“Walking the Labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. It urges action. It calms people in the throes of life transitions. It helps them see their lives in the context of a path, a pilgrimage. They realize that they are not human beings in a spiritual path, but spiritual beings on a human path."
-- Dr. Lauren Artress
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? You may be thinking, “What does that even mean, walked a labyrinth? I don’t even know what a labyrinth is…I’m not even sure how to pronounce it.” Alright, calm down. Let me pose another question. Are you the kind of person whose brain chatters non-stop, and you avoid meditation because you can’t sit still, and yet you’re curious if meditation could help calm your mind? Familiar yet? If so, walking the labyrinth may be for you.
Labyrinth is an ancient, sacred, meditative, transformational tool. It is a powerful tool that can assist you in reconnection with the Divine inside of you. No, it is not a maze. And no, I'm not talking about the 1980's movie with David Bowie, either!
Meditation comes in many styles. Some prefer sitting in a lotus position for hours on end while they hide in a cave, some practice those “Gumby” yoga poses, some prefer extraneous activities, while others do silent meditations for days. If you cringe in any of these styles, I’m with you!
Walking the labyrinth is a neutral zone. It’s so easy. You just walk. You follow the path. You just watch where you’re going. You'll never be lost. The practice of labyrinth walking integrates the body with the mind, and the mind with the spirit. The combination of the walking movement and the geometrical design, turns, and proportions of the labyrinth allow your brain to quiet down naturally. And when your brain is quiet, an inner shift happens and profound insights become available to you. With my chatty brain, this is the only meditation I find that works for me.
A labyrinth is a symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all of creation. It is a form of mandala which follows the sacred geometry principles of using complementary system of numbers, angles, design, proportion, placement, and positions -- thus the brain can find rest, comfort, and harmony -- which leaves the mind open to other levels of awareness. Walking meditation in the Labyrinth is a great way to self-reflect and
contemplate on your life. Walking in the Labyrinth becomes a metaphor of your life’s journey...your inner pilgrimage.
If you reflect enough on your experience in the labyrinth, you’ll realize that everything you did, think and feel in the labyrinth mirrors how you live your life. Were you bitching? Were you judging the other walkers? Were you bored? Were you rushing? Were you playful? Easy-going? Did you feel you got lost? Were you comparing and competing with the other walkers?
Or did you have a sense of reverence with the other walkers? Did you start and not finish the walk? Awareness is the key in shifting and healing one’s life. The message that comes forth inherent in the walk is usually profound! And you'll soon realize that how you walk the labyrinth is how you walk your life.
If you are curious to know the difference, a labyrinth is unicursal, meaning it only has one defined path that leads us to the center and back out again. A maze is multicursal, meaning it has different choices of path, dead ends, cul-de-sacs, and tricky pathways. Maze challenges our logic mind, while the Labyrinth does not engage our thinking minds...rather it invites our intuitive, pattern-seeking, symbolic mind to come forth.
Labyrinths come in many designs (classical Cretan 7-circuit, Chartres 11-circuit, Maltese, Roman, etc.), but my favorite of all is the Chartres Labyrinth. It has called to me and mesmerized me since I was a child. I first saw a labyrinth from one of my oldest brother's books, and ever since then, the labyrinth stayed in my consciousness.
The picture on the right is the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France, thus the name Chartres Labyrinth. It was laid into the cathedral floor sometime between 1194-1220. It was not the original, but it is one of the last remaining of its time. Legend says that the design was part of King Solomon’s temple and was carried to France by the Knight Templars. It's a longtime dream of mine to walk on this particular labyrinth in Chartres, France.
So far, I have visited and walked on the Chartres 11-circuit labyrinth at Prana in Los Angeles; two at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; one in Topanga canyon park (not the perfect replica...it is actually reversed, meaning the entrance goes to the right quadrant first rather than the left...nevertheless, the location has an amazing views); and five on Maui (both the classic 7-circuit and the Chartres 11-circuit designs). I have painted and drawn it many times, and finger-walked hand-held labyrinths. Amazing things have happened to me with every single walk…prayers answered, moments of clarity, business ideas, feeling of oneness with the Source. Yup...I'm addicted to it!
Labyrinth energy has been integrated in my life. I don’t mean I walk it everyday. I mean it more in a sense of, if you could imagine, a holographic entity or energetic code of the labyrinth is intertwined with my soul’s energy code … does that make any sense? I know it’s deep and kinda cosmic-weird, but that’s how it affected me. My Life is my Labyrinth. I know I’m in my path. I know my life will give me twists and turns, but I will never be lost as long as I hold my intention to always to come to my center and be true to myself. I know that I hold the truth of the Divine inside me. And I know that how I choose to show up in this world and evolve is my sacred way of living.
The Chartres Labyrinth mesmerized me enough throughout my life that I decided to study it in depth and got certified to be able to facilitate a meditation walk.
Would you like to walk with me??
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Dr. Jane San Juan is a heart-centered cranial chiropractor, acupuncturist and a certified EFT tapping coach serving the Santa Monica and West Los Angeles community.