A labyrinth is different than a maze. Mazes offer challenges, false directions, and dead ends. You often can’t see where you’re going for the big picture. Labyrinths are meant to offer meditation, calmess, and a way to center yourself. The path is usually made of rocks or a painted line.
Here was my experience:
I walked a labyrinth earlier this week. I looked it up on one of the websites provided in the a book I’ve been reading for grad school called A Whole New Mind. I was surprised how many there were in our town. I’ve actually walked a labyrinth before. It was a large, canvas one, laid out in a church fellowship hall. I remember it being a reflective experience. I think I even had something to read as I walked, to help me meditate.
The labyrinth I went to this week was an outdoor one at a church. White stones had been placed so as to signify the path to walk. The grass was green (a rarity for here in July) and about ankle high. I was on my way to the pool after the labyrinth, so I was in flip flops. Mindful of recent (awful) bug bites from when I didn’t use bug spray, I liberally applied insect repellent before venturing into the labyrinth.
I remember the sound of the crickets. They never ceased to fade out of my hearing. Occasionally, especially at first, I could hear cars driving by on the nearby street, and often a barking dog would disrupt my meditations. Still, I tried to walk slowly, focusing on slow, measured steps, as I made sure to stare at the ground directly in front of me, so as to lose myself in the labyrinth.
I think my focus that day was on relaxation. I noticed the thoughts going through my head and the level of relaxation and meditation I felt were quite similar to how I normally feel when trying to fall asleep. Dozens of thoughts seem to fly through my mind constantly, and I cannot seem to find a break from them. This, too happened in the labyrinth, at least at first. As I walked, the feeling of the grass getting between my feet and my flip flops helped me to connect to nature. I was very tempted to walk the labyrinth barefoot, and if I walk it again, I just might do so. It helped me to relax and enjoy the beautiful morning air.
Eventually, my thoughts channeled to one train of thought at a time, although my mind continued to keep itself quite occupied with unending thoughts. Still, my body and mind gradually relaxed, so that it felt as if I were on the verge of falling asleep. I can compare the experience to how you feel when you do restoration yoga. Therefore, if you want a new way to relax, to center yourself, and to get some exercise in at the same time, try a labyrinth.