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An Exercise for Inner Peace

Labyrinths provide the perfect space to practice walking meditation.

By: SUE G. COLLINS

For more than 4,000 years, people have turned to labyrinths for a walking meditation practice, directing careful attention to moving the body forward, focusing on an intentional gait and consciousness of the breath while settling into stillness.

 

Stepping into the labyrinth, a broad grassy stage with a path outlined with stone, one may carry an intention or ask a question. The short winding walk is meant to nourish focus and contemplation, culminating in quiet concord and personal resolution.

 

A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal, with a singular path leading to a center. Not to be confused with mazes, labyrinths are an ancient archetype used symbolically as a walking meditation, a tool for personal and spiritual transformation, also thought to enhance right-brain activity.

 

Labyrinth carvings and constructions thousands of years old are found around the world. There are similarities in the designs despite geographic and cultural differences and include a bounded, interior space with a continuous meandering path to the center and back out again, usually by the same path. Stone, tile, grass, sand, earth or carved wood have been used to create the motif. Some labyrinths have more than one opening between the exterior and interior, absence of a center space, intersections and path choices, or dual paths specifically for ceremonies or conflict resolution, according to The Labyrinth Society, an international nonprofit for enthusiasts whose mission is to support all those who create, maintain and use labyrinths.

 

The labyrinth at The Spa at Sea Island

The labyrinth at The Spa at Sea Island features a classic design and the calming sounds of a water feature.

 

The labyrinth at Sea Island was created to connect guests with the surrounding spaces and help them continue their serene and relaxing journey during their stay at the resort. The iconic Spa at Spa at Sea Island was built almost 20 years ago and encompasses 65,000 square feet. The classical labyrinth design is from a simple “seed pattern” with a seven-circuit design that has been suggested to correspond to the seven days of the week, seven visible planets and seven chakras.

 

“A labyrinth is not a maze or puzzle meant to confuse you, but a space to bring order to chaos where you can have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself,” says Ella Kent, Sea Island director of spa, fitness and well-being. “Our labyrinth rests in a beautiful garden fringed with a koi pond, lush leafy plants and is encircled by an ivy-covered wall — creating the perfect habitat for bees, butterflies and our tiny native, singing frogs.”

 

Veriditas-certified facilitator Margaret Bosbyshell leads a complimentary monthly guided meditation at Sea Island. “In each experience, guests will begin by setting their intentions with a ‘finger tracing labyrinth’ exercise, followed by guided breath work and an introduction into labyrinth meditation,” she notes.

 

“While the labyrinth is our favored spot for quiet contemplation, it’s not the only place where you can immerse yourself in nature to relax your mind and refresh your spirit,” Kent comments. “We have a diverse array of mindful activities, including yoga at sunrise and sunset, a guided paddle through tidal grasslands, horseback riding through lush groves of ancient oaks and palmettos and much more.”

LABYRINTH MEDITATION

The labyrinth is a special place set aside for you to reflect, meditate and perhaps negotiate a new behavior. The rhythm of walking, placing one foot in front of the other, empties the mind, relaxes the body and refreshes the spirit. While there is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth, we suggest four states to organize your journey.

 

REMEMBER: Before walking the labyrinth, take time to be in gratitude and bless the people in your life. If there is a specific event or situation troubling you, bring it to mind and form a healing question around it.

 

RELEASE: Walking into the labyrinth. Quiet your mind and release your troubles. Open your heart to feel whatever it might feel. Become aware of your breathing. Relax and move at your own pace, interpreting everything you see and feel as a metaphor.

 

RECEIVE: Sanding in the center, pause, reflect and open yourself to your inner voice. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself and be open to what you discover.

 

RETURN: Walking the path to leave the center, start the process of integrating your experience. Bring to mind any insights you might have received. Feel the sense of well-being, healing, excitement, calm or peace.