Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walking the Labyrinth

A few weeks ago I discovered a labyrinth. My mom and I attended a writers workshop entitled: Walking the Labyrinth: Writing your Reflections. I had heard of labyrinths but did not really understand what they were. I thought of them as mazes, usually outdoors and meandering through the woods. However, I have learned a great deal about them since this experience a few weeks ago.
A labyrinth is not really a maze at all, and they aren't necessarily outdoors or very big. Often, when walking a labyrinth, you are close enough to another person that you could reach out and give them a high-five on the way by. (This would be considered poor "labyrinth etiquette", though, so don't do that!) Where a maze poses a problem to solve and a destination to "figure out" through trial and error, dead-ends, and wrong turns; a labyrinth is a path carved out that leads one to the center. A labyrinth combines a number of ancient symbols such as the circle and spiral. They have been used for over 4,000 years in many countries, cultures, and religions. There are many labyrinths located around the world; the most famous being the Chartres labyrinth in Chartres, France. A replica of that labyrinth is in San Francisco, CA. Other notable labyrinths are in Central Park in New York, Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, and in downtown Zurich, Switzerland. There are even labyrinths right here in Rockford, IL and Loves Park. Who knew?
Walking a labyrinth is considered a "right brain" activity. Because your left brain does not have to think about where you are going, it frees you up to be creative, intuitive, and imaginative. It tends to enhance a more contemplative and relaxed state of mind. Some people describe walking a labyrinth as "active meditation", and some have experienced moments of grace, forgiveness, creativity, healing, direction, and peace while walking through the labyrinth.
Below is the reflective poem I wrote after my "labyrinth experience". I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you to walk a labyrinth sometime...

Walking the Labyrinth; Walking Life
Structure with freedom
Listening to the rhythmic footfalls on the cinder path
A lawnmower humming in the distance
A reminder of the sacred within the ordinary
A space away
Walking meditation
A path of prayer, a path of purpose
The hot sun on my face
The magic of movement
People and ideas flood my mind
Capture the creativity
One step at a time
A journey of twists and turns
Some parts smoother than others
But the path is promised.


Megan said...

Glad to see a new post out here! I thought labyrinths were just another word for maze too... can't say I've ever actually seen one- sounds really neat!

Z-girl said...

Yay, she's back! (Can't say that I have posted anything yet!) Love the idea of the labyrinth, and your phrase "sacred within the ordinary". So glad to hear your story. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!