According to the Labyrinth Society, labyrinths have been around for roughly 4000 years. Using sacred geometry, a labyrinth creates a resonance that brings us into a harmonic state with nature and life.
Personally, I hadn’t paid too much attention to them until several years ago when I was on a summer solstice retreat in Hawaii.
On the retreat site outside of Hilo, was a huge seven circuit labyrinth with lines made from a series of volcanic and white beach rocks. At each line end was a statue of an angel and in the center was an altar of crystals placed by walkers from all around the globe. Placed upside down next to the altar was a green plastic chair and there was a volcanic fissure that either led into or out of the labyrinth, I'm not sure which.
I loved this labyrinth and as we got to know each other, it offered me an experience I've never forgotten.
The labyrinth looked very sacred, but I had to laugh when I first saw the green plastic chair. It looked so out of place with the angel statues and the carefully placed altar. But I came to learn that sitting in that chair, as I did for hours at a time over the ten days of the retreat, created a space for contemplation like no other.
My first sojourn into the labyrinth was a bit on the speedy side. I was tempted several times to just cross over the lines and get into the center so I could sit in the green plastic chair and check out the altar. But that didn’t feel quite right, so I stayed on the path which honestly, did seem to go on and on passing where I’d just been and just when I’d think I was close to the center, I’d find myself along the outer edge. My mind became frustrated and started asking why I ever thought this was a good idea. “Well, if I’d made this labyrinth,” my mind said, “I’d have made it smaller and much more direct.” Of course it would, my mind is an efficiency expert of the first degree.
Finally, as I was sitting in the green plastic chair and gazing at the altar, I felt a sense of peace and calm. I continued to sit. When I finally walked out of the labyrinth, I did so much more slowly and thoughtfully. Oddly, it felt like I was having an experience.
The next day I found my way to the labyrinth once again. As I stood before the entrance, I said a short prayer, an intention, to guide me as I walked. Once at the green plastic chair, I sat in meditation feeling peace wash over me and before I walked out of the labyrinth, I said a prayer of gratitude.
Walking the labyrinth daily, and sometimes twice a day, I started to understand what it was offering me. It was demonstrating how, when we start each day with a prayer or an intention, we’re inviting ourselves to be in service and we’re setting the tone for our thoughts and actions. Living with intention and attention allows us to become consciously aware, adjusting as we move forward and releasing all that no longer serves. There are no short cuts to reaching our center. Life requires awareness and fortitude. When we do reach our center, we touch the core of who we are, the spirit that lives within us. In silence we listen. And as we internalize the transformation, we bring that gentle knowing with us out into the world. With gratitude, we acknowledge the transformation and allow room for more.
Life is a gentle walk. There’s no jumping over lines or rushing through. It’s an undulating motion of experiences bringing us to our center, to listen, to hear, to be one with the One who knows.
I loved my experience with the labyrinth although I do feel like I should refer to it as a Labyrinth with a capital “L”. It was a wise teacher. It didn’t use words. It let me have my own experience. And, as labyrinths are designed to do, it taught me about myself and life in a way that was genuinely transformational.
If you'd like to learn more about Labyrinths, please visit the Labyrinth section of this website. You'll find a Labyrinth Locator and an alternative to actually walking a labyrinth.