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How to walk the labyrinth

All the great world religions contain teachings that articulate the journey of the spiritual seeker; the path one must walk in order to grow in compassion and respond to the world with clarity and wisdom. Walking the labyrinth has re-emerged as a metaphor for the spiritual journey.

We all have a journey to make, a journey into conscious awareness of our eternal origin, of who we truly are. Our journey is not to acquire what we already have, but to realize it.

All journeys begin with a single step. Like every journey, the journey of the labyrinth depends on what you bring to it. Your intention is important.

It can be many things: meditation, spiritual transformation, healing, grieving, stress reduction, family issues, work-related issues, problem solving, team building, leadership development, ritual or ceremony.

No matter how many circuits the labyrinth has, every journey, just as a pilgrimage, entails three distinct parts:

1. Entering and walking inward towards the centre,
2. Time spent in the centre, and
3. Leaving the centre and returning to the outer world.

The task is to walk the labyrinth in a witness state; being the observed and the observer at the same time. As you walk, pay attention to what you are feeling or thinking. Acknowledge it, take a deep breath and then release it and let it go, freeing your awareness for the next moment.

There are many interpretations of these stages. Some interpretations are:

1. releasing,
2. receiving,
3. returning.

1. seeking,
2. discovering,
3. communicating.

1. letting go,
2. illumination,
3. integrating.

1. confusion,
2. clarity,
3. resolution.


 

1. ignorance,
2. learning,
3. understanding.

 

1. death,
2. transformation,
3. rebirth.

Explore the labyrinth and experiment your own unique way of navigating the path as it reveals personal meaning and value for you. Trust your own inner wisdom. Trust your feet. Sometimes walking the labyrinth without an intention or plan can lead to a wonderful experience that answers questions you did not even know you had.

According to Helen Curry, author of The Way of the Labyrinth, a labyrinth walk can set into motion many different thought patterns, emotions, energies, ideas and questions, none of which may lead to insights or answers immediately but which may eventually produce transformation long after the walking meditation has been completed. So don't fall into the trap of thinking that if you didn't receive insights right away, nothing happened. Some things take time.

Life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth and discovery. About stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition and taking courageous challenges at every step along the way.
- Caroline Adams

The labyrinth walk works with the metaphor. Everything that happens inside the labyrinth can be seen as a metaphor for your life. The labyrinth will mirror to you what you need to see. Whatever you experience, it will offer insight as to what you need to pay attention to or amend in your life.

Walking a labyrinth seems to create a state of altered consciousness like in a meditation. In this state we can more easily explore hidden aspects of ourselves and the world of spirituality.

Guidelines for walking a labyrinth
From Way of the Labyrinth by Eve Eschner Hogan

1. Let go of all your expectations. The message of the labyrinth is often subtle. Just relax and enjoy this peaceful path of prayer.

2. Clear your mind and become aware of your breath. Be self-observant. Pay attention to what you experience as you walk.

3. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to walk. Some people will want to walk quickly, others slowly, some will run, others will dance.

4. A labyrinth is a two-way street. It is ok to pass! Those going in will meet those coming out. You may pass people or let others step around you, whichever is easiest. Pay attention to where you are on the labyrinth, step aside, resume your position and continue to walk.

5. Emotions or feelings may be evoked. Relax, breathe, observe and let go, freeing your awareness for the next moment. Remember everything that happens in a labyrinth can be seen as a metaphor.

 

 
         
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