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Walk In Peace: An Introduction to Walking Labyrinths
When most people hear the word labyrinth, they think of a maze. However, mazes and labyrinths are very different. A maze is a brain teaser, where you start down a path and are given multiple paths to choose from where many paths lead to dead ends and where only one path is correct. A maze gives you choices throughout your journey, whereas when encountering a labyrinth, the only choice you are given is whether to enter it or not. Once you are in the labyrinth, there is only one way in and that way is the same way out. You will follow twists and turns, but you never have to vary from your path, it is one long continuous path to the center of the labyrinth. You can use labyrinths to focus your mind, center yourself and focus on your breathing. Labyrinths are thought to be a very spiritual journey, and that they actually symbolize that path that we are each on within our own lives. Labyrinths come in many different forms, you can view them on paper and trace them with your eyes or there are even screen saver labyrinths that are said to help calm people and relieve stress. In my opinion, there is no substitute for walking a labyrinth, be it an indoor labyrinth or an outdoor labyrinth. Both are beneficial.
While there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, there are four basic rules that one should follow in order to gain the most benefit from the experience. First is to focus. Before entering the labyrinth, take a moment to pause at the entrance becoming quiet and centered. Some people even acknowledge the labyrinth with a bow or nod before entering. Next is the experience. Walk with purpose. Take time to observe what you are doing. When you reach the center, stop, again focus and when you feel ready, turn and leave, continuing with the same focus. Next is the act of exiting the labyrinth, once you reach the exit, turn back around and face the entrance, again taking a moment to pause, you can again give a small acknowledgement here. Lastly is the process of reflecting back on your experience. Many people keep a journal or draw about their experience as a way to capture what they experience when inside the labyrinth.
There are many public labyrinths that you can visit, should you decide to do so. Or you can even create your own labyrinth in your back yard, if you have room. There is no restriction or guidelines on the size or detail in a labyrinth. As long as there is only one way to the center and one way back out, the only other thing you need is the mindset that you are ready to walk your first labyrinth.
In California, one of the most famous labyrinths is located in San Francisco at the Grace Cathedral. They actually have two labyrinths, one outdoor and one indoor. Anyone can come to walk the labyrinths at Grace Cathedral. Check out the website link for the Grace Cathedral located at the bottom of this Hub. Many states have many public labyrinths that you can find to walk. Located at the bottom of this hub is a link to the World Wide Labyrinth Locator for you to locate a labyrinth near you!
Here are some additional resources that you can use when beginning your journey with becoming a labyrinth walker. There are some books on the history of labyrinths and how you can use them in your life. There is a brief 30 minute movie on the history of labyrinths and then some CDs that contain some really great music that you can listen to when walking a labyrinth.
Walking a Sacred Path Paperback by Lauren Artress
Labyirnth in culture and Society by Jacques Attali
The Mystic Spiral: Journey of the Soul, by Jill Purce
The Archetype of Pilgrimage, by Jean Dalby Clift & Wallace B. Clift
Labyrinth, The History of
The Tranquil Harp: Improvisations for Relaxation, Meditation, Integration by Paul Baker
Inner Peace by Steven Halpern
The Fairy Ring by Mike Rowland