Have you ever walked a labyrinth? Part meditation, part relaxation technique, this practice is an easy way to simply unplug.
Unlike mazes with high walls and that frantic sense of being lost, a labyrinth is formed at ground level so that your goal is always within view. One of the oldest and most famous labyrinths still in use today is in the Chartres Cathedral in France. It was built sometime in the 13th century, and thousands of people visit to walk the famous path every year.
People all over the world use labyrinths for internal reflection or spiritual practices. Though many of them are built by church groups, they are not necessarily religious in nature. Labyrinths can also be found on private property, at schools, and in public parks.
Check out this one at the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), which was created to commemorate and honor the 19th century African American church which once worshiped on the same piece of land as their campus.
Courtesy of anglican.ink
Or this one at Florida State University, which was created to "be a place of thinking, celebration, healing, and peace."
Labyrinth at Florida State University, photos by Pamela McGhee
I found one not too far away from me, near a church in Manassas, Virginia. It was listed as an open, outdoor labyrinth which is ideal for a quick visit. Even the approach to its location was serene, through some woods and over a quaint footbridge.
Walking the labyrinth itself only took a few minutes, but I could easily see how it could be used as a structured group exercise. It was calming and quiet; the world seemed to just fall away. You have nothing else to focus on other than the path in front of you and whatever objective you're visualizing.
Just when you think you're about to reach the center, a turn might take you back out to the perimeter of the walkway. That's the beauty of a labyrinth; it mimics the ups and downs of what life may put between you and your goals.
Interested in trying a labyrinth? Use the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator. It's a dynamic database of labyrinths all over the world, and you can search it quite easily.
Start out by looking for public, outdoor sites so that you can do the walk on your own. You can also check out The Labyrinth Society, an international group of enthusiasts who create, maintain, or seek out labyrinths to explore.
**The photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly unless credited otherwise.
Have you done a labyrinth walk before? Was it an impromptu thing, or did you join a group activity? Tell us about it in the comments!