Need a minute? Unique Palm Springs project will help guide you out of your mind
By Kendall Balchan
A project believed to be the first of its kind in Palm Springs will soon be completed off East Racquet Club Road, but don’t let its description fool you. A labyrinth in the making is not a giant hedge maze like the one from The Shining. Instead, it will be a place for meditation and contemplation.
The only maze to figure out is the one within yourself.
“To walk a labyrinth is to take a journey of the mind, body, and spirit.” Those are the words of Peter Bedard, the man spearheading the labyrinth project for The Center for Spiritual Living (CSL). He is a practitioner at the CSL and describes himself as an author, teacher, and hypnotherapist.
Bedard conceived the labyrinth after constructing one of his own in his front yard after being overcome with something many of us can relate to during the pandemic:: “I was feeling disjointed and antsy to explore.”
When he took a step back, Bedard realized he wouldn’t solve his feeling of restlessness with a vacation. “My anxiety told me that I needed to go on an inner journey for it to heal,” he said. “My desire to heal this anxiousness in me evolved into a spiritual gardening project.”
The labyrinth is about three feet wide, and Bedard estimates it meanders about 600 feet. It’s under construction in front of the CSL building, right off a busy road. That may not seem like the most obvious location for a moment of quiet meditation, but Bedard says that’s the point.
“I’ve met people who learned how to meditate on a tranquil retreat in another country. But once they left that bubble, they didn’t know how to meditate in the real world,” he explained. “The real world will never be perfectly silent, and that’s part of meditation; learning to acknowledge the distractions.”
It wasn’t hard to convince CSL members to start the project. Bedard says, “They had been thinking about putting one in for some time. We call it a peace labyrinth.”
The project is nearing completion after eight people spent three hours finishing most of the path. While figuring out the route, Bedard said he slipped into a meditative state to determine which direction to go. He then mapped out the original way by shuffling in his tennis shoes to mark the path.
When complete, it will be a unicursal labyrinth — one way in and one way out. You won’t need Ariadne’s thread to retrace your steps.
Bedard notes that labyrinths are a symbol seen in cultures worldwide. He posits there might be something innate to humans that makes us want to wander in place.
Some of the giant Nazca Lines in Peru are labyrinths. They have been seen in carvings in India dating back to 250 BC. The Tohono Oʼodham Native Americans of the Sonoran Desert represented labyrinths in petroglyphs and basketry. Some Christians also use labyrinths to meditate and pray.
“It is a journey in one place. You take a meditative pilgrimage into a sacred moment built from nature,” Bedard adds.
The internal journey begins before you enter the labyrinth. Bedard suggests setting an intention or thinking about a problem you want to work through on your walk. “I think about something I’m holding onto, something I’m struggling with,” said Bedard.
During a tour of the project, Bedard narrates the start of the labyrinth: “As we enter, you first encounter a little hill. You can see the whole labyrinth, but it looks like you still have a long way to go, and you don’t know how to get there. As you descend, you lose sight of the endpoint.”
Each step along the way is meticulously planned and steeped in meaning. Bedard has a reason for every rise, twist, and turn. The meandering path works with the land, skirting trees and bushes already there.
The labyrinth is all organic lines. That’s what makes it different from other local labyrinths, such as those found at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage or St. Francis of Assisi Church in La Quinta.
“I didn’t want the labyrinth to impede on the natural terrain,” Bedard explained. “It felt wrong to impose right angles and too much structure to the landscape.”
A fork in the road about halfway through leads to a bench.
“This is where we’re putting in four peace poles,” said Bedard. “It’s a place to rest, and people can interact with them and affix notes, pictures, prayers – anything – onto the poles. It takes the process out of your head and makes it tangible.”
Finally, the wanderer reaches the end. They encounter another bench, shrouded in the shade of a large Carob tree.
“Here at the end, you pause,” he says. “Your time here is about letting go of whatever you’re holding onto. When you feel like you’ve fully surrendered, then it’s time to go back out.”
As you retrace your steps, Bedard suggests revisiting the intention you set at the beginning: “What conclusions did I come to? How am I different? Who am I when I’m no longer carrying so much?”
If it all seems a little too New Age, hang on. Even if you don’t subscribe to the spiritual reasoning behind the labyrinth, there’s a lot of evidence showing the benefits of walking and mindfulness. Moving the body and practicing meditation can improve mood and mental health. Simply putting down the phone, getting outside, and taking a short walk can do wonders.
