What is a Labyrinth and What is it used for?
The labyrinth is a tool that many cultures and religions have used throughout history for prayer, meditation and wellness. The labyrinth can be used for a spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical wellness for everyone. It is a deep intuitive tool that can provide a place where you can feel through a decision you are about to make or a problem with which you are confronted with.
A labyrinth has one single winding pathway from the outside to the center. It is not a maze, which can have dead ends and many different pathways. There are many different labyrinth designs. They can be found carved in rock, ceramics, clay tablets, mosaics, manuscripts, stone patterns, turf, hedges, and pavements. The earliest designs date back to approximately 3,000 years.
Romans used the ancient symbol as a decorative floor pattern. The Chartres Catherdal in northern France is the archetype. It has been well perserved and is used today.
It is not exactly known as to what labyrinths were used for through the ages. It is clearly a symbol that has been used in the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life. It is known that during medieval times reenactments of following the path in the Cathedral as a means of prayer or to symbolize the journey to Jerusalem. In recent years the labyrinth has been rediscovered as a spiritual tool. Dr. Lauren Artress at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has been a major contributor to this revival.
The labyrinth can be walked or traced with the fingers of your hand. Finger labyrinths are very effective for a person who is unable to walk or are bed ridden.
A labyrinth is often considered a metaphor for one's spiritual life journey, because of the many twists and turns. Some consider the labyrinth a meditation in motion. Focusing on the pathway before you, your pace slows, your breathing deepens and your mind becomes clearer as you let go and become present in the moment. The labyrinth has a way of healing. There are many kinds of healing. Some of us seek healing which may be psycho-spiritual. We may have been so deeply hurt we feel hopelessly fragmented. Through a process of releasing the old hurts by forgiving ourselves and others, mercy and tenderness can enter our lives. Sometimes this is very difficult because forgiveness is a process, not an event, so it happens slowly over time. The labyrinth can be a place to let go of the pain, fear, resentment and stress. Trust the path, feel the feelings and let them go.
Jungfrun Island SwedenBasilica of St Quitin Aisne FranceGeorge Square Garden Edinburgh ScotlandGrace Cathedral San Fransico CaHopi Labyrinth
Labyrinths have been created all over the world in churches and hospitals, nursing homes, schools, community centers and even in backyards.
People from all beliefs systems have been drawn to the labyrinth. They have become a very empowering healing tool in today's stressful times. It also seems to bridge the ever widening gap between religious rituals and new age spiritual practices. Many people feel drawn to the labyrinth because of the sense of clarity and peace they receive while walking labyrinth. Many are able to resolve issues and find peace within themselves. While others sometime experience a sense of happiness and liberation.
The labyrinth can be used for reflection, meditation and finding a deeper knowledge of one's self. It can be especially helpful at times of stress and decision making. Each person's journey through the labyrinth is a personal experience. In fact, each time you travel through the labyrinth your experience will be different. Some people use the walk for clearing the mind and centering themselves. Others enter with an intention, concern or a question. The time in the center can be used for receving, reflecting, meditating or praying. Your walk can be healing and sometimes quite a profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk.
The labyrinth does not engage our thinking minds, but invites our intuitive minds to come forth. This leaves us open to receive insights, quietness, or peace of mind.
Walking in: allow for letting go, quieting of the mind, surrender, be open. Be attentive to whatever may come for you.
In the center: Stay in the center until you feel satisfied. Stand, sit, kneel, or lie down. Be open to receive what is there for you.
Walking out: is a time to take with you whatever you experienced during your journey through the labyrinth .
The following are downloadable pdf files of various labyrinths
I offer workshops on learning more about the labyrinth, it's history, how to use both a walking and a finger labyrinth and how to make portable or permanent labyrinths. I also offer a workshops that focuses on the use of Reiki with the labyrinth, Mindfulness Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Mantra Prayer Bead Meditation. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more.