunt, and I got a job with the local hospice there.
In 2011, I spent five weeks at ashrams in rural India, and I experienced how the years of practice allowed me to be at peace instead of emotionally triggered in that intense environment. I dropped back to working part-time in hospice and started working for myself as a yoga teacher and massage therapist.
In 2013, I became a serious practitioner of Vipassana meditation, sitting 2 hours a day, every day, for several years, and completing four 10-day silent meditation retreats and one 8-day retreat between 2013 and 2017. I continued to work in hospice until the end of 2015, and the simple sitting with what is of Vipassana practice supported the challenging aspects of being with the dying on a regular basis.
In 2016, I moved to Honolulu and returned to working in finance, in a job that was eerily similar to what I’d been doing in Bangkok in the early 2000s. The labyrinth twisted back on itself, moving me closer to and farther away from the center at the same time. These recent years of life in a cubicle, of spreadsheets and legal documents, gave me time to integrate all that I’d experienced and to gain clarity on what is important to me and how I want to show up in the world.
2020 marks the beginning of a new twist, moving back into working with people as a life coach and massage therapist. We are all on our unique journeys. We all hold so much potential within, as well as pain, anger, disappointment, fear and regret. Moving into the wholeness of who we are is a process. I would be honored to walk the labyrinth with you.
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