Labyrinths are a fascinating spiritual tool. Here, Good4All Ambassador, Patti, is introduced to the practice by labyrinth expert, Mary Ellen Weber. (Consider walking a labyrinth as one of your 4 Fall activities):
Patti: What do I need to know about walking a Labyrinth?
Mary Ellen: For a short answer, the Labyrinth is a walking meditation. A longer answer is that it is an ancient pattern that has been found across all cultures and traditions for over 5000 years. A Labyrinth is different from a maze. A lot of people think they are the same. A maze has many twists and turns and dead ends that are meant to trip you up and you have to figure out. Whereas the Labyrinth has one path into the center, the same path back up, so the idea is that it quiets your thoughts, allowing you to do some deep listening.
Here’s the entrance to the Labyrinth. There’s one path to the center, and then you take the same path back out.
P: Tell me some of the benefits of coming to do this once a week.
M: As I mentioned, it’s a walking meditation. A lot of people struggle with sitting meditation and all of their thoughts. I find when I walk the Labyrinth, I just gather my thoughts, and with the rhythm of going back and forth and twists and turns, it quiets my mind, lifts my heart, connects me to my body, and allows me to really deepen into the meditation.
P: How would I start? What would you recommend for someone who has never done this before?
M: The most important thing is to find your own walking pace. Let your body tell you how fast it wants to be walking, find its own pace. Secondly, It’s a two-way street. There is only one path, so if you are walking with other people, you may meet somebody walking back out. If you meet them on the path, you just simply step aside to let them pass, you step back onto the path and keep walking. The third helpful tip is to really just let go of expectations. Some people expect that once they hit the center there’s going to be a light bulb going off, but it’s really important to just let go of expectations and experience your own experience.
As far as actually walking the Labyrinth, we refer to the three R’s. The first one is when you stand at the entrance of the Labyrinth, you Release. That’s just releasing what you’re thinking about, what you’re going to do next, what’s in the past, release every part, and set your intention. As you’re walking the path and reach the center, then you’re there to Receive. Whatever insight image, centeredness, prayer, whatever comes to you, you’re there to receive. Then as you return on the path back out, that’s the third R, Return. That idea is to bring whatever gift the Labyrinth had to share with you, back out into the world. So Release, Receive, Return. The three R’s. If you forget those, it’s okay. There’s no right or wrong way.
P: Is there any other information you can give me?
M: This is just a small taste! If you’d like more information, you can visit www.veriditas.org This website has lots of information and provides a Labyrinth locator-put in any zip code and find local public Labyrinths that you can walk.
P: Are there any final words that you have?
M: I would really like to share my favorite Labyrinth quote, by Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, founder of Veriditas. She says the Labyrinth is “a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror of the soul”.
P: Thank you Mary Ellen!
Mary Ellen Weber holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS). She is a spiritual teacher and mentor experienced in guiding others to the inner work of transformation. This is done through spiritual growth groups, Labyrinth, SoulCollage™ workshops, retreats and individual spiritual direction. To learn more, visit her website www.growingawake.com