Walk a LabyrinthDec 12, 2023
A few weeks ago, on a blustery Saturday afternoon, I spirited my niece away from her studies at Berkeley for a walk at Sibley Park in the Oakland hills so we could walk the labyrinth together. It had been more than a decade since I had been there. The day was foggy and drippy, but that only added to the wonder of arriving at the overlook and gazing down at the labyrinth laid out with stones at the bottom of a former quarry. Of human design and yet evocative of the spirals found in seashells.
As we approached the entrance, naturally our voices grew softer. The sounds of the birds and frogs took center stage as we each began our walk to the center. And magically two people had clambered up the hill above the maze and sat perched on rocks above us, playing guitar. We curved back and forth through the maze, separate yet together on the journey.
We each paused at the center, taking in the offerings left by others, looking to the earth and the sky, breathing in, breathing out. And then we each journeyed from the center, slowly making our way through the curves until we reached the exit, renewed and refreshed by this ancient and archetypal practice.
If you have not walked a labyrinth, I highly recommend it. It is a form of meditation in which the “container” ie the labyrinth, and the physical movement of slow walking, synergize to bring you into a state of reflective meditation, even if you “can’t” meditate.
Labyrinths have been created and walked for over 4,000 years. I have come across them in unexpected settings and always take advantage of the beauty and intricacies of the pathways and the energy of the many who have walked before me seeking peace, guidance, respite, and insight.
You can look for a labyrinth in your area by googling labyrinth near me or checking out The Labyrinth Society website which includes a worldwide locator. Though many labyrinths are located at places of worship, the practice of building and walking labyrinths pre-dates organized religion. They are ancient tools for self-exploration and reflection that are well-suited for the modern world.
Not inclined or able to walk a labyrinth? Or want the experience quite literally at your fingertips daily? Etsy has some beautiful finger labyrinths that allow you to experience their wonder by tracing your finger through the maze to the center and back again.
In an ever-complex and challenging world, the simplicity of this ancient practice is a welcome respite, nourishing for both body and soul.