Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or confused? Is your mind chewing on a problem that seems to have no solution? If you just can’t seem to quiet your mind and find peace, consider taking a special kind of walk designed to help you journey inward—a labyrinth walk.
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is a winding pathway that is typically drawn or laid on the ground, either as a permanent or temporary structure. It is a one-path design—meaning there is one way in and one way out. Labyrinths are an ancient design and practice that date back at least 4,000 years. The time-worn tradition is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, with over 2,000 permanent labyrinths in use today in the United States alone. Labyrinths may be found in churches, parks, hospitals, prisons, gardens, community centers, retreat centers, and even airports.
Labyrinths are often confused with mazes, but the two could not be more different. A maze represents a puzzle, with tricks and twists and turns. A labyrinth, on the other hand, is considered unicursal because it has only one path, which leads you to the center and then back out again. A maze is a problem to be solved, whereas a labyrinth is a journey inward. In fact, many people consider a labyrinth to be a metaphor for the journey into the deepest self and then back out again.
How Do You Walk a Labyrinth?
Labyrinths are considered non-denominational. People of all faiths and walks of life find peace through labyrinth walking.
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Some people set an intention or say a prayer as they enter the labyrinth; others simply enter a quiet, contemplative state. The idea behind a labyrinth is that there are no decisions or choices to be made while walking; the walker must simply place one foot in front of the other and follow the path—kind of like life.
When a full labyrinth is unavailable, some people use “finger labyrinths”, which allow them to trace the labyrinth pathway with a finger and can have a calming, meditative effect.
Benefits of Labyrinth Walking
A labyrinth presents an opportunity for surrender. Because there are no decisions to be made, the walker can let go of the outside world and worries while she follows the path, circling toward the center. A labyrinth can be a transformational tool. Many people find labyrinth walking to be a calming, centering experience. Some people find themselves overcome with powerful emotions as they journey inward.
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.
Find a Labyrinth
Labyrinths are becoming increasingly common in the modern world. The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator provides a directory of labyrinths throughout the world: http://labyrinthlocator.com/ If you are unable to find a labyrinth near you, you may choose to print a finger labyrinth from one of many online resources so that you can trace your way to peace.