Combining movement and awareness into a deeply inspiring practice.
“Walking the Labyrinth quiets the mind, opens the heart and grounds the body … Some find answers to questions long asked, some find healing, creativity, a sense of wholeness … ” (Veriditas.org)
Labyrinths are one of the most mysterious symbols known to mankind. This unique symbol is a geometric shape that does not occur naturally and yet feels very much at home in the landscape. Labyrinths have been part of indigenous cultures for thousands of years and Native American cultures have depictions on their artwork, pottery, and petroglyphs. The Man in the Maze symbol is actually a labyrinth, not a maze. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth has one circuitous path in and out where there are no secret passages, no trickery, and no goal. A labyrinth journey is a walking meditation and each person walks at their own pace with no expectations. Along the journey, we release any thoughts, take our time, and welcome reflection. Labyrinth walking is a moving meditation that can be healing, inspirational, or simply calming as we link the body and breath with present-moment awareness.
World Labyrinth Day this year is May 6 and many communities organize public and private walks on this day. The Labyrinth Resource Group of Santa Fe is organizing one at Unity of Santa Fe and I will host a private gathering at my Casa Oasis 7-circuit classical labyrinth. Recently, a person traveling from Minnesota called who had found my labyrinth on the Veriditas World-Wide Labyrinth Locator and wanted to walk a labyrinth while they were in Taos. For the spring equinox, I hosted a group walk to welcome the change of seasons and am planning another for Earth Day this year. Needless to say, I love labyrinths!
I believe Taos needs a public labyrinth as well as a list of both public and privately-owned ones. (If you would like to list yours, please contact me). Listing a private labyrinth does not mean people will be allowed to trespass without permission. A public labyrinth at a church or park would be a nice addition to Taos’ community gathering places. Although labyrinths fit well within nature, they do need regular maintenance so the circuits remain clear of debris and overgrowth.
This month’s family practice is to enjoy a labyrinth journey together. Whether we walk with feet or fingers, it is a meditation that holistically joins the eyes, heart, and body. Finger labyrinths can be found on the web in a wide range of designs and complexity for purchase or printout. In my experience of bringing mindfulness to school classrooms children love the labyrinth so have fun with your group journey!
Labyrinth Walking Meditation for Groups or Families
- Pick a labyrinth (printed or in person) that works for the age range of your family. Each person will follow their own journey through the circuits.
- Begin by explaining that everyone will be following the labyrinth path at their own pace. Children like to see who will get to the center first so be sure everyone understands that this is not a race.
- If you are journeying a labyrinth in person, encourage children to walk instead of run so that they may be more aware of where they place their feet.
- The same thing goes for finger walking. Explain that the point of walking a labyrinth is to go slow and be mindful. A fun option is to use a finger of the non-dominant hand when finger-walking.
- Before embarking on the labyrinth, take a few deep breaths together to release any pent-up energy and emotions.
- The path is followed as quietly as possible so that each person can have their own journey in peace and without distraction. Background music may help with creating a relaxing ambiance.
- As you journey, notice the path, and when walking with your feet, pay close attention to the plants, the rocks, or whatever is in or around the labyrinth. Stop at the curves and look up at the sky or the landscape and breathe in nature and the environment.
- Whether you’re walking with fingers or feet, when the center is reached, it’s nice to stop for a couple of moments, take a few slow breaths and reflect on anything that has come to mind, and then, proceed back the way you came.
- When everyone has completed their walk, I recommend holding hands and taking some deep breaths together. If comfortable, participants can share their labyrinth journey with each other. If there’s time, the family can do some coloring or journal writing.
Originally published in The Taos News, April 13, 2023.