Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Labyrinths

I enjoy walking labyrinths. For one thing, they’re round and I’ve been creating mandalas for almost 15 years. Usually they’re in a natural environment, which is very pleasant. There is a labyrinth at the Devic Center where we held our all-day zentangle workshop and I think everyone took a stroll through it.

Walking the labyrinth at the Devic Center, October 16 2010. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Pavey.)
Labyrinths have existed for over 4000 years in cultures as diverse as Viking, Hindu and Navajo. These patterns have been found in basket designs, on ancient coins and jewelry, and carved into cave walls. Many spiritual traditions from North American medicine wheels to Zen Buddhist have a form of walking meditation.  The Roman Catholic saint, Augustine, wrote “Solvitur ambulando” or “It can be solved by walking”.

There is a difference between a labyrinth and a maze. In a maze there are choices, wrong turns, and confusion. A labyrinth is focused; it has one path to the centre and the same path back out. Some see it as a method for problem-solving, a rebirth through meditation.

Thirty of the more than 80 Gothic cathedrals in Europe include a labyrinth. One of the simplest designs is the seven-circuit, or Cretan-style. One of the best-known is the 11-circuit labyrinth in the cathedral in Chartres, France. It is also called a “Road to Jerusalem”. The central rosette symbolizes that city and since most Europeans were unable to travel to the Holy Land they would use the labyrinth as a way of making a pilgrimage.

Walking the paths and turns of a labyrinth allows us to clear and calm the mind, to think more deeply. Some say that the many turns to left and right reinforce the integration of the hemispheres of the brain. As a tool for contemplation a labyrinth lets us access deeper places within ourselves through non-lineal thought processes. It is a sacred place, a spiritual form, and is open to all.

To see if there’s one near you check the world-wide labyrinth locator.

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this virtual walk with you.
    New to Doodles, but LOVE them.I do some mostly every day!!

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  2. Margaret, did you walk the labyrinth in Whitinsville while you were here? It was just down the hill from Oakhurst.......at a place called Alternatives' Whitin Mill Project. Maria

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  3. No Maria, I didn't know it was there! Maybe next time... :-)

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