A labyrinth is a single path, comprised of passages marked by borders that wind their way along a circuit leading to a center. You enter and exit from the same point, with borders keeping you on the path. You can’t take a wrong turn, and you won’t get lost. The path, long used as a tool for personal and spiritual transformation, leaves you free to do nothing more than to walk and meditate. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you’ve gone half the way – a moment to pause, reflect or pray. You then need to turn around and walk out. It has been said that the certitude of the path frees you to focus on contemplation instead of navigation.
The ancient symbol of the labyrinth has been traced back over 3,500 years, in different cultures and for different purposes. These concentric lines, often etched into the ground or created in natural landscapes, have been discovered in places as diverse as Peru, Arizona, Iceland, Scandinavia, Crete, Egypt, India and Sumatra. Its origins are mysterious.
In pre-historic times, labyrinths were mainly used for purposes of prayer or protection. This significance has been supplanted in recent years by their calming and curative properties. Walking meditation along the path of a labyrinth has been shown to contribute to a sense of well-being. Modern-time labyrinths have been installed on the grounds of hospitals and places of worship, as well as in public and private gardens around the world. They offer a sanctuary in open space, a place to nourish the soul, ground and heal.
How to walk a Labyrinth?
Depending on the size of the labyrinth, allow yourself at least 15-30 minutes to complete the circuit. At the entry to the labyrinth, you may decide to offer a prayer, or leave behind your thoughts and struggles for the duration of your walk. As you walk slowly and in silence, you may want to keep your eyes focused on the ground below or just a few steps ahead of you. Pay attention to your senses. Feel the earth below your feet/shoes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Notice the movement of your body, your arms and your legs. At the end of your walk, you may feel more centered. You may also be aware of being a clearer and more relaxed mental state.