July 8, 2011

Labyrinth Walking As a Spiritual Practice

The Golden Door Spa Labyrinth in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

By: Brenda Keller

About a year ago I began a quest to "get better" at meditation. I created a quiet room with lots of candles, peaceful music, a comfy mat and expected that in twenty minutes or less, I'd be in a state of total bliss.

So, I sat there in my makeshift nirvana and closed my eyes. I made a grocery list in my head, condemned myself for not being able to focus. I thought about what I had to do today, tomorrow, and 20 years from now. I wondered if I remembered to change an appointment. Were we running low on dog food? I took two deep breaths and looked at the clock. It had been three minutes.

If you can maintain a meditation practice that's quiet and still, I not only think you're on the right track, I envy you. But for me, and a lot of others, sitting meditation just doesn't work. I've focused on scripture, breathing, a word, or nothing at all. I talked to people, read books, prayed about it and ended up even more frustrated.

Then someone suggested moving meditation and starting by walking a labyrinth.

Dating back to 1200, the labyrinth has long been used for personal meditation, relaxation, balance and a sense of forward direction. I love that the layout only has one path. The way in is the way out.

I recently spent several hours over the course of a week on the one above. At first it always seemed pointless. Walk in a circle? But then I stopped thinking. I let go of everything, focused on deep breathing and lost myself in the winding path.

Like most spiritual practices this isn't magic. When you find yourself at the exit, which is also the entrance, your real life is waiting. I've found in those moments a connection with God and with myself. I've been reminded to press on and let go. And to just be.

Find a labyrinth near you here.

Can't make it to an actual labyrinth? Try this virtual one here.


Penelopepiscopal said...

Thanks for this post. I had the same experience with "sitting meditation" and felt inferior and like a failure for a long time. Then someone suggested that I seemed like I already have a prayer and meditation routine, which involves walking outdoors. Duh. Now I can make the "connection" in ways and places that work for me.

Rob said...

And, if you can't get to a real labyrinth, of course there's an app for that! http://t.co/PPZ8uww

Cura Animarum said...

Love labyrinth praying. I also do a lot of prayer walking close to home. First time I entered into it by accident while walking through the park on retreat. I had read a s rupture passage before hand and suddenly realized I was in the middle of praying Lectio Divina while walking. One of my preferred methods of prayer now.

Sue said...

Before I became Episcopalian, I attended a Lutheran congregation that had a labyrinth in its sanctuary. I didn't really find that particular Lutheran church to be a "fit" spiritually (or demographically--they were median aged around 80!)in the long run, but it did re-introduce me to liturgy and helped me to find my present church by figuring out what I liked and didn't about IRL church.

I love labyrinths and I can really feel so much LIGHTER when I'm walking back out of the labyrinth.