On the first Sunday of each month on a beautiful beach in St. Augustine, Florida, the Friends of the Labyrinth wait for the tide to go out. As soon as there is enough damp, compact sand available they set to work and create several labyrinths in the sand.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol known to go back 3,500 years, and may be even older. Labyrinths appeared on most of the inhabited continents in prehistoric times. Many people confuse a labyrinth with a maze, but they are different. A maze is more of a puzzle and the walker has to work out which is the correct path to the center. It is intended as a form of entertainment.
The labyrinth is a walking meditation design and holds no trick paths to confuse the walker. It has a single winding path from the outer edge to the center and back out again. This walk represents the journey inward to our true selves, our “Higher Selves”, our Spirit, our God-Center, and then back out again to the outer world.
Some people use the following process when they walk the labyrinth.
- releasing of concerns and worries on the journey in
- centering meditation, prayer, or quiet contemplation in the
- empowerment of new thoughts or intentions on the way out
However, everyone is free to use the labyrinth as he or she wishes.
Today I walked the labyrinth at St. Augustine. It was a gorgeous sunny day with magnificent cloudscapes against a cerulean sky. There was a wonderful warm breeze that caressed the skin. My friend Lorelei, who creates the labyrinth, had in fact drawn five or six different ones in the damp sand.
There was the classic seven circuit labyrinth and the famous eleven circuit labyrinth based on the one incorporated into the floor of the Notre Dame de Chartres cathedral just outside Paris, which was created around the year 1200 AD. Lorelei had also designed a magnificent fifteen circuit labyrinth as well as two smaller “Baltic” labyrinths, which reminded me of the female womb.
So with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair I entered the fifteen circuit labyrinth. Within a few steps I realized that almost without thinking I had slowed down internally and I was totally focused on walking the path. This brought me right into the here and now, the present moment, which is where I always desire to be. Because of this process, I automatically let go of any worrisome thoughts.
After a few minutes, I stopped my walking and closed my eyes just to enjoy this feeling, of being present to where I was in that very moment in time. I became aware of the sound of the sea, the waves crashing onto the beach, the distant voices of children as they played in the sand or the water. I lifted my face to the sun and thanked God for the joy and the peace of this moment.
I then opened my eyes and watched the surf spraying as the waves crashed. I saw the seagulls swooping through the air and in the distance I could see several kites flying with long tails fluttering in the breeze. Running swiftly back and forth at the water’s edge were groups of sandpipers checking out what tasty morsels the sea was washing up to shore for them. I found myself being grateful to be alive, to be able to enjoy this.
When I reached the center of the labyrinth I stopped again and brought to mind people who I wished to uplift to God. I asked that He bless and protect them, and I asked the same for myself. I stood there for a few minutes just enjoying being still, having no agenda, no need to move.
I then moved on to the outward journey. I felt a new energy sweeping through me. I found myself thinking of a dream that I want to manifest in my life. I held it close to my heart then offered it to God. I continued walking and became aware that I was breathing deeply, taking oxygen deeper into my lungs than usual. It felt so good to be alive! I stepped outside the labyrinth and just breathed.
After a moment or two I decided to walk the small Baltic labyrinth. Compared to the labyrinth I had just walked this was just the size of a babe in arms, maybe three yards in diameter. (The fifteen circuit one was approximately ten yards in diameter.) The feeling was completely different. There was a sense of intimacy, a warmth that surrounded me.
When I reached the center I sat down and did not want to come out. I felt protected, as though someone had put their arms around me. I hugged my knees up to my chest and thought, “this is what love is about”. I had the distinct feeling that I was “home”. I was, in fact, with my God-Center. I stayed for quite a while before coming out.
If you have never walked a labyrinth, then I highly recommend that you try. It is another way to create that quiet time. It is a wonderful stress reducer and a beautiful way to connect with Creator. You can find more information at www.labyrinthsociety.org. Happy walking!!