Distinct from a maze, a labyrinth has only one path. There are no dead ends, no alternates, no trickery. There are always turns, though the distance between them varies, but the path always leads you to centre and back out the same way. The only decision a labyrinth requires you to make is to enter, and to do so is to engage in an age-old walking meditation practice which offers to cultivate mindfulness, calm the mind and nourish the soul.
Gifts of the Labyrinth
Enjoy the feeling of mindfulness that can result from being more present by attending to the moment, endeavouring to think less and perceive more as you journey the labyrinth.
Walking a labyrinth asks you to let go, follow your inner soul not your rational brain, and have faith you will get to where you are supposed to. Seeking control is counterproductive.
With the intensity of the rational brain dialed-down, it is an excellent opportunity to see what presents itself minus all the analysis which often clouds our intuition and perception in everyday life.
Adding Meaning to Your Labyrinth Walk
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Most important is to experience your experience, so consider these simply as suggestions to add meaning to your walk:
- Prior to entering, set an intention or consider an issue or question requiring clarity. At centre, be mindful to insight in whatever form it may occur.
- Recite a prayer or mantra, sing a special phrase, as you walk.
- Do what feels natural, move at the pace your body wants to, which could vary over the course of the walk.
- Try to minimize thinking, maximize perceiving.
- Consider all aspects of the experience as a metaphor, a mirror on life and/or life circumstances.
- Walk around the perimeter before or after the labyrinth walk if you feel like some buffer time to set intention or integrate your experience.
While a labyrinth walk traditionally follows the same path to centre and back out, it is perfectly acceptable to leave the path at any time should the need arise.
LABYRINTHS: The 4 Rs: As you prepare to enter, REMEMBER why you came and open yourself to the experience. As you walk toward centre, RELEASE the details and distractions of the day, focus on your breath and the sensations of walking. At centre, RECEIVE whatever is there to find, learn or unfold by taking time to pause and open your awareness. On the way out, gradually RECONNECT to the outer world with a sense of strengthening and gratitude for your experience.
Labyrinths are often described as a walking meditation, or a mode of “meditation for those who can’t stay sat on their meditation cushion”. There are limitless ways and contexts for labyrinth use, including these as some of the most common:
- Healing of various kinds, especially grief
- Life Purpose
- Rites of Passage
A Final Word: Walk Your Own Walk
Some people describe the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. Others consider it a mindfulness device. Notwithstanding this and all the suggestions above, take note, there is no reason a labyrinth walk must be be in any way deep, meditative or introspective. It will do just fine as a peaceful gentle walk, where you don’t need to think about where you’re going! The most important notion of all is to walk your own walk and simply experience whatever you experience without expectation.
This content was developed to supplement your understanding and experience of the Forest Labyrinth. To learn more about labyrinths see the Resources page for helpful books and web sites.