Labyrinth Walking

Labyrinth walking is a type of meditation that has existed for thousands of years. Labyrinth walkers follow pathways drawn on the ground. Strings, fabric, sticks, or stones can also be laid on the ground to create the labyrinth. There are no walls, and many of these have only one path with a single beginning and end. The path winds and turns, but it has no intersections and no dead ends. Some people use a small version using a flat surface resting on the lap. The grooved path is followed with a finger. This type of labyrinth is appropriately named a finger labyrinth. Labyrinth walking is often described as a walking meditation. The goals of labyrinth walking are many, but the most common goals are obtaining inner peace, heightening a spiritual experience, receiving personal insight, or participating in prayer. It is often commonly used simply to relax. Some say that labyrinth walking is a representation of a pilgrimage in which the goal is to seek inner wisdom or to contemplate the answer to some mystery.

The Process

Walkers enter the labyrinth at the pre-designated entrance. The entrance turns and winds until it reaches a central area. Once at the central area, the walker turns around and heads back out on the same path from which he or she arrived. The entrance and the exit of the labyrinth are one and the same. As a person walks along the path, he or she may pray or just let the mind wander. The goal is not to reach the end, but make the walk an experience in itself, hopefully allowing the walker to achieve some level of personal transformation.

History of the Labyrinth

The first labyrinths were created some four thousand years ago, but their original purpose has been lost in time. In the dark ages, labyrinths were incorporated into the grounds of churches to allow for worshipers to make a symbolic journey to the Holy Land. One of the most famous labyrinths from this time was built in 1220 in France at the Chartres Cathedral.  In Judaism, the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, is in the form of a labyrinth. The Hopi Indians also have a traditional labyrinth. In modern times, labyrinths have been built at churches, hospitals, wellness centers, prisons, and parks. About 2,000 permanent labyrinths exist in the United States. Though no evidence supports the idea that labyrinth walking can cure or treat cancer, it does not have any dangerous complications, and many physicians recommend any activity that helps the patient reduce anxiety.  However, labyrinth walking should be used in addition to, not instead of, standard medical care. Reference: