Labyrinth walks or workshops use this ancient design or symbol as a metaphor for your spiritual journey through your life challenges. It consists of a circular, meandering path to the center, and one walks the same path out again. There are no wrong choices or decisions to make, as are found in a maze. A labyrinth is designed to help you find your way – symbolically the journey helps us to integrate mind, body and spirit.
A labyrinth allows a person to take the next step on their spiritual journey, whatever that may look like for that individual. The labyrinth is also a tool for stress relief and centering.
Dr. Robin’s Labyrinth
There are many different labyrinth designs. The 7-circuit classical labyrinth and the 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth are two popular designs. My portable, green on white labyrinth combines the two designs and called the Focus-7. This Labyrinth has the 7 circuits of the classical design as well as several of the labyrs from the Chartres design that produce the 180 degree turns and 3 focus circles within the labyrinth. This gives the Focus-7 labyrinth a wonderful flexibility for workshops and a smaller size than the Chartres.
Labyrinth Walks are divided into three paths:
Journeying In or Releasing: the walk to the center, quieting or emptying yourself, letting go of the details of everyday life, struggling with a life challenge.
Resting in the Center: time spent in the center meditating, praying or simply being of open mind and heart to receive whatever gift or insight may be present for you.
Journeying Out Renewed: the walk out from the center may be experienced as awareness of a deep connection or communion with God, the Holy Spirit, or with Sacred or Universal energy at work in the world. Others may feel centered, peaceful or renewed to journey back into challenges in their life and the world.
The labyrinth provides a physical expression for our circuitous journey as human beings. We start out walking straight towards our goal and then life experiences invite us to grow through a series of turns. We move toward the center again, only to meander to the outside of the path. Back and forth, in and out, until we feel we have lost sight of our goal. Then suddenly the center loooms directly in front of us. We have found some deep forgotten part of ourselves.
My Journey with the Labyrinth
I was first introduced to the labyrinth at Holden Village at the 1999 Winter Women’s Retreat. The retreat, “Tree of Life”, was led by Rev. Susan Briehl. Her husband, Rev. Martin Wells, created a labyrinth in the snow for us to walk, by creating the paths with snowshoes. It was a cold, crisp, clear, dark night as we made our way to the labyrinth, our boots squeaking with each step we took in the deep snow, flashlights in hand.
Martin placed candles in the snow at each turn of the Chartres labyrinth and in the center. As I walked, I was struck by the metaphors that came up for me. As we approached the labyrinth, it looked like a lighted snow globe with tall, silent trees around it watching. The packed path was solid and if you stepped off it you sank hip deep in snow.
As the women who journeyed before me started out of the labyrinth, we would wait to meet at the turns so we could hug and turn around there, as the path was a single person width and the turns a bit wider. By the time I reached the center, I was feeling peaceful, centered and tired (I had a cold and my coughing was triggered by the crisp air). I hopped over the two foot deep lines to make a quicker exit from the labyrinth. Even so, without walking out the entire labyrinth, it was a life changing experience.
My Labyrinth Training
By February 2000 I was chairperson of the labyrinth committee at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pullman, WA. We embarked on a dream of having a permanent outdoor labyrinth next to the church. Trinity Community Labyrinth is 80 feet across in size and is currently spray painted on a dark gravel surface.
In August of 2002 I went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for labyrinth retreat and facilitator training – more transformation. I became a certified labyrinth facilitator in March 2003 through the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress and Veriditas.
Part of my love of the labyrinth is kindled by the direct connection to spirit I experience while walking. As I started my labyrinth journey, it was the only way to quiet my “monkey mind” and settle into a meditative state. If I tried to sit and meditate during this time, my body assumed it was time to sleep. I find the labyrinth is also a very flexible spiritual tool and symbol, it seems to graciously meet and invite people to take their next step on their journey as a spiritual being in this human body.
Half or full day workshops around the labyrinth and a special theme can be arranged with Robin. The labyrinth is a flexible spiritual tool that can be used to go deeper into many topics.
Exploring Sacred Circles through Labyrinth Walking and Beadwork
Spiraling Deeper: Labyrinth Walking and Sacred Beadwork
Around the Wheel: Labyrinth & Beadwork
Labyrinth & Bead Workshop: Explore the Sacred through Sound & Color
Labyrinth & Sound Healing Workshop: Exploring the Sacred Through Sound
Mandalas, Labyrinth and Beads
Journeying through the Labyrinth with Soul Collage
Open Walk themes
Winter Solstice and the Labyrinth
Prayer and the Labyrinth
The Feminine Divine and the Labyrinth
Monthly Self-Guided Walk Themes: Peace, Light, Thanksgiving, Beauty, Love, Harvest, Abundance, Renewal, Transition
Resilience Walk for Cancer Support Group
Grieving, Resilience and Healing Walks for Reiki volunteers
Through co-leading and participating in labyrinth and beadwork seminars for 5 years prior to moving to Bend, OR, I have learned to make jewelry which I infuse with Reiki energy.
In Bend, I have facilitated labyrinth walks to support the Reiki volunteers from St Charles Cancer Center around the theme of grief, as requested. I also have facilitated walks at Grace First Lutheran Church for the young family Bible study group around the topic of prayer and centering. Most recently, I was on the planning team to upgrade the labyrinth behind First Presbyterian Church in Bend – this outdoor labyrinth is open anytime and all are welcome to walk!
Please contact me if you are interested in planning a workshop for your group!
When discussing labyrinths, you see terms like path, journey, and pilgrimage. The Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress in her book, “Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool,” urges us to be pilgrims, not tourists in our lives. What is the difference? A tourist is an observer who comes into an area with an interested eye, takes pictures, and leaves. A pilgrim may take pictures and also participates, interacts, and comes with a searching heart.
What are we searching for as we walk the labyrinth? Perhaps, as Dr Artress suggests in her newest book, “The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform,” we are seeking methods and teachings that will help Spirit permeate every moment of our lives. She continues, “If you are on a spiritual path – any path from the rich traditions of the world’s religions – to live a healed and transformed life, you want to:
- Deepen your compassion
- Lessen your judgments
- Increase your patience
- Find your purpose and share it with the world.”
Rev. Artress holds these four guidelines up as ideals – we may never develop all of them fully, but they point in the direction we want to go. This season of Lent and the spring Equinox is a good time to reflect upon our lives over the last year and begin to answer the questions associated with these spiritual guidelines:
- Have I deepened my compassion for my family, my friends, and the strangers who cross my path?
- Have I lessened my judgments about my loved ones and those I meet?
- Have I increased my patience with my loved ones and those I meet on the path?
- Have I found my purpose, and nurtured it, so I can be of service to the world?
“What stops these qualities from becoming a deeper part of your life?” is the next question posed. These questions offer us a way to reflect on our spiritual growth.
“Walking the Path” Quotes:
“If we attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, our own freedom, integrity and capacity to love, we will not have anything to give to others. We will communicate nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our aggressiveness, our own ego-centered ambitions.” Thomas Merton
“Feminine wisdom is rooted in experience, in compassion. She thinks with her heart and is more concerned with the processes than with the products of a life lived fully. She does not value the presence of power but the power of presence.” Jill Mellick
May the compassion, love, and powerful presence of the Sacred bless your journeys!