A Labyrinth is an ancient geometric form used as a spiritual tool; a primordial symbol representing inspiration, meditation and prayer. The origins are not known but they have been found in Egyptian tombs, Cretan coins, Celtic stones, Christian churches, and in Pima and Hopi Indian traditions. Until recently they were rare in the United States.
Since the turn of the millennium, this country has witnessed a Labyrinth renaissance. There has been a resurgence in popularity and they have become increasingly common to find in schools, parks, hospitals, spas, churches and retreat centers and also private residences.
Labyrinths differ from a maze in that they have only one path into the center and the same path back out again. There are no choices to make after the decision to enter.
In a spiritual sense, a labyrinth is a sacred space where you can connect to your spirit, your true inner self. Walking toward the center of the spiral is symbolic of journeying from the outside world to the center of yourself. After taking the time you want in the center, you make the journey back into the world.
Benefits of Labyrinth Walking
Walking a labyrinth encourages deep contemplation because you are free of distractions from the outside world. You can dedicate your walk to solving a problem, conflict resolution, relieving stress, or gaining fresh perspectives.
Mindful labyrinth walking is thought to enhance the right brain activity. It helps to calm the nervous system, encourages self-reflection, and quiets the mind so that you feel more relaxed and receptive to insights.
As a spiritual exercise, you can make your walk a time for prayer, meditation, contemplation, or reflection.
Our Labyrinth at KYWC
The Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center Labyrinth is a “Seven Path Classical Labyrinth.” and is found in many of the earth’s indigenous cultures. Walking the Labyrinth is a rediscovery of a long-forgotten mystical tradition. As the path winds back and forth towards the center, it may become a mirror of where you are in your life. You may experience healing and balancing effects as your mind begins to clear and you become simply aware of your breath. Sometimes deep personal insights or new ways of perceiving life’s challenges arise.
Visitors are welcome to walk during daylight hours. Our Peace Path Nature Trail and outdoor seven-circuit labyrinth meditation path are available for private retreats for the staff or small groups. Call to discuss possibilities and scheduling 583-5500.
Walking the Labyrinth
There is no right way to walk a Labyrinth. Simply enter and follow the grass path between the bricks. Your walk can encompass a variety of attitudes. You may find that it is joyful or somber, or it may be prayerful or thoughtful. You may use it as a walking meditation.
When walking in a Labyrinth choose your attitude. Try walking with a different attitude each time to experiment. You can make it playful, prayerful, or serious. Perhaps you might enjoy playing music or singing. Try praying out loud. Walk alone or with a crowd. Listen to the sounds of nature and notice how the sky looks but most importantly, pay attention to your experience.
Some general guidelines for walking a Labyrinth are:
- Focus: Pause and wait at the entrance at the wooden arbor. Become quiet and centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.
- Experience: Walk purposefully. Observe the process. When you reach the center stay there and focus several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Follow the path back to the arbor.
- Exit: Turn and face the entrance. Acknowledge the ending, such as “Amen” or “Thank you”.
- Reflect: After walking the labyrinth reflect back on your experience. Use journaling or drawing to capture your experience.
- Come back and walk often.
To find a Labyrinth in your area visit the World Wide Labyrinth Locator at www.labyrinthlocator.com, an online database that lists 3,300 Labyrinths around the world.
World Labyrinth Day
On the first Saturday in May, friends of KYWC participate in World Labyrinth Day. We walk the labyrinth as one at 1 pm so that for 24 hours people are walking a labyrinth somewhere on Earth with the intention of world peace.