The posts in this blog and the book The Gentle Art of Wandering all have a consistent theme of walking with mindfulness while outdoors. Being mindful allows you to see all that is around you and to make amazing discoveries along the way. You can also walk with mindfulness in a labyrinth.
A labyrinth is not a maze. There are no dead ends. It is not a puzzle for you to solve or a trap to frustrate you. A labyrinth is a path that loops back and forth through a generally circular area as you walk to the center.
It has only one way in and only one way out. Walking a labyrinth, in a sense, is a form of surrender as there is nothing for you to do except to follow the path.
As you walk, you can let your mind quiet down and clear. You may notice that the path mimics many aspects of life with its many twists and turns. At one point you seem to be headed directly to the goal and, just as you are about to reach it, the path abruptly turns and goes in another direction. But like life you eventually do get to where you are going.
Many people use a labyrinth as a form of walking meditation or a time for quiet contemplation. You are not obligated to meditate or to be a contemplative. You might walk it just for fun. There are no rules or right way to walk a labyrinth. It’s up to you.
If you are interested in using the path for a period of contemplation, some literature suggests that you use the walk into the center to clear your mind and to let go of whatever is bothering you. When you reach the center, you can stay as long as you like and use that time to think or to reach a place of inner peace. You can, if you want, use the walk out as a time to reconnect with the world or to connect with whatever it is that is important to you.
Labyrinths have been around for centuries. Many of the medieval cathedrals in Europe were built with labyrinths. Many churches and public places today have installed labyrinths. There is probably a labyrinth near where you live. There are many websites that can help you locate a labyrinth including this one, click here.
Here are some pictures of three labyrinths I visited yesterday:
Although many labyrinths are affiliated with churches or religious organizations, you do not have to be affiliated with a church or be religious to walk a labyrinth. There is no litmus test for mindfulness; mindfulness is available to anyone.