How To Walk A Labyrinth
Labyrinth Walk: For fun, relaxation or as part of a meditation or spiritual journey.
Have you ever wondered how to walk a labyrinth? People have been labyrinth walking for over four millennia as part of a spiritual journey, as a means to become closer to God or for atonement. The labyrinth walk is a ritual that is known throughout many cultures as evidenced in ancient artwork, pottery and coins.
While there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to walk a labyrinth, this lens is a guide to show you how to walk the labyrinth as a meditation or spiritual journey. You'll also find some tips for 'labyrinth etiquette' so that everyone gets the most enjoyment when they walk the labyrinth.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Juliejordanscott's photostream
Poll: The Labyrinth Question
Have you ever walked the labyrinth?
Reasons to Walk a Labyrinth
There are many different reasons to walk a labyrinth. Many people walk the labyrinth as part of a meditation or spiritual quest. But, you can also walk for introspection, to help deal with grief or other emotions. You can walk an outdoor labyrinth to connect with nature, or to celebrate soltices, equinoxes or for other celebrations. Many people choose to walk a labyrinth for fun or relaxation.
My Dad and Stepmother chose to walk the labyrinth after taking their marriage vows. The guests followed them to the center and we all took a few moments for prayer and thanks. A fun alternative would be for the bride and groom to walk the labyrinth and say their vows at the center.
Walk the Labyrinth as a Journey or Quest
Take a few moments to clear your head and center yourself before your labyrinth walk. Sometimes this is easier said than done. One technique that works really well is to walk the perimeter three times before entering the labyrinth. Three is usually a good number to clear the mind of clutter and get into the mindset for meditation, but you can do it less or more times if needed.
With some labyrinths this isn't an option as there isn't space for this. That's okay. You can either say a prayer, take a few moments for yourself, close your eyes and be still to calm the mind, or you can just get started. Don't worry if your mind isn't completely clear prior to starting your walk. As you begin your journey and just let yourself go, the stresses from your day will lift and mind clutter will dissipate.
Image: Chartres Labyrinth by kerrdelune, available at CafePress.
Pause for a moment at the entrance of the labyrinth. If you like you may pose a question. With eyes open or closed think for a moment about your intentions, a question or problem you are pondering, or what you would like to achieve from your labyrinth walk. It can be very specific such as 'how can I resolve this situation' or broad such as 'is there anything I need to know right now?'.
Begin your labyrinth walk.
Don't worry if your head is still buzzing with clutter from the day. Thoughts of work, the kids, an argument you may have had or problem you can't resolve my still float around in your head. This is okay, don't feel bad and don't let this deter you from your walk. Meditation takes time and practice and as long as you're walking the labyrinth you are benefiting from the experience.
As you walk the twists and turns of the labyrinth you may find new thoughts or images arising. This is good, it is your subconscious at work. New ideas or associations that you wouldn't have normally thought of may come to the surface. Pay attention to these thoughts and images and how they make you feel. By the time you arrive at the center you will be in a different mindset than when you first arrived at the labyrinth.
Photo used under Creative Commons from Maksim
How To Walk A Labyrinth: At The Center
The Center is Sacred Space
Pause for a moment just prior to entering the center. Reflect on what you have learned so far on your journey and prepare yourself to enter the center.
The center of the labyrinth is truly sacred space. It doesn't matter if the labyrinth is in a secluded spot in the woods or in the middle of a busy park, wherever it may be the center holds universal secrets and wisdom. If you are in a meditative state then this is where you will find your answers. Let yourself go and let your subconscious (or connection to spirit, however you want to define it) do its thing.
When walking a Chartres style labyrinth I like to take a few moments in each of the six petals. Usually a new and unique piece of important information will pop into my head at each location. Then I like to take a few moments in the exact center to reflect. But you can do this any way you like, it is your journey. You may even choose to sit or lay down in the center (just be sure to be mindful of other users, it's not good labyrinth etiquette to spend half an hour at the center if there are others awaiting their chance).
Prior to leaving the center think of all the things you have just learned and be grateful for them. Gratitude is key for any meditation or spiritual practice.
Photo used under Creative Commons from blue mountains organic community gardens
Retrace your steps basking in the glow from the center. You may find yourself reflecting on what you have learned or you may even learn a few new things on your journey out.
Strong emotions may arise and you may be tearful, joyous or both at the same time. Whatever you are feeling is okay and is exactly what you need to be feeling at the time.
When you reach the exit, once again look back in gratitude and give thanks for your labyrinth journey. You may even decide to walk the perimeter again to finish off your walk.
If you choose, record your journey and any insights you may have had in a journal for future reference.
Photo used from the Public Domain by Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park
Poll: After Your Labyrinth Walk....
Do you write in your journal after you walk the labyrinth?
Wise Woman Labyrinth Journal by The Full Moon Cafe
Labyrinth Journal by Visions Beyond the Ordinary
Chartres Labyrinth Fire Journal by Jaenne
Labyrinth Walk: Your Journey is Not Over
The Labyrinth Stays With You
Your journey does not end when you have finished you labyrinth walk. Later in the day or night more images, thoughts or emotions may arise as a result of your walk. You subconscious has been stimulated and is still actively working away and communicating with you. If you have any dreams in the nights following your walk, be sure to write them down.
If you are new to labyrinth walking, don't feel bad if you don't receive any insight or don't seem to be affected by your first walk. It will take some practice. With any type of meditation practice is key. It may take 2-3 times before you see results or it may take 10 or more labyrinth walks. Everyone is different. The important thing is not to get discouraged and to keep trying. Once you've had your first labyrinth experience it well get easier. The more and more often you do it, the faster and easier it will become to achieve a meditative state.
Photo used from Creative Commons by Urmelbeauftragter (German Wikipedia)
Walk the Labyrinth: Walking a Sacred Path
Dr. Lauren Artress is a psychotherapist and Canon at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She was the driving force behind the modern labyrinth movement that began in the '80s and '90s and is credited with bringing the labyrinth to North America. Although labyrinths have been a part of human culture for several millennia, for the past few hundred years the custom had been lost. Lauren Artress visited the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth and recognized its power. She founded Veriditas, a non-profit organization geared towards introducing people to the transformational power of the labyrinth.
This is considered the 'Go To' manual for all things labyrinth. Many labyrinth instructors use this as their guidebook. Walking a Sacred Path not only discusses walking the labyrinth as a spiritual meditation but also delves into the history of the labyrinth and the modern labyrinth movement. Dr. Lauren Artress writes about her first encounters with the labyrinth, experiencing the power of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth and bringing the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral. Countless people have been inspired to walk and build their own labyrinth after reading this book.
Video: Walk A Labyrinth For Healing & Meditation
Keep In Mind When You Walk A Labyrinth:
The labyrinth is for everyone
- Be mindful of others.
- If there are many people waiting to walk the labyrinth, enjoy your experience but do keep a decent pace.
- Respect the space of others, don't walk too fast or crowd the person in front of you. Allow a bit of distance before entering the labyrinth.
- If there is a large gathering of people, enjoy your time in the center but don't dawdle. This way everyone gets a chance.
- There is only one path that is used by people heading in both directions so you may need to step aside from time to time to let someone in the opposite direction pass.
- Even if you are not there to meditate, respect others who may be meditating and keep noise to a minimum.
Labyrinth Tote Bag
by heartsonggallery on Zazzle
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