The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Welcome back to yourself…
A short walk though it is, when you enter the labyrinth you are choosing the path of Mindfulness. Focus is necessary for you to keep to the narrow path that loops back and forth. You can trust that it will lead you to the centre. It’s no coincidence that this refers both to yourself and the big rock in the middle. When you reach it, take a moment…
What is it?
A labyrinth is a single, winding path that leads you from the entrance to the centre. It is NOT a maze! You cannot get lost; the way in is also the way out. It does not matter how intricate the labyrinth pattern may be, there is only a single route to the centre. Thus the only choice with a labyrinth is whether to enter or not.
Here at The Hydro, by walking a few steps across the grass from the Meditation and Movement Room on the ground floor, you enter a clear path defined by rocks and plants arranged in a pleasing symmetrical design. Your progress along the circuitous route to the centre requires your mindful presence. You take it slowly and carefully. Finally, when you reach the natural rock seat at the centre, its silent presence invites you to sit…and be still.
Why walk the labyrinth?
That slow progress towards the centre of the labyrinth equates to a simultaneous inner movement that is both personal and profound. As you set off on the labyrinth path, you are taking symbolic steps towards reconnection with your innermost self.
If we could strip ourselves of all our cares about the future and our regrets about the past, we would discover peace of mind. The circuitous route of any labyrinth defies the straight lines of goal-oriented behaviour; instead, each small step requires focus. No matter that we can see our objective (the stone seat in the middle) – no short cut will get us there. Just as we learn through the hard knocks of life: there are times when we all we can do is take one step at a time.
Walking a labyrinth is a solitary experience. In the quietude of your own company you may enter the sanctuary of your own soul. Walking a labyrinth, you lose track of direction and of the outside world. A more contemplative state naturally arises. It is therefore a form of walking meditation and a symbolic pilgrimage that stills the mind, allowing the heart to open.
As you leave the labyrinth, you return to the world with a deeper and clearer understanding of who you are.
Contrary to what you may think, labyrinths are among the oldest contemplative tools known to humankind. There has always been a need for safe, sacred spaces where humans could reconnect with themselves and nature. However, in these troubling, confusing times, this need has never been greater.