A guide to using labyrinths as a meditation tool.
- The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in many religious traditions in various forms around the world.
- Dating back to around 2,000 BC not a lot is known about their history, use, various designs or who designed and made them, other than manuscripts that included drawings that were copied and passed on. Some cathedral labyrinths were used to “find a path” to God, others appear to be purely decorative.
- When the churches began to move away from intuitive based practises, many labyrinths were destroyed or covered up.
- In recent years they have seen a resurgence. Rapid changes such as industrial revolutions can lead to human displacement. As a result, people tend to shift to a greater level of consciousness and a need to connect with their inner selves for guidance and peace.
- Labyrinths are a circuitous pathway with usually the same entrance and exit, and circles signify elements such as unity, harmony, symmetry, connection and wholeness.
- A labyrinth differs from a maze in that they have one way into the centre and one way out, with no tricks or traps, just twists and turns. Walking a labyrinth is about finding your way, whereas walking a maze is about losing your way.
- Labyrinths are a meditation tool, e.g. a walking meditation and an opportunity to practice mindfulness of the breath, body and senses.
- Labyrinths can integrate both sides of the brain because whilst the left brain is thinking about where you need to walk (or where your finger needs to go), the right brain is free to be creative and come up with new ideas or solutions to problems.
Benefits to Walking a Labyrinth
Walking a labyrinth can help with:
- Allowing a state of stillness and receptivity where we can receive creative thoughts, answers to questions or insight on challenges.
- Settling restless energy and preparing for sleep.
- Feeling connected to nature and the earth.
- Developing a greater level of self-awareness, self-reflection and self-acceptance.
- Focus, concentration and clarity
- Thoughtfully responding instead of reacting and constructively channelling emotions.
- Connecting to your body and integrating the mind, body and spirit.
- Creating a sense of connection not only with your inner self but with those around you “on the same path”.
Three Stages to Walking a Labyrinth
n.b. this is my own adaption I use in my labyrinth workshops
- Entrance to the centre – set your intention, e.g. mantra, question/problem, releasing (see some options below)
- Centre – pause and let go of the intention.
- Centre to exit – connect to your intuition and allow any guidance, thoughts, images, words, ideas or solutions to come through.
Options for Labyrinth Meditations
- Mindful walking exercise – tuning into your body and the sensations of each movement.
- Use a favourite word, phrase or affirmation – repeat the mantra slowly as you “walk.”
- Recite a prayer or pray to your deity as you walk.
- Walk with a question, e.g. “what do I need to know right now?”
- Ask for insight or guidance on a problem you may be struggling with.
- Release something, e.g. an emotion, negative thought, your inner critic, grief.
- Reconnect with your body – explore sensations, emphasis movement, listen to messages of pain.
- Celebrate a milestone or benchmark, e.g. birthday, retirement, anniversary of something.
- Interpret a dream that you have had recently.
- Creative thought – come up with an idea or project you would like to work on or need help with.
- Break the cycle of repeated patterns or behaviour, e.g. perfectionism, job losses, toxic relationships, financial losses, bursts of anger.
- Seek your soul or life purpose – ask for images or symbols.
- Journal writing before or/and after.
Tips for Walking a Meditation
- Remove your shoes (if it is culturally appropriate to do so).
- There is no right or wrong way to walk.
- Allow one minute between walkers.
- Review the route before you enter so you know which way it goes.
- Walk at your own natural pace and flow.
- Let go of expectations and just be open to the experience.
- Use the labyrinth and your experience as a metaphor for whatever is going on in your life.
- Open heart = open mind (allow any feelings to flow).
Download my Guide to Labyrinth Meditations which includes a Finger Labyrinth exercise.
Email or call to book in a Mindfulness for Calm, Clarity and Connection workshop which incorporates mindful breathing, finger labyrinths and my portable walking labyrinth.
- Labyrinth History & Walking – video from the Labyrinth Society
- Walking into Stillness – Encountering the Labyrinth
- Veriditas – worldwide organisation that trains labyrinth facilitators and is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience.
- The Labyrinth Society – an international group of labyrinth enthusiasts whose mission is to support all those who create, maintain, and use labyrinths. They also have a worldwide labyrinth locater.
- The Australian Labyrinth Network