Labyrinths- Walking a Spiritual Path: Walking a Spiritual Path
Dec 01, 2015 07:17AM
● By Linda Dobbins
Millennia, revival, geometry, unicursal, pilgrimage, enigma: all describe labyrinths—a meditation tool known the world over through centuries of history, religion and cultures. Today, labyrinths are alive in our midst.
As we seek purpose, integration and vitality, this tool is one we find waiting with an open portal. Walking a labyrinth has something to offer everyone. Its popularity meets several needs: deepening spirituality, connection to the soul, access to intuition and creativity, simplicity, integrating the body and spirit, and intimacy and community.
Research has found that focused walking meditations are highly effective at reducing anxiety by eliciting the “relaxation response”. Resulting health benefits include lower blood pressure, slower breathing, reduced insomnia and chronic pain relief. Meditation leads to greater powers of concentration and a sense of control and efficiency in life. Many hospitals, healthcare centers, schools, prisons, parks, public gardens and retirement communities have installed labyrinths for easy access to these physical benefits.
Beyond the health effects of walking a labyrinth, one can experience a feeling of community among seekers, as well as tapping into the subconscious mind to reach powers beyond reasoning. It is a walk with the pilgrims of antiquity as they sought a bridge to forgiveness and transformation; seek not from without but from within. It is joining a revival to create connectedness and our purpose for living while using the power of the present as an ally.
Earth energy radiates a force—a source that exerts power from above, below and all directions on our bodies and psyches—and walking on the earth brings us as close as possible to this mystery. Living causes imbalances in our rational and intuitive knowledge, but by walking a labyrinth, taking the turns, changing directions and moving forward mirrors the design of the brain, thus balancing the left and right hemispheres. This action maps out the experience of two forces working in harmony. Our chakras, the energy centers in our body, function at peak when they are in balance, so meditative walking can become deeply satisfying and very effective.
Our body’s wisdom takes us to our sacred centers, leading to wholeness in health and healing. The pathway circumambulates and arrives at the center by a single path: the symbol of the spiral. This implies a death and reentry into the womb of the earth so the spirit can be purified and transformed.
In the center, you can reach a focus of power and grace, the still point at the center of chaos. The labyrinth twists and turns so the center reflects the calm of gravity deep in our soul, unaffected by the movement of our lives.
Circles, centers and spirals involve geometry. The power and proportions of a labyrinth are derived from transcendental numbers and the Golden Mean; these determine the structure for all sacred architecture, i.e. the Great Pyramid, the Parthenon and Gothic cathedrals.
Sacred geometry contains the basic building blocks of creation vibrating with the life force, as energy into a vortex. Mystery, magic and power are held within this sacred space. We can participate in this oneness, unity and balance which we naturally crave.
Healing and finding a path to inner peace is where our spiritual hunger can shift to spiritual maturity as we connect, reflect and stay in the moment. Life patterns clarify, evolve and become intentional. The labyrinth, as a mandala, guides and supports us gently, with loving grace and sacred wisdom.
Linda Dobbins is a retired educator, Lancaster community volunteer and a founder and manager of The Lancaster Labyrinth at the UUCL. The labyrinth is open the first Sunday of each month, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Connect with her at [email protected]