Thursday, May 1, 2008

Labyrinth


“Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking.”

- St. Augustine of Hippo

Did you ever walk the path of a labyrinth? A labyrinth is a single path, or unicursal tool, for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. It is also thought to enhance right brain activity. Walking a labyrinth can be a way to meditate, pray, or concentrate on the present moment and one's innermost thoughts.

Walking the labyrinth is symbolic of the journey of life. Reaching the center is our goal, but along the journey there are many twists and turns which lead us forward, and then return us back to the beginning.

Labyrinths can be thought of as symbolic forms of pilgrimage. Various forms have been found throughout the world from the beginnings of civilization, and today they exist in many locations.

To find a labyrinth near to you go to the World Wide Labyrinth Locator.

In the picture above, I am standing in the outdoor labyrinth of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. There is also a labyrinth in the nave inside the cathedral.

Information from the Labyrinth web site of Grace Cathedral:

"The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found
in all religious traditions in various forms around the
world. By walking a
replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in
France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition
that is insisting to be reborn.

The labyrinth has only one path so there are no
tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror
for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys.
Walk it with an open mind and an open heart.

There are three stages of the walk:

Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the
details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A
time to open the heart and quiet the mind.

Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as
long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there
for you to receive.

Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the
center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your
Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the
labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul
reaching for.

Guidelines for the walk: Quiet your mind and become aware of your
breath. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. The path is two
ways. Those going in will meet those coming out. You may "pass" people or let
others step around you. Do what feels natural."

Walking, anywhere, is a stress reliever and good for the health. I hope you will take walk today and enjoy the journey!


"Each step we take creates a cool breeze, refreshing our body and mind. Every step makes a flower bloom under our feet." - Thich Nhat Hahn



John Lennon Memorial Central Park, NYC

23 comments:

LOUISE @ HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS said...

How interesting. I knew nothing of labyrinths. Nice to know, unlike a maze they have only one path and there are no dead ends. I like the fact of bumping into people and letting them pass. To be taken seriously but also great fun. x

Steven Teng said...

Hi Pat,

I truly enjoy your blog. We have different culture here in Malaysia. By reading your blog I am exposed to sample different cultures. My blog is at www.stevenhavingfun.blogspot.com.
By the way can we keep in touch through e-mail? My e-mail is at stevteng@yahoo.com. Thanks.

Regards
Steven Teng

Rosie's Whimsy said...

I love labyrinths! Th project we are working on for our front yard this year involves a intertwining series of pathways that I can stroll from garden to woods and back. It may take years to finish but the process itself is delightful! :-) Rosie

Kari & Kijsa said...

Fascinating! loved reading about this!! The photo with the roses is amazing!!

blessings,
kari & kijsa

Junie Moon said...

I love labyrinths and walk them anytime I can find one. It's such an amazing experience. There's one at a church here in Tucson that's painted on concrete. But there are also a few (some private) built using rocks and other bits of nature's resources. I walk those, too, when given the opportunity. Whenever I travel, I try to find a new one.

Mrs. B said...

Ooh, I love the Grace Cathedral. When I was a little girl we would go there every once in a while when we'd go to San Francisco. I used to tell my parents that I was going to get married there someday. Well, that didn't happen, but it's a beautiful place just the same.

Pat, I've tried to give you the directions for getting your photos to enlarge, but I have to type in some html to explainit properly. Blogger won't let me type html into a comment. I tried replying by email to one of your comments with the explanation and the email said it couldn't be returned. I'll try the email one more time and maybe it will work. Just wanted you to know I wasn't ignoring your question!

Ragged Roses said...

Hello and thanks for visiting my blog. I love walking and once found a labyrinth in some old woods set in stone, it was very magical and enchanting. Have a good weekend
Kimx

Beverly said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting read. My mind could definitely put use to a labyrinth today. It needs to clear and focus.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Wow! How interesting. I did a search and found I have one near me. I think I'm going to go try it out. I could really use some time to reflect as life is pretty hard for me right now.

Thanks for posting about this.

willow said...

Very intriquing post, Pat.

Just the word labyrinth in itself is magical, isn't it?

Have a great weekend!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I have not walked a labyrinths....but I do enjoy going through the cornstalk maze that some farms outside my town sport in the harvest season...

Lisa B. said...

Hi Pat,
Love the labyrinth! Love your google translator too. I had to go get one for myself! I think that is so cool. I also tried to add a thing that I can translate foreign lang. posts so I can read them (does that make any sense?). I've got to go see if it actually works right. Thanks!!

Gina said...

I didn't know very much about labyrinths before, having just really appreciated their beautiful form..so this info was very interesting.
I walked around a gorgeous labyrinth in a rainforest garden and it was covered in moss...I will try and find a photo of it. Gx

Tara said...

Pat

I have actually walked a labyrinth once--my kids were watching me and thought it was hysterical..ah, the young don't get anything-haha!

Walking is such a great stress reliever and I love taking the dog along!

Have a great weekend!
:0)
Tara

M.KATE said...

Hi Pat, this is interesting, I dont anything about labyrinths, thanks a million for sharing :)

Mermaid Queen said...

Fascinating read as usual Pat. Couldn't find a labyrinth near me with the locator. Looks like many are part of a church. Have a great weekend. ~Martha

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I remember seeing this on "Starting Over" and wondering about it. I love that there is one way in.

Did you do it? What was your experience?

Rue said...

Oh, I am so not walking around a labyrinth Pat, unless it's like the one your cute self was standing on. Clauterphobia! Here's Johnny! (the shining) Yikes!!

Have a great Saturday!!
hugs,
rue

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I have never walked a labyrinth...I have seen them in books and on tv...They look so wonderfully zen....

Love the last picture in your post...
Penny

Loretta said...

Before we moved from Memphis, our church had begun to explore the idea of putting a labyrinth into the woods behind the church. A very popular feature was a labyrinth painted onto a mat and unrolled at the different churches.

I always wanted to go to the one in San Francisco. Thanks for the great photo.

Brenda Hyde said...

This is so neat! I had posted about the botanical gardens my daughter and I went to, but didn't mention the labrynth because I had rambled on so long. After seeing yours, I might have to add it. That is a wonderful picture and I love the information. I always thought it would be so neat to have a labrynth of some type on our property!

Kathy Wagner said...

Hi Pat Just dropped in to say hi and saw your photo of you at the labyrinth - awesome! We had one at the hospital where I used to work and the staff would walk it together on occasion. I loved it!
I also walked the labyrinth at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis and it was very memorable.
Here is an interesting website:
http://www.labyrinthresourcegroup.org/index.php

Cori G. said...

What an interesting post on Labyrinths. I've been doing a little research on them myself and am amazed at how many churches are incorporating them into their prayer. I had no idea that Chartes had one either. I had always understood that they were used predominately by the Celts.