Experiencing the Labyrinth
Labyrinths are currently being used worldwide in a variety of ways: to seek spiritual guidance, to quiet the mind, to cope with problems or loss, to reduce stress or develop more balance, to ease transition, to increase creativity or simply to be self-reflective. You walk a seemingly convoluted path that leads you to the middle, or the center of your heart, where you can pray, meditate and be open to what it has to say to you. Hopefully, when you are through, you feel more peaceful, loving and open to change.
Click image below for a
history of the Labyrinth
Walking a Labyrinth
A purposeful path that meanders to a center and provides personal and spiritual benefits. Labyrinths are a walking meditation and are often seen as metaphors of our life. The walking meditation can be used for reflection and problem solving with the daily issues. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. The process is open to your creativity, and you or your clients may find that you respond to different methods at different times in your life. Here are a variety of ways to explore the possibilities of labyrinth meditation. When walking a labyrinth, we discuss the three R’s. Releasing, Receiving and Returning/or Reflection.
1. Before you walk, pause and take a few moments to quiet your mind and become aware of your breath. Allow yourself to find the walking pace your body wants to go. Do what feels natural.
2. Releasing- As you enter the labyrinth, you follow the path to the center and try to develop a relaxed, calm state that releases concerns and quiets the mind. This is the time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
3. Receiving- Upon reaching the center of the labyrinth, on this labyrinth it is called the center rose. The rose symbolizes beauty, love and enlightenment. Each petal symbolizes the aspects of creation; mineral, vegetable, animal, human, the spirit world and the mystery of the unknown. The center of the rose is place of rest. This is a place for meditation and or prayer. This is a time of openness and peacefulness; you experience or receive what the moment offers you. Stay here as long as you feel the need.
4. Returning/Reflection- You choose when to leave the center, following the same path. This is a time to review and consider the healing forces at work and how they may apply to your life.
Maintain awareness of your breath as you walk. Pay attention to your thoughts as they come, and then gently let them go.
Consider walking barefoot, if safe and appropriate.
Think of the journey of your own life as you walk, asking yourself what your labyrinth experience represents in your life.
Pay attention to the experience of your senses as you walk. What are the sights, sounds and smells? What are the physical sensations of touch?
Create individual or group rituals. For example, have one person wait at the center and let others greet that person and share a moment with him or her, one at a time, as they walk the path. Rituals can celebrate events, say good-bye to something or someone or commemorate experiences or emotions.
Share your labyrinth experiences with others after you walk, through talking, writing or drawing.
If you don’t have a labyrinth in your area, consider making your own. Instructions are available on a variety of labyrinth websites.
Whatever you experience, relax and enjoy it. Focus on the journey, not the destination.