What Comes Around Goes Around

“Hey! Slow down you jerk! Can’t you see we’re heading for a relaxing spiritual experience?”

“Easy Grasshopper,” my wife said. “We’re supposed to enter the labyrinth quietly and calm our minds as we walk the path.”

I put down the large rock that I was about to throw at the idiot who obviously took country roads to see what he could run over. Then I ooommmed a few times, before we dashed across Avila Beach Drive and entered the Meditation Gardens of Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.

Sycamore Mineral Springs is a place that offers strenuous exercise classes disguised with soothing names like Tai Chi and Qi Gong, which I think is Chinese for “grunt and strain a lot.” Plus – and the main reason we go there – the resort offers rooms with private hot tubs filled with natural spring water, which smells a little funky but is good for your skin and your general wellbeing.

We’d soaked the previous night pretty much until our bones melted and we went to bed smelling of sulfur and steaming like two giant white fish. I had dreams of being devoured with a nice Chardonnay by cannibals with discriminating taste, but woke up in one piece, the most relaxed I’d been in years.

That’s when my wife decided she wanted to center her chi before breakfast and we had to risk our lives crossing the road to do it.

“Did you know the oldest labyrinth in the United States is in Galesteo, New Mexico and is 3,500 years old?” my wife said.

“Wow. It’d never last that long in California. Someone would have turned it into a condo development by now – The Mystic Circle Timeshares or something.”

For those readers not yet awakened, a labyrinth is like a maze, only made with rocks instead of eight-foot-tall hedges, so you don’t ever have to freak out about spending the rest of your life wandering aimlessly and getting nowhere.

“You’re heading the wrong way again,” my wife said. “This is the entrance over here. Didn’t you read the guidelines?”

Yes, believe it or not there are guidelines you are supposed to follow in order to maximize your meditative benefits. First you are supposed to quiet your mind and become aware of your breath.

“Mine smells a little like the crab cakes we had in Pismo Beach last night,” I said.

“You’re not supposed to smell your breath, but feel it. Then you can enter the first stage called Purgation where you let go of the details of your life, shedding thoughts and distractions.”

Something rustled in the bushes, grabbing my attention, and I remembered reading about the increasing number of mountain lion sightings in Southern California. Great, I could just visualize the other guests who found us.

“Don’t they look peaceful scattered about the labyrinth like that?”

“Yes, except for the unsightly claw marks, puncture wounds and missing extremities, they look centered.”

“Are you relaxed yet, dear?” my wife asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “By the way, you’re looking tasty this morning.” I yelled toward the yet-unseen mountain lion, wondering whether I could outrun my wife if I had to.

Although it seems like you are going in endless circles and are never going to get there, if you follow the rock-lined path, eventually you will get to the middle of the labyrinth. This is the Illumination stage. You are encouraged to stay as long as you like to meditate and, according to the guidelines, to receive what is there for you to receive.

“Here ya go,” my wife said. She handed me a receipt.

“What’s this for?”

“Our room,” she said.

“But I used your credit card to reserve the room,” I said.

“I know. That was smooth, being my birthday and all, but I gave them your card to actually pay for the room.”

I was well aware of my breath now, leaving my body in a giant sigh.

My wife began the return trip out of the labyrinth known as the Union phase, where you might meet other sojourners on the path to enlightenment.

“Did you get an awakening?” a guy wearing a “Beer is the Answer” tee shirt asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said, pocketing the room receipt. “A rude one.”