The labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool that has been rediscovered and adapted for use by millions of “walkers” today. It can be found in various cultures, traditions and countries including China, Ireland, India, England, Scandinavia, France, Crete and others. It is an image that has come to represent wholeness, healing and inclusion.
The labyrinth has long been used as a meditation and prayer tool. It is used for walking meditation to assist us in finding peace and clarity, managing stress, assisting with decision making, self-exploration and reflection. The labyrinth can also provide the opportunity to examine goals, assess talents and abilities, make decisions, and evaluate progress, both personally and professionally. Others view walking a labyrinth as a metaphor for life’s journey — a journey to your deepest self, where you come back into the world with a clearer understanding of your life’s purpose. Its purpose can be as varied as the individuals using it.
You can think of the labyrinth as the physical and symbolic representation of one’s journey in consciousness — a tool that can be used to intensify your chosen spiritual quest.
Is a labyrinth like a maze?
No, it is not like a maze. A maze is designed to confuse the user. It is a problem to be solved, a left-brain task that requires the user to think analytically, logically, and sequentially. A labyrinth is not designed to confuse. It is one circuitous path to the center and out again. The entrance is also the exit. It is designed to help you find your way out. It is a right brain task that involves intuition and creativity (note: the first turn both in and out of the labyrinth is to the left, perhaps intended to activate the right, “intuitive” brain).
A personal journey:
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. It is a tool that can reveal the sacred space and place within you. Though it is meant to be done slowly, each person determines their own pace, time and goals for their walk. The walk of the labyrinth might be considered in three phases: releasing (the journey “in”), revealing (the meditative time in the center — the space often referred to as “heaven”), and resolving (the time of integration of your obtained insights).
One way to walk a labyrinth:
At the entrance to the labyrinth you can stop, take a deep breath, reflect, make a prayer or intention for the walk you are about to take. Choose your pace with intention, keeping in mind the journey may be enhanced with a slower, more contemplative pace. Let walking to the center of the labyrinth be a time of letting go, of quieting the body and mind, of releasing things that hinder your journey and becoming present to the experience. Arrival at the center — a place of meditation/prayer — is a time to reveal, to let in light, open the heart, receive wisdom, guidance, the “divine”. When you are ready, return along the path noticing any “shifts” that occur. Walking back into your life with new insight, strength, peace, centeredness, and/or knowledge, this is a time to integrate your discoveries. Before exiting, pause and bless a deep breath.
… Or use it to solve a problem:
At the entrance to the labyrinth, bring to mind some problem you are confronting — a career challenge, a personal issue, a relationship circumstance, etc. Put aside preconceived notions you might have already established by acknowledging that no conclusion you reach during your walk needs to be adopted, but may be just another perspective to consider — thus you may enter the labyrinth with a “fresh mind”.
As you step into the labyrinth, feel yourself move into a deeper level of consideration of your challenge. With each turn of the path, be open to another perspective, a different way of looking at the thoughts you are then (at the time of the turn) holding in mind. Do not require that your thoughts build sequentially but let them arise spontaneously, following the creative and associative patterns of your mind to a more enriching result.
… Or use it to develop “single mindedness”:
You may chose to focus your mind throughout the walk on a single quest, such as counting the number of breaths you take on your walk or the number of turns on the path or the number of left and right turns while you walk. Another practice of single-minded focus is to constantly chant “OM” while you walk.
Building the power of concentration by exercising single-minded focus can be useful in all areas of your life.
… Or to do your own thing:
The important thing to remember is that walking the labyrinth is a personal journey, encountered with the unique backdrop of your accumulated experiences and presenting the blank canvas of your future, awaiting your artistic expression.
About our labyrinth:
Our labyrinth is the same design as the famous labyrinth located in the nave (entry way) of the Chartres Cathedral. Constructed in the mid-13th century and built of flat stones defining its path, the Chartres Labyrinth measures approximately 41’ in diameter. Our labyrinth measures 55’ in diameter with 22” wide paths weaving through the 11 concentric rings. The total path length in and out of the labyrinth is about 2,480’. Painted in green, it is intended to be a quieting, healing color for your journey. As an homage to the original Chartres labyrinth, the entrance of ours aligns with the geographic Great Circle (the shortest path) between the two cities of Arvada and Chartres, France, bearing 34 degrees east of magnetic north.
We hope walking our labyrinth becomes a frequent, effective activity in your life. In joy.
Suggestions for using our labyrinth:
- First, place a white chair (stacked on the posts near the entrance to the labyrinth) in the center of the labyrinth to provide you a place to sit and contemplate/meditate during your walk.
- Begin your walk with a stated intention or prayer, pausing at the entrance to articulate your intention.
- As you step into the labyrinth, keep your mind focused on your intention, allowing the creative and associative aspects of mind to bring your intention to “life”.
- If two people meet on the path, the person walking into the center is to yield to the person walking out from the center, stepping aside to allow the outgoing person to pass.
- Acknowledging the labyrinth walk as an internal, contemplative experience, please minimize your social interaction with other walkers while IN the labyrinth.
- Re-stack your chair(s) straddling the concrete post to prevent the wind from blowing them away.
- Tell your friends about your experience. They are welcome to use our labyrinth too.