July 30, 2007

Experience Walking a Labyrinth
For the past year, I've walked a labyrinth on the first Wednesday of the month at the Evanston United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado. The church is near my home, and once a month the sanctuary chairs are removed and the canvas labyrinth is laid out on the floor in the church. On those special Wednesday's, I choose to walk the labyrinth at the end of my work day as part of my meditative prayer time. Often I'm walking alone, but sometimes others are present to share in the experience. I enjoy the quiet time, walking at my own pace, breathing, letting go and being present in the moment.

Have you ever walked a labyrinth?

The first time I walked a labyrinth was in Santa Fe, New Mexico a few years ago. It was a labyrinth built outside in a park by members of the community. I remember walking in the dirt with stones piled up to outline the labyrinth. It was a very hot day and I walked with my sister, my mother and friends. I remember how calming and centering I felt despite the hot day. Since then, I've walked at the Evanston UMC, the First United Methodist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and other private labyrinths in Santa Fe, NM.

What is a labyrinth?

The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many clutures around the world. Labyrinth designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles that date as far back as 4000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals from nature. The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. It has a single path that winds in, and the person walking it uses the same path to return to the entrance, thus becoming the exit. There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. You may walk it fast or slow – it's up to you. You may use the labyrinth in any way that meets what you need.

Veriditas, a non-profit organization, founded by Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, is dedicated to introducing people to the healing and meditative power of the labyrinth. She suggests that there are three stages to the walk: "releasing on the way in, receiving in the center, and returning – that is, taking back into the world that which you have received".

The labyrinth design used at the Evanston UMC and the First UMC is a replica of the 11-circuit labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France. This pattern, once central to cathedral culture, was inlaid into the stone in 1201. For the last 250 years, however, it has been ignored (covered with chairs) until Dr. Artress let the effort to reintroduce the labyrinth into the world as a spiritual tool.

In ancient times, whole villages made pilgrimages to the Holy Land during Lent. In the 12th century during the Crusades, travel became dangerous, so the Pope appointed pilgrimage cathedrals. Labyrinths were constructed in the floors of these designated cathedrals. Thus, the actual pilgrimages of ancient times became symbolic pilgrimages around the winding paths of labyrinths. As one walks the path to the center, it is a journey (as some say) into the depths of the Self to interact with the Divine. The path out brings the traveler back into the world.

Labyrinths are currently being used world-wide as a way to quiet the mind, find balance, and encourage meditation, insight and celebration. They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural tool of well-being. They can be found in medical centers, parks, churches, schools, prisons, memorial parks and retreat centers, as well as in people's backyards.

Why walk a labyrinth?

Many walk to:
  • Quiet the mind
  • Use it as a journey into the depths of the Self to connect with God
  • Use it to ask a quesiton and being open to any answer
  • Many walk with no specific question in mind
  • Some walk as a ritual, a memorial or to honor someone
  • As a form of meditation, prayer or part of a spiritual practice
  • Some say they use it to connect back to the earth
  • Use it to tap into your creativity
  • Walking as a releasing, receiving and returning by Dr. Artress
Interested in learning more about labyrinths and walking a labyrinth?

Check out the Veriditas website to locate a labyrinth near you. If you live in the Denver area, I'd like to invite you to walk with me the first Wednesday of the month at the Evanston UMC. Or if you live near Boulder, CO, visit the First UMC, and you can walk the labyrinth almost any day of the week. I encourage you to experience walking a labyrinth first-hand – you may find just what you need.

Belen Carmichael, NLC
Life Coach

Evanston United Methodist Church
2122 S. Lafayette Street
Denver, CO 80210

First United Methodist Church
1421 Spruce Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool and
The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform
by Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress
Veriditas and The Labyrinth Society

NEW Audio Book Release!
A Woman's Guide to Her Inner Evolution
The audio book is about a woman's yearning to find out more about herself by exploring her inner evolution. It is about experiencing life to the fullest! It is about seeing the world through new eyes – seeing the world as a marvelous place with infinite possibilities.
$18 + $2 S&H. Contact me to receive a copy of the CD.

Interested in group coaching and live in the Denver, Colorado area?
See the Events page on the website for information about the Building Stability Group for Women Business Owners, the Women's Soup Night, and Walk the Labyrinth.

Copyright 2007, INNERGY Coaching, LLC - Belen Carmichael
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Wellness Within is published monthly by Belen Carmichael of INNERGY Coaching, providing life coaching, nutrition and lifestyle coaching and personal training to women business owners.
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