I recently walked a labyrinth. Actually, I walked many labyrinths–seven to be exact. Each one varied in size, material, texture, and setting. Each one evoked a different emotion in me while I walked round and round, forward, backwards (seemingly!), looping this way and that. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol used in different faiths and cultures. It is reminiscent of the pilgrim’s spiritual journey. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is not meant to be confusing. A labyrinth leads you along the path in a purposeful manner. The purpose? To make your way to the center and back out again in a meditative manner: First releasing all that no longer serves you on your walk in; next receiving peace, guidance, or spiritual insight in the center; and finally, returning back to your daily life with a sense of calm, and also perhaps, guidance, or insight. Maybe you will even be called to share what you receive during your experience.
I jotted down some notes after walking my first labyrinth. I’m sharing them below.
- This circuitous walk is a metaphor for my life–when I felt like I was getting close to my goal, or the center, it was then that I was farthest away. Conversely, when I felt I was nowhere near the center, it was then that I was the closest.
- The time flew by. I thought I had been walking for 10-15 minutes. In reality, I had been walking close to an hour. Again–like life.
- “How did I end up here?” How many times have I said this through my 49+ years? A lot! A hell of a lot!
- Twists, turns, trying to understand where I would end up. Worrying ahead of time about when I was going to finally make it to the center. Controlling my steps. Trying to think through a strategy to arrive. Looking ahead–way ahead to the center. “What if I did this?” “I wonder how close I am now?”
Like life, that doesn’t work. You have to walk the unknown path with courage and faith and trust that you will end up exactly where it is that you are meant to be.
- Dead ends only appear dead–I just had to turn back 180 degrees to continue on my pilgrim’s journey. These dead ends are actually transitions.
- Once I let my grip on controlling the situation go, I immediately felt at peace. I trusted that the path would lead me and that I was leaning in to some form of Divine Guidance.
- Faith in the path. Faith in the journey. Faith in myself. Faith in Divine Guidance.
- I felt fully embodied during this moving meditation.
- By turning my attention inward, I was able to experience the sounds of silence. This walking was similar to a sitting meditation.
- The walk out of the labyrinth seemed to go much quicker than the walk into the labyrinth. Another similarity with what I’ve experienced in my life: The first part seemed to go by ever-so-slowly. And now, that I am approaching 50, time seems to be passing by at an alarming rate. I want more time. And at a slower pace, please.
Waking up is a choice. There are many ways to experience consciousness and to live mindfully. Walking a labyrinth is a path to mindfulness for me. I need to remember to keep walking. Stay on the path. Release. Receive. Return.
Labyrinth at Millbrook Baptist Church, Raleigh NC
Photos taken by me 2017, as I was writing an article for a local magazine. Labyrinths are everywhere! I hope this has inspired you to find one near you and experience the feeling first hand.
For more in-depth information on labyrinths visit The Labyrinth Society webpage.