We all strive to live with inner peace embracing a calm mindset throughout each day. Once we have the condition of peace in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in times when extreme challenges invade our life, we are able to contribute our peace and serenity to the situation.
Sometimes that sense of peace disappears because something enters our mind and our thoughts and feelings start to weigh heavy creating anxiety, expectation and stress. Becoming overwhelmed by this can take us into a non productive state both physically and mentally. Just spending time to quiet our mind again reconnecting with our inner peace will put us back on the right path. One way to do this is to take a special kind of walk designed to help the journey called a “Labyrinth Walk.”
What is a Labyrinth?
Labyrinth is a metaphor for our own spiritual path and it touches our joys and sorrows, our memories and present issues. It is a safe place to simply experience ‘being.’ The Labyrinth is an ancient sacred walking path and its pattern and derivatives were placed in Gothic cathedrals in France in the 13th century. In the past decade it has been reintroduced to the United States as a tool to connect with the Divine Spirit. The path, having historical significance in its geometric and numerical design, is one winding continuous flow to the center and back that can be imprinted on portable canvas, permanent stone flooring, or part of a garden landscape. Labyrinth design offers a way of finding peace and clarity through movement. It has a singular, well-defined path that leads to the center and back out again. Many use this space for prayer, meditation, and introspection, nourishing their connectedness to self and spiritual renewal. Any insight or transformations are possible in this sacred space if the walker can let go of ‘expectation’ and simply experience its treasures.
Walking a Labyrinth
People of all faiths have found peace through labyrinth walking because they are considered non-denominational. The labyrinth has only one path to the center. There are no dead ends or wrong turns. Everything on the path is a metaphor for life’s journey. It symbolizes the path to be followed, in daily and seasonal cycles, in life, death and in rebirth.
There are three stages of the walk:
Purgation (Releasing) ~ As you start the walk you are releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions and a time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stand, sit or lie down and stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation, reflection and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is symbolic of joining the healing forces at work in the world and symbolic of how you walk in your life with what you have received. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.
A labyrinth presents an opportunity for thought, peace and awareness. Because there are no decisions to be made, the walker can let go of the outside world and worries while following the path, circling toward the center. A labyrinth can be a transformational tool that creates a mind-body-spirit connection and a feeling of wholeness. Many people find labyrinth walking to be a calming, centering experience which embraces peaceful reflection. Some people find themselves overcome with powerful emotions as they journey inward. People often respond to the labyrinth without actually knowing why. They simply like how they feel in its embrace. It gives people a chance to charge their batteries again before going back into the fray.
In general, labyrinth walking is used to promote relaxation and relieve stress. Anyone looking for some peace and quiet can benefit from taking the journey to the center of a labyrinth. It has come to represent the inner pilgrimage we make to the center of our being. Walking the labyrinth is not about escaping into the center and leaving the world, it is about experiencing the spirit in the center so that you can live in the world in a more blessed way.
Most of all, labyrinths have healing qualities on many levels, emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual. This comes at a time when we greatly need healing. Healing must be an inside job, which is exactly how labyrinths function. Labyrinths are undergoing a great revival because at times of spiritual crisis they help restore the balance and the inner awareness that the world lacks. We, too, are the world, so eventually; the world itself changes as a reflection of our personal change.
Labyrinths have a long association as elements in gardens and other places of a spiritual, religious or medicinal nature precisely because the point of labyrinth is to help the person who chooses to walk it with intention to find mental and emotional peace and in turn to carry that peace out into the world.
Labyrinths are more common in the modern world than you might think. Many people have built private labyrinths on their own property so they can walk at their leisure to feel the peaceful affects it brings to their life, but there are many beautiful public places to start your walk as well. There are thousands of permanent labyrinths in use today in the United States alone and can be found in many churches, parks, hospitals, colleges, gardens, community centers, retreat centers and even airports.
The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator http://labyrinthlocator.com provides a directory of labyrinths throughout the world. See if you can find one close to your work or home and start “Walking Your Way to Inner Peace!”
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CNN Blog Link on Labyrinths