Have you ever pondered the perfect efficiency of nature’s patterns?
If you believe, like I do, that nothing in nature happens without a reason, you might see all of these patterns as meaningful and important.
Let’s take spirals, for example. In nature, we find spirals–curved patterns, with a central focus from which a series of circular shapes evolves outward–in pine cones, pineapples, a falling leaf, tornadoes, our double-helix DNA, our fingerprints, to name a few. The reason why plants sprout in a spiral form is because they are constantly trying to grow while staying secure. Nature is just so damned intelligent.
Scientists have long observed that if you blindfold someone and ask them to walk in a straight line, they will eventually start walking in circles. Research scientist Jan Souman substantiated this observation by conducting experiments to understand why people walk in circles when they’re lost.
My friend and rolfer Maria Cristina summarized the results of Souman’s experiment for me this way: without an external directional reference point to recalibrate what “straight ahead” means, people will walk in circles. However, as soon as they remove their blindfolds, people are able to recalibrate using visual landmarks (for example, the sun, the sea, a road). Like all animals, we can tune into these environmental signals to find our way straight. But with our eyes closed, we humans tend to walk in circles, spiraling back around to find ourselves.
This might explain why most hikers lost in the dark woods at night are eventually rescued just a short distance from where they originally got lost.
And OMG! Extrapolating (spiraling!) this into a more metaphorical context, I have spent much of my life “wandering blindfolded” in search of my meaning/truth/vocation. My meandering path towards self-discovery seemed aimless and irresponsible, for a good 40 years, while I was doing it. I had been hoping for a quick, linear path to my self-discovery, but it was not to be. Now, with the perspective of time, I see that shaming myself during those years was a colossal waste of energy because ultimately divine order brought me full-circle back to Self. And I see that the shame was a blindfold, obscuring my natural state of being which would have encouraged me to center while growing ever outward.
Now consider what we do each time we close our eyes in meditation or Yoga Nidra, inviting ourselves to journey from self to Self. It’s not always quick or linear, this journey. It may require pre-practices of asana, breathwork, mantra, visualizations, and a host of other inroads to get there. And, despite all that preparation, it may not happen in one, two, or even a dozen individual practices.
The irony is staggering. After so much running, seeking, experimenting, learning, when we reflect on the arc of our lives, we realize that, just like the lost-way hiker, we ultimately find ourselves so close to where we started . . .
Which really isn’t such a terrible thing. After all, Dorothy was transported by a spiraling tornado on her journey to the end of a spiraling yellow brick road (but only after two dizzying, technicolor hours schlepping through Oz while being chased by witches and flying monkeys). That yellow brick road wasn’t a straight path but a spiral, bringing her right back to her black-and-white bedroom in Kansas, surrounded by love and memories but ending up with a heap of new insights.
In this journey to Self, there is much discovery to be found in clicking our heels together and acknowledging, gratefully, that there’s no place like Home.
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