and Contemplative Garden
Walking the labyrinth can release patterned behavior, thoughts, and feelings of various sorts. It can "untorque” or unwind you. As you release old patterned energy, the alignment of your body may shift or straighten into a greater spiritual alignment. Some walk a labyrinth as a kind of moving meditation.
The labyrinth can be used as a metaphor for how you live your life. What can you learn about yourself as you walk it?
What is a labyrinth?
Labyrinths are usually single pathways that lead to the center and then back out by retracing the same path. Unlike in mazes, one cannot become lost or trapped. A labyrinth provides a sacred space. It invites the walker to set aside their cares and concerns and open their minds and hearts. To quote the Labyrinth Society, “To walk the labyrinth is a pilgrimage, to discover something about ourselves. The destination is not important; the journey is.”
Labyrinths have been in existence for over 4,000 years. They have been used by many different religious traditions as a way to open the mind. Christians began using labyrinths in churches and cathedrals in the Middle Ages. The labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France is amodel for many modern labyrinths. It consists of eleven concentric circles with a twelfth circle in thecenter. The rosette in the center where people stand, sit or kneel is made of six petals.
The labyrinth is a path for meditation and prayer. Symbolically, it echoes the turns and twists in life. The best way to learn about it is to walk it – with an open heart and an open mind – and experience it fully. There is no right or wrong way to walk the path. Relax and enjoy the experience.
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls. - Jeremiah 6:16
Walking the labyrinth involves our right brains and invites our intuitive and symbolic minds to come forth.
To begin, walk directly to the center and ask God that the labyrinth become a sacred space. Invite the Holy Spirit to be present in the labyrinth.
Walking the labyrinth is a sacred journey of body prayer. It is a metaphor for life’s journey. One can think of walking the labyrinth in three stages: the journey inward, being at the center with God, and the journey outward. The journey is to be taken at your own pace, and the journey inward and the journey outward are the same path.
Much like a pilgrim leaving behind the things of the world to travel on pilgrimage freely and lightly, we begin the intentional journey of the labyrinth letting go of the things that clutter our lives and hearts. What’s hindering our attachment to God?
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Return to the entrance of the labyrinth, taking a moment to pause. This will allow you to catch up with yourself and prepare for the journey. Notice how you are feeling and where you are feeling that in your body.
The journey to the center is an opportunity to let go of things we attempt to control, release burdens, identify fears, identify hurts, and confess sins. Each step we take is an opportunity to let go of what’s hindering our relationship with God.
The center of the labyrinth, often shaped like a flower, is a place to rest in God and enjoy His loving embrace. Allow yourself to bask in the blossom and fragrance of His love. It’s a place for meditation and prayer. Linger as long as you wish in the center and enjoy being with God.
Begin the outward journey when you are ready to reenter the world. Allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen, ground, and empower you as you serve as God's hands and feet, carrying His presence and gifts to the world. Allow God to prepare you to be light to the world.
Some questions for deeper reflection:
● How is this pilgrimage a metaphor
for your own spiritual journey?
● Savor the graces and reflect on this
experience. Journal or sketch about it.
Spend with God in prayer. What’s coming
up for you? Do you feel God inviting you to
continue the conversation or go deeper
into prayer about a particular topic?
● What does it mean to be a pilgrim in your daily life?
● How does the labyrinth prayer journey inspire your imagination? Even, possibly, your creating with God?
● How might you be on pilgrimage as you walk in daily life? (Being a pilgrim is a different posture
than being a tourist. A pilgrim participates. A tourist observes.)
We find God in ourselves and we find ourselves in God.
Teresa of Avila
In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.
adapted from Soul Care Sanctuary Labyrinth Prayer Walk
“Often it is a surprise to reach the center because the winding path seems so “illogical.” This is often true in life. We don’t know we’re there until we’re there. Being fully present in the moment is the key to realizing the potential of time.”
Dr. Lauren Artress in Walking a Sacred Path