Maybe it started with David Bowie.  I was 10 years old and my weekend ritual was visiting my local video store to rent the movie Labryinth.  I don't know how many times I did this, but I know it was more that 12 and less than 30.  Years later, I find myself fascinated with the transformation a labyrinth offers and use them often.    My next Qoya class at Sacred Studio in Brooklyn, Sunday night, July 8th,will focus on them. A labyrinth is an ancient symbol for the meandering path of the soul that goes from light into darkness and emerges once again into light.  It's a maze, but there is only one way out and that's the way you went in.  The metaphors here are endless.

How do you walk one (or dance one)?  The way I was taught to walk a labyrinth was to go in with an intention and as you walk into the center, let all of your questions come up, all of your doubts and all of your fears. Feel yourself asking, curious and seeking for an answer. Make your way to the center and when you arrive, pause.  Sit down.  Soften.  Surrender.  Let yourself be held and seen and loved in the sacred center of the labyrinth and stay as long as you need.  Release all that binds you until all that no longer serves you is gone.  Trust that you will know when the releasing is complete.  When your inner voice tells you you're ready, begin to walk out and instead of asking questions, allow yourself to be simply in a state of receiving.  Give your inner voice an opportunity to share what it longs to remind you of.

 How can you make one? Out of yarn in your living room or out of sticks in your backyard, make a labyrinth by making a spiral starting in the center and energizing and charging it with your presence as you make circles around it.  As many as seven spirals around, as few as two, do what feels right and whatever you have room for.

A labyrinth is a ritual where your physical body walks to journey inward.   Many times we look outside ourselves for answers only to be left confused and depressed, because the only answer that will ever truly satisfy our soul is the answer we know to be true within.

Each Qoya class is designed to take you on a journey back to your sacred center, back to remember. Remember, that you truly are wise, wild and free.  Qoya encourages learning from an experiential viewpoint, that your strength is not rooted in the fleeting nature of a thought, but in the physical and soulful sensation of something you experienced in your Being.  However, this requires honoring your experience as valid.  We live in a culture that in many cases successfully programs us as women to doubt what we know to be true and to give our power over in exchange for external validation- of our looks, of our accomplishments, of our value. Qoya realizes the consequences of this and structures itself differently.  Qoya replaces the dynamic where as a "student" you would be waiting for the teacher's correction or praise and instead empowers you to be the student and the teacher of your own experience and cultivate your own inner validation.  A phrase I commonly repeat is, "you know you're doing it right when it feels good to you."  How many times in a day do we go against what feels right or what feels true?  For what? Many say that it is easier to follow the momentum of those around us instead of standing up for our own truth.  I find it just the opposite.  The acquiescing of our own truth to appease sucks life force out of me like a vacuum.  Vascillation between what I dream, desire and feel as truth between that which is accepted or appropriate is exhausting.  And following that truth, speaking out and being bold enlivens me to my core, radiates my confidence and brings an unparalleled fulfillment.

I believe that following our inner guidance, our inner truth and aligning our thoughts, emotions and actions all into the same experience, creates the portal to one of the most feminine, and for me, one of the most savored parts of my life experience- magic.  Leaping from a place of the perceived, or commonly accepted, known into the unknown based on one's own inner compass is the magnet for synchronicity, magic and the experience of being truly supported by the universe.  I often think of Joseph Campbell's quote,

"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."

Here's a small example from my life last weekend.  I was visiting one of my most beloved friends in this world and she invited me to join her, her fiancé and another couple for dinner.  Something in my gut wasn't feeling it, even though I knew they were all wonderful people.  So, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and went within.  I was shown an image of me at a Ben Harper concert in Santa Barbara.  In the back of my mind, I knew that was going on, but had forgotten about it and it was now 4pm (and I was in LA).   About two hours later, I found myself in Santa Barbara with a front row ticket about to see the concert in one of my favorite venues at the Santa Barbara Bowl.  My friend let me borrow her car.  I got on craigslist and emailed 5 people.  The moment I arrived in Santa Barbara my phone rang with the front row ticket.   The download of inspiration I received that night was one of my most enchanted evenings of this whole year.  One epic moment was when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks came on stage to sing a cover of the Pink Floyd song "Mother" that she has been collaborating with Ben Harper on.  Hearing this song changed my life.  Seriously.  I felt the pilot light of my spirit re-ignited.  Her voice filled the air and felt as powerful as the ocean itself, which was in view.  Here's the video of the song on youtube here. 

I slept so well.  The joy of being on an adventure.  The reward for listening to my intuition.  The inherent goodness that felt so present in every moment.  I then became fascinated with Natalie Maines again and her story of how when the Dixie Chicks were the top selling female band of all time and then she spoke out against President Bush at the beginning of the Iraq war and the consequences, controversy and story that followed and were documented in the amazing documentary Shut Up and Sing.   I was thinking about her as another woman to put on my list of muses and I listened to the video of her singing the song from that night over and over.

Then...on my flight from LA back to New York, as I was listening to the Dixie Chicks on my iPhone boarding the plane, I looked up and she was sitting right there!  Can you believe the synchronicity? I sat down next to her  and told her everything I just told you about how touched I was, how grateful I was, the coincidence of it all.  We spoke of the power of synchronicity, of these new songs, of beauty and art (and she noticed I had a banjo on my back!)  When magic and synchronicity appear, one can only guess how or why, but for me, I intuitively feel that synchronicity and magic are the reward for listening to your intuition, to your inner wisdom.  To be led by the call forth of your body, instead of by the expectation of another.  And, it takes practice.  It's like strengthening a muscle.  And one new way to strengthen that muscle may be to walk a labyrinth.

If you're able to join me this Sunday in Brooklyn at Sacred, I'd love to see you there.  You can also google to see if there are any local labyrinths in your area or take a pilgrimage to find one.  I also invite you to join me sometime on my online Qoya studio at www.embodyqoya.com.

And whatever direction you go, may it lead you to the direction of your dreams.

Love, light and labyrinths,

Rochelle

P.S. You may be interested to know that "The origin of the Labyrinth was written by Homer where on the island of Crete, Minos was the ruler of a peaceful kingdom, until one day a half-man, half-bull Minotaur was born as a child to Queen Pasiphae.  Minos commissioned Daedalus, the renowned inventor, to create a prison to hide his half-man, half-bull son.  Daedalus was confounded by the daunting task, when he happened to encounter the young princess, Ariadne, as she was performing the Dance of Cranes.  Her footsteps wove a pattern of graceful spirals.  He saw where her feet had danced a labyrinth.  When Ariadne fell in love with the Greek prince Theseus who was being challenged to travel in the labyrinth to kill the half-man, half-bull, she begged Daedalus to help her.  He gave her the enchanted ball of thread for him to take into the center of the labyrinth, which would help him find his way out."   Pretty amazing that the inspiration of labyrinths themselves are from a woman dancing...just sayin'.  All this historical info on labyrinths is from a book I am currently re-reading called "The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred" by Phil Cousineau.  A must read for a traveling heart.