A few years ago I had a chance to participate in a labyrinth walk in downtown Toronto at a church that has a labyrinth of inlaid stones on its grounds. The Toronto Public Labyrinth in Trinity Square is right beside the Eaton Centre, a busy shopping place, but it was in the winter on a weekend morning and there really were not very many people around us.
Walking a labyrinth is an ancient meditative practice which is believed to have the ability to bring about personal and spiritual transformation, a sense of calm and balance, and to increase one’s feeling of well-being, although it is best not to have any expectations and to just to enjoy the moment as you are walking the labyrinth. I had been wanting to try this ancient practice which to me seemed mysterious and magical.
The labyrinth walk was led by the phenomenal Jan Marie Dore and began with our group meeting before hand and discussing our intention for the walk. Sometimes it helps to have a question that we want answered and to think about it before the walk begins but the moment we enter the labyrinth we should stop thinking about and just let our minds be clear. Concentrating on ones breathing while walking carefully in the labyrinth and letting yourself just enjoy the natural rhythm of walking is a good way not to think too much. At the end we may have an answer to our question or at least feel more centred and balanced.
A labyrinth is defined as being an intricate combinations of paths or passages, sometimes bordered by high hedges as in a park or a garden, or a pattern inlaid in the stones or pavement of a church. Labyrinths are unicursal meaning that they only have one single winding path, unlike a maze.
The labyrinth that I walked that day was the kind that is a pattern inlaid in the stones by the church. I used to work by there and had walked past this labyrinth many times always determined to one day walk it, but not really knowing how and being put off by the busyness of the area there on weekday workdays.
Going on the labyrinth walk that I did that day, was a subtly incredible experience for me. Oddly enough I now can’t remember the question that I asked myself that day just before the walk. It was something that seemed pressing and important at the time, no doubt. But I remember it was resolved and I had my answer at the end of the labyrinth walk. I also had a strong sense of calm, of peace, and balance, and I knew for sure that to me a labyrinth is a pattern that has a primeval connection to my inner core and energy.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? Where was it and how did you feel afterwards?