GRANTS FOR DBA MEMBERS: Grubhub and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) are coming to the Coachella Valley to celebrate the resilience of LGBTQ business by offering grants to six members of the Desert Business Association (DBA), the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce. A special event will take place at 5 p.m., Monday, March 28, at Oscar’s Palm Springs, located at 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. The grant recipients will include Hunter’s, Bouschet/PS Air, Wilma & Frieda, and Oscar’s in Palm Springs, and Runway and AMP Sports Lounge in Cathedral City. The public is invited to attend the free event. “Our area’s small and diverse businesses were greatly impacted by the pandemic,” said David Powell, the executive director of the DBA. “These grants will help these businesses realign and continue offering quality experiences to their patrons.” Visit this site or www.DesertBusiness.org to learn more or register for Monday’s event.
NIGHTCLUB APPROVED: The former nightclub at The Hard Rock Hotel — sold and renamed Hotel Zoso in 2020 — is coming back to life as a venue named Pretty Faces. A conditional use permit for the club was unanimously approved by the Palm Springs Planning Commission Wednesday evening. When open, Pretty Faces will have a capacity for 258 people and operate between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday. A representative for the project said the club would primarily serve guests at the hotel. That appeared to ease concerns of some Commission members who denied a permit for a new nightclub only a few blocks away just two weeks ago. “We just had a gun shooting near there, and we’ve gotten a lot of testimony about fights in parking lots and street corners,” said Commission Chair Kathy Weremiuk. “The worry I have isn’t this nightclub. It’s the perception that we’re becoming a dangerous neighborhood with gun battles at two in the morning.” After the vote, Weremiuk suggested asking the City Council to address street safety, including the idea of seeking merchant buy-in for private security on city streets that can aid police officers at closing time for bars and clubs.
SHOOTING SUSPECTS: Two men accused of shooting at least two people in Palm Springs pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assault and other charges. Juan Louis Macias, 27, of Desert Hot Springs, and Luis Garcia, 31, of Palm Springs, were arrested Sunday after the Palm Springs Police Department responded to a call of shots fired at 1:50 a.m. in the 200 block of Indian Canyon Drive, authorities said. According to police, the initial call indicated that at least two people were struck by gunfire. The victims were taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Officers were given a description of the suspects and their vehicle and, within minutes, were able to locate and arrest Macias and Garcia, police said. On Wednesday, Garcia was charged with multiple felonies, including assault with a semi-automatic weapon and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Macias was charged with one felony count each of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and being an accessory to the crime. The pair appeared at the Larson Justice Center, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are scheduled for a felony settlement conference on April 4.
SEDER RESERVATIONS: The Havurah of the Desert is now accepting reservations for an event expected to fill fast. A 2nd-night community Seder is planned for Saturday, April 16, at Palm Springs Woman’s Club off South Cahuilla Road, starting at 5 p.m. Attendees can expect a fully catered buffet dinner, Seder plates, and wine, at the cost of $45. Space is limited, and reservations are suggested before March 30. They can be made by going here.
? Today’s events
- The Mizell Center offers multiple programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m.
- The Palm Springs Public Library holds a free story time at 10:30 a.m. for preschoolers.
- The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert offers a chat group for all women — no matter how you identify — at 10:30 a.m.
- The Palm Springs City Council meets in regular session at 5:30 p.m.
- VillageFest is happening Downtown, starting at 6 p.m. Also, there’s free admission at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
- Palm Springs The Musical: Born to Sparkle premieres tonight at Desert Rose Playhouse at 7 p.m. It runs Thursdays through Sundays until April 10.
For more events in Palm Springs today, check the complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here.
? What to watch for
- The Palm Springs Air Museum annual gala is planned for Friday.
- Desert Ensemble Theatre begins a two-weekend run of All This Intimacy on Friday.
- The Negro Academic Scholarship Fund Banquet will be held March 26 at 7 p.m. Information on how to RSVP, purchase tickets, and donate can be found here.
- Nickerson-Rossi Dance Theater presents its inaugural Indigenous Dance Residency March 26 at 5:30 p.m.
- A benefit for REAF-Palm Springs and the city’s AIDS Memorial Sculpture is planned for March 26 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at a private home in the city.
- Desert Winds Freedom Band presents a pair of 20th anniversary concerts, March 26 and March 27.
- Trans Pride 2022 takes place March 27 at Francis Stevens Park from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- High Heels In The Jungle, starring Palm Springs’ own Sydney Weisman, is on stage at The Arthur Newman Theater on March 27 at 3 p.m.
- Palm Canyon Theatre is staging Cyrano de Bergerac from March 31 until April 3.
- The Palm Springs Historical Society presents a talk titled The Evolution of Human Rights in Palm Springs on April 6 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, starting at 5:30 p.m.