We are all on the path… exactly where we need to be.
The labyrinth is a model of that path.
Where do Labyrinths Come From?
Labyrinths have been used for about 4,000 years in diverse religious traditions of the world. In Christian settings, the earliest verified use is in the fourth century. The most well known labyrinth is built into the stone floor of the cathedral in Chartres where the feet of the faithful have walked it in prayerful meditation since the thirteenth century.
What is a Labyrinth?
Labyrinths are not like mazes with tricks, dead-ends, intersections, branching paths or many entrances and exits. They are like our life journey with turning points, times we feel we are walking away from the centre of our life into the unknown and times we are more deeply connected.
A labyrinth is a place where we can reflect on our journey with our body as well as our heart and mind. It has one well-defined path leading to the centre or resting place. The centre is often a circle, a whole and holy space that reminds us God holds us and calls us to wholeness of being with God and all creation.
Why walk a Labyrinth?
Walking the labyrinth helps us pray, reflect, meditate with our whole body, mind and soul. It invites our intuitive, pattern-seeking, mind to come forth. Using the labyrinth can stimulate creativity and open us to healing places inside ourselves.
The activity of walking alone or with others helps us reflect on our life journey. Walking the labyrinth invites us back into the centre of our being to the heart of our connection with the sacred.
How is the Labyrinth Walked?
There is no one right way to walk a labyrinth. It is a journey we take out of a desire for a deeper connection with the sacred. It is a time to be conscious of our seeking and of what happens along the way. One of these approaches may help:
Gracious Attention: Quiet the mind, choosing to let all your thoughts go when they present themselves to make room for God’s message. Repeating a neutral word or phrase can help one enter the mode of gracious attention when a busy mind is distracted by many thoughts. A meaningful phrase such as “Come Holy Spirit”; “I am a child of light” or “Maranatha” can be helpful for a healing walk.
Asking a Question: Take a question you have been pondering into the labyrinth. It is important that this question be open ended rather than something that solicits a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Walking the labyrinth is a means to allow our consciousness to open more deeply to possibilities.
Listening: Be attentive to your thoughts as you walk. Gently ask yourself ‘why might I be thinking of this image or situation?’
Healing: If you are emotionally, physically or spiritually troubled, hold your burden before God asking for understanding, healing and wholeness.
Reading Scripture: Reading the psalms or other scripture slowly or carrying a scripture phrase through the labyrinth can open your heart as you walk.
Praying: As thoughts come to you, pray them through. Talk to God as you walk as if you were writing a letter.
We journey inward, in hopes of receiving insight and return to take up our lives with renewed understanding and purpose.
Pause: At the entrance, you may find it helpful to take a few deep, slow breaths. Allow a space of time to lapse between you and the person ahead of you.
Path: A single pathway brings you into the centre. Take some time in the centre to reflect on what you have received. If others are walking the labyrinth you will pass people on the way in and the way out. It is OK to step off the path to allow someone to pass. Do avoid contact – eyes, bodies, voice – to allow you and the other to stay focused on the walk. It is OK if you get turned around. Simply journey on as you need to.
Pace: Allow your body to find its own pace. If you need to walk more quickly than the person in front of you it is OK to walk around them. If you walk more slowly and become distracted by someone approaching behind you it is OK to step off the path to allow them to pass.
Process: The physical act of walking helps people focus their prayers or reflection whether they are asking a question, hoping to quiet a busy mind, or seeking healing and/or strength for life’s challenges. Be attentive to what keeps coming up for you as you walk.
Afterward: We come out of the labyrinth in a non-verbal state. Make a space for yourself to reflect on your experience and return to community. You may find journaling about your experience helpful.
The All Saints Labyrinth is open to use and meditate upon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We provide night lighting and a self directed instruction on the site for your assistance. This is a spiritual tool for Christian and non-Christian people alike. It is a place of solace for all!