The movie The Shining has given labyrinths a bad name. Take a look at this video of the hedge maze.
I realized this misunderstanding when I spoke to two people about walking a labyrinth with me and they both asked these similar questions.
Would they get lost?
Would there be high bushes?
How long would it take?
Hmmm. These were questions that I did not expect. These are people who know me pretty well. I was surprised that they would think I'd want to walk through a bunch of scary mazes and that I'd subject them to the terror too!
It seems that the common understanding is that labyrinths are mazes and hedge mazes, like the movie. Absolutely not true!
Labyrinths and mazes are two different things. Here's a nice explanation from wordIQ.com.
"A maze is a puzzle in the form of a complex branching passage through which the solver must find a route. This is different from a labyrinth, which has an unambiguous through-route and is not designed to be difficult to navigate."The Labyrinth Society has a great deal of information. Below is how they describe labyrinths.
"A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity."I first read about labyrinths a few years ago. I was so intrigued that I wanted to try it. I found one in Marblehead at the Church of St. Andrew and walked it several times.
The view is beautiful and I've found the practice to be quite relaxing. If you like yoga and the idea of meditation, you'd probably enjoy labyrinth walking. I consider it both a spiritual practice and creative exercise. Most labyrinths are found on church grounds.
When I wrote my life list, I decided to add this practice. #82 - Walk 50 different labyrinths.
I walked my second labyrinth yesterday at The Presbyterian Church in Needham and took these pictures.
What a peaceful place. Labyrinths feel very much like the process of life. Even though you've been to a very similar place, each one is slightly different. You're not sure how the path in front of you will wind, but you have faith that you'll make it to the center. Find your balance. Then go out again.
If you're interested in walking a labyrinth, you can search for one near you with the Labyrinth Locator. According to the website, they list around 3400 labyrinths in over 70 countries. I'm going through the list in Massachusetts.
Some labyrinths are by appointment only, especially the ones in private homes. Most of the ones that I've read about are open to the public on certain days for a short period of time. The two that I've been to so far are open all the time. But since they are outside, weather may be a factor.
Have any of you done labyrinth walking?
*Updated 11/11/10* Labyrinth walking went mainstream with a scene in Law & Order SVU last night. Pretty cool!
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