A labyrinth is a wellbeing tool, and then some. It is a single path winding its way to the middle, so unlike a maze there are no decisions to be made. But it is as twisty as a maze, which means you can’t work out quite where you are going. All you can do is follow the path and trust the journey.
It both simple and complex. With your conscious mind engaged, your subconscious can come forward. The changes of direction can open up feelings and thoughts. The things you encounter on the path prompt metaphors, as your experience in the labyrinth brings reflections on life.
Labyrinths go back thousands of years, and across the globe, used in decoration, in ritual, in prayer, in celebration. Medieval churches installed labyrinths as an alternative to pilgrimage for those who couldn’t travel. And now they are having a revival, again in churches, but also hospitals, universities, and retreat centres; anywhere where people want to find a space and time to think, to be, to relax, to heal, to contemplate.
Labyrinths for relaxation
Labyrinths are a great tool for relaxation, whether a big floor/pavement labyrinth, or a handheld finger labyrinth. Being in the labyrinth makes you slow down. One step at a time. One breath at a time. One turn at a time. The labyrinth brings you into the present, to be present in the moment, in the present space. It aids mindfulness. You become more aware of the labyrinth, of the sensory, of your body.
Finger labyrinths are particularly good for helping you unwind at night, or focus in the morning. Using a non-dominant finger or hand, or closing your eyes, can enhance the experience. Slowing you down. I am here.
Labyrinths for healing
Labyrinths act like a container. While you are in the labyrinth you are in a suspended time and place, where you can let yourself think about the unthinkable. No one will approach you, even if you are sobbing. Each person is absorbed in their own journey. Labyrinths helped me with my grief following the death of my husband. I could tell it all to the labyrinth. I could ask the questions, say the words (in my head). And then I could walk out.
“The clear physical boundaries of the pattern … offer a feeling of safety.”
The way the labyrinth experience is constructed aids healing. A common experience is to find yourself releasing your thoughts and emotions on the way in to the centre. The pause in the centre is a moment to recentre, to be still, to receive. And the return journey along the path back to the beginning, is like a coming back to yourself, a looking forward.
Labyrinths can help to heal the soul, self-confidence. The connection to nature, to the senses, to yourself, to your inner wisdom, can bring comfort, strength, forgiveness.
“I felt today on the labyrinth that I really can, and will, love myself as I am.”
“Forgiveness is frequently the bridge between psychological and spiritual healing. The labyrinth can offer the sacred space where healing through forgives may occur.” Lauren Artress
Labyrinths for contemplation
You know you have your best ideas in the shower, or when knitting? It’s like that when you walk the labyrinth, but more. There is something about being in the moment, with your body and conscious mind occupied, that taps into your subconscious, your inner wisdom. People bring their decisions, their dilemmas, their ideas to the labyrinth and see what comes up. You can think about the problem on the way in and then see what comes to you in the middle, or on the way out.
The twists and turns, the changes of direction, perhaps help the mind untangle your thoughts and feelings. Or maybe it’s the metaphors that prompt the thoughts. There is lots of sacred geometry about labyrinths too, especially the medieval style ones. Whatever the reason, the labyrinth can help you tap into what you really think or feel, your inner wisdom.
Sometimes people are walking the labyrinth at a time of change in their lives, or approaching one, and use the space and time that the labyrinth gives them to cogitate, to walk with it, to come to terms or make decisions.
Other times people may hold an idea, or a person, in their mind while they walk the labyrinth, and simply be present with it/them, with no other goal or intention.
Whatever your reason for using a labyrinth, the experience can be profound or ordinary; peaceful or energising; comforting or rocking the boat. It partly depends what you bring to the labyrinth, what you want to get out of it.
At the end of the day it is just a tool. It may seem magical and extraordinary at times, but that is only because it reflects us back to ourselves.
What will you bring to the labyrinth?
I am a Veriditas trained Labyrinth Facilitator. I use labyrinths as a key wellbeing tool with clients to help them relax, trust their centre, and follow their own path. I'd love for you to join me on a labyrinth walk.
Ask me for a finger labyrinth pdf, or how to get a physical one.