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The path to mindfulness could be a labyrinth We are all on a journey… travelling exactly where we need to go. The labyrinth is a model and a metaphor of that path. As a form of mindfulness meditation, you can walk or trace a labyrinth to help your focus and centre your mind. Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused.
When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is a puzzle to be solved and has twists, turns, and blind alleys. A labyrinth is in pattern that leads you to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.
Because you do not need to use the logical side of your brain, walking or tracing a labyrinth with your finger provides a perfect tool for mindfulness and meditation. Labyrinths have been used in modern times to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, you can lose track of direction and of the outside world, and your mind becomes quiet. The Labyrinth Society provides a locator for modern labyrinths all over the world.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to walk a labyrinth. You can approach the structure by first taking in a deep breath, and then stating ”quiet the mind, open the heart”. Because you are walking, the mind is quieted. Labyrinth walks are sometimes referred to as “body prayer” or walking meditation.
Each person’s walk is a personal experience. How you walk and what you receive differs with each walk. Some people use the walk for clearing the mind and centering. Others enter with a question or concern.
The time in the center can be used for receiving, reflecting, meditating, or praying, as well as discovering our own sacred inner space. What each person receives can be integrated on the walk out. Your walk can be a healing and sometimes very profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk. Each time is different.
Many hospitals have installed labyrinths as a tool in healing. Because these Labyrinths comprise a healing space, often within a garden where people can refresh and renew themselves, meditate and pray, they are considered a non-invasive technique that helps in healing. This is true even if the labyrinth may be within hearing distance of traffic or other noises. Complete silence is not a requirement.
By walking labyrinths, patients can gain a proactive attitude towards their healing process and treatment. Often they feel left out and powerless, lost in the medical system. By creating and devoting time to their own process, they are more likely to take an interest and feel empowered, making them more likely to follow through with their treatment plan. Labyrinths help employees by providing an effective and efficient way to handle the anxiety and tension which so frequently accompanies their positions.
Rather than a cigarette break, they can take a short relaxation break. In addition, walking the labyrinth can help one to decompress after a hard day, thereby arriving home calmer and in a good mood. At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are. If you would like to learn how to build your own labyrinth, check out this site, and for a simple picture to trace, try here.