Updated: May 25, 2020
The beauty of labyrinths is many-fold. They are a walking meditation. They offer a moment of calm; centering; balance; pause; integration; clarity. If we enter these sacred spaces with a sense of wonder and surrender, magic happens. Time is suspended. Even in the middle of a busy neighborhood or a pandemic, as we step onto the path, we enter into another dimension filled with love and hope.
To walk a labyrinth is to engage in “mindful movement,“ as is tai chi, chi gung and ballroom dancing. Here is a link to a Harvard University article on the benefits. And here is a lovely piece on the healing nature of labyrinths.
My experience is that this walk easily connects and integrates the two hemispheres of my brain. At every turn I make, I feel a tickle of energy running across the top of my head from one side to the other. Even as I sit here writing about it, I can feel it when I think of each turn along the path. If I am upset or confused, I always know what to do by the time I emerge from this short journey. Intellect and intuition harmonize. It’s just remarkable.
I have been talking about creating a labyrinth in my front yard for a long time. I started leveling the slope last fall. This weekend I finally drew the first draft. This is a simple 3-circuit, 4-walled design. It is based on the very center of the 11-circuit Chartres-style labyrinth. My space is 7' x 10' so I laid out oval walkways. The ovals create a slightly longer walk than the smaller circles would have done. This is a "rough draft" which gives me the opportunity to make adjustments and improvements before choosing materials to incorporate that will make it permanent. And I drew it in flour.
White flour is a magical substance. It is perfectly fine for the environment, readily available, cheap, easy to scuff out mistakes. And it glows in the dark. Add a few candles and I can walk my labyrinth at midnight and see it clearly! 7 turnings in to center, 3 left, 4 right; 7 turnings out, 4 left, 3 right. I count the curve around the center just after entering as the second turn because it is so tight. I usually walk it two or three times at different speeds, slowly at first, then faster and faster.
I left two clumps of pincushion flowers in the walls of the labyrinth because I want them to re-seed themselves. Butterflies love them, and I am creating a butterfly garden out here as well. The pincushions make a couple of spots a little tight but that’s ok. A labyrinth represents the twists and turns of life and how we navigate the joys and challenges. So do I keep my balance or do I tip over into the next circuit, requiring “course correction."
If you are familiar with and love labyrinths, make one in your yard or driveway or hallway. It doesn’t even have to be flat. Chalk, stones, shells, sticks, flour, flowers, shoes, yarn, bottle caps, hats...use your imagination! Follow an established pattern or make up your own meander. On canvas, paper, in the garden, on the sidewalk, on your deck, at the beach...Every place and every thing that is available offers possibilities. Neckties? Don’t throw them out. Make a labyrinth.
If you are new to labyrinths, know there is no right way or wrong way to do this. Just start! Don't worry about how to hold your hands or how fast to go. Warm up a bit, like stretching. Walk the labyrinth several times, getting used to the direction, the feel, and the space of it. The mind will say, "Oh no! We're lost! Did I take a wrong turning? Where am I? Get me out of here!!!" After a few tries, things settle down. Then take a breath, and enter with a sense of curiosity and wonder. See what happens.
I love to walk barefoot. I think it's what they call "earthing." I call it grounding. As I lay out this labyrinth, I get to find all the little rocks and heave them out of there! The path is becoming smoother and softer in the process. Eventually I will paint a little sign and invite my neighbors to walk the path whenever they feel like it or happen to be passing by. There has been lots of curiosity about it already. This is how it looks to walk my little 3-circuit labyrinth (with me barefoot and in my gardening pants, sirens blaring and wind blowing). It takes 2 1/2 minutes to make the circuit once, not much time at all. In fact so short that there is no excuse not to!
If you would like my assistance in creating your own labyrinth, send me an email or schedule an appointment. I have lots of designs and we can invent something that fits your space and your ideas. Indoors or outdoors. Portable, temporary or permanent. Even at this time (May 2020) we can work together virtually or in-person, outdoors with masks and social distancing. I've gotten pretty comfortable with this routine because I think it's going to be part of normal life for a while.
Part of my purpose in writing this post is to celebrate and inaugurate my new garden labyrinth. Part of my purpose in writing this post is to offer and remind my friends that this tool exists. It quiets the mind whether the intellect goes willingly or kicking and screaming. Spend enough time making your way around the circuits and peace and calm will prevail. And hope. And love. May you find them all.