Labyrinths are found in many cultures as far back as 3500 BC. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth is unicursal, having a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. The Labyrinth is a scale replica of an ancient labyrinth constructed around 1200 AD in the stone floor of Chartres Cathedral, France. There is not a 'required way' to walk a labyrinth. People can approach the experience on their own terms.
A suggested guideline is:
ENTERING: As you walk toward the center, center yourself by trying to put aside worldly concerns and quiet the mind. ILLUMINATION: The time spent in the center. This is a time of openness and peacefulness. Take your time. Let your inner spirit determine when to leave the center.
UNION; The journey outward. Following the same path consider what occurred in the center and how it may be applied in your life.
FINGER WALKING Begin by setting the environment. Find a comfortable chair, location, or position. Acquaint yourself with the labyrinth, pass your hands over the edges, across the center and around the outer edge; Adapt your breathing and begin tracing the path from the outside with one or more fingers following the grove/path toward the center. When you arrive at the center, stay a while. Complete your experience by retracing the path from the center outward.
Labyrinths are found in traditional cultures throughout the world. They are depicted in Hopi Indian cave drawings, found in Tibetan sand paintings and even found on the floors of Cathedrals built in Europe in the 1200's. Not to be confused with a maze, which is usually three dimensional and is used to trap or challenge the participants, the labyrinth is flat--either painted on a surface or set in stone--and has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. Walking the labyrinth involves simply taking the winding path to the center and back out again. Today the labyrinth is experiencing a resurgence as people discover its many uses, including pain and anger management, promotion of health and healing, stress relief, a tool for personal insight and a vehicle for a walking meditation. Because of this, labyrinths are popping up all over America. These individual works of art are in hospitals, school playgrounds and city parking lots. In city parks, they are being used by people of all ages, from all walks of life. A labyrinth can be a wonderful community-building tool.
From Unity Church, Bradenton, Fl.