Updated: Mar 27
What is a Labyrinth?
The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in many religious traditions in various forms worldwide.
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 copied and passed on. Some cathedral labyrinths were used to “find a path” to God; others appear purely decorative.
In recent years they have seen a resurgence, as more people begin to shift to a greater level of consciousness and connect with their inner selves for guidance and peace.
Labyrinths are a circuitous pathway with usually the same entrance and exit. Circles signify unity, harmony, symmetry, connection and wholeness. They differ 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, a walking meditation and an opportunity to practice mindfulness of the breath, body and senses.
Benefits of Walking a Labyrinth
Walking a labyrinth can help with:
Allowing a state of stillness and receptivity to 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”.
How to Walk a Labyrinth
n.b. this is my adaption I use in my labyrinth workshops.
There are three stages to walking a labyrinth:
Entrance to the centre – set your intention, e.g. a mantra; a question or problem you want a solution for; releasing something (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 Walking a Labyrinth
You can set an intention for your labyrinth walk or simply let go of any expectations and see what arises.
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., emotion, negative thought, inner critic, and grief.
Reconnect with your body - explore sensations, emphasise 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 - develop an idea or project you would like to work on or need help with.
Break the cycle of repeated patterns of 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 or drawing before or/and after.
Tips for Walking a Labyrinth
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, but here are some tips to help you prepare:
Set an intention for your walk (see suggestions above).
Remove your shoes (if it is culturally appropriate to do so).
Allow one minute between walkers.
Review the route before you enter so you know which way it goes.
Walk at a natural pace.
Let go of expectations.
Open heart = open mind (allow any feelings to flow).
Use whatever happens in the labyrinth as a metaphor for whatever is happening in your life.
Write down any guidance, insights and thoughts you receive after your walk.
Subscribe to the Meditation Sunshine Coast community to receive my Quick Guide to Mindfulness Meditation (bottom of all website pages)
Download my Guide to Walking a Labyrinth (includes a finger labyrinth exercise you can try)
Contact me if you would like to book a labyrinth walk as part of a workshop for your organisation or community. I have a 5 metre portable processional (or mirror) labyrinth as pictured below.