Labyrinths: Center Yourself

Meditation labyrinth

Labyrinths: Center Yourself

What Is It?

LabyrinthIts a beautiful ancient symbol or pattern found in many places all over the world and with various designs and uses. The design itself can be found on jewelry, basketry, pottery, body art, instruments and wall etchings, but the most sought-after forms are the large-scale versions of it. It is claimed that walking a labyrinth or a meander leads to a feeling of well-being and relaxation, deeper relationships, a connection with a higher being or energy, decluttering, answered questions, clearer ideas, increased intuition, etc. Many churches, gardens, health facilities, spas, prisons, colleges, universities, and schools have built these as a way to create a sacred space for meditation or prayer, to release blocks, set an intention, rebooting, finding guidance etc. as you make your way into its center and back. 

Labyrinth vs. Maze

Though both terms are used interchangeably in the English language due to the universal representation of the mythological Minotaur maze, there are notable differences observed by contemporary scholars. Amaze is designed with the purpose of being a puzzle. Its blind alleys, twists, and turns encourage the use of your left side of the brain  (active mind). As you walk through a maze, your main focus is to escape or solve it through logical and sequential thinking and analysis.

A labyrinth, on the other hand, is not a puzzle. It is not meant to confuse.  It is unicursal, or of one single continuous path, meaning that the same way you entered is the same way you will exit. As a result of this circuitous path, the right side of the brain (passive mind) is engaged instead of the left. This leads to a flow and creativity, intuition and imagination as you walk it. It can be circular or square in shape, temporary or permanent, outdoor or indoor, and made of rocks, grass, shells, tiles, wood, crystals, etc. 

Designs

Classic LabyrinthThe two main designs are classical and Chartres. The classical or ancient labyrinth is the most common of the two since it is found in most cultures; some labyrinths dating back over four thousand years. This labyrinth concept was made popular in Greece due to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur leading it to be called the Cretan Labyrinth, though the Minotaur’s labyrinth was actually a maze. A multi-branch design was featured on early Cretan coins; they later turned into a single, non-branched path design. It is considered the most powerful kind of labyrinth due to its seven circuit or seven path design; some correlate it to the seven body chakras.  

The medieval labyrinth is the second type of labyrinth. It’s an eleven-circuit design made up of four quadrants with 34 turns. The oldest serving medieval Christian labyrinth of this kind is found in a paved form on the floor of the Gothic Cath√©drale Notre Dame de Chartres in Chartres, France. Built-in 1201 as a symbol of the Via Crucis, it’s length of 262m represents the distance walked by Jesus to the cross.  Its sacred geometry is made up of an equal-armed cross or cruciform with a center rosette. The center rosette, when reached, is believed to stand for enlightenment while it’s six petals stand for things such as the six days of creation or alchemical elements. The alchemical elements front left to right are represented by the petals as iron(metals), water, earth, human, spiritual and divine. Because of the Crusades, this and many other church labyrinths were used by many pilgrims as a substitute for their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 

Meditating with the labyrinth 

Meditation labyrinthAnyone, including children, can venture into a labyrinth with any peaceful intention, method, pace and company (if any) they feel comfortable with. Many walk it while either reciting a mantra, listening to music, practicing Reiki, praying with a rosary or other forms of beads, etc. Lots of visitors walk it barefoot as a grounding technique. The “Hands Up, Hands Down Technique” is also a popular technique where you walk in with your hands down to release all negative thoughts, heavy burdens or energy as you reach the center. Once at the center, place hands palm-up, as to receive guidance, new energy or gifts. 

How to use them

  1. Entering: Set an Intention at the entrance. Focus by pausing and acknowledging the start of your meditative experience.
  2. Releasing: Walk purposefully and deliberately, but at your pace. Experience the twists and turns as you quiet your mind. Empty yourself as you quiet your mind. 
  3. Resting: Upon reaching the center, focus and meditate/pray on the goal you wish to pursue and open your heart and mind for receiving. Take the moment in for as long as you’d like. Do not feel rushed at any point; let others walk past if need be. You may stand, sit or lay down. 
  4. Exit and, as you do so, release all worries. Turn and face the labyrinth to acknowledge it and give thanks. 
  5. Reflect and look back on the walk. Journal any feelings, synchronicities, messages or thoughts that might have come to you during your visit. 

Locating One or Making Your Own

Walkable/large scale labyrinths are not only beautiful but more accessible than expected. Locate a labyrinth near you by using the worldwide labyrinth locator at https://labyrinthlocator.com   . I was pleasantly surprised to see how many labyrinths are near me. If you are unable to readily visit a labyrinth, don’t be discouraged! You can benefit greatly from making your own at home; as big, small or unique as you’d like.

 Finger labyrinthMany people have benefited from being able to build their own labyrinths in their backyards, but on paper seems to be the easiest way. You can create, draw or paint your own “Finger Labyrinth” and enjoy “walking” it with your finger. Some switch hands to work on both brain hemispheres. Children and their families are finding finger labyrinths very beneficial for their relaxation, fears, and meditation.  There are also many free finger labyrinths available online for printing or simply display on any device for an even more portable form. 

A Deep Lesson

Considered a full body prayer, the labyrinth provides restoration and comfort to lots of peace-seekers. Mimicking with its folded patterns our own brain patterns, it is a spiritual symbol for healing and wholeness under Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Reiki practices, and many others. As a metaphor for life’s journey, the labyrinth allows you to access your deepest self, only to resurface with a clearer understanding and new insight.

If you visit or make your own labyrinth, we’d love to see it! Share it with us on our FB, twitter, IT or website. Tag us as @reiki2go or Spanish @vida.holistik

Enjoy your journey,

Jenny

#meditation #labyrinth #centered #reiki #prayer #grounding #spirituality 

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