For Mental Clarity and Reflection
Have you ever walked through a labyrinth? My first experience of walking one is a fond memory of discovery and interest. I had never seen a labyrinth and was fascinated with the design and beauty. I knew the moment I saw it that I wanted to learn more about them. Since then, I’ve seen outdoor labyrinths, large indoors ones painted on fabric, labyrinths drawn with chalk, small labyrinths designed for a table top and more. All are uniquely different but similar in design.
In the middle ages, the Catholic Church began using labyrinths within the church. The Chartres Cathedral in France is the home of the most famous labyrinth inlaid in the stone floor around 1220CE. The Chartres labyrinth indicates the early tradition in the Christian church of walking meditation.
Although labyrinths aren’t biblical, they are a source for encouraging reflection and prayer. For me, I feel more focused and free after walking a labyrinth. I use it as a time to think and pray. I can be more effective in my work and personal life if I am mentally focused and I have found this is a way to clear my head. I’ve heard it said that a busy person would benefit from meditating 30 minutes every day and if you are too busy to meditate for 30 minutes then you need to meditate for an hour each day. That doesn’t make sense, but it makes perfect sense. Those running around crazy-busy, pulled in a million different directions will likely have fragmented thoughts and decreased focused. Finding ways to maximize time by sharpening focus to complete tasks precisely the first time is worth the effort it takes to nurture thoughts and strengthen the mind.
My first experience of walking a labyrinth was inside a large room where I was alone. I didn’t have any expectations as I entered the labyrinth. I was simply participating in an offering at the church during a holy season. I began walking in the first quadrant and quickly met hairpin turns on the path. I found that as I began winding my way through the path, that some steps were met with trepidation. My body wanted to go one direction, but the path turned the other way. It was such a strange sensation. Of course, I knew I wasn’t in any harm because the labyrinth was on a flat, wide-open surface. Making a change in direction only made me FEEL uneasy. I continued to have that sensation throughout the twists and turns of the pattern. Since then, I have carried a simple lesson with me. Change will happen. Change can be scary, but change doesn’t have to stop you. You can make it through. One step at a time. This simple truth along with positive, uplifting thoughts and prayers are things I ponder while walking the beautiful, deeply enriching path of a labyrinth.
I hope you will find a labyrinth and enjoy its beauty. Some people enjoy dim lighting and candles and soft music in the background. Walking Meditations are effective in reducing anxiety and have other health benefits as well. Many hospitals have installed labyrinths in a permanent fashion on their property. As a Volunteer Coordinator at a hospital, we have paper labyrinths available to our patients to encourage relaxation and stress reduction. Many cities have labyrinths in public parks also.
Clearing your mind in this way can strengthen your memory. Staying focused and mentally alert is crucial for advancement in both personal and business life. You will be able to be IN the moment, respond to what is going on around you, implement plans to meet your goals and desires and be present in your relationships.
Contemplative prayer and reflection aren’t limited to a labyrinth of course, but they are a beautifully designed, calming gift that has been given to us all. Maybe you will find one.