• Resilient Practice

How to Walk a Spiral

“The human mind makes progress. But it is a progress in spirals”

Madame de Stael

Spiral – winding in a continuous and gradually widening (or tightening) curve, either round a central point on a flat plane or about an axis so as to form a cone – Oxford Dictionary

Throughout life, most of us expect or are expected to make progress of one sort or another. This may include education, finance, material gain, raising a family or spiritual evolution. But do you ever feel that, despite your best efforts, and although you thought you were making progress, you come up against the same old issues time and time again?

When we view the course of our human existence as linear, from the start of our journey to our ultimate destination, these stumbling blocks can feel like failure. If, however, we imagine our earthly life as a Spiral, we can see that we may come up against an old, familiar issue each time on a whole new turn – with a whole cycle’s additional learning and a fresh, new and evolving perspective. When we view the repeating patterns in this way, we feel less frustration and more motivation to evolve!

The spiral has a vital place in most aspects of human existence.

In nature, spirals exist as an ingenious way to grow and develop whilst remaining rooted and anchored to stability. They are also used for balance and propagation. We see them in so much of the natural world; the swirl of our galaxy, climbing vines, snail shells, the tails of monkeys and chameleons, the arrangement of leaves on a stem and seeds within a flower. Spirals even exist in the blueprint of our very existence, our DNA.

In the world of human constructs, too, the Spiral is utilised. There are many examples of it in architecture, jewellery, art and literature. This is probably because of its aesthetic appeal and spiritual significance (although the spiral staircase is a great space saver!)

As Terrence McKenna points out, “nature is the great visible engine of creativity, against which all other creative efforts are measured.”

The spiritual significance if the Spiral may have inspired its use in design, decoration, and ceremony in various cultures. When used for meditation, the Spiral helps us to consciously accept change and forward movement.

In modern Paganism a Spiral is walked on the eve of Samhain (Pagan New Year) to help followers to consciously discern what they will be taking with them into the year ahead and what they will be leaving behind.

Spiral artwork has often been found on ancient stones at burial sites, suggesting that it may be a symbol of rebirth or moving from the earthly life to what follows. Many sources suggest that it represents the life force and the womb.

When we view our progress in this life as a Spiral we are able to move forward in a grounded and measured way, consciously returning to our life lessons, each time with a new layer of understanding and wisdom.

Try this:

Find a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed

Sit, relaxed, with your spine straight

Take your awareness to your breathing as you have done before

The tidal in and out of your breath

Aligning with all the cycles

Patterns and symmetry of the Natural World

The rolling sea

The Earth as it orbits the Sun

The flower, as it bursts silently open

Quickened by

The warmth of summer sunshine

Allow your shoulders to soften

Allow your breath to become slow and deep

Picture yourself walking along a cliff top on a warm Spring morning

You can hear the sound of the sea birds

Calling from far offshore

And you notice the scent of sea salt

In the new morning air

As you begin your descent towards the shoreline

Making your way along the sloping path downwards

You notice tufts of coarse sea grass

Stirring in the breeze

And tiny buzzing insects

Holding fast in the undergrowth

Your feet keep a steady rhythm until

At last they find the flat expanse of damp sand

That stretches out towards the foaming water’s edge

You walk along the beach

Listening to the lap, lap, lap

Of the tiny waves eddying over the sand

Way off in the distance you can see

A disturbance of colour and texture

Along the flat expanse of beach

You make your way curiously towards it

Taking in its variety of subtle dotting

Of pink, blue, green and gold

It is a large stone Spiral

Perfectly made

Beautifully designed

The colours and textures random

And yet, somehow uniform

It is walkable!

With gratitude you put down your bag

take of your shoes and socks

And allow the warm wet sand between your toes

You close your eyes

And breathe deeply the salty morning air

You ask yourself

“What do I carry today that no longer serves me?”

“What do I wish to let go of?”

The answers seem to arrive on the wind

Holding those answers gently between your fingers and thumb

You begin to walk the spiral inwards towards the centre

Conscious of each turn representing all the changes

You have both accepted and resisted

In the passing of the years

When you reach the centre of the Spiral

You picture those things that no longer serve you

Held gently between your fingers and thumb

And you release them into the wind

You say

“I release the things that were once mine

But that no longer serve me or nourish my Spirit

I let them go in the breeze

To be blown gently back to Source”

You stand there in the centre of the beautiful Spiral

And let go

Opening your fingers and thumbs

And allowing all that you brought to be released

To flutter and drift away on the wind

Like feathers

And now you ask yourself

“What do I wish to take with me

For the journey ahead?”

“What will nourish me and bolster me

In my new and current ventures?

“What do I wish to cultivate and nurture

to give me support and sustenance?”

The answers arrive on the wind

You press them gently into your heart

Taking them as your own

Knowing that they are a gift

After some time, you begin

Slowly walking the spiral outwards

Towards the undisturbed sand

Holding your gifts closely

And safely within

Each turn representing limitless potential

And growth

In your rhythmical walking

You begin to see how these gifts will be used

To support and assist you

In your journey forwards

From this point onwards

And you are filled with gratitude

And Hope

And Joy

Now your journey begins anew

The next full turn

As you make the steady climb

To the top of the cliff

Now gently bring yourself back to full awareness

Feeling refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day

The fabulous stone sculpture in the picture was created by artist James Brunt

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