The Wisdom of the Labyrinth
By: Mary Chandler
You will be able to experience a Labyrinth first hand at the Cosmic Yogi Festival on 4/20! Unity Church will have their labyrinth set up and guide you through the beautiful process of this meditation.
In the broadest sense, a Labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world, with a better understanding of who you really are. There is no right way to walk a labyrinth; you only have to enter and follow the one path into the center and back out.
Labyrinths are popping up in hospitals, public parks and schools, retreat centers, colleges, and churches, such as the canvas labyrinth at Unity of Dallas on Forest Lane. Labyrinths are examples of one of the oldest spiritual tools, dating back at least four thousand years.
Reasons for a labyrinth are many, and often unknown. Consider a labyrinth a way to have a walking meditation; using a labyrinth as a way to slow down, become centered, and mindful. Recently labyrinths have been rediscovered as a wonderful way to reconnect your spiritual self to your mind and body.
There must be something special about labyrinths considering their presence throughout history in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The oldest, a Cretan Labyrinth is estimated to have been built around 2500 B.C. Labyrinths, found in many sizes and shapes, are crafted out of various materials.
Perhaps the best-known labyrinth is in the floor of the Cathedral in Chartres, France. The Cathedral was completed in approximately 1200 A.D. (walking the labyrinth is on my bucket list as we are planning on walking it in June of this year). These labyrinths were used by Christians throughout the Middle Ages for a symbolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
However, today, the experience of walking one helps clear the mind, detach from the daily grind and really focus on issues in life you may be facing. The labyrinth appears to be nothing magical, nor endorsing any particular religion or faith. It is simply a spiritual tool to remind you that everything in life is sacred.
The labyrinth is not a maze that has tricks and dead ends. There is only one path in, which takes you to the center, then back out again. The idea is to enter, walk along the path, with its twist and turns toward the center during which time you release yourself from the daily details in an emptying or cleansing process. As you reach the center, you may meditate or pray for direction and vision in your life. Then you leave the center, and travel back along the path, perhaps passing others along the way, just like life.
Labyrinths can be powerful tools, open to seekers of all beliefs. Your walk can be healing and sometimes profound. Or, it can be just a pleasant walk. Each time is different.
Unity of Dallas has a beautiful canvas labyrinth that is a Classical Seven Circuit design, also know as the Cretan Labyrinth. It was used on New Year’s Eve as a way of letting go and receiving guidance for the upcoming year.
The labyrinth will be available for your walk April 20th at the Yoga Festival. Unity of Dallas will have an outside booth, near the entrance, with Power Stones for walkers to choose a power with which to walk. There will also be Power Bookmarks available at the end of your walk.
How to walk a Labyrinth:
As a guide to walking a Labyrinth, stand at the entrance and take a deep breath. Connect your heart with Spirit. Give thanks for this labyrinth as an instrument of healing, power or whatever quality that is important to you.
Here is a simple way to think about walking a Labyrinth as we make our way on our Pilgrimage. We will use three phases.
- Release – walking to the center
- Receive – reaching center
- Return – walking out
There are three parts of an ancient Pilgrimage, setting out, arrival and return. These three stages are reflected and mimicked in the three stages of a labyrinth walk. Labyrinths might have even been used as a substitute for an actual pilgrimage, when conditions prevented dangerous travel.
Start your journey. Enter the path and see where it takes you.
About the Author:
Mary Chandler has been walking and studying labyrinths for over 20 yeas. She has helped make several Labyrinths and has her own 32-foot, eleven circuit Chartres Labyrinth at her home. She has led Labyrinth walks and introduced them to many schools, churches and spiritual groups.