The labyrinth is a means of meditation
offering us space to listen to ourselves.
It can be a slow and contemplative experience
or fast and energizing;
it can help us shed layers of emotion and unravel a problem;
or it can stimulate the mind and offer inspiration.
The physical movement toward the labyrinth’s center
is echoed by an inward movement
to the deep center inside each of us,
where we are whole and intact even if we are ill or suffering.
The path of the labyrinth,
therefore–takes us on an inner journey of healing
toward personal well-being and newness of spirit.
~Helen Raphael Sands, The Healing Labyrinth
A Walk Within
The practice opens with an invitation. Practitioners are given the opportunity to share the intention or focus of their contemplation (gratitude, trust, healing, unity) so that seeds may be watered, joys multiplied, sorrows diminished, and hearts unburdened. A gatha is recited to awaken mindfulness, followed by the sounding of the bell to signal the beginning of the silent walk. We bow and step toward the path.
Entering one at a time, we allow adequate “breathing room” between ourselves and fellow practitioners so that no one feels forced to rush their journey. We lapse into a steady pace. Some may stop momentarily to plant their feet — a thoughtful pause to ground themselves in breath and mindful awareness, to drink in the elements, to feel the thrumming connection to all that surrounds us.
Spiraling the path inward, body and mind become synchronized by the rhythm of our breath, movements, mantras or prayers. (Look deeply: ever notice how a labyrinth’s unicursal pattern can resemble the labyrinthine design of the wondrous human brain?!) With each stride, body gently steers mind to an ever quieter state of attunement. Sorted, settled, at ease.
Arriving at the center, we pause and abide in the spirit of calm. Some may bow in four directions, stretch their hearts open to the sky, or fold forward onto themselves with fingertips grazing the earth.
Returning from the center, we now meet friends on the path. Acknowledging each other — in gassho — with a bow deeply from the hips or with a simple touching of hands together at the heart. Kindness and understanding bestowed with serene smiles. Then the practitioner who is journeying outward steps to the right to clear the way for those who have yet to reach the center.
The sounding of the bell brings our practice to a close. We bow once more in gratitude to ourselves, the practice and one another.