Walking the labyrinth is supposed to symbolise our spiritual journey. A labyrinth looks like a maze, however, unlike a maze, it doesn’t have any detours, diversions or dead ends along the path. The path leads straight to the soul of the labyrinth though it takes a while to get there.
The walk is meant to remind us to have trust and faith and to surrender to life in the moment. It is a walking meditation.
I walked the labyrinth a while back during a silent meditation retreat (at the Lifesprings Canossian Spirituality Centre in Singapore) but still remember the experience very deeply. It impacted me on a soul level and there still is definitely an element of mystery about the way it works. The point is, it worked for me.
I once read that a powerful way to start the walk is by first saying a prayer or setting an intention. It could be a question to the divine about a life situation or a way you desire to feel (peaceful, calm, etc). Follow your intuition and ensure that your intentions are positive in nature even if you might not be feeling that way.
For example, even if you are feeling anxious about something in your life, your prayer could be for assistance to ease the anxiety or to feel at complete peace by the end of the walk. If you are feeling anger at someone, your intention could be forgiveness though you don’t know where to start. Set the intention and the leave the process to the divine. The hows and whens will be sorted out for you.
The labyrinth is often walked barefooted and this is a way to connect with the natural energy of the Earth and experience your being as an extension of that energy.
As you start the walk, focus on the walk every step of the way and as hard as it is, try not to anticipate the end. Our minds are conditioned to always try to get to the next thing that needs to be done. This walking meditation is a great way to un-learn this and cultivate a habit of truly being in the present, which takes time, practice and discipline. The labyrinth is a wonderful aid agent in helping you to deepen your spiritual practice.
Instead of expecting to feel a certain way during the walk, allow your feelings (and thoughts) to be as they are and accept them. Feel how they feel and experience the sensations that are pulsing through your body. Resistance creates a huge blockage in our lives whereas surrender releases blockages and inspires change.
Something else you can do is to pray during the walk itself. Prayer is a form of meditation too. Prayer and walking combined can be very powerful in helping your mind to remain sharp and focused.
In some traditions, the labyrinth is seen as a safe space to open up to the divine and contemplate your life, the directions you are taking, relationships and every other intricate details in depth and brutal honesty.
Or you can simply embrace silence and breathe deeply in and out, focusing on your in and out breath whilst listening to your surrounding.
As you reach the soul of the labyrinth, you can stand in there with your eyes closed and be open to any messages or even a nudge from your intuition that might come through. Your intuition is always communicating with you, however, it could be drowned out by the mental and emotional blockages that has been developed over time. Keep in mind that the message/s you receive may or may not be very elaborate.
When I walked the labyrinth, I felt an assurance to continue on my path in life and that everything happens for a reason. It wasn’t the message but the sense of comfort and release that I experienced at the heart of the labyrinth that really made the walk special for me.
While I stood at the heart of the labyrinth with my eyes closed, I happened to be facing the afternoon sun, which shone brightly on my face. The heat and the energy of the sun, made everything undeniable more reassuring and deeply connecting. Keep in mind that this is my individual experience and your experience would surely be different and unique.
As you walk out, you can contemplate on the message/s that you’ve received and express gratitude for the connection and empowerment that shone upon you.
I am curious to find out how the labyrinth is used in other traditions currently and how it was used in ancient times. What other methods could wise men have used to immerse themselves even deeper into their beings through this sacred walk?
photo credit: Peace Labyrinth Center via photopin (license)