|[Picture from http://www.sydneylabyrinth.org/]|
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This week we explored .. The Labyrinth
Did you happen to see ABC TV's Compass program last night on the creation of the Centennial Park Labyrinth? If you are in Australia (possibly also overseas) you can check it out here : http://www.abc.net.au/compass/
Many years ago I had the opportunity to walk a small private labyrinth .. it was a lovely sunny day, I recall being intrigued by the whole idea .. and having a wonderfully relaxing and centering experience.
And this is what a labyrinth is all about.
What is a labyrinth?
Labyrinth comes from the Greek labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," and they have been around for at least 3000 years. Known as single pathways used for walking meditation, and an ancient tool for personal, psychological and spiritual reflection and transformation. Sometimes aligned (incorrectly) with a maze (a maze is usually a complex branching puzzle of choices regarding direction); a labyrinth is entered at the 'mouth' and then walked on a single-path journey to the centre, before turning around and returning back the same way.
In recent years Labyrinths have gained favour for their therapeutic and medical benefits. And there is evidence that suggest a labyrinth walk is a 'right brain activity' which can tap into our intuitive, creative and imaginative side of the brain, being mentally calming and meditative. There is also a labyrinth at the Children's Hospital at Westmead (Sydney) where staff can rest and refocus for the busy day ahead, and patients can find peace and calmness during challenging hospital visits.
"Walking the labyrinth is a detour from the everyday path of our lives - an opportunity to slow down and reflect. Its an easy way to meditate - to simply quiet the mind and open the heart"
So, how do you walk a labyrinth?
Firstly, it is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth .. some will walk slow and some will walk fast (some children will run, some people will feel compelled to dance) but there are three phrases to the walk outlined on the Sydney Labyrinth site:
Releasing on the way in: letting go of distractions and that which no longer serves you
Receiving: opening to a sense of peace and calmness as you pause in the centre
Resolving: as you follow the same path back out of the labyrinth, preparing to engage with the world in a different way
And so the winding path becomes a metaphor for our journey and where we find ourselves on our path.
"You can walk knowing you will be led somewhere, but the mind is quietened, relaxed and brings things into focus. In a maze we lose ourselves, but in a labyrinth we find ourselves. You could say they have resurged historically when there is a need."
Michael Stevens, a paediatric oncologist at the Children's Hospital, Westmead
You might be able to find a Labyrinth near you (you know what to do .. just Google it!) but you might also like to try a simple walking meditation which I have detailed here - Each Step a Meditation
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