Walk the Labyrinth
While you're at the Gardens, make sure to walk our newly reconstructed and fully handicapped accessible labyrinth. An ancient feature used by diverse cultures all over the world, a labyrinth is a fascinating and effective tool for meditation and combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.
The classical or seventh circuit labyrinth refers to the seven paths that lead to the center or goal. This is an ancient design and is found in most cultures. It is sometimes dated back more than 4000 years. Also known as the Cretan Labyrinth it is associated with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. This design was found on Cretan coins.
Labyrinths have most likely always been used in a spiritual manner. They can create a heightened awareness of the human condition and aid psychological and spiritual growth. To build a labyrinth is to create a sacred space. To walk a labyrinth is to imbue it with power and meaning. The more a labyrinth is used the more powerful it becomes as a symbol of transformation.
The classical labyrinth has an association with Christianity. A cross is the starting point used to construct this labyrinth. The cross at the center can become the focus for meditation and the experience of the labyrinth. The classical labyrinth design is found in many churches in Europe. One of the most famous labyrinths still in existence today is the one at Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France. It was built around 1200.
There is no right way to walk a labyrinth.You only have to enter and follow the path. However, your walk can encompass a variety of attitudes. It may be joyous or somber. It might be thoughtful or prayerful. You may use it as a walking meditation. Adults are often serious in the labyrinth. Children most often run in and out as fast as they can in a playful manner.
When you walk a labyrinth choose your attitude. From time to time choose a different attitude. Make it serious, prayerful, or playful. Play music or sing. Pray out loud. Walk alone and with a crowd. Notice the sky. Listen to the sounds. Most of all, pay attention to your experience.
Some general guidelines for walking a labyrinth are:
Focus: Pause and wait at the entrance. Become quiet and centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.
Experience: Walk purposefully. Observe the process. When you reach the center, stay there and focus several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Be attentive on the way out.
Exit: Turn and face the entrance. Give an acknowledgement of ending, such as "Amen."
Reflect: After walking the labyrinth reflect back on your experience. Use journaling or drawing to capture your experience.