Walk the Labyrinth at Istmo Retreat
The labyrinth is often confused with a maze. Just the word alone makes one think of dead ends and no exit but actually once that first step is taken in a labyrinth, the path takes you to the center and back out again. A simplistic and powerful design.
The labyrinth is often described as a three-fold path. Upon entering one begins the symbolic path of purgation, or releasing and letting go. The center represents illumination and opening to the Divine. The return path is union, taking the walk’s benefits back into our lives. But we do not walk the path alone; others share our journey. On the labyrinth someone may be walking ahead of us at a pace we find difficult to follow. Our choice then becomes to stay behind and walk at another’s pace or go around them and honor our own body’s rhythm. There are times when we may come face to with a fellow journeyer. Will we greet them with a smile or even a hug, or will we remain within ourselves and continue on the path? There is no right or wrong way; the choice is ours to make. It is in these moments that the labyrinth’s mystery and sacredness become apparent.
How to walk the Labyrinth:
- Stand in front of the entrance to the labyrinth. State your intention as clearly as possible. For example: I want a solution to my problem with ... It could be anything that is troubling you.
- Center yourself by taking a couple of deep breaths. This is important because doing this you instruct your subconscious and all other parts of yourself to pay attention to your sincere wish of solving your problem
- Acknowledge your coming meditative or spiritual journey within the labyrinth. You may also say a short prayer or smudge yourself, depending on which faith you adhere to. Closing your eyes and reflecting or taking a simple bow are other nice ways to begin the process. Decide whether you will walk barefoot or with shoes on. With bare feet, you can feel the texture of the earth beneath your feet and connect to its grounding forces.
- Begin your walk. The first step sets the pace for your walk. It can be fast or slow. Choose your intention for the walk. Are you being spiritual, reflective, mindful, playful, creative or something else? If you're problem solving, your walk becomes a meditation when you surrender all your problems and just walk. Other parts of you have now a chance to process your request of a solution.If you are very upset: fast walking in lets the emotions dissipate easier. Most people try slowing down their mind by slower walking, relying on the mind and body reflection.
Continue to walk. Keep your mind quiet, and still pestering thoughts each time they arise.
Concentrate on the placement of one foot before the other and rhythmic, gentle and regular breathing.
- If you're problem solving, walk as you didn’t have any problems at all, let it all go. Surrender to the activity of attentive walking. Let the burden (your problem) fall off your shoulders. Various parts of your being are now processing your wish for solution. All you have to do is to let it incubate and not interfere, let it be and let go of any expectations. Continue to walk as you didn’t have any problems at all, let it all go.
- If you're going on a spiritual journey or seeking creative inspiration, again let it all go and just surrender to the experience of walking the labyrinth.
Pause on reaching the center. You may stop here for awhile, sit or lay down if you feel like it and meditate or reflect. The main thing is to let yourself surrender totally to your inner process. It feels so good to have all the time you need.
- If you don't have a problem, question or quest for inspiration, just sit quietly and let things be.
Walk out. When you are ready, just walk out. Accept the insights and gifts you may have received. Adopting a sense of gratitude will always facilitate resolutions. Offer your thanks for what you have learned.