In Search Of… The Spiritual Journey of Labyrinths

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In Chartiers Valley, Summer 2012, by Heather Holtschlag

It was her childhood friend’s death at age 15 that got Scott Township resident Dorit Brauer thinking about her own life. “I began searching for answers to questions like, ‘Where did she go?’ ‘What happens after we die’ and ‘What is the purpose of life?’ Brauer said. “I began reading as many books on the subject as I could and was self-taught until I received my formal training in meditation and guided imagery while I studied in Tel Aviv, Israel. I kept studying with metaphysical teachers from around the world and now, as I am in my 40s, I have found answers to many of my questions.”

But through the years, Brauer has found much more than answers. She has found peace, calmness and strength – all at the heart of a labyrinth. “I have traveled all over the country in search of labyrinths,” Brauer said. “Not only in the United States, but I have visited Germany, Holland, Aruba, and I have many more travels planned. During the summer, I take rides on my motorcycle, a 1250 Suzuki Bandit, every weekend and discover new labyrinths in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland.”

According to Brauer, who travels as often as she can, a labyrinth is a oneway path that leads directly to the center, with no way to get lost. “You take one step after another and trust that the path will lead you to the center. It is very easy,” she explained. “And, unlike mazes, where you are faced with choices and dead ends and ultimately, stress and confusion, labyrinths are designed to relax and help enable the user to find their inner peace.”

Not only does Brauer go in search of labyrinths, however she also designs them. Although, the process is not as easy as one might think and goes beyond just the surface of the ground. “When creating a sacred space, it is important to know how the energy flows,” Brauer explained. “A labyrinth can be positioned in different areas, and the entrance can face different directions. However, if a labyrinth is not positioned correctly, it can interfere with the person’s positive spiritual experience of walking it.”

Although a labyrinth can be created anywhere, Brauer works to ensure that the one she is designing is positioned correctly and that individuals using it will find the peace, calmness and serenity that a labyrinth offers. As such, Brauer’s expertise includes a form of Feng Shui that she incorporates for the landscape.

“This also is important for indoor spaces, such as when I create events in corporate settings like the David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s Healthy Women’s Expo,” Brauer said.

She also has created several other labyrinths in the area, including one at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center in Washington, Pa. “The work I do is always new, and there is no routine” she noted. “I create my own schedule, which is very flexible, and every person with whom I work or meet on my journeys enriches my life in a special way. It is a positive growth experience, not just for them, but for me, too. My goal is to inspire people to be healthy, balanced and happy, and to live their best life.” Brauer’s experience has helped her not only to be able to help others, but to enhance and expand upon her knowledge. She has been in private practice since her graduation from the Mahut School for Complementary Medicine and Holism in Tel Aviv, but has sub-contracted with larger companies as well.

Prior to that, she worked a variety of jobs, including as a waitress, in a flower store, and for an advertising company. She even cleaned apartments for German-speaking senior citizens, many of whom were Holocaust survivors or who had escaped prior to World War II. “They told me a lot of heartbreaking stories that one day, I hope to write about. One of the most fascinating experiences I had was the 10 months that I did passenger profiling for an Israeli Security Company at the Düsseldorf Airport.”

Today, she helps others to achieve the same type of serene lifestyle that she works toward for herself by teaching them how to walk a labyrinth. “The labyrinth experience enriches lives, teaches us how to reflect, understand and gain new insights. I personally view the labyrinth as a spiritual transformation power tool,” Brauer said. “I am a Veriditas trained labyrinth facilitator. My approach is very unique since I combine the labyrinth experience with the Guided Imagery that I have been teaching for more than 15 years.”

Brauer also presented a workshop at the 2011 International Labyrinth Society Gathering in Taos, New Mexico, during which she demonstrated how to release all of the negative entanglements from the past and to let love flow.

In addition to her work as a presenter and labyrinth designer, Brauer recently released her first book, “Girls Don’t Ride Motorbikes – A Spiritual Adventure Into Life’s Labyrinth,” which chronicles a modern day pilgrimage consisting of a 7,430 mile solo motorcycle adventure across the United States to walk labyrinths. During her journey, Brauer recounts poetic life stories spanning her youth on a dairy farm in Germany, a 10-week solo backpacking trip in Brazil, and the turmoil she experienced while living in Tel Aviv, to her most recent experiences in the United States. As she travels cross-country from labyrinth to labyrinth, she sews these stories together to provide insights that allow the reader to reflect upon their own spiritual journey.

As for the future, Brauer said she hopes to continue traveling, teaching and writing and has already begun work on a second book, which will be a follow-up to her first. For more about Brauer, her book or the classes she teaches, visit her website at www.doritbrauer.com.