Barkley & Remi walk present labyrinth

Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, France 
Labyrinths 101
A labyrinth is a single path that you follow. There are no tricks or dead-ends as with a maze. Most labyrinth paths lead to the center, and then you follow the same path back out.

Faithful Christians walked the labyrinth as a metaphor for a spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. However, labyrinths predate the Christian era, and have been found throughout the world. The Cretan labyrinth is called that because it is found on the island of Crete; but it is also found in India, throughout Europe and is sometimes reversed to have a right-hand entrance. 

Many labyrinths are round, but they can also be created with straight lines:
The Cretan/Classical labyrinth drawn with straight lines. Graph paper is a great way to play with labyrinths
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The Healing Labyrinth Path
The Healing Labyrinth Path
Learn How to Become Your Own Therapist as You Gently Walk the Labyrinth and Allow Your Mind to Unwind, Leading You Along a Path to New Discoveries

Soothe Your Spirit
Enhance Your Creativity
Find Long Sought After Solutions

If you’re anything like most people, the same problems have a tendency to show up in your life.  They cause you to worry yourself to a frazzle as you constantly drain your energy looking for a way out. None of the tried and true solutions seem to work. In fact, they seem to make your problems worse.

Maybe you have the good fortune to have a friend who lets you cry on their shoulder, but that only suspends the pain for awhile. You may even be able to afford therapy, but you quickly discover, even with professional help, that at the end of the day it’s your problem to solve. No one is going to do it for you.

I remember being at the end of my existential rope, having to tie a knot to hang on. And then out of the blue I was introduced to something magical – Labyrinths.  My friend, Susan, was having a “weird” thing called a “Labyrinth Party.” It was there that I was introduced to the practice of walking a labyrinth and the results were amazing.

On that frosty Winter Solstice in 1999, we walked. I walked 3 times that night, and had the most amazing night's sleep. I woke up the next morning more refreshed than I had in years. More than that, problems that had been dogging me for years all of a sudden weren’t as daunting. I was in a much calmer frame of mind where solutions came to me without struggle and with serene certainty. I was hooked!  I woke up the next morning and started gathering rocks to build my own. Luckily there was a farmer's field on the perimeter of our property, so I had an abundance of rocks!
With yarn, rocks, and the help of my niece, Gabby, I mapped out the labyrinth. We had the basic structure in place within 4 hours. I chose to build a Cretan (a.k.a. Classical) labyrinth because it didn't require too much math. It's very simple to draw and map out (You can get instructions for drawing labyrinths on the "Free Stuff" page). I had learned how to draw it from Margaret Underwood, a fellow Brain Gym instructor whom I had met at an education conference.

My first labyrinth measured about 50 feet across, and I made the lanes wide enough to get a push mower through. I also made the center big enough to hold 5 or 6 people. I walked it through the years and then was inspired to share the labyrinth experience with my friends by creating the Healing Labyrinth Path meditation CD.

When I moved to my current house on the Shenandoah River, I built the same design, but smaller & easier to maintain. It's about 30 feet across. I had taken some of my favourite rocks from my first labyrinth and combined them with rocks from the river.

First labyrinth in West Virginia backyard
Labyrinth Experiences
Before I knew anything about labyrinths, I had the experience of one. It was not until after I'd had the experience of the profound impact of labyrinths that I began to learn more about their history. You can know the chemical structure of honey, but until you taste it, you won't really have the experience of it. So, if you are looking for technical information or an extensive history of labyrinths, this is not that. I've included some basic information about labyrinths, and you can find some exceptional sites that are a wealth of information listed on the Links page.

My experience of labyrinths has been personal and spiritual in nature. There are all kinds of different labyrinths, each one with its own personality. I was at a retreat center with a friend and there was a labyrinth there. She went to go walk it before I did and I asked about her experience afterwards. She was disappointed. She was expecting a similar experience when she walked mine, and it was not at all like that. She said it felt cold. I was intrigued, so I went to walk it. Wow. It really was different even though it was the same design. The difference was that it was about 3 times the size of mine. It was huge and built to accommodate a crowd of 50+ people. I said to Jane, "It's kind of like expecting to be in a cozy country church, and you're lost in a huge cathedral." Neither was better than the other, just a different experience.

Labyrinths are contemplative, meditative, and healing in their nature.  The beauty of walking the labyrinth is that it will help facilitate whatever intention you take into it. You can walk it with the intention of feeling more energized, and you will feel more energized at the end of the walk. You can walk it with the intention of feeling calm and peaceful, and you will feel that. Whatever your intention, you create it with your labyrinth walk.

Guidelines for walking the labyrinth
Begin with an intention; e.g. to feel peaceful, to gain clarity on a situation, to feel connected to Spirit. Follow the path all the way to the center and then back out again. You can stay in the center if you like, or come right back out again. Going in and coming back out completes the walk. It is believed that this helps balance the hemispheres of the brain. Other than that, you can walk fast, slow or in between. Walk with a specific intention or none at all. You may find that each walk is different depending on your intention, how your feeling, and what season you're walking in. The crunch of snow underfoot is a different experience from a soft mossy path or walking through a sprinkling of spring violets. Even if you're just tracing a labyrinth with your finger, the experience will vary. 

Other Ways to Walk:
  • Sing a song
  • Repeat a mantra
  • Recite a prayer
  • Repeat an affirmation

Using the labyrinth on all levels:

You can use the labyrinth to represent your physical body. For example, you can have it represent your brain to clear your thoughts, or become more mentally alert. The labyrinth can represent your colon, and you can walk with the intention of healing any digestive symptoms. It can represent a single organ or your whole body.

  • To problem-solve
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Enhance creativity

If you are feeling stressed or want to feel calmer, the labyrinth will help you to do that.If you are going through some difficult times, the labyrinth will help to bring peace and balance.

Walking the labyrinth is a wonderful meditation for practicing mindfulness. It brings your awareness into the present moment. It also connects you to nature. The labyrinth balances your energy; walk with the intention of balancing your chakras, or your acupuncture meridians. It really is the Healing Labyrinth Path.
The above labyrinths have a single entrance which is also the exit. A spiral can be made into a labyrinth by adding another line. It becomes a continuous path with no stopping point, with a separate entrance and exit. This is a great labyrinth to walk in a small space, so that people can walk at the same time without bumping into each other.

Cretan a.k.a. Classical labyrinth
Extended; opposite entrance/exit
Double Spiral
By adding another line within the labyrinth, it becomes a single, continuous path with no stopping point.
This was the Purple Cow Labyrinth design I did for a parachute fabric remnant I got that measured 5 X 7 feet. More about that on the Free Stuff page under "Art Projects."
This is the design of the Yoga East Labyrinth. It measures 14 X 18 feet. It allows several people to walk at the same time without bumping into each other!  Featured under "Art Projects."