Walking a Labyrinth


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.

This is a labyrinth at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. The path to the left of the cross is the only way in and out of the labyrinth.

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.

This is a typical turn in a labyrinth. This one is sending you back in the direction you came from.

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:

This is another view of the labyrinth at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

This is the center of the labyrinth.

This labyrinth is at St. Chad’s Episcopal Church in Albuquerque.

It has a completely different look and feel than the labyrinth at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

This labyrinth is at New Life Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.

It even has a happy Buddha getting in on the action.

Many people have left offerings in the center.

This too is in the center.

The center has six “rose petals” or stations for contemplation. This one is for the “Unknown.” Others are for mineral, plant, animal, human, and angelic.

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.


  1. Dear David,

    Thanks again for today. To add to the synchronicity, I plan a large labyrinth as a project with the youth of Maras Peru I will work with Sept-December. I just couldn’t believe your post. We are clearly on a similar mission. Check out my website blog on my recent meanderings in Peru and the hummingbird. After the lecture today I walked on two meandering pathways as directed to me at the close of your presentation. One path was 3.6 miles down the road on the right on the cumberland adams county line.,, one called tumbling run replete with waterfalls, moss, neon dragonflies, the other blueberry hill, quite steep and of course vistas and blueberries. Enjoy the greenery although it conitnues to pour in abq!

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